Thursday, August 31, 2006

Hipster Antagonism Day

Every couple of years a terrible doom descends upon the offices of the tastemakers at Pitchfork Media, and to a lesser extent those of their second rate counterparts at the Onion AV Club. For every now and again, when the conditions are just right, a new Radiohead album is released. (For the purposes of this discussion, we're going to treat Thom Yorke's solo record as if it were a Radiohead album.)

You see, when such an album is released the hippest of the hip find themselves in a seemingly inescapable quandary. On one hand Radiohead are one of those most repugnant and vile beasts - a popular band, but on the other hand they achieved this popularity while deliberately moving to a less commercial sound. And it must also be considered that they have a more or less unassailable status down on the 'hipster street'. Caught between these opposing forces, the beleaguered music writers must figure out how to write a review (and write a review they must, for they have a reputation to maintain and ignoring such an important release would not go uncommented) without being seen to either non-ironically enjoy popular music or to appear as if they 'don't get' an unconventional band. So what can they do? The answer is obvious once it is presented: write a few snide paragraphs mocking both the Radiohead faithful who would spend good money to hear Thom Yorke read the phone book and mainstream audiences who can't handle the quirky direction Radiohead has gone in over the last few years, while conveniently forgetting to offer an opinion of their own on whether it's any good or not.

And lest I be found guilty of what I'm condemning: Yes, Thom Yorke's album is great. It somehow manages to take moody glitchy electronica accompanied by his trademark wailing and turn it into agreeable listening.

The hipster elite save their real venom for other bands, in particular Muse. For a long time I couldn't figure out where all the Muse Hate was coming from, after all, I consider them the closest thing to indie amongst my music collection. However after listening to their new album Black Holes and Revelations it finally clicked: Muse are the new Pink Floyd, and as such they shall forever be the Moby Dick to hipsterisms Captain Ahab.

In order to understand the reasons behind this we need to go on a little historical digression. Many years ago Sid Vicious famously called Pink Floyd a bunch of dinosaurs and used them as an example of the kind of music that punk came about in order to destroy (members of the Sex Pistols later admitted that they were actually OK with Pink Floyd, but they were a convenient target with which to refer to 70s stadium rock as a whole). Too effete to like real punk music, hipsters nevertheless revere it as the forerunner to their beloved 80s new wave, and every throw away statement by a real punk is therefore a holy statute to be followed without question. Since the real Pink Floyd are sadly retired, the hatred is transferred to Muse.

*** Wildebeest Asylum Handy Hint ***

If you're planning on going to a party or a bar where you may encounter hipsters, bring along a copy of Pink Floyd's The Wall in order to protect yourself from unwanted attention by these scourges of the music scene. If one approaches you, simply brandish the album with all the strength of your spiritual convictions, and this unparalleled icon of classic rock indulgence (Led Zeppelin may work in a pinch too) will cause the hipster to retreat into its cardigan, leaving you to either make your escape or to beat it to death with a blunt object, as you see fit.


It is therefore with great sadness that I must concede a lone victory to Pitchfork Media and the hipster community as a whole. You are correct. The new Muse album sucks arse. It is an overwrought parody of the greatness of Origin of Symmetry, Hullabaloo and Absolution, all of which by the way, you are still completely wrong about.

Yes It's Actually Called The Chumby

It's some kind of ipod-esque gizmo for super geeks.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Bonehunters

by Steven Erikson

Erikson has thus far managed to overcome the problems that most epic fantasy writers suffer from and keep his series of six hundred page door stop novels from getting bogged down in detail or overwhelmed by the huge number of subplots and secondary characters. Unfortunately in The Bonehunters (the sixth in what will eventually be a ten book series) signs start to appear of such a deterioration.

To be fair he hasn't become Robert Jordan just yet, a lot happens in this book but while the earlier entries worked as standalone novels as well as part of the series, The Bonehunters consists of individual scenes and setpieces unrelated to one another that feel just like events and plot points that Erikson has to check off before we can get to the good stuff at the end of the story. And in true epic fantasy style the characters take their damn time moving from plot point to plot point, I was sick and tired of 'trekking through the desert' scenes by the end. At least when the characters arrive where they're going the action scenes still contain everything that fans of the series love, which is to say lots of shit getting fucked up by absurdly bad assed heroes and villains.

