The D.P.Wyrm Plan for a Guaranteed Best Seller
Thursday June 5th 2008
You know, there's an idea that's been floating around in my head for some years, and now that I have the means to write blog entries quickly and efficiently, I figured I might as well write it up (oh joy!).
So. There are a number of popular, well known songs that have fairly interesting histories. I've been thinking that someone with some decent writing skills (ie: not me) could do a lot worse than to write a "popular history" style book telling these stories. Divide it up into one song a chapter, give it a snazzy title, get it on Oprah and you'd be on the New York Times best seller list in no time!
The Lion Sleeps Tonight - Originally written and performed as 'Mbube' by Solomon Linda and the Evening Birds in South Africa in 1939 this song went through a tortuous number of twists and turns before morphing into one of the most recorded songs in history. And (until comparatively recently) Solomon Linda's family didn't see a cent for it. There was actually a lengthy article about its history in Rolling Stone magazine some years back - a good jumping off point for this theoretical book.
House of the Rising Sun - Originally recorded as "The Rising Sun Blues" by ethnographers working in the Appalachian mountains in the 30's (trying to preserve America's folk music heritage before it was homogenized by the arrival of radio). It too went through a number of adaptions before turning into the version we know today.
Amazing Grace - The official story is that a slave trader named John Newton had a religious revelation on the deck of his slave ship one night, wrote the words, and immediately quit the slave trade - becoming a passionate abolitionist. It didn't actually play out like this in reality - he remained in the slave trade for another six years at least and didn't speak out against it for another 30 years - but it still makes for a fascinating story.
So there we go, add in five or six more songs with interesting histories and you've got yourself a best seller! Just be sure to send me appropriate royalties :)
File under: Literature or something resembling it
Fun Facts You Never Knew!
Wednesday June 4th 2008
1: Larry Gelbart - creator of TV series M*A*S*H - based many of the show's characters on inhabitants of Allerton Illinois, the town where he grew up. Frank Burns was based on a neighbour who yelled at him for stealing apples, and B.J.Hunnicutt on an escaped circus hound that lived at a nearby junkyard.
2: The Gnu is not (as often assumed) an antelope. It is a species of warthog that evolved to fill the ecological niche left vacant by the schiessbok antelope when it became extinct around 12,000 years ago.
3: Most post offices are legally entitled to accept fingers in lieu of 10c stamps. Given steep rises in postage costs it is vitally important to make sure that one has correct change before attempting to send packages through the mail.
File under: Lies
No TV makes Denys something something...
Tuesday June 3rd 2008
Go crazy? Don't mind if I do!!
Well OK, it's not quite that bad. But it's still having an effect. Last night for instance I had the most appalling trouble falling asleep. I didn't drift off until the early hours when I took the measure of snuggling up to some spare pillows and making believe that they were Alison Mack (Awwww, how sweet! And vaguely disturbing). I think I'm beginning to see why any extended period of TV deprivation should be preceded by a (Twitch City style) Pon Farr.
But seriously, the issues I'm having have less to do with TV deprivation and more to so with autism. We autistics have a natural tendency to organise our lives into rigid routines, and when those routines are suddenly forced to change it tends to mess us up badly. Having no TV in the evenings is a major change to my daily routine, and I'm suffering the consequences (mainly ill focused general anxiety). But sooner or later I'll adapt - probably just in time to get my TV back, and start all over again :)
Ain't life grand?
File under: My Oh So Amazing Life
And a Thousand Goths Cry Out
Sunday June 1st 2008
I finally got around to doing something I've been intending to do for ages this week, which is to block image hotlinking from Wyrmworld. This is largely to protect the images (insomuch as one can protect any images on the net) involved with a new project that I aim to launch within the next few weeks, but it's also to finally deal with all the goths and emos leaching my bandwidth.
No, I haven't turned into some kind of paranoid old man who blames the "young people" in their "strange clothes" for everything wrong with my life. And neither am I "hating" (as the young people say) on goths and emos. I'm referring to that hoary old chestnut the Camarilla Test which has been attracting people of a vampiric bent to Wyrmworld for almost as long as the site's been online.
It's been a nice little traffic generator for me, and I'm still quite happy with it and have no intention of removing it. But what has been a bit annoying is the number of people who get their result, then copy the HTML wholesale to stick on their blog/facebook/myspace page, without taking a local copy of the appropriate clan image. So every time someone looks at their site, the image is grabbed from Wyrmworld, driving up my bandwidth usage.
(And OK, I don't pay anything for bandwidth, but it's the principle of the thing.)
So I finally put code in place to stop it.
Now there are two ways you can do this. The first is to deny external image requests entirely, so anyone linking to your images just gets a broken one. This is well and good, but not particularly creative. The second option is to serve up an alternate image - traditionally either a simple "Hotlinking Not Permitted" notice, or something incredibly obscene. Naturally this is the option I went with.
Now I could have been boring and gone with the "Hotlinking Not Permitted" - but boring just plain ain't me. Or I could have located some detestable blasphemy (thanks Lovecraft Engine!), but I don't really want to punish the people who've enjoyed my work enough to post it on their sites. So I went with the third option and set up an image that - while completely inoffensive - is just plain, freaking insane.
(No, I'm not going to post it here - that would be no fun. You'll have to figure out how to see it on your own. Think of it as an exercise for the reader.)
In any case on Thursday morning goths and emos all over the world would have woken up to discover an extremely strange and definitely non-gothic image adorning their carefully constructed virtual shrines of darkness. Hopefully they'll learn a valuable lesson about image leeching :)
(apart from the Malkavians, who'll probably like the new image)
At the same time I've also done something that Ryan's been bugging me to do for ages, and set up a favicon for the site. It's working in Firefox, I'll need to check it out in Explorer at work on Tuesday. So update your bookmarks!
(On the subject of favicons, what's with Google's new new one? It looks appalling)
In other news a great tragedy has befallen me. My TV is broken. I have no idea how this happened, it was working fine when I turned it off on Friday night, but when I went to switch it on yesterday afternoon it was as dead as a doenail (a new portmanteau word I came up with, being a combination of "dodo" and "doornail" - use it people!).
I really cannot fathom this. When TVs break they should do it mid-program with clouds of smoke and showers of sparks, not quietly in the middle of the night. It didn't even have any power to it, as a good environmentalist I keep most of my appliances switched off at the wall (or at least powerboard) when I'm not using them. So how it could spontaneously die is completely beyond me.
The best explanation I can think of it that it was something to do with yesterday's thunderstorms. We had some major ones go over and lightning struck only about a block away (titanic boom, car alarms going off all over the place, no power for an hour). This would seem to be a feasible theory, except that the VCR and DVD player hooked up to the same power board as the TV seem to be working fine (insomuch as one can tell without a functional TV). I didn't even blow any fuses, which one would expect to be the first symptom of a power surge.
I think the only logical conclusion is that the lightning strike generated a extremely compact and directional electromagnetic pulse that happened to hit my TV dead on while avoiding every other electronic appliance in the apartment. The exact physics behind this phenomena I leave up to the experts - I'll be too busy trying to find a TV repair place and lugging the thing over to them.
Hmmmm, or maybe it's time to upgrade to a digital...
In any case, I can look forwards to a week (or maybe more) of having to make my own entertainment like some kind of 19th century peasant. There should be a law! Hrumph! Well at least it might give me time to write up that Eurovision review I promised.
Well better go. The turnips won't harvest themselves (19th century peasant, remember?).
File under: My Oh So Amazing Life