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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Beware of Sheep in Poodle's Clothing

Many of you may have heard of the scandal concerning sheep being marketed as poodles to Japanese people. If you haven't heard of it, here is the link.

Now that you've heard of it, here's my thoughts on the matter. Japan gave us the joys of Sushi Bars, Astro Boy and of course, Iron Chef. These great achievements of civilization have all been reached by the people of the Rising Sun.

And when I heard perfectly intelligent people had been swindled, just because they had never seen a Sheep before in their lives (remember, in Japan, sheep are very rare). Similar things have occurred with EBay in relation to new gaming consoles. Before you laugh at the Japanese for mistaking sheep for poodles, think of how easily you too might be fooled into buying something that isn't the genuine article because you've never seen such a thing before.

Working on my Art Project: Part One

A HSC body of work is seldom easy, but I tend to make it look that way until you see me two hours into starting work. That's when my sanity starts to slip and I start yelling at people.

I call this, the "Sanity Meter". For those of you not into obscure game references, the video game for Gamecube "Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem" had something called a Sanity Meter which let you know when your sanity was starting to go AWOL, and if you didn't pay attention to it, you got some delightfully scary game animations, and even the False Blue Screen of Death.

My "Sanity Meter" starts dropping after drawing a person's head wrong in a graphic novel illustration for the book I'm drawing the pictures for (the first book that I wrote in my fantasy trilogy, as it is set in the modern era, those Elves in Denim are really hard to draw. The simple mindmelt you get when you think about drawing Elves in jeans and t-shirts makes progress difficult enough).

Then I start yelling at Photoshop or Illustrator when it won't let me do what I want with it... (Computer says No...) usually Illustrator retools a line I draw on the Wacom tablet thingie without me wanting it to, or demands I use the Live-Bucket tool, which is sheer lunacy.

At this point my "Sanity Meter" is dropping at a steady rate, until it fills up again when I figure out how to solve a minor problem which leads to solving more minor problems. A drink of Milo also fills it up if consumed during a twenty minute break.

Remember, never yell at software, the reason why it is not responding to your torrential insults and raging is because poor Photoshop is cowering in the corner and crying, too terrified to give an answer, or if Illustrator has lost interest in your constant attacks at its self esteem. Grand Theft Auto games are designed to get rid of anger, not Photoshop or Illustrator, so please, give your software peace of mind by not destroying its will to live.

Sincerely, Jacob Martin, TeenAuthor.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Film Review of "Attack of the 50 Foot Woman"

Here's a review I did of the movie "Attack of the 50 Foot Woman". It was on cable, so I couldn't miss the opportunity to watch/review a piece of 1950s cinema history. This review, like the movie, is an oldie but a goodie.


Jacob Martin

Film Review
“Attack of the 50 Foot Woman”

I like the odd movie, even if it’s so bad you can only laugh at it. I sat down to watch Attack of the 50 Foot Woman expecting 1950s cheese and primitive special effects, but I got a lot more out of it. Here was a film from the era when cosmic radiation could make anything possible (remember the origins of the Fantastic Four?) and the Cold War was at its frostiest. And it reflects its time like a pristine mirror.

Because frankly, I haven’t seen a film this sexist since I saw American Pie for the first time. The main characters, a husband (Harry) with a rich, nagging wife who has disdain for her husband’s canoodling with a redhead woman, and who has a history of being put in psychiatric care (she was once in an asylum), and placed there by her less than faithful husband to ensure he can spend time with the redhead lass, reflect a time when nobody really listened to women, thus their hysterical screaming/yelling was ignored largely in this film, whether for historical posterity or for simple misogyny in film making.

Even when the wife has been transformed into the 50 Foot Woman, her hubby is two timing on her and won’t come home. So she goes on a rampage, kills the redhead girl in jealousy, grabs her puny-by-comparison spouse, and walks off, only being stopped by an electrical tower explosion, and ends similar to the original King Kong, only with the line “She finally got her Harry all to herself”, as a shot of Harry’s wife clutching him in her hand.

As far as bad movies from a bygone era go, it’s not Ed Wood bad, simply cheesy and laughable. The special effects will cause grins of humor rather than the terror they were supposed to invoke in their day. However there are very sexist elements to the film, that you can only frown upon or snigger at, such as a conversation between two psychologists who work to help Harry’s wife recover from her delusions of seeing a “30 Foot Giant in a satellite”, concerning the supposed over emotional nature of women and what happens to their personalities when they get older. To them, Harry’s wife is a deluded, demanding she-bitch when all she really wants is for her husband to love her.

Though don’t let the blatant chauvinism stop you enjoying this movie, it’s one of the most entertaining films I’ve seen all week. The 50s will live on, in the form of “classic” sci-fi fare like this, not in the memories of the paranoia of the era which many people wish to forget (to their own peril).

I give this movie Eight and a Half “Hysterically Screaming 50s Diner Waitresses” out of Ten.

