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Alex Dante

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My Life Now [22 Oct 2015|10:11am]


Teaching Trinity & Tesla important life skills.
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The worst email I have ever sent [18 Apr 2009|02:23am]
[ mood | colddarkanger ]


from wu wei <wuwei23@gmail.com>
to press-office@ifpi.org
date Sat, Apr 18, 2009 at 12:13 AM
subject Comments on the Pirate Bay trial
mailed-by gmail.com

John Kennedy said [...] "These guys weren't making a principled stand, they were out to line their own pockets."

And the IFPI is a charitable non-profit organisation that sends every non-operational dollar to the artists rather than a blatant protection racket?

You arrogant, hypocritical cunts. Your day will come.

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Japan days 3-4: Kyoto ("my god, it's full of shrines") [15 Jun 2008|01:49pm]
[ mood | zen ]

We'd been encouraged to stay at a ryukan if we had the opportunity and it's a recommendation I'll happily pass along. The Rikiya ryukan – which was actually our second choice – couldn't have been more perfectly situated, directly in between several of the major temples in Kyoto. Run by two very elderly women and retaining an authentic traditional feel, we were really impressed by the both the atmosphere and the quiet. The room felt spacious after the narrow confines of our hotel in Tokyo. I found the bed to be far more comfortable too.



After settling in, we walked up a long flight of stairs to find...




The Ryozen Kwannon, a shrine to the Unknown Soldier of WW2. The bodhisattva itself is hollow and can be entered from the back, inside are representations corresponding to the Chinese astrology (I think, the place wasn't big on english explanations). The occassional monk would pass by, as well as young women in traditional komonos and carrying umbrellas.















All around were craft stores and eateries, again retaining a traditional style as much as possible. Streets and paths wove in every direction, and every handful of steps there would be another shrine, some just an alcove in a wall, others larger than many of the stores around them.

The food here was incredible, so satisfying and so inexpensive. The first night we ate at a tiny 6 table restaurant, with a somewhat confusing faux-Italian style (but traditional Japanese cuisine). At first, I was a little worried we had located ourselves in the middle of a tourist area, which we kind of had, but we saw far more Japanese visitors than we did any others. The area clearly held great significance for many, and for lunch the next day we ate tempura & udon amidst dozens of high school students on a field trip to the temples.














We spent most of our time just exploring the district we were in, the many parks with winding paths that lead up into the hills, the cemeteries attached to the temples (I think there were 4-5 just the few blocks around us).













On the second and last night in Kyoto, we walked down to nearby Murayama Park, before heading down to check out Gion, the night district. At that point I began to understand just how little of Kyoto we had actually seen... Streets ran in every direction, with far too much to see and do in the little time we had. We ate in small restaurant lined with signed pictures of sumo wrestlers; signed hand-prints seems to be a thing with them too. While we tend to look for places that offer english menus, both Elaine & I are familiar enough with Japanese food to wing it when we have too. So far, we haven't been disappointed with a single meal we've had, and that includes the McDonalds we bought to leech off their free wifi access. I've never seen McDonalds burgers that look so much like the idealised pictures on the menus...and they put maple syrup on their bacon & egg muffins! A truly enlightened civilisation.

(As I'm writing this, we're just passing again through Himeji on our return to Tokyo...outside we can see the castle - which we've been told is one of the few original castles remaining after the war - sitting timelessly on a nearby hill.)

After our two nights in Kyoto, we packed to head off to Hiroshima. Each time we've had to leave a city, I've wondered if we would've been better off spending more time in the current city instead...but every time I've been so glad we made the trip. It's very clear, however, that a week just isn't enough to even begin to scrape the surface of everything that is happening here.

(The photos are a little low-res; I'm writing these in OpenOffice and then uploading to Google Docs to post to LJ...it's making somewhat of a cat's breakfast out of it...)

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Japan days 1-2: Tokyo!! [13 Jun 2008|10:31pm]
[ mood | awed ]

I'm currently on a “super train” heading to Kyoto; Elaine is asleep beside me – the medication she takes to prevent travel sickness always make her incredibly drowsy – so now is a good time to try and record some of what we've experienced so far, in between gazing out the window at hills and towns we keep passing.

