Friday, 30 November 2007

Ask Dr. Sketchy

I was lucky enough to attend the burlesque life-drawing shenanigans of the Melbourne arm of Dr. Sketchy. It was fun - the night presenting a vast array of quick and challenging poses. It's been a while since I've done any Life Drawing, and it felt great to get back into it and move a pencil around a piece of paper. You know, if you look carefully, some of the work I did even vaguely resembled a figure. Here's the "best" out of my crop of drawings:

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Inspirational Kabuki

Here's a killer page scan from David Mack's Kabuki - The Alchemy. I found Kabuki while looking for something new in a comic book store and was browsing covers for something that stood out. I bought a copy and was an instant convert, jonesing for the next installment. David Mack is well known for working on Marvel's Daredevil.

In The Alchemy series, Mack completely breaks, bends and reconfigures comic and story-telling conventions while maintaining a fascinating readability. It's amazing, deep and entertaining. And it's good medicine for the odd creative slump.

Saturday, 24 November 2007


Well, Kevin Rudd's won the Aussie election and the winds of change they are a-blowing - even after the infamous ear-picking incident. (Maybe that HELPED him win... Maybe "Working Families" LIKE ear-picking. Who knows...)
Let's just hope he doesn't screw it up, fercrissakes.

In a cruel schadenfreude-ey way, I'm hoping that Mr. Howard loses the Bennelong seat as a kind of coup de grace too. We'll see tomorrow, and maybe Maxine McKew will do a little dance again.

And in celebration of these new times, a song:

Goodbye Johnny - The Gun Club [4.6MB mp3 file]
From Fire of Love.

[Disclaimer - if you have a beef with any .mp3 files you find here, send me an email and I'll remove 'em. Files are for evaluation purposes, and will hopefully get someone out there to buy the original]

Friday, 23 November 2007

Glitches "R" Them

I take a lot of screengrabs for reference material, reminders, colour tests etc. Recently, my computer's been experiencing some weird angles with these since I upgraded to Leopard. The results are kind of valid in their own right, but I want the old screengrabs back! Or at least have the freaky ones as an option, rather than the default. Or something. The one above is my favourite to date.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

The wisdom of...

... Proty. Make sure this doesn't happen to you this Saturday!
Art by Keith Giffen - click for bigger.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Ay. Ay!!

This track here is one of the inspirations for me deciding to post music on the blog you see before you. The band is called 'Aa' (pronounced "BIG A little a") and they (predominantly) consist of three drummers and a guy on a synth screaming/shouting/singing into a megaphone. I first heard them through an audioblog (I forget which one... Bad form on my behalf, bad form!!) and once I'd listened to the track I started researching them which resulted in me flailing my arms around shouting about the future of music as I knew it.

Here's the track I initially heard, I guess you could call it the "single" off the album 'GAame', which is one of my top listened releases this year:

Thirteen - Aa [3.2MB mp3 file]

This was a while ago, and they had a release due (the track I heard was a preview) and I was literally refreshing the Insound page where the album was listed over and over until it was released and I could lay down some (insert euphemism for money here).

Eventually, the package arrived (a CD AND a DVD for USD20) with a sampler CD and (get this) a HANDWRITTEN NOTE on my invoice saying how great the band is!!?? True!

So if you're convinced, you can get the album here. Here's another track to show off their diversity. There's some amazing production on this track. Quality.

Fingers to fist - Aa [3.2MB mp3 file]

[Disclaimer - if you have a beef with any .mp3 files you find here, send me an email and I'll remove 'em. Files are for evaluation purposes, and will hopefully get someone out there to buy the original]

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Is not...

Ahem. If you get this, I salute you. If not, I completely understand.

Apologies to Magritte.

Sfumato, Ziggurat. Ziggurat, Sfumato.

Such great words.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007


"My mind rebels at stagnation - give me problems, give me work, give me the most obtuse cryptogram or the most intricate analysis, and I am in my own proper atmosphere. I can dispense with artificial stimulants, but I abhor the dull routine of existence. That is why I have chosen my own particular world - I claim no credit in such cases, my name figures in no newspaper. The work itself, the pleasure of finding a field for my own peculiar powers, is my highest reward".
Sherlock Holmes

Monday, 12 November 2007

Farewell Monica Attard

Thanks for the quality presentation of Media Watch, Monica! Your presence will be missed from this household's Monday nights, and we hope that your successor will rise to the occasion. All the best for your future endeavors.


While investigating the curious "Operating System" outburst from my computer last night (turns out PhotoShop's 'Save for Web' shorcut also "speaks" selected text - there go my Ghost in the Machine theories) and I started tinkering with some of the speech features on my Macintosh.

