Leave Your Grave (Re: Your Brains parody)

Some people call Easter Sunday Zombie Jesus Day, and I’ve just recently spent a fair bit of time editing footage of a song about zombies, so it seemed natural to write this parody of Jonathan Coulton’s Re: Your Brains about Jesus. In this song, Jesus, omniscient yet somehow clueless, talks to [the cadaver of] someone who was crucified along with him.

Bless you, man, it’s Jesus,
from the cross just over there.
Good to see you buddy, how’ve you been?
Things have been okay for me; I’ve come back as a zombie now.
I really wish you could’ve seen.

I think I speak for all of us when I say I understand
how it can be bothersome to be hung up by your hands.
But not all dead must die — I’ve got friends in high places.
All you’ve got to do is leave your grave.
it’s not unreasonable;
you can’t always acquiesce to things.
All you’ve got to do is leave your grave.
You’ve got eternal life; don’t just spend it festering.
You just open up the tomb,
shed your doom and gloom
and leave your grave.

I don’t want to nitpick, Man, but is this really your plan?
Spend your death spoilt rotten underground?
Maybe that’s okay for now, but someday there’ll be worms inside your butt
and you’ll have to come around.
I’m not surprised to see you act like you don’t have a prayer.
You always played the victim with that heavy cross to bear,
but we’ve all been crucified, and I will bring the light to you.

All you’ve got to do is leave your grave.
it’s not unreasonable;
you can’t always acquiesce to things.
All you’ve got to do is leave your grave.
You’ve got eternal life; don’t just spend it festering.
You just open up the tomb,
shed your doom and gloom
and leave your grave.

I’d like to help you, Man, in any way I can.
You know I help the ones who help themselves, believe me
I’m no Messiah though, well, technically I am.
I guess I am.

Got to get ascending now, think I’ll pass on passing on.
I’ve got too much to do to rest in peace
Then I’ll put a word in to my father who’s been with you all along.
I’m sure he’ll help with your decease.
I’m glad to see you take my death and life advice so well
Thank you for not whining; helping others feels so swell
and I’m sure you’ll conquer death
when you take a breath; try it!

All you’ve got to do is leave your grave.
it’s not unreasonable;
you can’t always acquiesce to things.
All you’ve got to do is leave your grave.
You’ve got eternal life; don’t just spend it festering.
You just open up the tomb,
shed your doom and gloom
and leave your grave.

I’m not sure if this is Jesus being a total son-of-a-self to a guy who is literally dead, by not acknowledging the son-of-God privilege that makes his resurrection possible, or whether He’s actually encouraging everyone to make friends with His dad and gain eternal life. Interpret it whichever way you prefer. In any case, this is dedicated to anyone who’s been told to just get out of bed and smile/pray their way out of depression, chronic illness, poverty, etc.

I’m not sure I’m 100% happy with these lyrics yet; I probably stick needlessly close to the original lyrics in places, when I could have been cramming in additional puns. I have a few alternate possibilities, but these are the words I like best right as it turns Sunday in my time zone.

Here’s the aforementioned footage of the original song, as performed in Loreto, Mexico as part of JoCo Cruise:

Also, Joey recorded another ukulele song in response to my last post! Here it is:

In response, I wrote the following:

Who is this cool person called joeym
who responds to my post with a poem
and then adds on a singing addendum?
If I hadn’t already, I’d friend’im!

Tune in next post for the next exciting instalment of ‘Angela and Joey have conversations via poems and ukulele songs’!

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Sings up to which Joey has been (a poem about a song of a poem)

What I wrote were some mere rhyming words.
What I got was this wonderful song
by a friend with whom I get along
that I met on a ship full of nerds.

’Twas the cruise, as you might have inferred,
of that singer of many dings-dong.
We were one thousand five hundred strong
and a blue plastic uke was conferred

upon each of us on the first night
so we all could repeatedly tune
and observe it was never quite right.
The performers had hoped to attune
us to not make such fun of their plight,
but we did, sure as schooners will schoon.

I’m working on/playing with a few other silly poems to update you on that up to which I have been, but meanwhile, have a song version of the last one! How cool is this?! I met Joey on the JoCo cruise and he’s learning to use one of ‘the cheapest possible ukuleles that do not get classified as industrial waste‘ that Cards Against Humanity provided us all with.

