Wednesday, September 19, 2012

An Open Letter to the Guy on the Tram.

Really? REALLY?

Dear Guy on the Tram,

I am sorry that this letter threatens to interrupt your intense tap-tap-tapping on your iPad (I'm sure what you're writing is super, super important), and to rip your steely gaze from the very shiny screen of your iPad (I'm so jealous) but as it happens, I have a bone to pick with you sir.

When I leapt upon the tram outside the Arts Centre last night, it was with a spring in my step and with jubilation in my heart. I'd managed to turn what had started as a crummy morning into a lovely day, and I was on my way to a friend's house for dinner. She'd offered to cook me dinner. Dinner not cooked by me is like to be a tasty dinner, so I was suitably excited.

Then! I spotted you, dear be-suited man on the tram, and the empty seat beside you. I noticed your backpack occupying said seat beside you, but I thought that would be NBD and you'd apologise to your backpack and let me sit on the seat it had been enjoying. You see, as someone who frequently goes about my day with a backpack filled with things I hold dear to my heart (my notebook, my phone, a sandwich for instance), I can understand that you might feel reluctance in relinquishing the seat of your darling companion backpack. As I soon found out however, warmth in your heart for a backpack was not the issue at hand.

"Mind if I sit there?"

I asked you, and received no response. That's okay, I thought. He's obviously writing something very important on his shiny iPad, and he is listening to music after all. 

"Hey. Can I sit there?"

I thought I'd raised the volume of my voice slightly, but obviously your music was too loud. Silly me, and I should have realised that it'd be a task to interrupt your Very Intense train of thought, such was the steely and determined gaze directed at the shiny iPad, and the staccato stabs of your index fingers on the screen.

I leaned forward. "Dude. Can you hear me? I'd like to sit there."

Alas, your gaze remained trained at your iPad. What was your deal? Hey? Buddy? Pal? What was your deal? I stared at you for a moment, as your fingers tap-tap-tap-stabbed at your iPad.

Did you not notice me out of your peripheral vision? Were you that enraptured by the iPad goings-on? Well, I was wearing a bright red dress and very chunky white shoes and as luck may have it, I am currently sitting pretty at the Fattest I Have Ever Been, so I'd hazard to say that YES YOU DID in fact notice that I was standing very near to you and staring right at your conspicuously tanned face.

After staring at you in disbelief for a moment longer, I stepped back and grabbed hold of a pole as the tram lurched into motion. As I walked to my friend's house I accumulated in my mind an entire arsenal of razor-sharp quips I might have lashed at you with in that moment, but alas I was too dumbfounded by the fact that you chose to PRETEND YOU DIDN'T NOTICE ME standing less than a metre from you, leaning down to speak quite close to you indeed. Repeatedly. I spoke to you repeatedly. Only for you to pretend like you'd not registered anyone speaking at you or standing near you.

I looked over at a fellow tram traveller, to see her smirking. Everyone was looking over at my failure to acquire a seat, in favour of your backpack, man on the tram. But then, maybe what you were typing on your iPad really was just much too intense and you'd been sucked into a trance filled with graphs and buy buy buy sell sell HOLD there's a meeting tomorrow that must be prepared for. I am not sure, I can't comment on that, because I didn't speak to you again, Man on the Tram.

Instead I stood in the doorway and watched as a similarly be-suited fellow hopped on the tram and strode down the tram and immediately took the seat next to you as you acknowledged his presence and removed your backpack so he'd be able to sit there unencumbered by a backpack against his derriere. If it hadn't been in my own backpack, I would have thrown my copy Feast for Crows at your conspicuously tanned head. In hindsight I'm glad I didn't, as I'm sure I'd be less inclined to keep reading if Feast for Crows was all of a sudden covered in fake tan.

Look Man on the Tram, if you were saving the seat next to you for your pal, you should have just said so. It doesn't take much to interrupt your furious tap-tap-typing in order to turn to the person attempting to ask you something and reply politely.