It's hard to think of something to say about Tokyo that hasn't already been said before, although I can safely say it has completely changed my understanding of what a city really is, more so than even London. Like London, it all feels so familiar, a legacy of two decades of anime & manga, the absorbtion of Japanese culture by osmosis, but at the same time it's a total affirmation of one of the major laws of complexity: more is different. Unlike London, the city just seems alive all the time; I couldn't believe we weren't able to easily get a seat at a local eatery at 10pm, but if anything it seems more busy at that time than earlier in the evening.

Exactly as we'd been warned, the smog over Tokyo is palpable; it has been overcast since we arrived, which combines with the never-ending exhalation of the city like an early morning mist, one that doesn't evaporate as the day grows older. By night, it's even beautiful, capturing blue and green neon especially to create a truly spectacular view, an auroris pollutaris. Right now, passing through the countryside, it feels like we're up amongst the clouds, although I'm sure it has more to do with the smoke coming from the factory chimneys that I can see everywhere.

Learning from our last overseas experience, pretty much all of the hotels we're staying at are within immediate walking distance of major stations, and our stop in Shibuya was no different. We're a block away from the intersection emphasised in the film Lost in Translation, an insane scramble crossing overseen by a twenty-story face of Solid Snake gazing down at the mass of pedestrians...Metal Gear Solid 4 has just been launched, the marketting for which is unbelievably pervasive. There are vending machines everywhere, as promised, but I can't fault any country that has such a love for grape Fanta. One pleasant surprise is that all the food we've bought so far actually looks like the food advertised, even the McDonald's breakfast muffins we grabbed before the train left this morning. They put maple syrup on their muffins here; so damned civilised.


Even expecting it, I'm not used to the acceptance that the videogame culture has here. In one arcade, we watched a high school girl casually playing Magic Quiz Quest V (we've never even seen I thru V!), occassionaly pulling out her mobile phone to record her accomplishments. Outside what looked like yet-another-arcade in Akihabara, an enormous poster of the main Neon Genesis Evangelion cast proclaimed in English, “The Angels Are Back!” Wandering inside to check it out, we found it was actually a pachinko parlour, every machine occupied by a salaryman pumping ball bearings frantically into the slot before him. On Evangelion-branded machines, clips from the show strobed frantically at every action. It was kind of like expecting, say, a Lost movie but finding out they'd released themed poker machines instead...everyone's a winner with Jack!

Last night we caught a train out to Akihabara, the Mecca of electronic gadgetry. We were greeted as we exited the station by a handful of teenage girls in french maid outfits, although one was slightly more confusingly dressed as a cat in a french maid outfit, or maybe as a french maid dressed as a cat. They were promoting one of the nearby cafes, which I'm sure must do splendid business with the patrons of the many pachinko parlours and manga bookstores we saw. Try as we might, I was unable to find any store in the area that could sell me a Nokia N810 internet tablet. Even trying to explain what I was looking for was frustrating, except in the one store where I could google it and point, but if it's not an ipod it just doesn't seem to be relevant here.

In a few hours we'll be in Kyoto, where we're staying at a riyukan, the traditional Japanese equivalent of a bed & breakfast. It's between a shrine & a temple, although saying that is probably superfluous given the number of such the city apparently has.


(In Hiroshima now, no net access in Kyoto, still assimilating everything we saw...more tomorrow!)

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Every story is an American story [01 May 2008|11:53am]
[ mood | cranky ]

There are some truths which should be so self-evident that they don't require spelling out, but apparently that's never going to be the case with Hollywood films.


RIGHTWRONGWHY
One is a teenage, Japanese leader of a motorcycle gang in a rebuilt Tokyo.

The other is a 34 year old American actor whose career highlight was dying from hypothermia.
See above.

One had authored several successful manga series before going on to write the genre classic Akira.

The other is a video game journalist with currently no completed films against his resume. But that's okay, he's written a couple of comics too...about video games.
Christian Bale lost over 60 lbs to live up to the lead role in The Machinist.