This poem is another of these weird Petrarchan-sonnet-like-things in anapaestic trimeter. They said at different times in the cruise that there were either 1700 of us or 1500. I’m going to guess that the first number includes the performers. In any case, 1500 fits the meter better (as does 1600, if you want to take the middle ground.) As I process my cruise footage, which is most of what I will be doing in my spare time for the next few months, I am implementing Jonathan’s suggestion of making a supercut of tuning. If you have footage of tuning at events on this cruise that I wasn’t at, and you’re happy to send me clips of it, let me know so I can add it to the supercut.

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Things up to which I have been (a poem)

(Note: there is no grammatical reason not to end a sentence with a preposition. I just wrote the title this way for comic effect.)

I’ve been busy in so many ways
and my blog’s gone from quiet to worse
so for poetry month, I’ll be terse
with my news in prosodic arrays.

Here’s a list of my works and my plays —
check the links if you want to immerse.
I’ll explain it all further in verse
in new posts in the upcoming days.

I’ve performed and I’ve published and coded,
got a job, got a fan page, and masters
in linguistics and web dev and showed it
with a site to find safer rhymes faster,
took a cruise, got some footage uploaded,
and wrote poems when I could be arsed to.

That was some kind of Petrarchan sonnet in anapaestic trimeter; what in the bard’s name am I doing? I’ve been wanting to update my blog for some time now, but I keep doing more things that I want to blog about and it seemed like any blog post doing them all justice would be too long. I also still want to make improvements on, or upload footage of, many of the things I want to blog about before blogging about them. I have been posting a bit more often on the fan page, though, so like that if you want to stay informed.

The only way to clear this blog backlog (ack, blog backlog!) is to blog, and it’s Global Poetry Writing Month (also known as National Poetry Writing Month, though a nation is rarely specified) so if I blog something, it should be a poem. I’ll be blogging poems, perhaps daily, until I have poem-blogged about all the things from the last 11 months that I wanted to blog about. Consider this poem the table of contents, or the tl;dr version of blog posts to come.

If you’re also participating in GloPoWriMo, and need some inspiration, try my random rhyme generator. Someone suggested that feature when I told him about the accent-aware rhyming dictionary I made, and I promptly spent my free time on that instead of making the other improvements I had been planning, such as clarifying when ‘faster’ rhymes with ‘arsed to’ (hint: it happens in most accents where ‘can’t be arsed‘ or indeed ‘arse’ is used) and when it rhymes with ‘amassed a’. But more on that in a later blog poem.

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A Poetry Video for Star Wars Day

On Star Wars Day in 2012, all I had seen of Star Wars while fully awake was The Phantom Menace and The Star Wars Holiday Special. I finally had what seemed like the perfect opportunity to lose my Star Wars virginity, with a screening of the original three movies by the CERN CinéClub, and yet, I had doubts. Not many people reached my age without having seen Star Wars. Surely I should do something artistic with my unusual lack of knowledge. Which is not to say that art is the realm of unknowledgeable people, but humour can be, as long as one doesn’t mind being the target of the laughter.

I asked Twitter whether I should watch the movies, or instead write a poem about everything I knew about the movies from songs and internet memes. Twitter said to write poetry, so I did.

I have since recited the poem to an audience of nerds on JoCo Cruise 3, and to my surprise, they did not throw me overboard. One of them has even read my poem at an event at a library. I made a mistake on the cruise, though, so I never had a good video of the poem to share… until now. I have actually seen all seven Star Wars movies in the last year, so made a video with not only the poem, but a run-down of how it differs from the actual movies:

I quote Marian Call’s song, ‘I’ll Still be a Geek After Nobody Thinks it’s Chic (the Nerd Anthem)’ and The Doubleclicks’ song ‘Nothing To Prove‘ at the beginning.

The poem references OSV word orderWil Wheaton’s story, ‘The Trade’, from which I learnt the existence of land speeders, to some extent the sleeping bag from which I learnt about tauntaunsThe Tale of Eric and the Dread Gazebo, and the ‘Do not want‘ meme from Star War The Third Gathers: Backstroke of the West.

I used six seconds of Jonathan Coulton’s song ‘Screwed’ in the credits. I’m wearing this shirt; there are two versions of the shirt widely available online, but I got the only one which ships to Europe.

