Thursday, June 30, 2005

Fade In-Out & Away

"When I was young I thought I had my own key; I knew exactly what I wanted to be. Now I'm sure, you've boarded up every door." --Oasis, Fade Away

Almost thought of letting another postfree day fade away, nothing much to say really. I've been working lots, while I can, before my return to university next month and another substantial student loan to avoid paying off until some far off future. I think back to a time unknown to me, some strange distant past where university education was free in this country. Long gone are those fairytale days.

Television, movies, music, video games, and various books somehow seem to steal away the far too little remaining hours that were once planned to be spent in a much more constructive fashion. Tonight I was somehow persuaded into The Valley for a few games off pool; fun for a bit, but just another excuse to get away.

Fading in-out, time stretches away, while we're living.

The dreams we have as children

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Who Is This Doctor Anyway?

How much of the things you see as a kid becomes what you are today? Doctor Who never really made much headway into much of my life growing up, as it seemed to have for a few others I've met. I find it interesting, the shows people choose, the people shows choose in their lives, the influences each has for the other.

Talk of the new Doctor Who arose between the two British girls at work a little while ago. I'd heard a little about it from somewhere or other and had thought about maybe checking it out, so I asked when it was on. 'Saturday night, seven thirty, ABC', was the simultaneous response I received, almost as though I should already have known.

The first Saturday slipped by; I'd missed it, being out at the time, though I promised I'd catch the next one. Managed to record it this time around, Episode Six, Dalek, in which The Doctor comes to find the last survivor of his old enemies, the Daleks, trapped in a collector's basement on earth. I was surprised, somewhat pleasantly, that the style of shooting remained rather like the few old Doctor Who episodes I'd seen.

I'd heard about a number of the very old Doctor Who's becoming lost, the originals being taped over by the BBC as was usual procedure in those days apparently. Although a few of these have been recovered, it seems that some may be gone forever, relegated to sketchy and impermanent human memory.

Are patterns on magnetic tape so much better? Over enough time is not everything forgotten? Perhaps The Doctor may one day drop by our quaint, little dimension, travel back in his tardis phone booth and salvage his own stories.


Monday, June 27, 2005

Mounting The Attack

"Luke, at that speed do you think you'll be able to pull out in time?" --Biggs, Star Wars: A New Hope

Innocently watching x & y-wings penetrate the death star's defences a hundred times over as a child and Luke playing with his extended lightsabre, learning the ways of the force like his father before him, I sat blissfully unaware. I'm not sure when I first suspected there may be some underlying sexual elements in the Star Wars films, but I only seriously started reading things of that nature into the films after we had an in depth look at A New Hope in screen studies at university.

A friend of mine from that class even wrote his final paper on the sexual undertones present in Star Wars. I happened to chose a film quite a bit more sexually charged, Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, with its numerous and blatant references to human sexuality. Star Wars I find is a little more subtle in its allusions, presenting our driving force, which "surrounds us and penetrates us" as something to master in order to conquer, by sexual conquest, the femininity of the cosmos.

Anyway, so I bought the Star Wars Trilogy box set with some of the money I got for my birthday and my weekend has been filled up with just about as much Star Wars as it can handle, watching all the movies and a few things on the special features dvd. The return of boyhood memories, innocent dreams of one day becoming a Jedi in the ways of the force.

May the force be with you, always. (Sorry couldn't resist)

"Hey, point that thing someplace else."

Friday, June 24, 2005

Electric Pets

Yesterday while walking in the city gardens, the final chapter of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? finished playing. I'd taken the easy way out, listening to a recorded reading of it on my iPod. It was very well produced - as far as audiobooks are concerned - with music and everything and read by Matthew Modine featuring Calista Flockhart for the female parts.

What intrigued me most in the story was the emphasis put on the importance of owning an animal, an element not quite as pronounced in Bladerunner. It's an integral part of the social structure, like you're not part of the human race unless you own and are able to take care of some kind of animal, preferably not an artificial one.

All my life - as far back as I can remember at least - there has been very little, if any, time spent when I have not been the owner of a pet of some kind or another, from my earliest little mouse, through cats, dogs and various insects, to the aquariums I keep today. Over the years, electric pets have also managed to find short-lived places amongst the organic, though the ability of an artificial animal to provoke any true feelings of empathy is nothing to that of real pets, who have been evolving and refining a wide range of techniques for many, many thousands of years.

The lure of Rachel Rosen

Thursday, June 23, 2005

What The Bleep?

