Lexifabricographer For when the right word just won’t do…

March 8, 2011

My Happiness

Filed under: family,friends,geekery,joey,news of the day,wombat,workin for the man — lexifab @ 2:53 pm

I didn’t mean for this resumption of posting to become a weekly affair, but oh well. I don’t mean a lot of things that end up happening anyway.

I promised that I would be relentlessly positive with this next entry, and so I shall be – within reasonable limits of tolerance for the terms ‘relentlessly’ and ‘positive’, that is. This is all stuff that is on my mind at the moment that is making me feel good about life

Family – I have a wonderful wife and two adorable children. How cool is that? I have to start with the family, because the last thing I would want is to take them for granted. How can I not appreciate the frankly astonishing fact that I have a loving, supportive and stable marriage with a wonderful woman whose only apparent flaw is her dubious taste in husbands? On top of that are two healthy, adorable little people who love me unconditionally and suffuse me with joy every day. Sometimes even when they are voiding their bowels in some nefarious and inconvenient way.

Work – Work is going well. I have a meaty project to get on with that has a vertiginous learning curve, fearsome deadlines and a broad menagerie of overworked colleagues who have too many other things on their plate. I’m loving it. Every morning I get to work and look at the mountain of stuff that needs doing and I can’t wait to get stuck into it. It has been a while since that’s happened. I suppose it’s possible (inevitable?) that sooner or later the goalposts will shift and some new direction from upper management will force me off into some other project – although I kind of hope not, since my work is one of those critical business processes that functional organisations do well and that everyone points at and laughs when an enterprise goes belly- and/or tits-up – but while it’s still flavour of the month I intend to make as much of it as possible. Possibly up to and including a trip to Sydney for a seminar!

Gaming – After the Wombat was born I took a break from gaming to do my share of baby-wrangling and to keep the house from falling apart or smelling too bad. But since she has started sleeping a little more reliably in recent weeks, I’ve started easing back into previous schedule. Seeing as there are four separate games involved (one weekly, the rest fortnightly) I am not sure whether I will be able to sustain all of them without either running myself ragged or (more likely) jeopardising harmonious relations with my long-suffering wife. I suspect that I’m at least one commitment overbooked, but I will see how it goes. I do know that as long as it lasts, I am enjoying getting together with friends and rolling dice and telling cool stories in bad accents.

Minecraft – It’s more or less my default state that my attention will have been seized by one or two computer games at any given time, and that I will spend as much time as I can spare shooting this or climbing that in some colour-saturated virtual environment. For the past few weeks I have been utterly arrested by Minecraft, a game which has astonishly clunky graphics, no plot or characters, repetitive plinky-plonky music, no instructions and no specific point. It’s one of the most fun things I’ve come across in years. It’s essentially a mining survival game. Your blocky little avatar appears in the middle of a large randomly generated environment and must immediately begin the work of securing (some of) the essentials of life, in particular shelter, before night falls and the monsters come out.

You achieve this in any number of ways, including chopping down trees, digging up dirt, sand or stone to build a shelter, or burrowing into the side of a mountain and fashioning a safety cave for yourself. The first time you play you will probably fail in some way and be quickly killed. But you soon realise (especially if you avail yourself of online help like the Minecraft wiki) that within these and a few other constraints, you are free to do absolutely anything in this game. You can hunt monsters (though the tools to do so are primitive), you can explore, or you can mine up various materials from which to craft great works of art and architecture.

I’m taking great pleasure in carving out a vast underground network of tunnels, dredging various materials back to the surface and shaping them into sprawling fortresses and civic infrastructure that nobody else will ever use. Even better, in the past week or so some friends have started a multiplayer server so that we can collaborate on mighty civil engineering masterpieces like the towering replica of Perdido Street Station currently underway.

It’s probably not immediately obvious what the appeal could be – graphically and audially the game looks like a refugee from the earliest days of the Commodore 64, it’s not actually finished yet and if you didn’t know any better it would doubtless look upon first inspection as though all it offers is the opportunity to punch blocks of colour schemes vaguely suggestive of trees, pigs or chickens, while not falling off a cliff or drowning in a lake. Here’s what the lightbulb moment was for me – when I realised that Minecraft is just a very, very big Lego set. If like me you have ever played with Legos and thought even for a second about what kinds of cool stuff you could make if only you had an unlimited supply of blocks, then Minecraft is a perfect answer.

