Lazy Luddite Log

30.11.05

Commentary: Favourites

As Maria von Trapp says "these are a few of my favourite things..."

Favourite Movies

I see a lot of movies now that I live close to a cinema that gets movies later than national opening date and charges less for tickets as a result. Even visiting the cinemas alone is a fun way of passing the time. My favourites indicates a preference for effects flicks but I do enjoy other kinds of movies too... honest...

The Court Jester

One of my favourite movies of all time. I was sick as a kid and spent a lot of time and home and back then a lot of 'Golden Era' movies would be played in the daytime. This amazing comedic and musical spoof of the Robin Hood story staring the multi-talented Danny Kaye has something for everyone. "Get it?" "Got it" "Good!"

Star Wars

I was there in 1977 sitting in a cinema as the lights dimmed and the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare played. A parent had taken me - I was only five at the time. A whole new world (a world of worlds) opened to me that day and I have never looked back (except that the trash compactor scene scared me so much that I turned round in my seat to hide my face till the scene was over). Specific criticisms of the six films can be made but I have enjoyed all of them and have enjoyed the experience of having them as a defining part of the times in which we live.

Transformers the Movie

The original animated movie is must-see for any Transformers fan (which I am). An amazing sensory experience full of colour and movement. Mind you I object to the G rating it had. I can remember a cinema full of children visibly shaken by the slew of deaths dealt to well-known and much-loved characters. Definitely PG in my opinion.

I love the new live-action movie. But for me the original animated flick is still the best. The live-action film grounds the Transformers concept in this universe (incredibly well) but the original takes it "Through The Looking Glass" into a trippy universe of whimsical and outlandish worlds and gives the whole story a mythic vibe.

Favourite Music

Queen is my all-time favourite band. The rest of those named in my profile are more a representative sampling than a definitive list. It's difficult to say exactly what it is that unites the music I am into. Anything from the massive half-century-old back catalogue of blues-derived popular music (a.k.a. 'rock and roll') is something I may go for. I enjoy many different variations of that music - metal - rock - pop - soul - funk – as well as older forms like folk and jazz. The musical aspects of a track are usually more important to me than the words sung (half the time the words are difficult to decipher anyway). I like my music to be well-played but will forgive a lack of skill if the music is fun.

Favourite Books

A have never devoured books in the way many of my friends do. I lack the habit of always having a novel on the go. Sometimes I will deliberately hold off till the movie version. Still sometimes there is nothing so nice as getting into bed with a good book...

Lord of the Rings

The writing of Tolkien can be rather plodding but the way in which he depicts an entire world is amazing. There is some wonderful prose here and there and the story itself is a refreshing epic-in-reverse (in this quest the hero must get rid of something rather than win something). The inclusion of maps and family trees enhances the feeling that there is always more to this setting than one can possibly grasp.

It is this 'complete world' quality that possessed my mind (12 at the time) and inspired me to pen my own (very derivative) fantasy epic. But I never even got a tenth of the way into the intended storyline. Then in my mid teens I discovered fantasy role-play games (e.g. 'Dungeons & Dragons') and decided to turn the setting of my story into a game world. Ironically I have since written far more in background notes for 'The Lands' than I ever would have had I finished writing the story. The Lands is now a very different world from that of Middle Earth - the exercise of turning it into a game setting has made it "a modern world in medieval fantasy garb" rather than a misty habitation of legends.

Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

Of the many forms this story has taken I enjoy the novel most. It seems to be the best medium in which to explore all the amusing and mind-bending concepts of this story and its sequels. Douglas Adams is witty and incisive and blends science fiction with comedy remarkably well. A set of books I return to every now and then.

Demon Haunted World

Author Carl Sagan is best known for the documentary series 'Cosmos'. In this non-fiction text Sagan examines superstition and the dangers for society that arise from too many of us having a credulous mindset. Along the way the book makes a fascinating survey of astronomy, biology, technology, history, politics and religion. Sagan argues that the open-minded yet critical disposition utilised in 'scientific method' is also vital for the progress and even survival of democracy in the modern world. There should be more non-fiction page-turners like this.

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29.11.05

Commentary: Interests

I feel obliged to provide some information on the content of my profile and links. So over the next few days to weeks I will be posting extra info on all that stuff starting with this commentary on my listed interests.

Swimming

I have always enjoyed spending time in water - the sense of freedom-of-movement is awesome. But I was a shocking swimmer till my father kinda made me work on it. He has been a swimming instructor on-and-off over the years and during my teens he took me to a weekly intensive lap swimming session incorporating a lot of corrective instruction from the staff there. At the time swimming lap after lap was so boring but now I am thankful for it because I am a half-decent swimmer. As someone who has never been sporty I value this. Nowadays I try to swim weekly and go to a local pool with some friends. Swimming with others is an incentive to go as it becomes a commitment to others (rather than to just oneself). Also it’s fun to chat between laps.