"Mary Mary quite contrary, How does your garden grow? With silver bells and cockle shells And pretty maids all in a row." --traditional English nursery rhyme

O How the mind's constructed image of people and things can pivot and change upon something so seemingly inconsequential as a simple suggestion to see a movie. The revelation comes not from the film itself - in this case, What the #$*! Do We (K)now!? - but from the mechanisms it employs in us to help perpetuate its existence. Word of mouth propagation, easily seen to flower and fruit in minds of certain soil fertility.

Recommended to me by a number of people, saying it was all about quantum physics and other things that seemed to intrigue me, I sat down tonight to watch it, quite excited. But although my optimism managed to hold on for a little while at the start, it wasn't too long before the film's true nature was revealed; the typical pseudo-scientific seedlings, weeds to be pulled in an already overgrown garden.

That which we recommend reveals much about our nature. How does your garden grow?

Frozen water crystals

Monday, June 20, 2005

The Same Old New Beginnings

"Why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up." --Alfred, Batman Begins.

Down count the little remaining hours of the twenty-second year of my temporal existence. Tomorrow is just another day for all but me and the one in three hundred and sixty-five others, out of billions. I almost forgot to ask for the day off.

Midwinter for those below the equator, the shortest day of the year. Night stretches on however, time enough to reexamine the same old questions that seem always to emerge from the shadows in times of passing.

Yesterday after practice, we went to see Batman Begins, which I found quite enjoyable for what it was. It's been so long since I've seen any of the other Batman movies that I have hardly a reference for comparison. Perhaps that's a good thing.

In the large bushland area behind the old high school oval lives a colony of fruit bats. They've been there ever since I can remember. Each night as the sun begins to fall, igniting the sky a bright orange, the hundreds of dark silhouettes can be seen gliding over the northern suburbs as the bats take flight. Their perpetual search, each night a new beginning.

Up in the sky

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Fishing For Phishers

Came home from watching Madagascar to find a poorly formatted email half-appearing to be from eBay, saying that I had to update my account details.

Gmail it seemed had already picked up on the fact that the "Return-Path:" was different to the "From:" field and had removed all the links, but I felt in the mood for a little reverse phishing. Just curious I guess, amazed at the depths some people will sink to and not wanting to imagine the floundering few that may already have been hooked.

First thing was to check the bait, the email source; found the link, taking me to a page that looked very much like an eBay page with boxes to enter credit card information and all that. The server ip was in the address, so I decided to give my Linux box a little bit of a workout, running nmap and traceroute on the ip.

I noticed the ssh and ftp ports were open and the address had /~demo/ in it, so I tried the obvious, using Putty to ssh to the server, 'demo' as the username and 'demo' as the password. I couldn't believe they would be that stupid, but evidentially they were. Seems their fishing boat had a few holes in it.

There was no shell access, but I got in through ftp and had a look around, downloaded all their fake eBay files and thought about either deleting them or editing them, but didn't. I wanted to see how much more information I could gather.

The actual files were encoded using the JavaScript 'unescape' function in an attempt to hide the source code from inquisitive fish like me. However the very long string of %3C%42%4F%44%59%20%7... is easily decoded with a tool like this. Still following the lure, I ended up at the php file that seemed to do the actual sending of the private information to the little phishermen. The mail() commands were in base64 ready to be decoded and executed by the server.

I changed the code a little and put it through my Linux server, making it only echo the base64_decode() output instead of running it. And there I had them, hook, line and sinker, the two email addresses that the credit card details were being reeled into.

Googling the names brought up information for only one of the little phishermen on a music related message board profile, a sixteen year old Eminem fan from Romania. He even had a picture.

I was satisfied at that. Fish matching wits with phishermen. The one that got away, staring into the eyes of his would be, puerile captor. Catch you next time.

Fishing at Moonlight, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Operating Systems

"I've imagined how hard it's been for you, living amongst beings so moved by emotion." --Doctor Noonian Soong, Brothers, TNG

We each share a specific and certified system architecture, you and I. Essentially equal in our four hundred thousandth generation hardware. How then can we be so different? What divides us perhaps, is that which executes control within, the essential software of the self.

Though, like many others I know, Windows has unblinkingly commanded control over most systems I've owned, it seems over the years, the Linux OS still clings on to existence after so much, residing in virtually any system it can somehow find its way onto. My new Linux box hums away in the corner, a fusion of old junk parts, forming a more than adequate habitat for deep, soulful, electric brooding.

In the Star Trek TNG episode Brothers, Data and (by mistake) his brother Lore - identical, but not twins - are reunited with their creator, Dr. Noonian Soong after he activates a secret homing beacon that causes Data to hijack the Enterprise. The reassembled Lore, like the brooding Linux box, has always been jealous of Data's favour in the eyes of their father.

