Friday, September 18, 2009

Finding Equilibrium

Ok, so I had to share a very amusing website with you today.

Briefly, one of the main problems with online language translators is that they don't understand context, which is, y'know, kind of a biggie with languages. There are fabulous algorithms developed by companies like Google which aim to provide accurate results, but there's always a chance your meaning will get lost, or your message garbled in the process because tongues are, well, just that complex.

In that light, someone decided to make a tool that aimed to show just how messages can become mangled nonsense, and it really is one of the funniest things I've seen in a while.

Dubbed: 'Translation Party' - which I can only assume was a result of them trying to use their own tool to come up with a title - the site allows you to input a single phrase or sentence, and translates it between English and Japanese until it finds 'equilibrium' (ie. the text translates identically in both languages). It's simple, but that's all it takes for hilarity to ensue.

Here are a couple I did to test it out:

Once more into the breech, dear sir!
Break that horrid, cursed clock you fool!

Post your results in the comments so we can all share a laugh. Enjoy!


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Wicked and Lost in the Emerald City

It was a blustery, chilly September evening when twenty of us met outside the Paramount Theatre in Seattle's downtown district for a night of musical bamboozlement. I had a jacket on, and it was clear by the cold evening sky that autumn was now upon us. The light faded sooner and the temperature dropped even though the trees didn't show signs of losing their dignity anytime soon. Even so, within a few minutes of waiting I knew my next blog title would be both snappy and appropriate (some may say 'witty' even, but I'm just too darned modest for that you see).

'Wicked' the musical adaption of Gregory Maguire's novel was the attraction of the night, and it was a great show. The sets were larger than life, brilliantly detailed and perfectly themed. Musical numbers and actors did an admirable job and I have to recommend the show to anyone that has the chance to see it.

Having said that, I did find that the story lacked - well - intensity (gasp! doth he criticize broadway!?). Now if you're one of the guys I saw the production with, you're probably sharpening your bluntest kitchen knife right now, but I'm going to stick by my opinion. I won't spoil the story, and yes, I'm well aware it's a musical about a fairytale, but I felt that there could have been a little more development with the characters, and it could have been a little darker. Let's face it, the story is dramatic, it's dark and it's ambitious, but that didn't entirely come across and it's kinda what I wanted to see. I felt after it was over, that it was a little too pop, with not enough shadow to balance the light. That aside though, I've heard that what the musical lacks, the book delivers on, so I will be picking up a copy and giving it a squiz.

Digressing somewhat. The the trip had been organised by two groups of friends for two reasons. The first reason (and thus the first group) was responsible for the musical. The second, for a three-day music and arts festival known as Bumbershoot. It's basically what you'd get if you wanted indie acts in the spotlight, but had to lure in the general public with Katy Perry first.

So, at 5am the preceeding Saturday morning to the broadway expedition, me and two compadres were in the car heading for the border, coffee in hand, anticipation in mind. Bumbershoot had some great acts to get us excited about, but admittedly it wasn't the music that was the kicker for me this time. Indeed not, it was something geekier and altogether more awesome than that. The writers of Lost would be there. Not all of them, no, but Carlton Cuse, Adam Horovitz and Ed Kitsis, which was enough to make me giddy.

With friends beside me, we braved the wind and rain for 4 hours in the lineup to see the literary heroes of our favourite drama. We made some line-buddies of course, all of whom were lovely and were into Lost as much as we were, and it made the wait that much more bearable.

Finally we were admitted to the hall for the talk, and sitting front-and-center was pretty cool, we were not three feet from these guys, who, I might add, are every bit as charismatic and personable in real life as you would expect the writers of this show to be.

I wasn't gushing and taking photos like a crazed fanboy, but I was excited enough to shake nervously when I was able to ask them a question at the end of the session. It was one of those questions that's heavy, dark and weighs upon one's mind in a brooding way. A question that, if left unanswered, might be the undoing of a sane mind, and went thus: 'As I'm a fellow countryman of one of the characters, I worry about her wellbeing, so I have to ask: Where is Cindy, and will we ever see her and the kids again?". To which all three guys laughed. (Cindy was the Australian flight attendant seen fleetingly in the first season, and intermittently throughout the rest of the show. A turncoat who joins the Others and who's task seems to entail looking after the stolen children).

Carlton simply gave that 'I know way more than I'm going to say' smirk and leaned to the mic, answering "I think it's safe to say yes, we'll see them again.". Which I thought was rather smashing.

Soon afterward and with a signed copy of Lost Season One in hand, we left the auditorium and started the lengthy journey back to Vancouver, satisfied, and with fond memories of the past three days lingering in the collective headspace, joined by the creme de la pop music bilged into the air by a member of our party's iPod.

I won't deny singing along to the Roxette medley as the Emerald City faded behind us, and in retrospect, everything that was Wicked and Lost was pretty darned cool.


Saturday, September 5, 2009

World of Warcraft: Surprisingly Awesome

Well, it appears that the media's favourite punching-bag, video games (not Britney mind you), will probably be ignored this time around - much in the same way a stoned llama ignores traffic lights I suppose.

You see, this time a video game, indeed the much celebrated 'World of Warcraft', has actually saved someone's life. Surprised? So (I imagine) was Hans Jørgen Olson, as field reporter Gabby McTrinket Tabble reports (Note: name may be fictitious ... and amazing):

The twelve-year old Norwegian was walking in the forest with his younger sister when they crossed paths with an elk. An elk with a vendetta, allegedly.

Says Hans: "My sister ran off, but I attempted to scare the elk. When I noticed that it wasn't working, I ran too, but it chased me."

The elk butted Hans in the back, but luckily his backpack absorbed the impact. Hans then decided to use a trick he'd learned in World of Warcraft.

"When your character reaches level 30," he explains, "he learns a move called 'Feign Death'. So that's what I did."

Hans dropped to the forest floor and played dead. It worked.

"After a moment, the elk left." He said.

Thus, the world can sleep another night. Safe in the knowledge that what we learn while sitting in front of our computer screens for hours on end may actually somehow prove useful in real life. I say it's a good thing the kid didn't try to use 'Fireball' ... that probably wouldn't have gone down so well. Either way, I got endless chuckles from this, oh my yes.

You can read the original story here. (Incompatibility Warning! Site is Swedish!)


Finally, there are two new wallpapers up on for yer viewin' pleasure, Compass and Barnacles. They're located in the collection section.

Pip pip then!


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