Lost – At any given time, while I’m not chewing up all my leisure time with gaming of some sort or another, there will usually be at least one TV show that I am following with minute, slavish attention. Lost was the most recent example for me, and since it sadly finished last year nothing has stepped forward to fill that void. [1] I loved Lost – it had sharp writing, a fascinating story and compelling characters, but the really ingenious thing about it was its structure. How the story was told was its most impressive feature for me.

But as much as I admired it and would defend it against criticisms that the producers were making the whole thing up as they went along and that it descended into utter gibberish around Season Two, Three, Four, Five or absolutely definitely Six, it is fair to say that it was on occasions a bit confusing. Which is why I was so happy to come across the Lost Answers blog, in which a self-declared Scientist has taken it upon himself to answer his readers’ questions about any aspect of the show. [2]  It’s right up my alley, deeply nerdy analysis coupled with self-deprecating humour and not-unwarranted sarcasm.

What’s fascinating about his analysis, which is independent of the show’s producers and based entirely off his own observations of the show, is that his completely-plausible answers make it pretty obvious that, far from being a loose agglomeration of sweaty jungle shootouts and random mysticism, in fact Lost was an amazingly tight construction with few unintentional loose ends. Go and check out his explanation of why babies couldn’t be born on the Island, a fact that was introduced in the third season, was critically important to several characters (Juliet, Sun, Claire and Kate, mainly) and was seemingly forgotten in the final year. Warning: obviously, the whole Lost Answers site contains spoilers for the ending, so don’t go looking if you are still working your way through it.

If nothing else this (and my started-twice-and-never-quite-finished essay on the final episode) it has inspired me to start a Lost writing project. [3] I’ll talk about it soonish.

World Affairs – I wanted to say something about how the collapse of Middle Eastern dictatorships and the hilarious disintegration of the mind and career of one of the world’s most overpaid serial abusers of women are keeping me entertained these days, but this is running a little on the long side. Maybe later.

1  – Doctor Who doesn’t count, because it goes without saying that my devotion to Who sets it apart and above all other forms of televised entertainment. Also – woo! New DW coming in a month or so!

2 – Except Walt, the kid who seemed mysterious and important for the first couple of seasons, until a very rapid growth spurt completely out of sync with the show’s compressed time frame forced the producers to drop whatever plans they had for the character.

3 – No, it isn’t John Locke fan fic, you will be relieved to hear.

October 30, 2010

Less than a week to go

So, with my resolve to resume daily blogging in its usual post-resolution tatters, I will pick up the commentary with a slapdash collection of links, half-baked anecdotes and the usual apologia for a lack of updates.

All done working

Fi and I both finished working yesterday, in anticipation of the Wombat’s [1] arrival next Friday (Remember, remember, the fifth of November [2]). Oddly, my job became quite interesting and stimulating in the last couple of weeks, to the extent that I’m actually a bit annoyed to have to leave it dangling for the next ten weeks or so. The last few months have been frustrating in that I had a lot to do and not enough time to do it properly, while all around me the rest of the team was shrinking to about one-third its original size (with little corresponding decline in responsibilities, naturally). When I get back to it at the end of January, the team numbers should be somewhat restored and much of the work that has been annoying me in the latter part of this year will have passed.

Fi, on the hand, was very much ready to chuck it all in and walk away for the better part of a year. I can’t blame her. She’s *very* pregnant! On top of that, there are dramas at her work that she’s better off well away from.

Live music!

Simon and I went to see a live performance of Dire Straits’ Brothers in Arms album last night. The first half of the show was a straight performance of the whole album, and then after the intermission was a collection of greatest hits. I really enjoyed the show (hopefully Si did as well, since it was his slightly-delayed birthday present), but then again that was practically pre-ordained. BiA is *the* album for me – the formative one from my youth that basically set the course of my musical tastes. Such as they are. The highest praise I can give the performers is that they made ‘Calling Elvis’ – a song I can’t stand – one of the standout numbers of the show. And their extended encore arrangement of ‘Sultans of Swing”, with three leads playing the ridiculously guitar-wanky solo together, was exhuberating and kind of hilarious.

After last night I’ve decided that I really want to watch more live music. However, the next concert that I have tickets for is The Wiggles at the AIS Arena. Hrn…

These are links to things that I think people should look at

Scenes from a Multiverse – This is a terrific daily webcomic. Each episode is set in a different universe. Sometimes it has cute bunnies, because the artist lets people vote on where the comic will be set once a week, and they keep voting for bunnies.