Star Wars is not the only thing I learn about mainly from songs and internet memes. Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire is another, and so, inspired by a song by Paul and Storm about George R. R. Martin’s slow writing, I contributed a picture to a music video for another song by Paul and Storm about the series:

I hope you enjoyed these videos. May the fourth be with you! 🖖😉

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Free Love (With Every Purchase) on The Overcast

Shortly before Valentine’s Day, my short story Free Love (With Every Purchase), which is a revised version of Valet de cœur, was featured on The Overcast. I’ve always thought this would be a fun one to read aloud; indeed, I read it myself at the Short Story Conference in Vienna in 2014. It’s exciting to have it read aloud on a podcast. I was travelling when the podcast came out, without much chance to download or listen to things, but I finally had a chance to listen to it recently. I love the way J. S. Arquin reads it. He often reads it differently from how it was in my head, but that makes it more interesting to me; I’d already ‘heard’ the version that’s in my head. You can listen to it here:

or go to the episode page to find out ways you can discuss it with other Overcast listeners, or subscribe to or support The Overcast. Indeed, do support the podcast if you can; they do pay authors, and would like to be able to pay them more. Since circumstances have prevented me from earning much recently, the fee for this story provided the bulk of my meagre income for the month it was accepted. This, of course, means that for that month, at least, I was a freelance writer by profession.

In the author’s note at the end of the podcast I mention that each leap year I write (or otherwise create) something every week, inspired by my collection of souvenir playing cards. That’s true; I’ve done it twice so far. I should have started a new cycle of it three weeks ago, on February 29th, but I was recovering from JoCo cruise and getting ready to fly to Johnson Space Center, so I didn’t quite manage to post anything. For most of the last year and a half I’ve either been away from home or busy catching up on all the things I didn’t do while away from home. I’ve been to new places, bought new playing cards, and built up a stock of half-finished ideas to work on during this cycle, though. The good thing about writing inspired by playing cards is that even if I don’t post them exactly weekly, I’ll always know when I’ve done the full 52 (or 54 if I write jokers.)

Now I’m pretty much caught up with other stuff, so tomorrow will be a rest day consisting of snack food, catching up on xkcd, processing JoCo Cruise videos, taking out my cruise braids, and an online concert by Marian Call. Marian will also be playing in Vienna on the 26th; come along if you’re in the area! At Marian’s last online concert, I tipped enough to get a custom holiday card, so I asked for one celebrating leap day, particularly since I start a new year of Writing Cards and Letters every leapday. I started writing a post including pictures of the card on the leapday itself, but had to sleep, or leave for the airport, or somesuch… if only I’d had one more minute!

Here they are now, a little late; you can designate a different day to be Bonus Day if you like. Any day when your plans are cancelled and you unexpectedly have a free day. Any day when you deliberately don’t make plans because you need a free day. A day like today.

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Songs to Learn French to: Grammaire Song, part 2

This is part two in my explanation of the song ‘Grammaire Song’ by Chanson Plus Bifluorée. See the first lesson for the full lyrics and explanation of the first stanza.

Previous lessons in the ‘Song to Learn French To‘ series are Le ours et la hirondelle, part 1 and part 2

The first lesson only covered the first stanza; this one covers the next two.

Adjectif possessif : possession

Do you know all the possessive adjectives in French? They correspond to words like ‘his’ or ‘your’, but unlike ‘his’ and ‘her’, which depend on the gender of the person possessing the thing, French possessive adjectives depend on the gender and number of the actual items being possessed. They can also depend on whether the thing being possessed starts with a vowel (or an h muet) to avoid the hiatus that I mentioned in a previous lesson. The song lists some of the possessive adjectives you should know:

Mes, tes, ses, nos, vos, leurs, mon, tonson

Those are just some of the masculine and plural possessive adjectives; there are several others:

Ma, ta, sa, notre, votre, leur, ta

Actually, we don’t know whether the song says leur or leurs, since they sound the same, but the lyrics I found online had leurs, and that goes with the other plural possessive adjectives listed.

Next the song gives a confusing example which contains a lot of words that sound like possessive adjectives, but aren’t. I’ve put actual possessive adjectives in bold, and words that sound like possessive adjectives underlined, all colour-coded to match the possessive adjectives they sound like, if they appear elsewhere. I’ve tried to use a somewhat colourblind-safe palette, but sorry if you have trouble distinguishing some of the colours.