"I'm sorry, my pal is about to get on the tram. I told him I'd save him a seat." See? Not so hard.

I would have said something along the lines of, "That's cool, guy! Enjoy whatever you're doing on your shiny iPad! It looks very important. Carry on!"

Instead, I took an empty seat and stared at you and your similarly be-suited pal and watched as you said the absolute minimal amount of words to each other then sat there next to each other in steely silence. If you went to all that trouble to save your pal a seat, surely you'd want to actually speak to them? Apparently not.

I sat there and imagined - through my unwavering death stare, which of course neither of you noticed - that you were robot aliens from outer space who had no knowledge of strange human customs of acknowledging those who speak to you, or common public transport etiquette. I imagined that if what had just transpired had transpired in some wacky comedy about two inept yet loveable alien robots fumbling their way through a mission on earth, it'd be quite funny. I think for all my amusing imagining though, one fact remains:

You're most probably merely a douchey jerk, and I hope a bird poos on your suit, and that you drop your iPad and the screen smashes spectacularly. And I hope you get AIDS.

Yours sincerely,


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

"Internet Hero": The Continuing Adventures of Rufus

Sunday afternoon Billy posted the Rufus Tower video.

Sunday night my brother nodded sagely in approval after watching it. "This is cool. The guy have a channel?" That should have been an indicator of the potential for viral success, that and the fact that I kind of actually got slightly teary whilst watching it.

Monday saw the video rampage its way around Facebook, being shared by seemingly everyone who saw it.

Now it's Tuesday, and Billy just descended the stairs with a look on his face that seemed to be at a crossroads between confusion, excitement and pain.

"I just did an interview with The Herald Sun." He said.
My response was to flail around with excitement and tell him all about the love he was receiving on the cat-loving community of Reddit. Billy looked a little freaked out.

What started as a bunch of shares around Facebook has now turned into something "LEGIT VIRAL". And as someone who spends way more time on the internet than is healthy and probably cares way too much about internet happenings, I am most probably at a level of excitement that can only be deemed as "inappropriate".

He's featured on the Huffington Post, on Jezebel, as well as a bunch of Most Watched-esque sites, and something called Life With Cats. It was when I did my daily morning Reddit check though, that I very nearly spilled my cereal all over myself. Hell, Billy's even been dubbed an "Internet Hero". Who else can say that? That they're an INTERNET HERO. Not many people. Not many cats have stirred Actual Emotions in me either, so I'm gonna have to declare this video to be Extremely Noteworthy in the ol' Reb books.

In my last post I mentioned a project thing I did at uni in which I spent many hours of every night "researching" the way internet communities form and evolve and the ways in which content grows and spreads around different communities and environments. As someone who probably has a slightly unhealthy fascination about the inner workings of the internet, to see something grow and spread right IN FRONT OF MY EYES starring A CAT (also human) THAT I KNOW AND LIKE has been extremely exciting and reason enough to run around the building in a bit of a frenzy, spurting internet nerdisms all the while. Obviously. I kind of wish I was still at uni, so I could have a legitimate reason to keep writing endless postulating about internet communities.

Also, as an added piece of exciting ways the forces of the internet have been harnessed for good, Billy's brother's band Parallel Lions (formerly the frontman of Art of Fighting) is currently sitting at number two on Bandcamp's top sellers list. Not surprising, considering the song used in the ol' Rufus video is an incredibly pretty one.

Frankly I think I'm going to get all star-struck next time I see Rufus. He really is a very handsome cat.

I also think I'm going to find it difficult to get any work done over the rest of the day. The phone rings, and I'm going to have to be honest: "CALL BACK TOMORROW PLEASE. I have internet things to watch and observe."

EDIT: Here's a quick thing I had to write for Campaign Brief. Spruikin' the workplace, I suppose.

Monday, September 10, 2012

I have a bone to pick with 'Memes'

This is how I feel. 