Tour de Holmes – If like me you haven’t read the Sherlock Holmes stories since you were about ten or twelve, you may get a lot out of this accessible series of analyses of the whole Holmes canon. Eddy Fate (now the line developer for the White Wolf games, unless I’m misdescribing his job) clearly loves the great detective, and does a pretty good job of debunking some of the more egregious Holmes myths (like the one that Watson’s a complete bumbling prat instead of the hardarse war veteran portrayed in the recent Guy Ritchie/Jude Law and Stephen Moffat/Martin Freeman interpretations)

I’ve been playing some new games lately:

  • FreeMarket (also known as Project Donut) – the newish roleplaying game with some distinctive pedigree – it’s by Luke (Burning Wheel, Burning Empires, Mouse Guard) Crane and Jared (Lacuna[3], inSpectres) Sorensen. It’s a neat game about life and society on a data relay station orbiting one of Saturn’s moons, where basic human needs are met and everyone is an immortal with nothing that they particularly need to do. The game is essentially about building social capital and finding a functional place in a deeply strange society (so, you know, actual science fiction). It’s also diceless, using a clever card (-counting) mechanic to resolve conflicts. We played a short session earlier in the week that points to a game which encourages wild and imaginative play with some surprising depths.
  • Dogfighter – I generally dislike flight simulators and flying games in general. But I make a major exception for games that replicate the slow-turning, climb-and-stall aerobatics of WWI-era planes. Your Sopwith Camels and Red Baron Fokkers and suchlike. Dogfighter is such a game, but it has online multiplayer, achievements and powerups like rockets, cluster bombs and invisibility. What’s not to love?
  • Assassin’s Creed II – This is a game about running around the rooftops of Medici-era Florence, doing crazy parkour jumps, falls and rolls, and bloodily stabbing the bastards in league with the Borgias. On top of that there’s a centuries-spanning Templar conspiracy, the hitherto-unrecorded supertech of Leonardo and some weird genetic pseudo-time travel shit going on. Hell yeah, I’m down with that too.
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum- Like AC2, this is a year or two old. I’m pretty slow at getting down with the new gear. In this you get to be Batman, and you get to kick arse, Batman style. There should be no question as to why this would be a good thing.

Of course I know that in a couple of days I am not going to have any time to sit down and play games any more. Oh well. Luckily the cricket tours are about to start, so I should have somehing to watch all day while I am circling the room trying to soothe a distressed Wombat.

Writing taking a back seat to writing about writing

I now have about five incomplete short stories on the trot, two of which involve triffids thanks to last Friday night’s viewing of the most recent remake. One of these days I will knuckle down and actually finish something, but don’t hold your breath. On the other hand, I do have several pretty good half-stories under my belt! [4]

[1] Thanks Pol. That name’s working out just fine.

[2] Wombat is lucky in that her dad is such an anglophile history nerd that her birthday should not ever be forgot [sic].

[3] Or rather, to use its full name, Lacuna Part 1: The Creation of the Mystery and the Girl from Blue City. I like that.

[4] Does anyone know of a good drug that makes you just sit down and finish shit? Because if it’s alcohol, I can see why so many writers hit the sauce for years at a time.

October 16, 2010

What I did on my ‘holidays’

Filed under: family,friends,news of the day — lexifab @ 9:26 pm

It has been a bit of a while, hasn’t it, Lexifab? I’ve neglected you outrageously. In my defense, I’ve been busy and you’re not really a very high priority, are you? So belt up, have another guzzle of scotch and wait patiently while I try and sort through everything that needs covering since the last entry.

WEDDINGS

So the main reason that I have not been all that diligent with the diarising is that we’ve done an unusual amount of travelling since the end of August. We’ve had two trips away to attend wedding during September, which is more air travel than I’ve had in the previous four years, I think (Fi’s been away a bit more than that for work, but I’ve been mostly stationary).

First up we had ten days in Cairns for my cousin Marney’s wedding to her beau Michael. The two of them have been together for even longer than Fi and I, and have three kids now, so it’s about time they got around to tying the knot. Of course what it really was for most of us was an excellent excuse for a big family reunion – the Marsh girls and the Versace boys basically grew up together, and it’s been much too long since we were all in the same place at the same time. As it was Ian and his family couldn’t make it, so it wasn’t quite a clean sweep, but it came pretty close. The details are starting to fade into a blur, but it was a glorious chaotic and loud mess of cousins, friends and a truly bewildering number of kids (I almost called them nephews and nieces but that’s not technically correct, which is why I’m not required by law to be able to recite their names and ages. Which is good, because I’m still not clear on which ones belong to which of the five Marsh sisters).