Reeves can't even bleach his fucking hair.

San Francisco isn't fucking London either. Grand occult history my arse.

One was deeply rooted in Celtic Arthurian stories.

The other was ineptly mired in cashing in on the Harry Potter craze. With Vikings.

And again, relocated to America.
I'm not an idiot, I understand the economics of the film industry and the incentive to localise these stories in order to cut costs.

But I worry about the way America constantly recasts itself as the mythic centre of everything. It's a new, distributed age...time to let go of even the idea of a centre anymore.

The recontextualising of Akira to an American setting - "New Manhattan" v "Neo-Tokyo" - just strikes me as particularly offensive, given that a major theme of the original story is the effect on Japanese society of the atomic bomb and the threat of it happening again.

Or to borrow the words of Paul Mooney:

I mean Hollywood is crazy, The Last Samurai starring...Tom Cruise? He's the last samurai? Give me a break, that movie was offensive, I mean hollywood is crazy. First they had The Mexican with Brad Pitt and now they have The Last Samurai with Tom Cruise. Well i've written a film, maybe they'll produce my film. The Last N*gger On Earth starring Tom Hanks, how about that.


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Python is the new black [10 Apr 2008|04:50pm]
[ mood | vindicated ]

For the past 5-6 weeks, I've been committed to looking for a new job. Overall, the process has been as demoralising as I remember it, with the added bonus that I seem to have skilled myself totally out of the Brisbane job market. The primary skill set required by Brisbane organisation continues to be C++, Java AND C# (yes, generally all three are listed as essential, ffs), only one of which even comes close to being - in my opinion, of course - suitable for the environments they're deployed in. Maybe it's just from the decade+ I spent in the public service, where the business rules would change drastically with every election, public scandal or boneheaded management hire, but for me the most important coding skill I've learned in recent years is agility...by the time you finished your C++ app in Queensland government, the odds of it actually being useful were astronomically opposed. At least, that's what I learned on the first two software projects I worked on for the DPI, before they decided in-house development was a costly exercise in wankery.

My weapon of choice for the past few four years has been Python (prior to that it was Eiffel...another choice that tended to make people scoff). I find myself excitedly babbling about its capabilities to other programmers to the extent that I sound at times like I've descended into full advocacy. Which I kind of have, but not out of any blind faith in it - there are and continue to be some nasty edges that hinder wider deployment - but because no other language has made me as productive as Python. Except for maybe MOO code...but there's not much in the way of paying jobs for MUD coders these days :)

So I admit to feeling a kind of a smug vindication with the launch of the Google App Engine, a development & hosting framework that allows for web applications which will scale up to meet demand. Smug because the entire stack feels like it was custom written for me :) Yes, I know there will be support for other languages coming soon, but the framework itself is very heavily python-based and feels nicely pythonic at all levels. Google has always been my go-to example of a large scale organisation that makes heavy use of Python, but until now I haven't been able to make use of that in an immediate way. With the launch of GAE (that really feels like a poorly thought out acronym...), I am given direct access to some funky Google tech and, most excitingly IMO, the ability to make apps that utilise Google's authentication system. My biggest gripe right now is with the endless number of identities I'm required to manage to use the web, and until OpenID reaches more stable penetration I'm happy to make use of one of the more reputable identity providers out there. It's just a shame this didn't all happen before Google's CAPTCHA was broken...

Right now I'm familiarising myself with the provided APIs by converting a couple of toy projects over to the framework, although I'm disinclined to upload them until the ability to delete existing applications is added (there's currently a cap on the number of apps each developer can deploy, although this is just the 'preview' period). However, if anyone has any ideas for a nice niche webapp that they feel the world is missing, PLEASE LET ME KNOW. Frankly, I get sick of my own ideas at times, and would be more than happy to take a fun idea and run with it.

Until I find a paying job, that is.

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Teaser: The Hard Sell [28 Mar 2008|12:23pm]
[ mood | excited ]

DJ Shadow, Cut Chemist, 8 decks, 4 mixers, 2 huge screens and close up cameras on all the mixing. Soooo hot.