Exemple facile ; c’est son tonton
qu’est ton maçon, lui qui t’a bâti ta maison

Plurals (or should that be pluraux?)

Un cheval au pluriel c’est chevaux
Mais des batailles font pas des bateaux
Exception faite pour aller aux bals
Danser quels régals dans tous les carnavals

Do you know your French irregular plurals? A lot of French words ending in -al, and a few ending in -ail, be they adjectives (e.g. international), or nouns (e.g. cheval, journal, travail) change to -aux in the masculine plural (e.g. internationaux, chevaux, journaux, travaux). But many words that already end in -au or -eau (tuyau, bateau) also take an -x in the plural (tuyaux, bateaux), so if you only knew the plural forms you might be confused about the singular. Or maybe, like The Arrogant Worms possibly do in their song about Celine Dion (inasmuch as the French at the end of that song is decipherable), you get chevaux (the plural of cheval) confused with cheveux (the plural of cheveu) because they look so similar. Or maybe you don’t. Maybe this is all perfectly simple for you. In that case, don’t worry, there are some exceptions just for you. Some words ending in -al (e.g. balrégalcarneval) just take a regular -s in the plural.

That will do for this lesson. Even though I’d already written most of it, I still didn’t find the time to publish it after a week, as I’d promised. It’s hard to predict how much free time I’ll have when I’m away from home, and I lost some work a browser crash. Tune in next week or so to learn about agreement.

If you want to keep learning between lessons, then first of all, of course, buy the songs I’ve mentioned (or better, the albums they’re on) and listen to them while thinking about what you can learn from them. Also, try duolingo, and feel free to follow me. If you’re already fairly fluent, the regular exercises might be detrimental (as they train you to translate simple sentences rather than simply understanding and responding to them without going via your native language) so I recommend the ‘Immersion‘ section where you read and translate interesting real-world text. If you’re still learning the basics, the exercises are useful, but don’t be afraid to try a bit of translation as well. Start with a topic you already know a lot about — before I was at all confident with reading or translating German, I found German Wikipedia articles related to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy surprisingly easy to read.

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Welcome, McFly. Seriously.

I arrived in October 21 2015 about an hour ago, and Marty McFly should be arriving later. It seems a good time to recap a few things I’ve made and done relating to Back to the Future.

They chained off my car! I guess I’m stuck in 2015 now.

Firstly, here are some lyrics I wrote for a Back-to-the-Future-related parody of Moxy Früvous’s Gulf War Song. If I’d been in Vienna more this year I probably would have fixed the bit I don’t like (the heavy/light line that needs too much explanation) and organised for some of my musical friends to sing it at Open Phil, but alas, I’ve been away too much.

Secondly, here’s a video I took of a superconducting magnetic hover-scooter created by MaNEP several years ago and occasionally shown off at events at CERN. I’m not too happy about the way I deliberately decoupled the sound from the video at one point, but never mind. You can see me riding a hoverboard. I wrote a blog post with more information.

In the year 2015, I bought one of those holographic hats that everyone’s wearing here in the future, took it to the wax museum in Vienna, and took some pictures of wax figures wearing it. Here’s a guy who could help you solve any problems you might have caused with the spacetime continuum.

Einstein 2015

And this is Michael Jackson… Fox? ready to serve you at your nearest Cafe 80s.

Michael Jackson Fox.

Of course, Elvis never died; he just skipped a few decades.

Elvis 2015

Same goes for Freddie Mercury:

Freddie Mercury 2015

The Freud dude prefers to travel in time by phone booth, though.

Freud 2015

Gustav Klimt probably thought he knew how colour worked.


And here are Julia Roberts and Johnny Depp, just because.

Julia Roberts 2015

I don't recognise this guy, so it must be Johnny Depp.

Also, check out these songs other people wrote about Back to the Future. Like an Anvil by The Burning Hell (from the album ‘Flux Capacitor’) and one simply called Back to the Future by Insane Ian.

Have fun; I’ll be going to a screening of Jaws 19 (or is it Back to the Future I and II?) with my hat and my copy of the Back to the Future card game.

I look forward to seeing whether this tumblr continues as normal after it’s actually correct.

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Songs to Learn French to: Grammaire Song, part 1

This is the third in the ‘Songs to Learn French to‘ series. The first two are Le ours et la hirondelle, part 1 and part 2.