The wedding was an outdoor affair, held at – of all places – a bungee jumping centre (which was much more picturesque and charming than I could possibly make it sound). Marney was freaking out all week about the looming weather, with some justification – the Davis Cup tennis tournament was being held at the same time, and several days of that were washed out – but on the day of the wedding it was pretty much clear and beautiful. And then began the canapes, the flowing booze and the very very loud dance music. Ah yes, it was every bit what I’d hoped for from a Marsh wedding.

We also managed to cram in an overnight trip up to the tableland to visit Mum and Dad at the property. The Joey got to acquaint himself with all the farm animals – cows, chooks, guinea fowl at Mum and Dad’s, and down the road at my uncle and aunt’s place there were goats, horses, turkeys, dogs and more cattle than he could count. He was, I think, delighted, though for some reason he found the turkeys rather intimidating.

It was lovely to visit Mum and Dad’s place again – he haven’t been up there since our honeymoon tour of Queensland, which was eight years ago. I guess it will probably be the last time we lay eyes on the place – or rather, I hope so, since they’ve put it on the market and plan to move down to the NSW north coast-ish area to be closer to we kids and our families. Probably won’t happen in a hurry, since it requires a fairly specific kind of house-hunter, but hopefully they won’t still be up there for too much long.

The other wedding, a couple of weeks later in Brisbane, was my best mate Evan’s. This time we abandoned the Joey at home with his Auntie Quack, which should have meant that we actually had a bit of a relaxing trip away. That was a bit optimistic, as it turned out – I tend to forget how exhausting travel is, and with Fi at about the seven month mark in her pregnancy, it was pretty hard work for her. For my part, I was fretting with increasing fervour about my best man duties, which I shared with the inimitable Andrew. Specifically, I was a bit nervous about our speech at the reception, which was a bit of a comedy routine, because of course it would have been a ghastly misstep to actually attempt to compose and perform a musical tribute without Ev on board to carry us vocally and instrumentally. Luckily I took the unusual step of confronting my nerves about public performance by rehearsing rather than clapping my hands over my ears and succumbing to the siren lure of sweet denial. In the end we only blew about three lines, and none of the properly funny gags. The rap was a touch ragged, but I think that helped sell the joke anyway, so that’s okay.

The wedding was held in a sweet little chapel in Paddington. I would like to post up some photos, because Sara-Jane and her bridesmaids looked gorgeous, and Evan and we-two-his-groomsmen scrubbed up okay in James Bondesque threads. I say I’d like to share the photos, but unfortunately I can’t, because as it turns out the lens on our camera was on the way out, and nearly none of the shots Fi took are in focus. Mind you, there was nothing wrong with the sound pickup, so Ev’s performance of “All You Need is Love” (along with the whole congregation, of course) came out pretty clearly. If you squint at the visual, that is.

It was a lovely, relaxed and cheerful affair, as you’d expect. Ev and Sara-Jane are a wonderful, wonderful couple and I couldn’t be more happy that they’ve found each other. It’s terrific to have such fantastic friends, and it was a privilege to share the occasion with them. Even if I did squander the honour by accusing Ev of being a sherbie-pop junkie in my speech.

There was also stuff happening on the home front, but you know what, I might try to get that into another blog tomorrow. I need to start catching up on my sleep. Only 20 days to go until the baby arrives – which isn’t a lot of time to come up with a suitable internet pseudonym. Hmmm.

August 23, 2010

The Monday after the weekend before

Filed under: fitter/happier,friends,joey,political sniping,the renovated life — lexifab @ 10:47 pm

NEW BABY

Dear friends Andrew and Veronica have just announced the birth of their beautiful baby girl Jade. Mother and baby both doing well, and father sounding exhausted and smug when I spoke to him this afternoon. I expect there will be an avalanche of photos available on the interwebs shortly.

HOUSE IN RUINS

So late last week we started to notice that there was water appearing on the floor in the kitchen. Naturally everyone – including me – made the reasonable assumption that I was responsible, spilling too much and cleaning up too little when washing up. It soon became apparent that in fact there was something else going on, that the water was seeping up between the seams of the floating floor slats and presumably up through the floorboards themselves. The floating floor boards are just a laminate, so any water that gets into them for any length of time causes them to swell and start to disintegrate. These ones may have had moisture in them for several weeks, which means at least half the boards in the kitchen are probably screwed beyond repair. And while we have some spares set aside for emergencies, we are pretty sure that we don’t have enough to replace the number that have probably been affected by this incident. And we’re damned sure that, with a two year old in the house and another on the way, we can’t face having to seal off the kitchen while we rip the ruined ones up and replace them.