We're catching this show at the Power House in Brisbane on April 20. I can't wait!

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[25 Mar 2008|04:04pm]
[ mood | proud ]

My wonderful partner e_princess, performing her solo part from Offenbach's Orpheus in the Underworld overture with the Brisbane Community Orchestra in the Queen Street Mall.

Sexy and talented.

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A good rebirth always needs fire [25 Mar 2008|02:18pm]
Heya. It's been a long time.

(...I shouldn'ta left you, without a dope beat to...)

One of my plans this year was to get back to journaling on a regular basis but here it is almost the end of the first quarter and I've yet to do anything about it. So I'm testing out Google Docs newish publish-to-blog functionality and using it to force out this first post. I'm hoping it's just this first post that's the hang up.

Last year I finally finished being a tech monkey for the QLD Dept of Primary Industries & Fisheries and made the move back into full-time coding. Amazingly, I was even able to find a Python-specific position producing web applications for a company that was 15 minutes walk from home. I was solely responsible for all development and was able to start to more fully integrate agile practices into my work flow.

Unfortunately, all of these elements - combined with the overwhelming desire to get the hell out of the soul crushing mundanity that was DPI&F - blinded me to more carefully assessing my actual employers. Let me summarise the experience succinctly: never work for a small, family-owned & managed business. For everything that was positive about this experience - and I have to keep reminding myself that there were positives, for e.g. my Python-fu has never been stronger - there was the owner's son, my immediate supervisor, there to counter it. A friend of mine referred to him as a "trust fund baby" and never was a label more apt: he started but never completed two (or was it three?) degrees, and yet his one semester of PHP somehow trumped my tertiary qualifications plus sixteen years of industry experience. If he wasn't chewing me out - publically, always publically - over the use of JavaScript in my web apps ("It's insecure! No company ever allows JavaScript!!!"), then he was doing so over the lack of JavaScript in my web apps ("It looks like crap! Why aren't you using AJAX?!") [for the non-coders out there, the J in AJAX is for JavaScript...]. He took two months to not set up a production server for me - the sys admin & myself ended up doing it - then decided the reason it was late was my having the audacity to start work at 9am, and nothing whatsoever with his turning up one or two days (at best) each week.

Eventually, what forced me to leave was the total lack of respect they paid me. Well, that and the fact that they kept taking on new development work when we hadn't successfully shipped a single product. It took me a while to realise that they had never done the type of work they were getting me to do, which ended up meaning absolutely no support was provided, and I was expected to do everything, from the base system level setup, through development & documentation, and on to on-going maintenance and even help desk support, not just the analysis & coding as I was told when I was employed. I would be derided for missing milestones that I had argued were unachievable; if I set more realistic time frames, they would change at the clients' whim. Even the whole agile approach was a waste of time, as I was told not to "bother" the clients with questions, which really hinders the whole idea of iterative development. Apparently I'm not a very good programmer for not being able to interpret all of the end requirements from single page specs of multi-domain systems. Man, the last system they pushed at me, the spec was 8 hand written scribblings that really should've ended up on The DailyWTF. No amount of logical criticism of their approach would get between the owners and their greed, it seemed.

Incidentally, now that enough time has past since I resigned, I can happily tell you to avoid Managed Solutions Internet like the plague, especially if you're looking for a co-location facility or net access for a business. In the ten months I was there, the air conditioning unit in the server room was alarming constantly; they would get someone to stand beside it and manually disable the alarm repeatedly when demonstrating the facility to potential investors. Their mechanism for finding out about network or power issues was to wait for the clients to complain. On three separate occasions they lost up to a month's worth of clients' network usage data; rather than fix these issues or take the loss given it was their mistake, the boss' son would make up usage data and bill the clients based on that.

But to hell with them, let's get back to me.