This is the first of what’s turning out to be far too many lessons about the song ‘Grammaire Song’ by Chanson Plus Bifluorée, which you can listen to below (from a well-hidden extracts page of the band’s website) and buy from epm musique or maybe from your electronic music retailer of choice. There’s so much in the song that this lesson only covers the first stanza. I’ll publish a new lesson every week until the song’s finished; it’ll probably be four lessons, though I’ve only written the first two so far, so it could end up longer.

The last song had an exercise attached, but this song doesn’t need any correction; it just lists and illustrates some grammatical concepts you should make sure you’re familiar with.

As before, I’ll assume you know French well enough to work out what the lyrics mean, but just need practice or ways to remember things. I’ll tend to link to other sites rather than explaining everything in detail. If you have any questions about the grammar or the meaning of the song, though, feel free to ask in the comments, and I’ll answer in the comments and maybe in a later post. Let me know if you spot any mistakes in my explanations or example sentences, too; I have a DALF C1 and half a Masters in linguistics, which doesn’t actually make me qualified to teach, whatever Tom Lehrer says.

Here are the words:

D’accord, c’est un peu rébarbatif
Le subjonctif en apéritif
Passons sur le mode impératif
Le plus-que-parfait, le pronom relatif

Adjectif possessif : possession
Mes, tes, ses, nos, vos, leurs, mon, ton, son
Exemple facile ; c’est son tonton
qu’est ton maçon, lui qui t’a bâti ta maison

Un cheval au pluriel c’est chevaux
Mais des batailles font pas des bateaux
Exception faite pour aller aux bals
Danser quels régals dans tous les carnavals

Avez-vous bien étudié la grammaire
Les règles littéraires, accordé l’auxiliaire ?
Avez-vous bien révisé le français
L’attribut du sujet, le complément d’objet ?

L’accent aigu remplace souvent
Un ancien “s” qu’on avait dans l’temps
L’accent circonflexe évidemment
mis pour une lettre qu’on écrivait avant

J’ai laissé mon épée à l’escole
Avant que d’estudier l’anatole
De l’anglais on garde le foot-ball
le gin, le pudding et puis le music-hall

Avez-vous bien étudié la grammaire
Les règles littéraires, accordé l’auxiliaire ?
Avez-vous bien révisé le français
L’attribut du sujet, le complément d’objet ?

“Tout” adverbe est toujours inchangé
Mais “tout” adjectif peut s’accorder
Quand “tout” est pronom, difficulté !
“Tout” c’est compliqué, on n’y est plus tout à fait

Bijou caillou chou genou hibou
Sans oublier tous nos vieux joujoux
Bijou caillou chou genou hibou pou
Mais où est donc or ni car, souvenez-vous

Avez-vous bien étudié la grammaire
Les règles littéraires, accordé l’auxiliaire ?
Avez-vous bien révisé le français
L’attribut du sujet, le complément d’objet ?

Avez-vous cherché dans le dictionnaire
Compris le questionnaire, écrit vos commentaires ?
Avez-vous bien étudié l’imparfait
L’attribut du sujet, le complément d’objet ?

Avez-vous résolu tous les mystères
De la conjugaison et du vocabulaire
Du temps où vous remplissiez vos cahiers
D’attributs du sujet, de compléments d’objet ?
D’attributs du sujet, de compléments d’objet ?

Okay, now what can we learn from this song? For starters (that is, en apéritif) how about the subjunctive.

Le subjontif

D’accord, c’est un peu rébarbatif
Le subjonctif en apéritif

The subjunctive is one of several grammatical moods of a verb, others including the imperative (see below) and the indicative. In English, the subjunctive is often similar enough to the indicative that we don’t know we’re using it, but it’s important that you know when to use the subjunctive in French. It usually comes after the word ‘that’ (in French, que.) In the phrase, ‘it’s important that you know when to use the subjunctive’, ‘know’ is subjunctive because I’m not saying you do know; I don’t know whether you do or not. I’m just saying it’s important for you to know. Whereas in ‘the subjunctive is often similar enough to the indicative that we don’t know we’re using it’, I am saying that we don’t know we’re using it, so I don’t need to use the subjunctive. Here’s the same sentence in French, using ‘on‘ for both ‘we’ and the general ‘you’ because I wanted to show how different the indicative and subjunctive forms of ‘know’ (in bold) are without even changing the pronoun.

