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Friday, May 9, 2008

David Bowie's Space Oddity

David Bowie is most often remembered for this song. There are plenty of other songs he's done that are better in my opinion, but Space Oddity is his most famous and popular track for many.

David Bowie is sometimes called "the chameleon of rock" because of his ability to predict and set trends in popular music, adjusting himself accordingly.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

I Shook the Hand of Gaiman as he Smiled

So I went to the Neil Gaiman book talk and signing. I think he liked me not just because he saw my Good Omens copy already signed by Terry Pratchett, ready for him to make his mark, but because I treated him as a man, not a god.

He's really not a god, contrary to what you'd believe from what he writes. He's just a bloke doing his job, which he loves doing. And he likes it when he encounters people who remind him of this fact. I talked to him a little, joking about why he couldn't make the Sandman cure my insomnia. He smiled, and said "Ah, you know. Us Authors aren't obligated to do anything. It's what you do with your time awake that matters"

I told him "I write books in the night, when I wake up there's whole chapters written". He looked at me, gentle and understanding. Perhaps he saw a little bit of himself in me. Not the talent part, the staying up late writing part. I'd never be as pretentious to say he saw his talent in me, even if he did, that would be a private trust between makers of worlds. I cannot say that he was blown away by me. But he at least regarded me as a fellow craftsman. That I know to be true. It was the tone in his voice, the weariness. I knew he had lived longer than I had, he was more experienced.

Gaiman is not a mythical bard, or a tale spinning imp. He is a man. And he never denies this. Even when people suggest he is a god, he laughs it off. There are few men who deny their divinity, embracing humble humanity. It isn’t just the way he writes that makes people love the man. It’s how he treats his fellow man that really counts, in the end. You can write like Shakespeare and yet be despised, if you are a hateful wretch who is drunk on fame.

I shook his hand, tonight, as I write this I am home at my keyboard. It is like many nights I have typed through. But I did not leave that bookshop unchanged. I imagine he probably wasn’t changed, but he liked my teacher Ms. Pryor’s sympathies and my own sympathies with him, as he self-depreciatingly bemoaned: “There’s so many people here tonight. I’m going to be so tired…”. If he changed at all, he may have found more of his humanity. No matter how many books on Heaven and Hell he writes, he’ll never be an Angel or a Demon. He’s just another sinner like the rest of us.

* * * * *

Sunday, May 4, 2008

I beat my first Video Game ever (and other updates)

For those of you still reading this:

I beat Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney this past week. It is the first video game I have ever finished entirely, including bonus missions. It's rather amusing to think I actually pulled it off.

In other news:

1) I'll be going to see Neil Gaiman at Books Kinokuniya on Tuesday. Hopefully I can get my copy of Good Omens that was signed by Terry Pratchett signed by him as well, making it twice as valuable.

2) I finally "get" Michael Ondaatje's work. This will help me in no end in the upcoming "seminar" task for school.

3) If you were expecting some insightful essays in the last weeks, you'll have to wait for those. For now I'm going to focus on delivering updates on my life.

4) Speaking of Neil Gaiman, he added me on, turns out he likes Leonard Cohen and The Clash too.

5) My friend's film, "Brain-freeze" is 98% certain to be made. Good for him!

6) I discovered Judas Priest, now one of my favorite metal bands.

7) Review of Peter Carey's Wrong About Japan coming soon.

8) I got Nintendo Wi-Fi to work on my DS Lite. I have now out-teched my friend's tech savvy mother who previously schooled me at Final Fantasy III character levels.

9) I will be posting more often here if I can, since the pressure of school is easing a little.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Lulu signed with Amazon (and other matters about my views)

So this means I can't even boycott This is interesting.

The only information I have on this is through the forums, so here's the URL:

Allow me to announce why I boycott things, and what conditions have to be met when I consider lifting them.

I am an angry young man, at heart, produced by a generation raised on videogames that for the first time allowed a man to shoot another man in the head without harming them in real life. But most of all, I suffer from an anxiety disorder. Put that into perspective, and you understand why it's easy to overreact when there are big corporations possibly looming at me.

I boycott things often, but I give them a chance to redeem themselves. Like Angus & Robinson when they started charging publishers for shelf space, but then apologised. The Bible tells us to love our enemies, even the "holy book" I get my religious inspiration from, William Blake's Songs of Innocence and Experience, gives a message of universal love and forgiveness. That's all very well to say, but I've only known one person ever who can regularly put love and forgiveness into practice, and her rays of sunshine put us all to shame. I speak of course of a Christian girl who is the real thing, and I wish her well in her life.

Even when Germaine Greer called me a "conscientious eccentric", I may have misinterpreted her words as scorn because she usually associates eccentrics with Cambridge dons who wouldn't teach women back in the 1960s. So Germaine, I must forgive you also, because I owe God a few favours for ones he's given me (not just salvation, but a variety of minor miracles such as me not missing public transport, rain delay so I don't get wet before I get home, as well as the simple joys of a party well organised).

Now what happens when corporations irritate me? I boycott them until I get a conformation that they're less evil having heard the voice of the people.

The hardest thing an intellectual man can do is admit that he is wrong about something. I might not agree with everybody, but the silly grudge of my copy of Stephen King's On Writing arriving several months late from is nothing to base a revolution on. And I admit that when I posted my previous blog entry, I did not have all the facts. Nobody in the early days of a blogger frenzy does.

But I stick by one of my old philosophies, which I recall writing down as a boy about to become a man. "If someone can help you become who you want to be, make an agreement with them, though they look villainous, that's what they said about Japanese people, and look how far they've come in the world, they gave us Astro Boy and Iron Chef! When you are small, a big fish may just as quickly befriend you as eat you".

