Archive for category The Afterlife

≥3 (a poem and song)


A while ago I wrote a poem about love, and how much more complicated it is than mathematics, and how the <​​3 heart symbol is a little oversimplified, or at least misleading to any mathematicians such as myself who come to believe that love is a strict inequality. I didn’t publish it here but I did perform it at my show in Café Concerto, while Johanna Van Tan improvised backing music:

I also performed it at A Bunch of Monkeys Read Some Stuff on JoCo Cruise 2017.

This is one of those poems that was always secretly a song in my head, so while we were on a train to Minneapolis I told Joey how the tune went, and when he was back in stationary accommodation he sang it to a slightly better tune:

So in a sense that’s two (which is less than three) musical versions of it! I can barely come up with anything coherent to say about this. ❤️

Here are the words:

Read the rest of this entry »

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‘Accessible’ and ‘Back to the Future Song’ as actual songs


I’ve been away in the Bay Area, on JoCo Cruise, on trains, and at MarsCon, and too many things have happened for one blog post, but here are a few of them. Just before the cruise, Joey Marianer sang ‘Accessible‘, my parody of James Blunt’s ‘Beautiful’ about accessibility:

Joey sang a few other songs of mine during and after the cruise, but I’m going to save them for other posts so that this one is less of a mish-mash. If you would like a preview of those along with a recap of other things I wrote that he sang, here’s a playlist.

But Joey is not the only person whose name starts with ‘Jo’ who has sung words that I wrote! A while ago, my friend Joseph sang ‘Back to the Future Song‘, my parody of Moxy Früvous’s ‘Gulf War Song‘ as part of his Patreon. Lately he’s been opening up older posts to be visible to non-patrons, so now you can also hear Joseph singing Back to the Future Song. I changed that one line that I didn’t like very much.

You can also hear the cover of Moxy Früvous’s ‘Downsizing’ which Joseph sang for me after I lost my last job. If you like these covers, check out some of his other covers, short stories and poems on patron, and become a patron; I’m sure he’d appreciate the support, and you, too, would be able to request things like this.

I’ll post a few more times to update you on some other cool things, and who knows, perhaps I’ll participate in National Poetry Writing Month again. As is usual at this time of year, I’m spending most of my free time lately uploading videos from the JoCo Cruise, so if you want me to entertain you in some way and you can’t wait for the next blog post, subscribe to me on YouTube to see my latest uploads.

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Accessible (James Blunt ‘Beautiful’ parody lyrics)


I watched a speech by by Haben Girma yesterday, and as she was talking about making things accessible to people with disabilities and how that can lead to usefulness and innovations beyond accessibility, I decided to write a quick parody of James Blunt’s ‘Beautiful’ about accessibility. Here are the lyrics. They don’t always match the original tune exactly, but rather an approximation of it I have in my head from listening to parodies such as The Amateur Transplants’ Beautiful Song, Weird Al’s You’re Pitiful, and James Blunt’s own My Triangle. Feel free to come up with your own additions to include other aspects of accessibility or other things which could be more accessible.

My widget’s brilliant

My venue’s brilliant
Of that I’m sure
For all the people
I don’t ignore

I met someone who was different
And I knew I’d undershot
‘Cause I thought my plans were brilliant
and they were not

Accessible
Accessible
Accessible to all
To learn or say, in a different way
When one sense is essential
It makes sense to overhaul

So I fixed my stuff
It was not enough
I met more folk who tried and they still
found it tough
And I don’t think I can accommodate
But I have a goal now and I will innovate

Accessible
Accessible
Accessible to all
To simply manoeuvre, no matter how we move
Paralysed or pained or small
Still our movement shall not fall

la la la la…

Accessible
Accessible
Accessible to all
And the gains are shared with the unimpaired
Till there’s nothing that seems impossible

If you see, hear, feel the call
Make some tools; tear down a wall.

Of course, I can’t publish lyrics to a song about accessibility without mentioning The Accessibility Song by James Dempsey. If you didn’t like mine, try his, now also available along with his other songs about Cocoa development on iTunes:

I’ve actually seen the original song ‘Beautiful’ performed live, since I randomly went to a James Blunt concert with some co-workers the very first time I was in Vienna. However, even then, I did not really listen to the words. I did while writing this, and realised just how weird and creepy it is. The protagonist is not telling his partner she’s beautiful, as a casual listener might assume, but rather singing to a woman he caught a glimpse of once on a train as if she were some great lost love, despite the fact that they never spoke to each other and she was already involved with someone. It’s essentially Jackson Park Express, presented as a romantic short film rather than a feature-length comedy. With songs like this out there, no wonder random guys on the street sometimes think they can follow me home!