En anglais, le subjonctif ressemble tellement à l’indicatif que l’on ne sait même pas qu’on l’utilise, mais il est important que l’on sache quand utiliser le subjonctif en français.

So maybe that gives you some idea of when and why you need to know about the subjunctive, but for the details, here’s an explanation of the French subjunctive and how to form the subjunctive, and the Subjunctivisor to help you decide whether you need it in a certain phrase.

There’ll be a whole song on the subjunctive later in this series, with an exercise, so if you don’t quite get it yet, look forward to that one.


Passons sur le mode impératif

Okay, let’s just gloss over the imperative. You use the imperative mood to suggest that somebody do something. (See that ‘do’ there? That was the subjunctive again. ‘To suggest that somebody does something’ is a different suggestion entirely.) For example, ‘let’s gloss over the imperative’ (or more literally, ‘let’s pass on the imperative’) or passons sur le mode impératif.

Let’s summarise these moods. In the command ‘use the imperative!’ (utilisez l’impératif !) ‘use the imperative’ is in the imperative mood, while in, ‘It is imperative that you use the imperative’ (il est impératif que vous utilisiez l’impératif), ‘use the imperative’ is in the subjunctive, and in ‘You use the imperative to suggest that somebody do something’ (vous utilisez l’impératif pour suggérer que quelqu’un fasse quelque chose), ‘use the imperative’ is in the indicative, while ‘somebody do something’ is in the subjunctive. Simple, right?

Le plus-que-parfait

If you had already learnt the last two things before reading this blog, you would be perfect, but if you’d learnt this one, you’d be more than perfect! The plus-que-parfait (a.k.a. the pluperfect) is the tense you use for sentences where you’d say you ‘had’ done them in English. To make the plus-que-parfait you actually use the imparfait (imperfect) version of être or avoir to translate the ‘had’, because being made out of imperfect things is what makes something perfect even more so. You’ll hear more about the imparfait later in the song.

Si vous aviez déjà appris les deux choses précédentes avant de lire ce blog, vous seriez parfait(e), mais si vous aviez appris celle-ci, vous seriez plus que parfait.

Le pronom relatif

Relative pronouns are the words that connect a noun you just mentioned with some more information specifying which one you’re talking about. They’re not just any words, they’re the words that connect a noun you just mentioned with some more information specifying which one you’re talking about. So, let’s say the noun you just mentioned is ‘words’, and you want to specify that the particular words you’re talking about connect a noun you just mentioned with some more information specifying which one you’re talking about, you’d use the relative pronoun ‘that’.

In French you’d use qui in this case, because ‘words’ is a subject, which means the words are the ones doing something (in this case, connecting a noun you just mentioned with some more information specifying which one you’re talking about.)

If you were talking about a noun that someone was doing something to, for instance, a noun you just mentioned (also expressed as a noun that you just mentioned), you’d use que, because that noun is being treated as an object.

Les pronoms relatifs sont les mots qui lient un nom que l’on vient de mentionner avec de l’information précisant duquel des noms on parle.

There are several other relative pronouns, in English as well as French; for instance, French has duquel, which doesn’t even have a one-word equivalent in English. However, I don’t have room for the general theory of pronominal relativity here, so here’s a website where you can learn about them.

That’s all for this lesson; tune in next week to learn about possessive adjectives, irregular plurals, and more.

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Reviews of Another Mid-air Movie Marathon

I flew to the other side of the world yet again a few days ago (some day I’ll get to stay home… some day), and I watched a whole lot of movies, and I’m going to give my impressions of them. Last time I flew from Austria to New Zealand, I watched seven movies; this time I watched nine. I actually jotted down a few notes this time, so what I remember for my movie reviews will depend less on how sleep-deprived I was at the time. I was flying Air China (a perfectly nice airline, except they don’t give you that little care package with sleeping socks, an eyemask and a travel toothbrush that I’d come to expect), whose in-flight movie guide isn’t loading for me right now, so I won’t put up their descriptions of the movies. I went straight for the ‘New to the Skies’ section, figuring that I’d had plenty of opportunities to see the others.