So moved by emotion and character, the Lores of the world, starved for attention, lie in wait, tucked away in the corner somewhere.

"The two of you are virtually identical, except for a bit of programming"

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Fault Lines

Trivialities and matters of small consequence seem to dominate some days, while the world floats overhead. Not much to say.

Letterman has just started, Nicole Kidman and Foo Fighters are on. For quite a while, television had receded from my attention, though it currently seems to be making a come back.

Problems with the internet connection at work have me reminiscing back to the simple days. The plug-ins of humanity can at times seem stifling.

"I've just picked up a fault in the AE35 unit"

Monday, June 13, 2005

Choosing Futures, Futures Choosing

"You don't choose the things you believe in; they choose you." --Lamar Burgess, Minority Report

Late last night strolling down Queen Street, we passed a few in suits shouting their beliefs at us - a tactic of survival utilised by many tenets still inhabiting the minds of a vocal minority - at which I responded something about evolution and Darwin, just to see their reaction I suppose. They ignored me. It seems their highly adapted beliefs have chosen a cosy home.

Just finished watching Minority Report, Steven Spielberg's superb vision of a future where the future can be known. The film deals a lot with choice, the idea that an individual, given knowledge of a future event, has the freedom of choice to alter that prediction. Although why the precognitives of the film fail to recognise that crucial decision and never quite seem to predict the events that actually take place, is never fully explained.

I like to imagine that it is the futures that do all the hard work for us, choosing the individual in order to make themselves a reality. If a prediction of murder is what it takes for the prevention of the murder to be actualised, then perhaps the lie is worth it. The oracle tells you only what you need to hear.

The majority of conceivable futures pass us by, slipping through present clutches, often to become past regret for things unsaid and leave only the minority report our lives have been up to now. We are but a refuge for a few auspicious events, clinging to existence.

Possible shots, fighting for Speilberg's attention

Friday, June 10, 2005

Mistaking Alfies & The Changing Times

"My life's my own. But I don't have peace of mind. And if you don't have that, you've got nothing." --Alfie Elkins, Alfie

Was there, browsing for The Aviator dvd at Sanity when this special deal they had pinned on a scrap of paper up on the wall kind of caught my eye. Picked out my four dvds and made off with the free dvd player I've now got set up in my room/office area.

One of the movies I decided upon was the original version of Alfie. Having thoroughly enjoyed the one recently made, I wanted to see what the old one was all about. However upon returning home and looking inside the case, at first thinking how extraordinarily different and Jude Lawish the young Michael Caine looked, I realised that the girl behind the counter had unwittingly mistaken Alfies and given me the wrong disk.

There was a long haired, balding, slightly overweight old man standing to the side, yesterday when I went to exchange the disk. While the young guy behind the counter asked the rather silly question of if I was sure it was the wrong one, the old guy remarked with a smile how much he liked the old one, and wasn't too keen on the new.

I've just finished watching both films and though the two Alfies - the characters I mean - are incredibly similar with their certain looks and mannerisms shared through so much time, their surrounding world seems so different, updated for the changing times. And still they walk the same lonely path. My preference I must say, a product of my age, is for the new.

"It's nice after tea, isn't it?"

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Not Going To Stop

"This, please, cannot be that. And for what I would like to say, I can't. This Was Not Just A Matter Of Chance. Ohhhh. These strange things happen all the time." --Narrator, Magnolia

Sent an email a few days ago to Emma, an old friend from uni I hadn't seen for quite some time, only to have it bounce back undelivered. The distant idea, that perhaps another had fallen off the edge of the map, slowly floated through my mind. Most things seem almost always to slip away with time.

I gave it no more thought though until yesterday's lunch, walking out from the local Subway. Sitting there just outside, much to my surprise, was Emma and her boyfriend Steve, wondering just for a second, who this strange person was standing over their table. I was invited to sit and we shared news of ourselves and others, reminisced of times past, and made our promises to keep in touch via her new email address.

I remember seeing Magnolia when it first came out in 1999, intrigued by the tall tales of coincidence and the interweaving of lives. Watched it again the other day and don't think I'd realised before just how grim and bleak the stories were, although the simultaneous singing near the end had me close to laughter, walking the fine line between touchingly dramatic and absurdly humorous.

A billion sad stories coincide, what's strange is the mind's seduction by chance, when these things happen all the time. The ceaseless struggle of existence won't stop. Consolation comes only in certain rare moments of life. Time to wise up.