Fantasy & Science Fiction

If you enjoy exercising your imagination and exploring the imagination of others then these genres are the best things to get into. I will say more on specific films and books in another post but for now will relate what part fantasy and science fiction has played in my life.

My mother got me involved in the South Eastern Science Fiction Club (which at the time was the newly formed 'Dandenong Valley Science Fiction & Futurist Society') at the age of 13. Introducing me to a group of adult strangers was a brave thing for her to do but also very worthwhile. It was important for an awkward introvert like me to get that kind of experience. I am still involved in the group till this day.

Then at 18 I came to Monash Uni. I joined a number of clubs at Orientation Week 1991 but the one I got most involved in by far was the Fellowship of Middle Earth (FOME). I met many of my friends at that time (including my current housemates) and we still keep tabs on the current FOME group (who are running things very well as far as I can tell).

Singing

I have always enjoyed singing and it is the only 'instrument' I have ever developed any skill with (setting aside tapping a pattern on your lap). I have been involved in a few amateur choral groups from my uni days onwards but at present I only sing along to recorded music. The choral experience enhances the fun of this however as I frequently sing the 'backing' parts and sometimes sing in close-harmony. Singing with my iPod as I walk along the street is fun but sometimes a bit embarrassing if suddenly I become aware of another person walking by!

Political History

History is made every time an event is remembered and retold. And politics is just human relationships engaged in decision-making. As such political history is much more than just who was Prime Minister in 1901. I have been interested in societal structures and decision-making processes for a very long time. I remember even assigning functions and status roles to my plush toys at a very young age.

It’s hardly surprising then that I majored in history and politics at Monash Uni. It’s also hardly surprising that I am active in political life as a member of the Australian Democrats (among other things). To some extent I regard this political involvement as an extension of my scholarly interests. I love the interplay of diverse interests and perspectives that can be safely observed in a representative democracy. As much as I have my own partisan convictions I also feel an allegiance to the complex organic whole that is the Australian polity. It’s ever-changing and full of surprises.

I have got some good friends from involvement in things political like the ADs and also the life-enhancing experience that was the United Nations Youth Association (UNYA) Tertiary Conference 1991 (the camp went for a week and I am still friends with some of those met there).

Life Drawing


We all have self-images that differ from practice. I identify as someone who draws but I lack the regular habit. For me 'life drawing' extends beyond the human form to include landscapes since both use organic lines.

For commentary on other aspects of life reflected in the sidebar see here and here and here. For a tiny bit more info on family see
here
.

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25.11.05

Posterity

I am sure all you bloggers do your blogging in the now. But have you considered how much you may be contributing to the body of information future historians will have to draw on regarding how we lived? I am considering it and wondering just what sort of impression I am giving. But then we get ourselves into the primary sources of future history in all sorts of ways. Anytime you get a letter published in a newspaper (something I recommend for anyone who thinks they have an opinion worth sharing)... anytime you fill in a visitors book at a hotel... anytime you email some rash comment to somebody who fanatically archives everything... Well if we think too much we may never say anything at all. Possibly its best for me to do my blogging in the now.

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The Intimidation of Weblogs

I find the concept of web logs intimidating. Or at any rate the way it was originally described to me was intimidating. The conversation went something like this...

I.T. Geek: So do you have a blog yet?

Luddite: What's a blog?

I.T. Geek: A web log.

Luddite: And what is a web log?

I.T. Geek: It's like a personal journal but on-line so all your friends can look at it and make comments!

Luddite: What a truly disturbing notion! I have a journal - a handwritten one mind you - and its personal.

I. T. Geek: But with a blog you can make sure all your friends are up-to-date with what is happening in your life. it frees you from the need to have all those boring "what have you done lately" conversations at parties.

Luddite: Well there may be something in that...

Actually my handwritten journal is hardly very personal. Expanded musings on my life and how I am feeling are very rare. It is mostly just a rudimentary sequence of "did this then did that and then did the other". And keeping it up-to-date is a bit of a chore. I may bring it to a close (I started it in December 1990!) and just start stockpiling my 'paper palmtops'. What are they? A4 sheets of paper with a calendar drawn onto them so I can keep track of what is happening. They are more compact than a palm pilot and never need recharging!

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Why Luddite?

I have been using the word 'luddite' in relation to my internet use ever since I got an email account at Monash University back in 1991. These days 'luddite' refers to someone who resists or resents new technology. For more info on the history of the term go to the 'Trivia' link on my sidebar. I am slow to make use of new technology and get frustrated if ever I lack a working understanding of something.

And I never get into technology just for its own sake. It has to somehow facilitate my involvement in something that interests me specifically. So I have never had a mobile phone because having contact with everybody all day long is something that has never attracted me. On the other hand I do have an iPod because listening to music while in transit is lots of fun. Using iTunes to put together ones own lists of tracks is fantastic because the different combinations and sequences of songs help one to explore the relationships that exist between and within a variety of musical genres. But that is another topic...

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