This movie has a lot of things I love in it. The future! Kennedy Space Center! (At least, it sure looked like one of the launch pads at KSC, though they called it Canaveral.) Robots! Hope! The neat thing was I saw this while on an amazing flying machine heading toward a land where it was in fact already tomorrow, and I started off wearing a Back to the Future cap from the future (the year 2015) and then switched to a NASA beanie. I’ve never had such appropriate headwear for a movie.

One of the movies in my last mid-air movie marathon also had ‘Tomorrow’ in the title. I guess it’s always good to watch where and when you’re going.


Relevant song. This movie also has a lot of things I like. A ball pit! Space! Cute aliens that talk in a mixture of lolcat and turns of phrase I could imagine Sheldon Cooper using! Partway through, I remembered seeing Jim Parsons’ name in the credits and realised that the main alien did in fact have Sheldon Cooper’s voice.

This movie was similar to Tomorrowland in many ways; it had the Eiffel tower as a great antenna (which is also true in the real world) surprisingly young girls who drive, and a world where only one young lady still has hope, hope which ends up saving the day. Also, I watched it while flying toward a place that some people say is my home, so that’s neat.

The Age of Adaline

This is a movie about a woman who miraculously stops ageing, so I don’t expect it to be believable, but two things about it seemed really far-fetched:

  • Defibrillating a heart which is, as far as I can tell from the preceding narration, not fibrillating. They could’ve used a more vague term such as ‘jump-start’ and we’d have believed that that worked in the magic situation in this movie, but instead they used a term which doesn’t even apply, because they figured the audience wouldn’t know what it meant.
  • A maths major who becomes a millionaire by doing mathematics. Okay, an Abel prize would almost do it, but real maths majors make their fortunes writing software for physicists.

Still, it was an enjoyable movie. It has libraries and secret identities, so it might appeal to Batgirl fans. There’s a joke in it that I still don’t get whose punchline is ‘Who ever heard of a horse pitching?’ There’s a man named Ellis. There’s the line, ‘They took the time to create the constellations’, which I challenge you to use as the first line in a story.

Dark Shadows

This had some things in common with the previous movie, in that it’s about someone (a vampire) who no longer ages, and love between the mortal and the immortal. It also includes a man named Alice. While there’s no ball pit, it has the biggest, most wonderful balls.

Black Swan

Just like Dark Shadows, in that it involves people in black and white makeup in destructive relationships, and blood. It’s as if all these movies were sequels to each other! Only this one seems to have been the result of a challenge to get the most kinds of disturbing into one movie. I lost count of the trigger warnings I intended to put in this review; dermatillomania was one. Probably not the best movie to watch just before a 17-hour layover when I’m already about tired enough to hallucinate.


17 hours in Taipei, which I might write up in a separate post. There was ice cream.

Winter’s Tale

I kept seeing this in the list but skipping over it because it seemed a bit too much like another boring love/destiny story, but there was also some amnesia and later in the trailer which I thought might add some interest. It wasn’t so bad… another one about love and mortality and people being alive without aging for far longer than they’re supposed to. I must have microslept for the part where he actually ‘learns that he has the gift of reincarnation’ as it said in the description. There doesn’t seem to be any reincarnation in the movie at all, unless ‘reincarnation’ means ‘long after you die, someone else is born with the same fairly common hair colour’.

One of the movies in my last mid-air movie marathon also had ‘Winter’ in the title. In this case I actually was heading toward winter.


I saw this on offer during the last mid-air movie marathon, but didn’t watch it, and then wished I had when I saw that the sequel was out in theatres when I arrived. This time I could watch the sequel immediately on the same flight, so I figured I might as well. I thought it might be just another one of those movies about how great it is to be different, special, well-rounded, and to not fit in, just like everyone who’s viewing it. It turned out to be all those things, but also about how useful lucid dreaming can be.


The sequel to Divergent. I watched them back-to-back and don’t recall where one movie stopped and the next one started. I enjoyed them, even though the ending was pretty predictable.

Several short documentaries comprised of even shorter segments

There wasn’t quite time for another movie on this flight, so I learnt about how artists’ canvases are made (in Taipei, as it turns out!) how stinky tofu is made, how refillable Dutch beverage bottles are processed, what happens when we dive, and a weird rolling bamboo thingy to explode land mines, among other things. I’m a little confused as to why they take care to fix up discoloured patches on the canvas before covering it in two layers of white paint.