Unrelated to all this, Joey Marianer has once again sung some words I wrote! This time it’s A Few Things You’ll Need for the Cruise, slightly changed to be about the fact that there was, at the time of publishing, exactly one month until JoCo Cruise 2018. There is now less than a month, but still room for you to join us!

 

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I Love Your Body (now a song!)


My friend Joey Marianer used his brain to come up with a tune for I Love Your Body, and then he used the rest of his body to turn it into sounds! Isn’t this great?

I’ve been thinking this could be turned into a longer singalong by having the same thing repeated with ‘I love my body…’ etc., and then maybe ‘We love our bodies’. It would remove one of the few rhymes (‘brains need ATP/and there’s no ESP/that would show you to me’ would become something like ‘there’s no ESP to show myself to you’ or ‘there’s no ESP to show ourselves to each other’) but the cool thing about songs is they can sound good even when they don’t rhyme.

In any case, those lines should perhaps be changed. Mentioning ATP (a chemical that transports energy that cells can use) is a little too scientific for this song, and I’m no biologist so I’m not sure it’s the best chemical to mention anyway. (Edit: The obvious substitution, which I didn’t think of until far too late, is simply ‘energy’.) Most of what I know about ATP comes from songs. If you want a song that explains how ATP is made by mitochondria, try Come On Down (The Electron Transport Chain) by Science Groove:

Or Oxidative Phosphorylation, also by Science Groove:

Back to ‘I Love Your Body’, I’ve found that I’ve ended up with a completely different musical version of it in my head. I can’t transcribe the tune, but the words go something like this:

I love your body
The way it keeps you ali-i-ive
I love your body
The way it has a you inside
I love your body
How it allows communications
I love your body
The way it gives you sweet sensations

That’s all from me. Use your body to make somebody happy today!

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I Love Your Body


I love your body
The way it keeps you alive
The way it lets you touch me
The way it lets us communicate
The way it gives you pleasant sensations

I don’t love its flaws
The way it hurts you
The way it makes you sick
The way it makes you tired
The way it can’t do the things that you want it to

But I love
that you have it
so that I can have you,
because brains need ATP
and there’s no ESP
that would show you to me.

I love your body
I hope it takes care of you
and you of it
for a love-filled lifetime.

I wrote this in a couple of minutes a few nights ago because I was sick of how much of even ‘body positivity’ seems to be focused on embracing how unfashionably-shaped bodies look, thus lending credence to the central tenet of body negativity and body shaming: that a body’s appearance is its most important attribute.

On the other hand, perhaps it is sometimes a good idea to pay attention to appearance (as with race, gender, etc.) in order to actively counteract subconscious or institutionalised biases. I am not sure. It’s probably not my place to say, since it’s been a long time since I had any body image issues of my own or paid attention to other people’s issues with my body’s image.

I wasn’t sure whether to post this already, but some very powerful people have been making unsolicited comments about the appearances of people’s bodies lately, and also a friend who hadn’t read it encouraged me to post it. I’ve dusted it off a little but not as much as I usually would. Perhaps some day I’ll craft it into something fancier, choose some better words, some rhymes, or make it into a parody of some well-known ‘I love your body; it has comfortable places for me to put my genitals’-style pop song (any suggestions? I don’t know very many songs that aren’t already funny), but for now I’ve at least ticked off the recurring ‘write something’ item on my to-do list. Have a great time consensually touching the universe with your meat-suit!

Also, about an hour from the time I post this, there’s a live stream of CERN’s doo-wop band, and the first band on the web, Les Horribles Cernettes (LHC). If you read this in time to watch that, I recommend it! I’ve had the privilege of seeing several of their shows in person, as well as meeting them, and they’re nowhere near as horrible as they claim.

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Glasses (Jonathan Coulton parody lyrics)


This is a parody of Jonathan Coulton’s ‘Glasses’ from the album ‘Artificial Heart’. I started writing it some time ago and decided it was about time I finished it. Feel free to sing it if that’s a thing you can do!

Check the bedside stand
Check my own right hand
Check I’m not going blind to what’s hiding in plain sight

Shake the blankets out
Find some old self-doubt
Never finding the the clarity abandoned late last night

I had them then, don’t know where they are
I’ll check again, mountains and morasses
Without a lens, can’t see near or far
I can’t see
I can’t find my glasses.