...because that's what I've been doing since I left. I've always been familiar with the phrase "his work consumed him", but until working for MSI I never really understood that the consumption was one of fire and I never appreciated that it burned away everything that wasn't essential to the work at hand. I know so much more now about linux development, source control management, web app development etc etc etc than I did before I began but anything that wasn't related to the projects just seemed to atrophy and die. Walking away from the job left me feeling incredibly light, partially from the loss of the weight my shoulders were carrying, but mostly, it seems, because I had been reduced to a function. Since then, I've been re-establishing myself: I'm trying to get back into reading long-form text instead of relying on web snippets, to read more fiction over technical docs, to produce music again, to just learn to relax again. Oh, and to reconnect with my social networks. Thankfully, my girl is incredibly understanding & patient and has been very supportive of my slacking off the past few months. I think the time spent in introspection has been worth it...and frankly, that I lost time for introspection should be telling of the intensity of the workload I was facing.

So hello again. Next time: less whining :)




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[08 Aug 2003|12:55pm]
Intacto. Remember when I ranted last year about how fucking great Donnie Darko was and everyone went "Donnie who?" and then six months later you all collectively took some shitty acid while someone else played for you this amazingly orchestrated little mindfuck that broke your brain?

Yes, well, Intacto is this BIFF's DD for me. Substitute Fight Club's hyperfreneticness for a measured, mature pace and you're getting really warm. It's the same amazingly simple symbolic system used to explore a concept interestly and uniquely, that at the same time is open for a lot of personal meaning assignment. And I swear it complies with all of my ill-formed ideas of what constitutes good film: it never slows the story down with exposition, it shows rather than telling, contains scenes of such simplicity and yet stark and discomforting imagery. The vague Prisoner-ish aesthetic of Max Von Sydow's character also contributed :)

Have I raved enough yet? It's on tonight at 8:40pm, which could be your last chance to see it before the already announced Hollywood remake. This is the first thing that's made me excited about film again in almost a year...

Adam Freeland. Freeland has redefined himself, his recent Radio One & JJJ mixes showing an amazingly politically aware set recontextualizing a lot of 90s songs that were themselves reactions to the last Middle East conflict, reminding us again that we're not learning our fucking lessons any time soon. It's interesting to see a set used so pointedly and yet so well, plus it reflects a shift in focus on what a set is to him, I think.

I've decided this might be my last LJ post with anything even laughably referable to as substance. The LJ focus & terminology leads to a style of discourse that is...different from what I'm after, I think. It doesn't fit with the processes I'm fascinated by at the moment, so I'm looking for a forum more complimentary...
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Water metaphors [17 Jul 2003|07:32pm]
I startled a friend today...as part of an ongoing conversation, I told him about Google's acquisition of the near entire Usenet archive a few years back, complete with handy search engine.

Why is this startling and what does it have to do with identity?Collapse )
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[07 Jul 2003|02:33pm]
Here's a question I've been asked a lot over the past few weeks: What are you planning to do, music-wise? The combination of outlaying so much cash on equipment and ranting about it almost non-stop have made people begin to realise just how seriously I'm taking this, I think.

The short answer is: I don't know.

Originally, I just wanted to be able to write some breaks tracks. Sampling & writing my own beats were the two skills I started to pick up from this endeavour. Most of my experimentation is still done in this area; it helps to have something pre-established to gauge your own efforts against, it lets you know when you've done something 'right'.

This quickly stopped satisfying me though. I don't really like using other people's samples and loops, so I've had to start looking into making my own. I think the potential for control of your sound is a lot tighter this way but it definately takes a lot longer to produce something complete because of it.

I've vague aims to try and get into web site music production before year's end. A friend who is currently establishing a web design/graphic design freelance business and I have been brainstorming ideas for style of music, means of delivery, neat interface designs etc. This is more part of trying to find some way to help financially support this new addiction of mine though.

I'm fascinated by the idea of musical devices, both real and virtual, that contain a 'song' but can be tinkered with like a toy to create something new. I'm keen to get into applications like Reaktor and Tassman that physically model audio elements and let you construct your own apps and instruments from them. I'm eager to try out circuit bending for much the same reason; I've just picked up a dirt cheap Casio keyboard from eBay...if I ever get the time (and I don't solder myself to the damn thing) I'll let you know how that works out.