An expedition to the underworld (played this week by the dusty, cat-faeces-choked subfloor crevice) revealed that…something was leaking in the laundry cabinet off to the side of the kitchen. Last night we turned various taps off (not the right ones, as it turned out, but in my defense there was no obvious visible evidence to suggest what was actually causing the leak) and hoped that the problem would start to fix itself overnight. Not so much. When I looked again this morning the drips were, if anything, more frequent than they were yesterday. Calls to the insurance company followed. Looks like they will cover part of the replacement but not all of it – the floorboards cover the dining room and the hallway that leads to the bathroom and study as well, so if we replace anything we more or less have to replace the lot.At the moment we are considering tiles or another form of timber covering (the floorboards themselves were in a pretty ordinary state, which is one of the reasons we covered them with the floating floor in the first place). There is also the possibility that the underlying floorboards and even the beams will have been damaged by the water leakage, so this could get quite expensive in the end. We think that insurance (or “gambling for pessimists”, as I like to think of it) will cover anything serious like that, but we allow room for the company to disappoint us on that score.

SICKENED

I crashed early last night with aches and pains and then spent most of the night awake with horrible wracking muscle spasms. Yet another frigging flu, I presume. That must be the third or fourth minor flu for the season – more than I managed last year, for certain. I daresay the change factor this year is the Joey’s childcare attendance, where he is undoubtedly exposed to every foul pestilence known to man, including the ones he himself is only too happy to share with the violent sneezes he inherited from his father and the occasional lapse in mouth covering discipline, which he also may have picked up from the paternal side. Have gradually recovered during the day, to the point now where I am wide awake and in only mild discomfort. Despite drinking litres of water, i still feel dehydrated, which is going to be just peachy during the night, I’ll warrant.

POLITICS

I was a bit too ill to spend much time to day catching up on the machinations of the independents and the musings of the polly-watchers, but I am quite keen to get back into that as soon as I can. A hung parliament is likely to be an exercise in protracted horror, certainly, but at least it is interesting. A friend cautions me not to get too optimistic about the prospect of general improvement in the conduct of the parliament as a result of the changed balance of power. Nevertheless it looks a lot like independent Rob Oakeshott is going to lead the charge for parliamentary reform and try to get some much needed quality control back into the procedures for the House of Reps. I like his moxie too, in putting his foot down and saying that if the big parties can’t do that, at least, then it’s back to the polls for the lot of you. Myself, I hope a minority government forms and he and the other two to three to four non-party members kick some common decency into the House.

I notice that he has a surprisingly non-annoying web site, for an Australian politician.

August 8, 2010

Sunday night is a bad night for working

Filed under: friends,wordsmithery — lexifab @ 10:22 pm

Rob is about to watch Firefly for the first time and I think that I will need to be there for that. Besides I haven’t watched it in a while myself, and goddamn do I like watching that show. And weeping. I do a lot of weeping when I think about what could have been, because I am a sad Joss Whedon fanboy (a fact which I even have the t-shirt to prove). Besides, I am too full of good food to make a commitment to hard creative work.

The writing is going pretty well at the moment, although the fact that Rob is here is messing slightly with what I laughingly refer to as my routine, through no fault of his, I might add. I have about 3000 unedited words of the first Sawl story that I have been working on, and I have about half an outline of two others (in both cases still waiting for inspiration as to where the actual story is going to go, but I think that in the case of at least one of them it’s not going to matter much if I start without knowing the ending. We can fix all this in post-production).

Speaking of visual arts-speak, I keep coming back to the idea of doing the Sawl stories as a series of scripts for a hypothetical TV series, which on the one hand is probably a terrible idea given that I have no experience whatsoever writing scripts and have no way of getting one produced even if I managed to write something of genuine quality. But on the other hand, some of the material really feels like it calls for that visual element, which either means that my instincts about what I should be doing with it are spot on or, more likely, I don’t have confidence in either my own powers of description or in the strength of the ideas to stand on their own, without the support of incidental music, scenic art direction and Lisa McCune or possibly John Waters who used to be in Play School.