Check atop my head,
The small-print book I read,
Check the corner where they never are and never ought to be.

I’m careful where I step
Watch the floor except
It’s all a blur, a crude moving blotch of who knows what to me

I had them then, don’t know where they are
I’ll check again, mountains and morasses
Without a lens, can’t see near or far
I can’t see…

No Lasik please
Don’t want my eyeballs cooking
Still can’t see
I guess I’ll just keep looking

Not their usual place
Not here on my face
I know they’re bound to be somewhere I’ve already looked three times.

Find my old car keys
The old futilities
A cat’s fresh leavings, a Lego brick, a quarter and three dimes.

I had them then, don’t know where they are
I’ll check again, mountains and morasses
Without a lens, can’t see near or far
I had them then, don’t know where they are
I’ll check again, mountains and morasses
Without a lens, can’t see near or far
I can’t see
I can’t find my glasses.

I don’t have anything else to say about this one, so instead I’ll show you the video of Joey’s musical recitation of my Towel Day quotation creation. I missed his comment about it so it took me a while to notice it, but when I did it made several of my days. So froody!

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Runtime (Jonathan Coulton ‘Sunshine’ parody lyrics)


The other day I was reading some developer documentation about nodes while I had Jonathan Coulton’s ‘Sunshine’ from the album ‘Solid State’ in my head. ‘The road we’re on’ became ‘the node we’re on’ and the next thing I know I’m writing a parody about the runtime, and errors that could have been detected by the compiler in other languages or with stricter compiler settings but instead aren’t detected until runtime. I didn’t end up using the ‘node’ line. The first verse barely needed changing, so for fun I tried to keep as many words from the original as I could in the rest of the parody as well. Whether that’s a good thing depends on your taste and how well you know the original. Feel free to sing it if that’s a thing you can do!

We were blind to every sign
That we should have seen
In a clearly broken line
Machine to machine
Our mistakes were the future
But no one could tell

Lots of errors to detect
The tests didn’t show
The things compilers could have checked
We just let it go
Walked away as assumptions
Crumbled and fell

We bust our arse
To find the errors the machine could parse
Catch it just-in-time
Here in the runtime

Cast the pointer to a type it’s not (runtime)
Walk the edge case of the code we’ve got (runtime)

Every bit was filed away
There’s memory to fill
There’s no message that could say
Receiver is nil
We don’t heed any warnings
Try it and bail

Cast from Any type to this
The object’s a tease
Reflect to find out what it is
A sudden unease
If the data’s corrupt
Then when did it fail?

We soldier on (just a flesh wound)
Heap space and registers are almost gone (memory use ballooned)
Watch the stack unwind (maybe we’re doomed)
Here in the runtime

Cast the pointer to a type it’s not (runtime)
Walk the edge case of the code we’ve got (runtime)

The caller of the method must not do this
Everything’s your fault, you have been remiss
Code is fine, the world has something amiss

All the tests have slipped away
Just garbage I/O
I won’t last another day
And neither will O
EOF of a stateless mutable thing

The data’s blitzed (blame the new hire)
There’s nothing left that can remember it (cut the red wire)
But this is fine (halt and catch fire)
Here in the runtime

Cast the pointer to a type it’s not (runtime)
Walk the edge case of the code we’ve got (runtime)

Cast the pointer to a type it’s not (runtime)
Walk the edge case of the code we’ve got (runtime)

I’m not so sure about ‘EOF of a stateless mutable thing’ and whether it would be better stateful or immutable. It doesn’t exactly make sense (does anything, when it’s that far gone?) but it sounds cool, and a lot like the original. I’ll release it like this and patch it in production if necessary. 😉

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A Towel Day quotation creation


May 25th is International Towel Day, in honour of Douglas Adams. The following contains 42 –ation rhymes, 41 of which are found in Adams’ book ‘Last Chance to See…‘:

Earth’s vegetation made slow transformation as each confrontation or new situation provoked adaptation in each generation for eons duration.

Until civilisation, and its acceleration of our population at high concentration with great exhortation and disinclination to make accommodations with administration of conservation.

Then Adams’ fascination and realisation that with elimination of echolocation no cetacean reincarnation will save our reputation; his bold exploration to spread information and fuel education and his determination to stop exploitation by identification and communication of each dislocation of species, his observation and growing frustration we reduce speciation to bone excavation with every temptation to favor our nation and not immigration of distant relations… was his speculation we’d reduce penetration mere hallucination?