When it rains, it pours

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Sorry, Wrong Mountain

Yesterday was the second of our proposed monthly barbeque get togethers, which surprisingly enough have, in both cases, turned out to be somewhat better than I'd expected, despite the odd little hiccup along the way. In yesterday's case it was the small issue of driving up the wrong mountain.

Jolly's Lookout was where we were supposed to meet at eleven. I didn't exactly know where that was, though they said it was on Mount Glorious, so I figured I'd just make my way up the mountain and look for a sign marking the turnoff. A long and winding drive up was followed by a long and winding drive down and then back up again, with no sign in sight. Stopped at the summit, I gave them a call. Silly me for taking the Mount Glorious turnoff instead of the one for the next mountain over. Great view though.

I eventually found them however and after enjoying what lunch the birds didn't steal, we contemplated going on a brief bushwalk, though it seemed the only trails were back on the mountain I'd just come from.

Reaching the end of the Greene's Falls trail we saw what at certain times is most likely an impressively flowing waterfall, though the only present evidence of that was a tiny trickling of water down the steep, black rocks. A few of the more adventurous of us decided it might be a laugh to climb down the rocky falls to the bottom. The slightest slip or wrong footing may very well have resulted in a terrible fall and though those watching safely from above may not have thought so, it all somehow seemed worth it.

The view from the top

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Teleporting Storylines

"The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun." --Ecclesiastes 1:9

They say that every story has already been told hundreds of times over, that there really is nothing new under the sun. At times it can indeed seem that way when in search of things unprecedented, that certain feeling that it's all been done before.

Back at university, whenever the subject of storyline interplay or reference between separate texts arose, my theatre lecturer would invariably call on a popular television show to help explain the principals of intertextuality to us TV raised individuals, The Simpsons. Growing up with The Simpsons, it's amazing how often it is that a borrowed storyline or subtle reference to another work is only truly realised long after it has taken up residence in the mind as being attributed to a certain Simpsons episode.

The Treehouse of Horror episode Fly vs. Fly in which Homer buys a pair of teleportation pods leading to the fusion of Bart and a fly stands prominent in memory as one of the great Simpsons Halloween Specials, yet previously I had only a vague idea where that particular storyline came from. I've now just finished watching David Croneberg's 1986 version of The Fly, from which the idea was borrowed. This movie itself however is a remake of an earlier film. No doubt the storyline can be traced even further back in time.

How far do these stories stretch back? Could every modern day plot have its origins in times long past, primetime around a campfire in prehistory?

"Hey, they stole that from The Simpsons"

Friday, June 03, 2005

Splitting Hairs

A whole industry based on the social supposition that your hair should be a certain length and look a certain way, or else...

I'm not sure why, but ever since I can remember, I've always seemed to possess a slight phobia of going to the hairdressers. In my younger days I tried to make do with haircuts from family members, though in quite a few cases the end result had me running back to the professionals. I've been reading a bit of Sigmund Freud lately and I'm positive he would attribute the whole thing to some perverse childhood incident buried deep in the subconscious. I certainly can't recall anything of that sort happening however.

Standing outside I ask myself one last time if I really even need a haircut, but it's too late. I'm called over, placed in a seat in front of just about the clearest mirror I'd ever seen. Everything is lit a bright white and I almost confuse reflection with reality as I sit like a wallflower watching others being groomed and pampered, waiting for one of the girls to pick me, all the while wishing it was over already.

I guess it's just a mixture of many things: the whole uncertainty of it all, its inevitability, the change in perceptual self image, that certain strange detached intimacy, the intermittent small talk in order break the silence, etc. Or maybe there is indeed something Freudian hidden just under the surface, disguised perhaps as a distant childhood memory. Who knows? I have enough on my mind as it is.

What's on Sigmund's mind?

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Natural Selection from a Higher Power i.e. Me

Yesterday to my surprise, while feeding my guppies, I saw swimming about the waters a number of tiny babies, who had most likely just been born not long before by one of the females who now seems rather thin in comparison with the other two. The single male appears as happy as ever. Unlike goldfish, which spawn first by the female laying hundreds of eggs and the male fertilising them afterwards, guppies produce only a few live young.

I didn't expect they'd be as big as they were, but it's probably a good thing they were at least bigger than the mouths of the older guppies. The times before when our goldfish attempted reproduction, most of the eggs and babies were eaten by their parents before we had the chance to separate them.

At the pet store a little while ago, I selected the best looking fish according to my aesthetic values - the most colourful, the healthiest looking, the ones with the longest tails. It is very highly likely that these agreeable traits will have been inherited by this new generation. Of those that survive to maturity, I will again single out only the best of those to mate.

Phase one of my masterplan, the creation of a new species of superguppy is now complete...

Small fry