Be that as it may, I still may go ahead and do it that way. I daresay that the rhythm of script writing (with all the EXT – DAY – A ROADSIDE CAFE CAR PARK and suchlike stage directions that they include) would come to me after a while, so it would just be a matter of whether I can develop a sufficient feel for the structure and style of dialogue. I think that I have a terrible ear for dialogue that sounds as though people other than me might have said it, so that would certainly be something that such an exercise would help me to work on. I guess the main thing that is holding me back is the thought that actually some of these ideas are quite decent and – if the quality of stuff in the current issue of Aurelis Magazine is any guide – potentially they are quite saleable ideas. That being the case, I’m not sure I want to “waste” them on something that is 99% likely to be nothing more consequential than a writing exercise, no matter how much it might lead to other writing. Of course I am equally aware that story ideas are a dime a dozen and one should never become too attached to them, because someone else might do the same thing only better, or else closer inspection might show up some of the flaws in a supposed gem of inspiration.

August 6, 2010

Our Man in Tokyo is not actually in Tokyo

Filed under: family,friends,now playing: anything,wordsmithery — lexifab @ 12:05 am

Our friend Rob, who normally resides in Tokyo, arrived in town yesterday. Apart from occasional grainy , badly-lit webcam conversations over Skype, I haven’t actually seen Rob since my wedding, which was nearly eight years ago. He’s making a rare visit to Australia to catch up with the relatives and as an added bonus has now taken up residence on the couch for a few days. It’s been over a decade since we all cohabited at the house on the hill in Townsville, but it’s remarkable how easy it is to just carry on as if no time has passed at all. It’s good to recall that living back in the Ol’ Sweatbox did have its good points (though I maintain that the only thing I really miss about Townsville is the people I used to hang around with there. Well, that and all the swimming pools).

Hopefully over the weekend we will actually get Rob along to a session of roleplaying. The poor lad’s been somewhat starved of dice-rolling entertainment since he moved to a city where coordinating to meet three to four friends for several hours is a massive logistical challenge. One of my Burning Wheel playing compadres has received his advanced copy of the BW Adventure Burner, so if all goes to plan we are going to test drive one of the introductory scenarios  (no experience necessary!)  in the back of that on Saturday night. Should be some good times. Hopefully he will enjoy it as much as we do. BW really is the game I wish that we had back in the 90’s when we were trying to bend games like Shadowrun and Earthdawn and Torg into character-driven narrative adventures, and for the most part falling short (even though it was still obviously a lot of fun).

A mysterious package addressed to me showed up during the week. It turned out to be what looks like the first issue of a four-part subscription to Aurealis, the now-venerable magazine of Australian Fantasy and Science Fiction. I have absolutely no idea what mysterious benefactor got it for me. At first I theorised that it was some sort of resumption of the old subscription that I used to have, but since it’s been about fifteen years and since I’ve moved probably six times in the meantime, that theory stretched credibility somewhat. In the absence of a better hypothesis, I have to assume that somebody gave it to me as a birthday present. I might also cautiously venture the conjecture that perhaps whoever it was has actually provided some sort of hint as to their identity and intentions, but if so I appear to have been completely oblivious at the time. So I will take this opportunity to thank you, mysterious benefactor and purveyor of quality short stories about weird outback happenings and doomed astronauts, and say that so far I am quite enjoying it. Cheers!

The writing is continuing. Today Lexifab is brought to you courtesy of a long, busy day, an evening of beery chatting with Rob, making an ill-advised expedition to the kitchen to try my luck at glucose-based honeycomb (recipe provided by the good people at MasterChef, the failures all my own) and the sudden realisation with less than an hour to go before the end of the day that if I don’t write my 750 Words then I will ruin my run. I think this is the 28th or so consecutive day of writing at least 750 words, and if I can keep it going to 100 days i will earn another achievement badge.

More practically, I am using many of those days to throw together a scrappy-but-written-at-least short story set in the Sawl (aka New Salisbury). I will probably publish it here, but I think that I will finish it first and then actually run an editing pen over it. If it keeps going as it has it should turn out well, though I have not yet necessarily overcome the peculiarities of the constraints I’ve set for myself – each day’s (750+ words’ worth of) writing must deliver a complete scene, and the next day’s writing must move onto a new scene. Some scenes have not exactly had their chance to breathe properly, and a couple of others are excessive, but hopefully an editing pass will fix that. At least, if editing achieves what I imagine that it’s supposed to. Editing is not what I would call a personal strength, so it will be interesting to see whether I have the fortitude to get stuck in with the red pen and do the (very necessary) rewrites.