As a whole the book was still fun to read, but didn't meet the standards set by the series so far. However most long fantasy series' suffer from 'middle book syndrome' and I remain hopeful that later episodes will continue to satisfy as the overall story arc begins to descend towards what should be a fucking intense climax.

Erikson keeps the real world subtext coming again in this book. The last book, Midnight Tides, made its primary villain an aggressively capitalist, expansionist empire that had more than a few similarities with the USA. This book reveals more about the plans of the series' ultimate villain, the Crippled God, whose promises of redemption after death in exchange for suffering on Earth are clearly meant to be uncharitable interpretations of Christian beliefs (or those of Abrahamic religions in general). This commentary is supported by more than a few soliloquies by primary characters regarding the ultimately harmful nature of any brand of religion. Even in a world where gods are provably and unavoidably real, promising devotion to an all powerful being who sits by and lets mortals suffer in this fallen existence is not only irrational but morally suspect. Jesus and Mohammad may not literally stalk the desert themselves deliberately spreading war and disease as the gods in this book do, but the analogy is pretty much spot on.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

For the Role Players

700 things Mr. Welch can no longer do during an RPG (via Lore Sjöberg)

"388. Pursue means chase after, not just make called shots to the knees.
389. My samurai is not required to commit seppuku if he fails to hit the monster.
390. My character's background must be more indepth than a montage of Queen lyrics.
391. A starting paladin has no conceivable use for industrial lubricant."

Catch Up

Okay look lively you lot. We've gotten way behind and there's a whole lot to catch up on. Here's a quick summary of everything I've read, seen and listened to in the last few months.

Howls Moving Castle

Generally very well done (and as with all Miyazaki films the animation is spectacular) but the story was kind of dull.

Layer Cake

Pretty fucking good. Not as funny as Snatch or Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels but a cool, entertaining movie nonetheless.

Midnight's Children (Salman Rushdie)

I know this won the Booker Award for 'Best Book of the 20th Century' but I found it quite boring, although I did appreciate some of the clever things he did with how the story was framed.

Everything and More (David Foster Wallace)

A non-fiction popular maths book by the guy who wrote the behemoth novel Infinite Jest. Fascinating stuff, if you like maths. Some day I'll have to write a post about just how much maths freaks me out...

Spawn (Todd McFarlane)

The first trade collection. Cool concept but a cheesy execution. The animated TV series was far better.

Napoleon Dynamite

I left off seeing this one for a while because movies with a cult geek following like this one often don't live up to their reputations. This one's an exception though. Absolutely hilarious, and with a moral that I found quite touching: It doesn't matter how much of a loser you are, find something you love and do it well.

Dark Horse

A really random Dutch film. Suffers a little from pretentious European Art Cinema syndrome, but is generally entertaining for most of it's length.

The Brown Bunny

What a pile of shit. Yes the twist ending was clever in how it put the rest of the film into focus, but the rest of the film is a total bore-fest, and the climactic blowjob scene makes a joke out of the whole thing.


Not a chore to watch but it doesn't have much to recommend it beyond the clever gimmick of having the lead character played by completely different actresses throughout the film.


From the writers of Cube (one of my favourite sci-fi movies) comes a stupid comedy with a similar plot hook. Unfortunately these guys are far better at making up interesting concepts than at writing comedy. It had it's moments but was pretty lame a lot of the time.

The Proposition

An Australian movie written by Nick Cave. It's a great, moody outback western for the first three quarters of its running time, but the ending completely lacks any emotional punch.


A kind of counterpart to the Blues book I read earlier this year. This one is not as snarky, and the writers are (as you might expect) far more reverent to the material (with typical Jazz fiend snobbery), but it makes up for that with an abundance of photos and quotes and interviews from those who lived through the Jazz era. (The Blues book lacked these things, as bluesmen tended to die young or just wander off and disappear.)