My Pratchett Pilgrimage

Earlier this year (or was it last year?) I went to a book signing to see Terry Pratchett, and to get my books signed. After I came home I wrote an article about it, however I never got the chance to have it published in the Books section of the Sydney Morning Herald. Remembering that when I entered a short story competition, the judge from the Sydney Morning Herald rejected my story, or as it were, stories, if favor of some other child in the school (Note: The Sydney Morning Herald has never been a fan of the Fantasy Genre. Even if you set your Fantasy tale in the modern era, they will not like it), I decided that those Philistines that call themselves reviewers didn't deserve my article. So here it is now.

My Pratchett Pilgrimage
By Jacob Martin

As I got to the Children’s Bookshop, I did not remember where it was, my purpose for being there was far more important, for this was where I could get to meet Terry Pratchett, author of the Discworld series of books, one of my favorite book series of all time, in the flesh, and what’s more, I could meet him and get a selection of my Pratchett collection of books personally signed for free! You don’t get that from other authors, and all I had to do was turn up after a thirty minute drive.

The kindly owner of the bookshop knew there was going to be a big crowd, so he limited the number of people who could come to hear the Terry Talk, but since I turned up so early, so eager to meet my favorite author, I was permitted to sit on the floor to hear the master of humorous fantasy writing speak. Here are the highlights:

“Is some of what your books say true?” asked somebody, inquiring about the Discworld book Monstrous Regiment, where a girl dresses up as a soldier to find her brother who has gone off to fight in a war.

“Let me get this straight, apart from the Troll and the Vampire, it’s all true!” said Terry Pratchett, “There were an estimated 1500 women who fought in the American Civil War dressed up as men, and barely any of them were found out, unless they were shot and the doctor had to inspect them. You also got situations in country areas where there were a “husband and wife” that was actually more like a “wife and wife”, and nobody talked about it, because nobody knew that the “husband” was simply a woman dressed up in a suit and a tie. Keep in mind men never figured this out because we’re stupid. We always thought short hair equals a boy and long hair equals a girl, but we also thought girl with short hair was just “boy with squeaky voice”.

This was a question that Terry Pratchett was asked, and as with most questions he was asked, he could turn dull questions into fascinating side-stories. But back at the beginning of the talk, he began talking about his more recent books and what inspired him to become a writer.

“I used to read a lot, I read a lot of books from my local library. I collected library tickets, because with each one I could borrow and read a book” said Pratchett, “Gradually I got a hundred and thirty four library tickets. By then I was classed as an honorary adult, and they didn’t kick me out of the adult section, because the librarian let me borrow any book I liked, even ones that were hardly suitable for me. The ones that weren’t suitable for me, are the ones I learnt most from, and quickly…”

He coughed for a moment, and allowed people to have time in which they could laugh at his jokes.

“I learned a lot from my mother as well, like how I used to question logic. I began this by wondering why I was the only boy in the world with a turtle named [after the man who ran the first Marathon] and why if the man who ran the Marathon ran through Athens, it was still called the Marathon, to which my mother replied “Well if it was called the Athens there would be buses and timetables and maps telling you how to get through it” he continued.

His response to the Hogfather TV Movie series adapted from his Discworld book was quite hilarious.

“At least they got old actors to play the wizards. But when you got really old actors playing wizards, you get wizards played by really old actors. Their wives were on the set whispering lines in their ears that they had forgotten”

Terry Pratchett is a bit of an actor/impression artist himself, as he uproariously recreated what happened on set in a sort of one man show, with voice impressions ranging to squeaky to old and bewildered.

“Which brings me to the theory that men store their memory in their wives, like an ATM of brain function” he said. “Another incident was that while we were filming the feast scene, which was as lavish as you could get, the fire alarm went off, and everybody including the actors playing wizards ran up the stairs in full costume, in view of some tourists. I explained this not as “We’re filming a movie”, but as “This… is a very old British custom… it is the Running of the Wizards… if you can catch them, you can grab their pointy hats off their heads and see what’s underneath…”

Pause for hysterical laughter from the mainly adult and smart teenager members of the audience, including me.

I asked Terry “Two questions, how did you figure out to use the H.P. Lovecraft Mythos in two of your books, and is what Neil Gaiman said about your collaboration with him on Good Omens true?”.

“The H.P. Lovecraft Mythos is essentially public property now” said Terry, “It consists of many dimensions that have various things in them, some good, some horrible. And I was thinking as I was driving, “In several other dimensions, I’m having accidents! I’m dead in another part of the universe!”. But I used that same concept in the book I’m writing called Making Money, where there’s this Cabinet with endless doors inside, left right and center. It is said that it contains everything in the universe except the color pink, which tells us that it was not constructed by a girl aged four to twelve, because you simply can’t tear them away from pink in that age bracket!”