There are plenty of things that I dislike. There are plenty of things I dislike with a great, great passion. Here are just a few things:

  • When people comment on things with "THIS." and nothing else ... What does that even mean? Actually, I take that back. I know what it means, I just think it sounds stupid.
  • When I download something and it's in a format I can't play it on my TV. 
  • When I watch Freaks and Geeks and then I realise that beautiful, amazing, hilarious show ends.
  • When people end posts with "That is all." ... I don't really have a reason for that one, it just gets under my skin and makes me want to say something snarky and troll-y. 
  • The use of phrases like, "right in the feels" or "ALL OF THE x !!!" or "squee!" or referring to food as "noms".

Above all else at the moment, more than my hatred for Tony Abbott or the fact that Neil Armstrong is dead yet Snooki is procreating, as a supreme indicator of my inability not to be a nerd, is my hatred for "Meme" pages on Facebook. Moreover, the fundamental misuse of the word "meme" makes me want to strangle something ... or to capslock yell into the vast expanse of the internet.

Firstly, my beef begins with this:
Completely disregarding whether or not the word "meme" is being used correctly, "meme" pages on Facebook are by and large intensely unfunny. They're not. They're. Just. Not. Funny. They're one big disgusting crime against anyone and anything that has ever actually been funny, ever.

See, I could forgive these "meme" pages if they at least elicited a tiny hint of laughter from me. Alas they do not, so alas I cannot. Of course, it may just be a matter of my sense of humour being of the slightly skewed, twisted kind and as such isn't in tune with what the masses might find tickle their funny bone. Or, it could be that the vast majority of meme pages are just ... really, really, rubbish.


From the "AFL Memes" Facebook page.

This nugget of comic gold is from "Australian Memes"

Or, if you'd like, you could peruse the Australian Big Brother Memes page. The vast majority of the seemingly unstoppable fountain of "Meme" shit on my Facebook news feed is dumb, racist, sexist or all of the above. Generally, this all comes with a completely un-ironic slew of spelling mistakes. More about that in a moment though.

What is that I hear you asking? Hm, what's up? What are memes?

Well. These are memes:

Good ol' Bachelor Frog

I suppose what I'm getting at is that memes are like internet in-jokes. The joke is the same, you just change it a little. It doesn't matter if it's the "animal head with coloured background" type, or whether it's a written meme ("and my axe!"), what matters is that it was a funny that made enough of an impact to result in lots of people using it in a bunch of different ways. What I'm getting at is that the "meme" pages on Facebook aren't so much nuggets of hilarity that have grown and spread through the internet like wildfire until everyone knows what they are as much as they're just images with text on them. THEY'RE JUST IMAGES WITH TEXT ON THEM. And listen careful as I say this: using the right font does not mean that you're doing it right.

You might think it strange that I'm bothering to write about this sort of - admittedly, juvenile, stupid, and downright unimportant at best - junk. If you're aware of how much of a giant nerd I am however, it won't be strange in the slightest. I'd be the first to admit that spend way, way too much time on the internet. In fact, I recently was chatting to a friend, and he said the following to me:
"I don't know how you keep track of everything that happens on the internet. I'd find it fucking exhausting."
Well, it's not exhausting. Because I'm a giant nerd. I spend an unhealthy amount of time on Reddit. When Curiosity landed on Mars I alternated between staring at the screen in awe and running around in gleeful laps of the building. The most exciting thing that happened a few weeks ago was finding out the actor who plays Data on Star Trek and the scientist in Independence Day are ONE AND THE SAME (Brent Spiner). Out of all the characters on The West Wing I find Toby to be the most attractive.

More noteworthy than all of that however, is the fact that I managed to somehow end up spending the greater part of my last semester at university trawling through the seedy underbelly of the internet. Doing a research project on internet communities and how they evolve within different environments meant that every night was a constant stomp through the not-safe-for-life landmine-filled fields of 4chan. It was also a nightly sojourn in 2009-era Reddit. My mind is now permanently tainted with things I cannot un-see, and it's also well and truly cemented my position as a slightly snobby member of the internet.