Dante's Equation (Jane Jenson)

A trashy sci-fi novel from the writer of the brilliant Gabriel Knight series of adventure games. It's generally a pretty fun read, but I could have been spared some serious forehead slapping if they had had it proof read by a scientifically inclined editor. Just a paraphrased example:

“Oh my God! This is like no sine wave I've ever seen before!” says the brilliant scientist. They both looked at the screen. This is what they saw:

[picture of a square wave].

Sun Ra: Space is the Place

A fun B-movie, if you're not too bothered by the (heavy) reverse racism. Plot summary: Sun-Ra returns to Earth in order to take all the black people to up to his paradise planet where they can live unmolested by whitey. The devil tries to stop him.

Stardust (Neil Gaiman)

An actual, no irony allowed fairy tale, sticking to all the conventions of the genre but still making a damn fine novel. More than makes up for the disappointing Anansi Boys.

Pattern Recognition (William Gibson)

Now this book just made me angry. It starts out with incredible mood, full of post-modern malaise and seems poised to delve into the conflict between art and money, and how discerning what is genuine is being made harder by the trends in today's advertising, but in the end it just goes nowhere. Fuck you William Gibson! Now I'm going to forever wonder just what would have happened in the book you started writing.

Peeping Tom

On his newest album Mike Patton goes in an upbeat, hip hop direction. It's good and I'd recommend it, but it's far from his best work. The single 'Mojo' is easily the best track on the disc.

Dear Wendy

Seriously, what the fuck? I have no idea how to describe this movie, in fact, I have no idea if I even liked it or not...

Faster Pussy Cat, Kill Kill!

This legendary B-movie certainly fulfilled its title's promise of PG13 T&A, but while it may have been provocative when it was released, by my standards it was not terribly interesting.

Valley of the Dolls

Another, not quite so legendary B-movie (it will always be overshadowed by it's sequel). Worth watching for some great 70s cheese and some entertainingly hysterical overacting, but only if you have nothing better to do. It's quite lengthy and the plot is very dull.

Ichi the Killer

A moderately disturbing anime. Again pretty tame by my standards, but I'm told that the live action movie it was based on was better.


An acoustic album by Swedish death metal band Opeth. A few songs are absolutely brilliant, most of the rest are quite good but others fall a bit flat. It's an admirable change of pace for them but they should probably keep concentrating on rocking out.


That'll do for now. There's a bunch more stuff I want to write about, but they're all things that demand more than a paragraph each.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Is This Thing On?

The editorial staff of the Wildebeest Asylum are proud to officially announce the new look, massively overhauled, Windows Vista(TM) ready Wildebeest Asylum 2.0. From our brand new offices in central Sydney our dedicated team of writers are spending every available minute drinking rum, hanging out in divey metal bars and chasing Aussie pussy in order to bring you the unique brand of state-of-the-art, next generation content that our fans have come to love so dearly!

Sign up to our members only area and for just $40 a month you get access to exclusive content including:

  • A limited edition Wildebeest Asylum rainbow enema.

  • Special behind the scenes footage of the writer's creative process: See Jon play air guitar while listening to Opeth! See Jon masturbating to old episodes of Buffy!

  • The right to obey, and the right to kill.

...all of which is my way of saying that I now have a computer and internet access again, and actual honest to god content will resume shortly.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

The AOL Search Data

See here if you don't know what I'm on about.

The things you see when using the random user search are at first frightening, then amusing and finally depressing when you see how bad the average internet user's spelling is (not to mention their lack of understanding of the difference between the search bar and the address bar).

Saturday, August 12, 2006


Since all the cool kids are doing it, I made a Johari page too.

Monday, August 07, 2006

An Oldie But A Goodie

An amusing article about Anime in Japan. The bit about tentacle porn is very good.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

A Sydney Moment

#1 in what will (hopefully) be a continuing series:

Dirty dancing with a hot girl to Coal Chambers' "Big Truck".

Hot Girl: I hope you won't be turned off if I start singing along in the death metal voice.
Jon (aloud): Oh no I don't mind.
Jon (silently to himself): Allll-riiiight