Mostly though I'm just focusing on learning :) And trying to resist the urge to invest in more tech until I've come to terms with what I've just acquired. I should hopefully have my studio set up by next weekend, once done I'll write some more about that...
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Normal broadcasting will recommence in 3...2... [26 Jun 2003|05:04pm]
Hi.

Sometime in November 2002, a friend of mine sat down with me and showed me how to use Fruityloops. I'd looked at it before, was vaguely intrigued by the idea of using my computer to write music but it just never clicked. This time, it clicked.

As I've never considered myself to be especially musical, I decided to approach this at a level I thought suitable for my abilities. My aim was to cut the crap out of other people's music and remix it with my own drums..something immediate, accessible and boring. At this point, another friend introduced me to Reason...again, another package I'd looked at without much interest, but this time I began to understand its potential.

For the past 7+ months I've been spending a lot of time trying to teach myself basic production skills. Those who know me well know that this is somewhat unusual for me; I'm seldom passionate enough about anything to do more than rant about it every now and then. But this has caught my focus unlike anything else I've ever attempted, I not only want to reach some personal level of success with this, I'm beginning to actually believe I can, which is another first. The more time I spend with it, the more I'm finding it is spilling that drive over into other areas of interest to me. Since it's still early days, I'm still far away from where I'd like to be in terms of ability, which has been the major cause of my insular nature lately, I think. Until I actually create something that satisfies me on some level, I'm going to be driven to improve my skills to that point.

I'm tired of waiting for the future. I'm convinced that it isn't something we should passively anticipate but something we should actively try to usher in. I'm slowly coming to realise what sort of future it is I want and I'm beginning to see how I can make that come about. I keep ranting at people that I think we're at some pivotal changing point for our society and our humanity; maybe these pivotal points are private, individual things. If that's the case, I'd like to think that I actually tried for the change that I want, whether I achieve it or not.

So. I'm back, I guess. I'm in the final process of getting all the gear together I want to actually focus on writing music. I'm thinking that I'd like to start talking about that here, as well as get some of the more insane ideas I have out of my head and actually written down somewhere. I've no real idea what I want to talk about, let's just wing it and see where it goes.

Hello again!
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[08 Dec 2002|11:19pm]
When I grow up, I want to be a super villian.
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[21 Nov 2002|02:26pm]
[ mood | satisfied ]

So I was buying some laksa today, as I usually do at least once a week. Seafood, since you asked...

There was a woman being served in front of me. The guy behind the counter (who was asian...bear with me, it's important for the story) asked her if she wanted egg noodles or rice noodles.

She adopted that slow, condescending tone that drives me insane and replied, "I don't want rice, i want noodles." He clearly bit his tongue and turned away to take her order to the kitchen. Just as he turned, she said to everyone around her, loud enough for him to hear, "I don't know why they don't learn the language when they come here."

I saw red and before I knew it snapped at her, "They're noodles made out of rice, you stupid bitch. How superior do you feel now?"

And neither she nor her huffy friends had a reply.

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[15 Nov 2002|04:35pm]
[ mood | good ]

It's so very easy to make my day:

[wu_wei] i *so* should've been a child of the beat gen
[chiqui] snaps her fingers
[chiqui] you should
[chiqui] just revive it
[wu_wei] you've never seen me in a black turtleneck obviously
[chiqui] i have wu_wei :)
[chiqui] you looked very bruce wayne

It's soooo not true but it's still nice to hear :)

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[15 Nov 2002|12:17pm]
[ mood | calm ]

Did we even have introspection before the web?


take free enneagram test
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[14 Nov 2002|09:43am]
I discovered yesterday that nothing in this world makes me happier than exchanging a polite hello with an unfamiliar cat while walking home from work.
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[03 Nov 2002|05:06pm]
Hi.

This is Sekiden's Love Song for Robot. [ogg]
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Always something new [28 Sep 2002|02:18am]
It may be old news to everyone else, but tonight I was introduced to Leisure Town, which is where I found this amazingly beautiful piece of imagery from the brutally subtle The Dog Messiah:

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