But then I think, maybe I'm just a grumpy old man. Maybe I shouldn't get all up in arms when something on the internet evolves, which inevitably is wont to happen. Whatever. The whole "meme" thing has just done some next-level evolution, and there's nothing I can do about how un-funny I find it all except be disgruntled and storm off to watch some Adventure Time.


There's having a slightly different sense of humour that a bunch of people I vaguely know and happen to still have on Facebook, and then there's being disgusted by offensive shit. It takes a lot for me to get up in arms about offensive shit on the internet, but I find that whenever morbid curiosity gets the better of me on Facebook, I always end up being all like, "I DON'T WANT TO LIVE IN THIS KIND OF WORLD". There's thinking, "You're doing it wrong as far as memes go" and there's thinking "the planet earth of the future is doomed". Hell, even if these meme pages are using actual meme templates, the fact remains that they're overwhelmingly unfunny.

It's incredibly disheartening that whilst "researching" for this little rant, I only had to go to two profiles to accumulate links and pictures. One of these people I happen to be related to, and the other is someone I had always thought had their head screwed on in fairly a logical way. What do I do? Do I tell them that they're doing it wrong? Do I delete them? Do I troll them super hard?

If you end up bothering to have a look at a few of those pages, I guarantee you'll be disgusted by at least a bunch of pictures. By that I mean to say that I couldn't even laugh at them for being so hilariously bad. They were just downright ... awful. Gross. Made me embarrassed. It also made me want to copy & paste a lesson in proper use of Your/You're into every comment box of every image.

Some of the pages I was just referring to that you might want to track down in your own Facebooking time include (I'll not be posting actual links here):

  • Booties Boobies and Bodies
  • Centrelink Memes
  • Melbourne Club Memes
  • Dumb, Drunk & Dirrrrty Bitches
  • Australian Memes.

Look, I know that this is a futile rant. I also know that merely posting this sort of thing is practically like sending out an invitation to be trolled. "U MAD BRO?" ... well, yes I suppose. I love the internet, and I love observing the myriad ways the boundaries of political correctness are pushed in the name of the "lulz" (to use the parlance of our time). I myself am a little surprised that the Facbeook "meme" posts that have been clogging up my screen of late have sent me into such a state of anger.

I suppose when people are doing it SO wrong in so many ways without even having the decency to actually be funny OR USE APOSTROPHES CORRECTLY while being incredibly racist and sexist, I can't help but get angry. If you're doing none of those things correctly (humour, grammar, internet, decency), then chances are you are DOING IT WRONG on every count and you should have your internet license revoked. 

A Tower for Rufus

Hi all!

I'm very sorry that I'm so terrible at posting regularly. I keep telling myself that I'll set aside a couple days of the week that I'll make sure I post something, but it somehow always ends up being a bridge too far. Said extenders (?) of said bridge include:

  • An increasingly intense obsession with The West Wing
  • The fact that the internet connection at our house is tenuous and temperamental at best. 
  • The fact that I'm super busy and I really, really enjoy sleeping. 

In any case, here's something that's jerked me out of my state of perpetual laziness. 

My coworker and pal Billy has fast become one of my favourite people around. That's neither here nor there however, as it's his cat that we're concerned about at the moment. His cat is called Rufus, and he is a very handsome and loveable cat. As someone who generally hates cats (without a shadow of a doubt, I'm a dog person), it takes a very special kind of feline for me to look past my allergies and general cat disdain to see a cute furry animal. Rufus is definitely that kind of special cat, so much so that while the guys chatted and swigged beers in Billy's kitchen a few weekends ago, I was content to sit on the floor and play with Rufus. Gasp! Unheard of! 

It's not surprising then, that Rufus gets epic box structures built for him. Billy'd told me that he was constructing a box fort for his furry companion, but I had no idea the resulting castle and video would blow my mind to the extent that they did.

Bravo guys!