This time last year I had just submitted my Masters thesis in Web Development for Linguistics, for which I wrote a macOS application to find rhymes in any text, gave it a lot of text to chew on, added some parameters for features of accent which affect rhymes, and made a website to make those rhymes searchable on the internet. I’m still working on some big improvements to it so I haven’t been publicising it much yet, but it’s the stress-sensitive, accent-aware, mosaic-rhyme-finding rhyming dictionary I always wanted.

That evening I was heading to an open mic night and wanted to do something Adams-related. I happen to have a plain text version of his book ‘Last Chance to See…’ somehow, so I fed it into my app, and noted down the largest group of rhymes. There were 52 distinct –ation rhymes, not counting -ations rhymes or similar derivations. I arranged them into this summary of ‘Last Chance to See…’ while on the way to the open mic. I later added the word ‘cetacean’, which was not in the book, because cetaceans (specifically, baiji, which have since been declared functionally extinct[cetacean needed]) are one of the topics. I was honestly surprised to notice today that I’d used 42 -ation rhymes in total, and I don’t recall whether it was intentional.

The way I went about writing this is summed up nicely by this quote from the book:

I have a well-deserved reputation for being something of a gadget freak, and am rarely happier than when spending an entire day programming my computer to perform automatically a task that it would otherwise take me a good ten seconds to do by hand. Ten seconds, I tell myself, is ten seconds. Time is valuable and ten seconds’ worth of it is well worth the investment of a day’s happy activity working out a way of saving it.

I highly recommend the book (preferably the actual book, with photos) for anyone who is a fan of Douglas Adams or of life on Earth. The -ation words in the book which are not included in the above are:

Association
classification
consternation
conversation
evaporation
imagination
operation
preparation
quotation
representation
sensation

If you like this blog and you also like Douglas Adams, you might also be interested in my misinterpretation of the phrase “so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea” or some haiku I found in Last Chance to See.

Have a great towel day, and don’t panic!

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Angela and Joey have conversations via poems and ukulele songs, parts n+2—n+m: m>2


I told you to tune in for the next exciting instalment of ‘Angela and Joey have conversations via poems and ukulele songs’, and the conversation sure took off in some exciting directions. Here is Joey Marianer singing the poem I wrote about Star Wars before I saw it (which I also recorded a not-so-musical video of.)

That one was a total surprise! Then when I commented asking him to follow me around and sing everything I said, he even sang the comment. I’m going to have to be careful what I say from now on.

The next few have to do with the countdown to JoCo Cruise 2018. Back when there were 300 days left until JoCo Cruise 2018, someone on facebook jokingly asked whether they were metric or imperial days, and I responded with some rhymes about that, mentioning Brian Young (whose poem written during the 2015 cruise was sung by both Cody Wymore and Joey, and whose poem performed at a shadow event on the 2017 cruise Joey also sang) for some reason, and then Brian chimed in with a continuation. I can’t find that thread any more so I’m not actually 100% sure where my words stopped and his started. Anyway, Joey sang that too!

Then in early May, Joey suggested that if I wrote a poem about there being nine months until the cruise, he would sing it. So I agonised over it for a few weeks and ended up going way overboard with puns relating to first of May activities and their euphemisms, and a common approximation of the human gestation period. Here’s that song:

Lyrics:
This first of May I went out walking with my cat
And no-one asked me, ‘do you want to see my rooster, ma’am?’
but even though I never got to celebrate like that
I’m still awaiting my berth on the Oosterdam

Some geek girl online said how full of gold this trip is
Mucked my boxers but I barely even sluiced ‘er, man
but even though we’ve never met I’m sure that you would ship us
we’re awaiting our berths on the Oosterdam

And there’s nine months to go until we break the waters
and the soon™ becomes today
it’s a little bit of all of us held together by our friend ship
and we’re in the family way

Well some of us don’t code or sing or craft or hug or prom
and some of us have never even reproduced a damn,
but even though we don’t have any single thing in common
we’re awaiting our berths on the Oosterdam

And there’s nine months to go until we break the waters
and the soon™ becomes today
it’s a little bite for all of us; the cake is not a lie
and we’re in the family way

Yes, there’s nine months to go until we break the waters
and the soon™ becomes today
it’s a little bit of all of us held together by our love
in the chosen family way
the chosen family way
Yes, we’re all in the family way

 

Come join the family if you can! Joey was a first-time sea monkey (that’s what JoCo cruisers call ourselves) this year and it looks to me like he felt pretty welcome.

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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.

Tomorrowland

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.

Home

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.

Intermission

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.

Divergent

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.

Insurgent

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.

Intermission

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

Her

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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