I just realised that I allowed my brother Gazza’s birthday to pass unremarked in the corner of the internet. What a terrible oversight. Ian, if you’re reading this, hope that your birthday continued well after we spoke, and don’t worry about me reminding everyone that you turn forty next year. I know when to keep my mouth shut.

April 30, 2010

A week of tweets

Filed under: friends,the interweb she provides — lexifab @ 12:35 am

In terms of bleeding edge communications technology and social networking media, it’s fair to say that I’m not exactly an early adopter. I don’t yet have an iPhone, let alone an iPad. In fact if Fi hadn’t won a dinky little iPod Shuffle at her work Xmas party last year, I wouldn’t have an iAnything. Sorry Mister Jobs! (But I still have my free copy of iTunes, so all is forgiven, right?)

My mobile phone is a Motorola so old I can’t even find a link to the model on the company’s website. I’ve never posted anything to YouTube or Flickr. I missed the MySpace phenomenon (although to be fair, nearly everybody missed that one, or at least nobody misses it now). I got onto Facebook and Twitter long after they were officially no longer the big new thing*. I cannot understand what bizarre strain of masochistic extroversion could possibly have  given rise to Chatroulette (though I would like to think that its appeal lies at the dark heart of some fringe psychological condition  shared only by bored middle-aged German sex fiends and the sorts of US college kids who appear in movies about US college kids, and safely alien to the rest of us).

I am in all ways less qualified than most to comment on a communications phenomenon that I have consciously allowed to pass me by until after virtually everyone else in the universe has moved on (coming soon: my review of Avatar, which I missed on the big screen…).

So what do I think of Twitter after one week?

Well for one thing the basic web interface is rubbish. It’s all right until you want to search for something or until someone sends you a direct message (i.e. one not seen by the world in general), at which point you quickly realise that it’s not really designed for people who might want to do those things or have attention spans beyond the most immediately recent. Fortunately there are several better options for dipping into the tweet sea: I use  Tweetdeck through a desktop browser. If I had a phone from the modern epoch I would probably mostly just use that.

The second thing, which comes as a mild surprise, is that receiving a more or less constant stream of witty, sarcastic, bemused and/or banal observations, jokes and general blather actually does inculcate an odd sense of connectedness to the greater heaving mass of humanity. Even if that mass is largely confined, as in my case, to a handful of game designers, popular writers and actors, ageing comedians and close personal friends (of varying values of closeness), Americans in the case of most of the former and none of the latter.

It’s largely illusory, I daresay – the various low-key semi-celebrities and 80’s teen sensations I’ve elected to follow** are hardly a shining cross-section of modern intellectual thought – but it at least has the sensation of a genuine, tangible thing. At the very least I got an inexplicable fanboy moment when I received notification that [respected game designer] is following me, despite the fact that he must obviously reciprocate follow requests automatically.  Reality will no doubt crash down upon me when he realises that most of my own tweets are not brilliant analysis of game theory or insightful reports on roleplay but – like everyone else – mean snipes at disappointing politicians and announcements that I am (a) going to bed or (b) awake now.

The third thing I noted is that the celebrity twitterer John Mayer, who is no doubt famous for other stuff, has declared that Twitter is over and anointed tmblr as its natural successor.

Fuck. I don’t have time to open a Tumblr account.

*  Once the wowseriffic Australian morning newsertainment shows are sufficiently up to date with the zeitgeist that you can follow all the news about their crazy weatherman on Spacebooker, then Spacebooker’s place in the zeitgeist may safely be assumed to have passed.

** Don’t call it cyberstalking because it’s, like totally different in ways you wouldn’t understand so shut up and let me and Phoebe Cates bond like we were always secretly destined to.

April 15, 2010

Not (Blog-)Fade Away

Filed under: administraviata,family,friends — lexifab @ 12:38 pm

Okay, okay, so with a break of something like nine weeks between Lexifab entries, His Former Clamness does have some justification for making a rhetorical enquiry after the Death of the Blog. I feel unqualified to pontificate on the subject – yes, even on the internet – but I will assert the ongoing wellbeing of Lexifabricographer as your primary source of all news me-and-mine-related, where “you” are assumed to be someone with an inexplicable interest in that particular corner of human learning and also in clumsy run-on sentences.

Rather than delve into the minutiae of the yawing gulf of missing time – I don’t have the patience or frankly the powers of recollection – I’ll hit a couple of highlights, before making a well-meaning but ultimately irresponsible promise to try to write more regularly in future, fooling nobody.