He answered my second question: “As for Good Omens, basically everything he [Neil Gaiman] said about it is true, we didn’t have the internet that was readily available in those days, so we had to send manuscripts by mail to each other. The entirety of the book has no elements that haven’t been touched by both of us”

He then talked about what the Discworld series began as, after one audience member referred to Pratchett as the “Douglas Adams of Fantasy”:

“I started out with Science Fiction. Douglas Adams’s books wouldn’t be understood back in the 60s because back then Science Fiction had only begun its mainstream run with Star Trek and the like. In the 80s Fantasy was becoming mainstream, and I read The Lord of the Rings, and loved it, but there was something wrong with it. In the 80s there was some good and some bad Fantasy, and generally it was derivative of Tolkien, but I decided, I could have some fun with this [the Fantasy genre] and the Discworld series “took the piss”, as best I can put it, out of the Fantasy that was around at the time. I didn’t like Tolkien’s Elves, because I liked the idea of the Irish Mythology more, where Elves had no souls and they either helped you or they didn’t, they were at best, fickle, and they stole babies and tricked you. And also with Tolkien, there was no sense of redemption for Orcs. Men and Elves could fall from grace, but Orcs could never rise up and say “Bugger this, I’m going to the pub” in the middle of a battle. That’s why my Troll characters can have good personalities”

After the talk finished, I was first in line to get my books signed, and I was explaining to him that I was an unpublished author, and that I wanted his blessing, and he simply said: “Tell me your name first”, as he smiled. He had dealt with awestruck fans like myself before. I told him my name so that he could write the dedications in the books I brought with me to be signed. My favorite dedication from Pratchett was the one he put in my copy of The Last Continent, his Discworld book that makes fun of Australian stereotypes. The dedication read: To Jacob, No Worries.

A fitting conclusion to his visit to Australia and my Pratchett Pilgrimage, that could not have ended better.

"Renegade Orchestra" Game Rules

Renegade Orchestra Game Rules
By Jacob Martin

Renegade Orchestra is a game for classical musicians, and works like this:

A “Renegade Orchestra”, is, by definition, is not restricted to a full, complete orchestra, it can be composed (pun intended) of a smaller group of musicians who play Classical instruments such as violins, cellos, woodwind instruments, harps etc., who plays Rock Music instead of the traditional Classical Music, however, they play Rock Music in the style of either the genre it comes from using Classical instruments, or rearranged as a piece of Classical Music. These Rock songs can be of any genre of Rock and can either be an original piece of Rock Music, or a cover version of a Rock Song played by classical instruments.

The piece(s) of music can either be instrumental works or with lyrics and vocals. The game rules permit recording the piece(s) of music, and/or performing them live in any venue (provided that the intellectual property of musicians is respected and that you have permission to perform in any particular venue).

Alternatively, Charity Renegade Orchestra works like this:

A Renegade (or, if permitting, a regular) Orchestra begins by selecting an album from any genre of Rock Music, and performing it for either a live concert or a recorded album. The same can be done for a miscellany of Rock songs. If a concert is performed or an album is recorded, the profits can either go to, for example, (in the case of a school orchestra) much needed funding for an educational cause, (in the case of a tribute concert or album for a particular person notable in Rock Music, say, Freddie Mercury or Kurt Cobain for example) the profits go to the cause of the prevention or cure of whatever killed the person or causes they supported in life. A miscellany of Rock Songs from any genre performed by a full or partial orchestra can be used for any charitable cause that is reasonable. These causes include preventing Global Warming, raising money to give funding to musical education, freeing a political prisoner, raising awareness of various things worth bringing to light, and of course, the fact that you can play more than just Mozart and Handel with an orchestra, use your imagination.

If a Renegade Orchestra is formed, it must pick a name to ensure it is not confused with other Renegade Orchestras, for example, if Sydney College of Music decided to form a Renegade Orchestra, it would choose a name like “The Sydney College of Music’s Renegade Orchestra”. If an orchestra decided to form a Renegade Orchestra that was a tribute to 80’s Hair Metal bands such as Whitesnake, it would be called something like “The “Letting our Hair Down” 80s Hair Metal Renegade Orchestra”.

These rules for the game of Renegade Orchestra are the intellectual property of Jacob Martin, but are in the Public Domain for the use of everybody who wishes to use them.


Hello. This is TeenAuthor, a high school student who, if my memory serves me correctly, is also a young author. An unpublished author mind you, but still an author. I have written the complete drafts of two books (part of a fantasy trilogy set in the modern era), but it seems nobody likes a bragger, or blogger braggers for that matter, so I tend not to talk to people about developments in my literary career unless they want to listen.

I decided to create a Blog because I saw Neil Gaiman had one, and look where he is now, he's a bestselling author. So it couldn't hurt to start one myself. I could use the boost to awareness of my work, but I'd also like to use this blog as a way of making people aware in various Pop Culture developments. I like "High Art" as well, however I do believe one should never be pretentious in the Art world, even though being pretentious is part of Art's appeal... hmm... let me rephrase that. It's OK to be pretentious in Art some of the time but not all of the time.

Allow me to introduce myself a second time, my real name is Jacob Martin, and I go to Saint Andrews Cathedral School in Sydney, Australia. If you or someone you know already knows me, alert them to this Blog.

That is all for this post, I will post again when I get some new post material.