These words may sound silly, but I was a silly young man back then with silly ideals. But the way I look at things changes, ever so slightly, over the years. I am not an Elf, no matter how many Fantasy books I read, I can never be one. Eternal Youth is not what is written in wrinkles on your face, but your actions and glee.

I just hope I don't get in a panic again for quite some time.

- Jacob Martin
AKA Jake Of All Trades

Sunday, April 6, 2008 have gone mad

The hyperlink is not working here. I will have to use a manual URL:

This will not stand.

As a POD (print on demand) author myself, this is trouble. What annoys me most of all is that I once considered it possible that I might sell my books on, but now I don't think that's going to happen.

I'm going to boycott them. The only way you can stop a beast like this is to stop feeding it. I will take my business elsewhere, simple as that. I'm sure Gleebooks in Glebe and Kinokuniya in the Sydney CBD deserve my support more than ever.

- Jacob Martin
AKA Jake Of All Trades

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Faster than a Speeding Bullet Reviews: Ratatouille

Ratatouille is a decent movie. Some reviewers compare the film to a good dish, but since I know nothing about food, I just eat it to live, it is fortunate that this film is accessible to those unfamiliar with the culinary lingo. Since this is a film made by Disney/Pixar, it's not surprising why this is. Though what is surprising is the sophistication of the film, adults will probably enjoy it on a much more developed level than kids will.

It's not sickeningly cute either. Some elements of the film are very dark, darker than most Pixar films: the link between Humans and rat traps/poison represented would be a bit of a shock to kids expecting the whole film to be a simple talking cute animal flick. Yes, the film is about a talking rat, but there are some very real dangers and hazards presented by Remy's quest to transcend his position as a rat in order to cook.

The ending isn't too sappy either. You think they're going to get away with locking the ex-chef and health inspector in the larder, but hey, everything works out, even though the result of rats in the kitchen is clearly represented as a downer for reputation once brought to the open. The love story is far less sappy and more believable than most Disney film romance subplots are too, the female cook love interest is no doormat, if she's unhappy, she will let the main man know it. Score one for realistic relationships, no wilting here, just a sweetness that isn't too sugary.

You don't have to be a connoisseur of fine food to enjoy this film, but after seeing this you may well want to become one. I give it Five Stars out of Five.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Handheld Games I Loved and Cherished

I like handheld games a lot better than TV plug in console ones because of the way I can not only cart them around with me, but they're also easier to use for my motor skills challenged hands. For years, I struggled with playing video games, until I discovered a little game for the Game Boy called Pokemon Red and Blue. Then my brother got a Game Boy Colour, and from there I loved handhelds.

Not just Game Boy handheld games either. Never forget that my youth in the 1990s heralded many handheld innovations. Like the Tamagotchi. (Or however you spell it).

Tamagotchis as well as the highly popular Digimon, as I remember it, were a highly enjoyable subgenre of handheld game called the "Virtual Pet" craze. Let me put this into context. Many kids I knew when I was in primary school were not allowed to have pets in their house, so they turned to virtual alternatives to prove they could at least keep something alive for more than a week. Parents missed the point of these things, and thus disregarded their offspring's attempts at responsible pet ownership through a video game, when they were denied a pet of their own in real life.

Also available was the Pocket Pikachu, which could interact with your Game Boy Pokemon games in some way I can't remember. Digimon virtual pets could battle each other, and successive versions of the Digimon were more powerful than the ones that came before it, so, a generation began to consume electronics like no other generation before.

But back to the Game Boy. When I was a kid these things were status symbols, and those who did not have one looked on as the lucky bastard who had enough money to own both versions of the original Pokemon played on a small screen. Not that we got teased if we didn't have one of course. Smarter, and more compassionate kids, realised that if he was going to trade Pokemon he would need more friends who had Game Boys to trade and battle with. So by letting other children watch him play the game, a chap could influence his friends to get one for their birthday or Christmas.

I didn't actually own a Pokemon game until Pokemon Crystal came out, because my parents didn't spoil me and my brother very much. This meant we appreciated our electronics more. Pokemon waned in popularity as kids like us grew older, turning to other non-computer game entertainments such as DragonBall Z for our morning cartoons. But that didn't mean handhelds went away with it. And those who have been following gaming will know that Pokemon is making a comeback (God forbid).

But what came next? What would fill the void of handheld gaming after the Game Boy Colour? In a gaming magazine one day I discovered it: The Game Boy Advanced. Now this was particularly interesting. The screen was bigger, and it had L and R buttons on it for some reason. It also had quite a few games which appealed to older gamers who had long since given up "catching them all" with Pokemon games. Stuff like Advance Wars, and Fire Emblem. The occasional RPG was made for it. Golden Sun remains one of my favorite RPGs, though I never finished it, I'm sad to say. And just before you thought you'd never see another Pokemon game again, they made more Pokemon games for the GBA, with more features than before. Really it was getting silly. But for some reason, even young men in their middle teens still played these new Pokemon offerings. They played those while I was busy farming on Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town.

And it got even more ridiculous. The Game Boy Advanced SP came out with a backlit screen, because people complained that the original Game Boy Advanced had a screen that was too dark, and you had to buy a light accessory to see the damned game you were playing. I never owned a SP for good reason. I liked the design of the original GBA and I wasn't going to shell out 200 bucks for a new system when I could easily buy more games for that much money.

This was long before DS Lites and PlayStation Portables and what have you. So back then, 2D graphics on a handheld was impressive. But my generation should always remember we came from the dark ages (in some cases literally, like the GBA Screen) of consumer electronics to see the innovations of the future. Kurt Cobain never saw a PSP, Alec Guinness never played a DS Lite. If you live longer than both these people and yet still see the wonders of technology advancing, you should be even more grateful for that.