Bring on the dot point parade:

  • Septuagenarian – Dad celebrated his 70th birthday a few weeks ago, probably with a day’s hard labour in the garden followed by a nice dinner. He’ll be arriving in Canberra for a week-long visit this Sunday, so hopefully we will have time to take him somewhere nice to eat in between sessions of monstering by the Joey and drinking cups of tea.
  • Holidays – Over Easter the clan finally made it up to brother Gazza’s homestead on the river up northern New South Wales way. The peace and tranquility of the long weekend was only marginally disrupted by an alarming proliferation of nerf-based armaments and profoundly annoying talking Easter eggs. Very lovely part of the world they’ve chosen to settle in. Given that the Joey was surprisingly good about the 12-hour drive, I’m guardedly looking forward to regular family tours up north again. Now all we need is for Mum and Dad to finally move to somewhere in that vicinity and we will have no excuse not to make the trip a couple of times a year.
  • Marco – Marco and Kylie dropped in for a surprise visit with their vast clan. It was more vast than the last time I saw them, at Andrew and Von’s wedding, with the addition of the adorable Abby (who is an inexplicable 14 months old, despite the fact that it can’t have been more than – ohmygodit’sbeeneighteenmonthssinceAndrewandVon’sweddingwhatthehell! It was a pretty chaotic morning since Gazza and his boys, and their friend Jessie, came by at the same time. I don’t recall teh last time our living room hosted such Extreme Chaos, but it was pretty amusing in a loud and boisterous way, especially the part about trying to have a grownup conversation with ten kids racketing about (well nine really – Marco and Kylie’s eldest Belinda is hardly a kid and was in any case rather quiet). Anyway, we had too little time to catch up before they bundled off to Questacon. A good reminder that this blog, to which Marco occasionally drops a comment or two, actually does serve a vaguely useful purpose in my life…
  • Other news – Hell, I dunno, the past couple of months have been a total blur. Let me get back to you on that.

[Insert obligatory implausible claims at greater blog-diligence in the future, followed by self-disparaging disclaimer. End with flippant comment that could stand to be delivered with greater brevity to strengthen its impact]

October 24, 2009

By gor, it’s been a while

I’m playing catch up on another month of missed posts but not for the usual reasons of boredom and/or relentless procrastination. Since that last post it’s just been sort of relentless, and even though the last week has seen things settle more or less back to routine, finding the time to sit down and write about it hasn’t been easy. It’s only the fact that it is now the middle of the night and I’m up to watch the start of the 20-20 cricket final live from India that I’ve got some free space.

I expect that this will be even more random, rambling and out of sequence than usual, for which I’d be stupid to make any sort of apology. I certainly won’t be going back to edit. You’ve been warned.

(more…)

August 23, 2009

Forgive me, Father Internet, for I have sinned

Filed under: friends,the renovated life — lexifab @ 1:42 pm

It’s been over a month since my last blog. I confess to the sin of not contributing my due share of lack of content to the groaning black hole og human endeavour that is the internet, or at least my corner of it.

Usual excuse: I’ve been busy. Meagan’s been visiting from Tassie, Fiona’s been home from work and we have been hard at it trying to achieve visible improvements to the appearance of the house. I’ve finally managed to finish the undercoat on the patio, which means if the Canberra climate ever comes to the party and provides clear weather that coincides with any free daylight hours I might actually be able to paint real colours on the beams. Oh, just to imagine finishing work on the patio is a joy I will continue to treasure (rather than a plausible outcome that might realistically eventuate). Meagie did manage to knock together a splendid replacement set of banisters for the back step, so there will be fewer opportunities for injury whilst taking out the garbage in future. Not only that, she’s placed architraves around the door, for extra weather protection and to make them look just a little bit less perfunctory and horrible. She’s a bit handy with the power tools, so she is!

Just in the last week we’ve also hosted three dinner parties in Meagie’s honour, each of which involved a full day’s preparation and most of the following morning in cleanup. Well worth it though – last night’s entree of parsnip soup with burnt butter was followed by a pork belly drizzled in a caramelised vinegar sauce and home made banana ice cream on meringue with a passionfruit syrup topping. And somewhere in the vicinity of six bottles of booze. A good night? Oh yes.

Meagie’s off back home tomorrow and Fiona’s back at work, so I should be back to the normal routine imminently. Save your awkward questions about creative writing until later, please…

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