I recently installed the latest Mac operating system - 'Leopard' - and among a veritable gaggle of new features it has one new "voice" in the Speech options. I switched to this voice a while back, and it was this new voice (Alex to his friends) that muttered those fateful words to me last night.

So I thought about having a good listen to Alex speak, as I've always liked fooling around with the ole speech synthesis and I was impressed by the new sound. While it's still obviously synthetic, they are getting there in terms of natural-ness. Here's a sample I recorded of Alex reading 'Jabberwocky'. Alex has trouble with some of the phonetics, but still does a decent job.

Jabberwocky (reading) - Alex the Macintosh voice [1.4MB mp3 file]

For a while now the speech synthesis has changed it's cadences in accordance with punctuation and this feature remains and seems to be built upon. However, the thing that startled me (and you can hear it in the above sample) is that Alex is taking breaths. That sound before the odd line and word is the computer taking a breath. Like a real person. Some are long breaths, some are short. They are not always there. Someone, or a team of people have written parameters for my computer to breathe while speaking. Wow.

Unfortunately, one thing that has been removed from the Speech function (and has been gone for a while) is the ability for the computer to reel off ludicrously large numbers - I loved this feature! You used to be able to fill a document with random numbers and the computer would read it and calculate novemdecillions, septendecillions, quintillions and the like. Now it only reads them as a string of numbers. It's a shame as I would've liked to record this and use it... Somewhere.

Maybe in the next revision.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Mind the Mind

My computer just said the words "Operating System" for no apparent reason. That's all it said. Operating. System. A message? A warning? An attempt to establish CONTACT!?

Strange things are afoot.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Fortunately gone

"Your personal effects will perplex the archaeologists of the future."

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Any resemblance to taste, good or bad, is purely coincidental

Here's an interesting thing, the Gracenote Music Map. Gracenote is in charge of the CD Data Base (CDDB) that iTunes and other media players access to get the track names and album details from your CDs. Unbeknownst to me, the CDDB os also collating what tracks and albums are being listened to and generating data from them for (perhaps) data harvesting purposes. Through this harvesting they create (among other things, I'm sure) the Music Map site where you can see what countries favourite artists are.

Bear in mind, this data is selective, as it's only coming from people with computers and an internet connection who are listening to CDs (as opposed to opening mp3 files and the like). It's still interesting to look at though - draw your own conclusions, I know I have.

What surprised me was how often The Beatles, Pink Floyd and U2 appeared. I mean, they are listening to this stuff ALL OVER THE WORLD. And Linkin Park too! Sure, they are valid bands (must ... hold ... back ...) and they have their place, but where's the new stuff? Some of the Top 10 Albums are a different story, Justin Timberlake's new album is popular, as is the Red Hot Chill Pepper's latest) and each country seems to listen to a lot of local stuff too, but almost EVERYWHERE has The Beatles in their Top 10. Can you imagine the stats of how many people in the World are listening to The Beatles, right. Now.


Well, I guess that's why they call it 'Pop' music. Respect goes to Japan though, who were the only country I could find where ALL of their top artists are Japanese.

Now I'm about to settle in, watch a film and have myself a glass of Raki. But first, I thought as an interesting exercise, I'd post the TOP PLAYED track from my Laptop's iTunes. I am proud to present to you this absolute gem of a track from the incredible 'Taking Tiger Mountain (by strategy)' album.

The True Wheel - Brian Eno [5.2MB mp3 file]

So there you have it. Special thanks for this post go to Boing Boing for alerting me to the Gracenote site (and a myriad of other things on a daily basis), my Mum for buying me the Raki and Brian Eno for existing. (On an interesting aside, he has production credits on 5 U2 albums, so he's kinda related to, and a part of, the Gracenote popularity scale).

[Disclaimer - if you have a beef with any .mp3 files you find here, send me an email and I'll remove 'em. Files are for evaluation purposes, and will hopefully get someone out there to buy the original]

The trees have eyes

And, to quote Wilbur Cobb: "The walls have TEETH!"

While wandering around the hospital grounds last week, I was pretty chuffed by a number of things. One of those things was a group of trees whose whorls (if-you-will) resembled - quite closely - stylised human eyes. My mind was aware enough to consider that this may be a simple trick of the light, or an odd turn of perception on my behalf, so I photographed them for future consideration. A week later, and they're eyes all right.

I'm quite happy with the concrete "fence" in the second image. Not only did the trees have eyes, they were also situated in a weird Soylent Green/Logan's run-esque part of the hospital.