An hour or so in Sydney while they refuelled the plane.


Relevant songs. Last flight; last movie. By this point I was watching any movie I vaguely remembered hearing something about. I remembered this one being mentioned in an article about the way ‘female’ AIs are so often sexualised. I couldn’t remember what the article said, but I remember thinking that although ‘female’ AIs (like female humans) may well be sexualised in a lot of movies, this isn’t a movie about AIs, it’s just a movie about the troubles of interspecies relationships, or yet another angle on relationships between mortals and immortals. When it’s a movie about relationships, not a movie about AI technology, it’s okay to treat the AI as a romantic partner. It’s actually better than a lot of relationship movies because you know that the human male character, and indeed, the viewer, is interested in her personality rather than her looks or genitalia. I did wonder if the same thing would have happened if he had chosen a male voice for it, assuming he identifies as straight.

I think the article might have been this one.

 “Her is playing on the fact that the audience knows what [Scarlett Johansson] looks like,”

Well, okay, then. I didn’t know who the voice actress was, though I did note that she had a very nice voice. While the name ‘Scarlett Johansson’ does indeed bring to mind people drooling over how sexy she is, I don’t personally know what she looks like. I just did an image search, and she didn’t even look familiar; from the name, I’d been imagining a brunette for some reason. I guess I’m not the part of the audience that Her is playing on.

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Unintentional Haiku in New Scientist’s Medical Frontiers: The Movie

How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art?I’ve made a new version of Haiku Detector. The main changes are:

  • Performance improvements
  • Tweaks to which haiku are identified when punctuation is pronounced differently depending on line breaks and other factors (this includes a workaround for the ‘all numbers pronounced as zero’ bug I found in the speech synthesiser.) In my test data the list of haiku identified is better now.
  • Bug fixes.

To celebrate the new release, I fed in the text from the latest New Scientist ‘Collection’ issue, on medical frontiers. The funniest haiku arose when the last sentence of one article joined up with the headline and byline of the next. For example, this looks like the tagline of a movie about an underappreciated superhero, fighting to save anti-vaxxers from diseases of yore:

They will not thank you.
Small shot, big impact

After the opening credits, we see our hero Dan Jones in his lab, and the subtitle announcing his first challenge.

DRUG: Chlorotoxin
SOURCE: Deathstalker scorpion

His superpowers come, of course, from vaccines:

Some vaccines seem to
provide us with a host of
extra benefits

But not everybody is happy with that:

Several groups have been
trying to develop drugs
that block these signals.

These groups spread propaganda:

Half an hour or
so later, you’ll feel a lot
better. Or will you?

They work around rules:

“Because we use cells,
not field-grown plants, we don’t come
under the same rules.”

And they target humanity by zapping the very microorganisms they’re made up of. Here’s a quote from the evil mastermind:

There are more cells in
your body than there are stars
in the galaxy.

These cells can then be
killed using a laser that
penetrates the skin.

And just when Dan thought he had the solution, the problems compounded to the point of suspension of disbelief, precipitating a crisis. The mastermind had cooked up her own microbial minions:

Those microbes can be
in the environment or
a vaccine syringe.

To make matters worse,
there is a shortage of new

The sequel, which may or may not be a Doctor Who crossover, features a heroine who will live forever:

“Just endless.” Helen
Let’s get physical

Yep, it’s definitely a Doctor Who crossover. Here’s a quote from that movie:

“I’m the doctor. I’m
going to tell you what your
feelings really mean.”

She discovered that time, and specifically time travel, is the best cure for a broken heart:

If we can’t fix hearts
with stem cells there might be an
even better way

As the animal
was slowly warmed, it began
to return to life.

But however clever the TARDIS is, there’s one thing Helen Thomson isn’t sure she can do:

But can we ever
turn the clock back to a world
without HIV?

It turned out, weirdly enough, that the answer was in making sure there was enough shelf space for one’s awards. So she went home to Britain to save the Officers of the British Empire:

On her return home,
she applied those lessons in
British hospitals.

So far, two patients
have had OBEs, but neither in
a room with a shelf…

While we’re making sequels, let’s revive an old favourite, which never had any sequels:

The matrix holds a
dazzling array of future

But what is the matrix?

Normally, matrix
is harvested from human
or pig cadavers.

I guess you have to see it for yourself.

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