Friday, February 26

"Rainbow" is not a dirty word.

COMING SOON: "A Queer Reading Of Everything! Part 1." My awesome sister Stas suggested I do this series of posts, since I habitually read absolutely everything as gayfully as possible. It's just a hobby. Some people do arts and crafts, I get my kick out of reading carefully chosen lines of (mostly, innocuously hetero) books, placing them out of context, and putting "if you know what I mean" [waggles eyebrows] at the end of them. It's great fun and takes up most weekends! Part One will be entitled "Moby Dick: It's Just Too Easy."

And now, for a rant about capitalist fuckheads:

Surely, as those who have the (collective) intelligence to own and operate a huge website dedicated to people listening to stuff, whoever's beneath the chicken suit that is would be just clever enough to think, "Hey, for people to listen to stuff, it needs to be in a format their listening-to-stuff gadgets can recognise!"

Apparently not.

Because money makes people seriously, irreparably stupid. In this case, Audible have decided to make a very special audio format of their very own called .aa, in which ALL of their audio books are sold. No, they can't make it in standard mp3, because then it would be too 'shareable', there would be too many rainbows in the world, and the universe would implode.

What pisses me off is that I only stumble across this idiotic problem when I've given them my credit card details, downloaded their software (really, because my RAM wants more random programs slowing it down) and put their trial file on my mp3 player. It's not recognised.

I then look back and realise this bloody file is .aa, so I go "cool, I'll just use Format Factory."
"I'll just download a program that converts it to mp3. Can't be that hard."
Apparently, converting it straight-out is illegal, because of the whole sharing rainbows universe imploding thing.

So, I eventually find a teeny tiny paragraph in their help file that says meekly, "Oh by the way, our files aren't in mp3 format... but that's okay because iPods and R4000 smartphones can read our format!"

Next I go to the forums. Countless stories of people who PAID for audiobooks (they're not cheap either, any good stuff is roughly the same price as hardcopy) and can't get a refund because, deep in the bowels of their help files, Audible says this format isn't supported on all mp3 players.

Thank greatness I'm just using the 2 week free trial and I discovered this problem with my "complimentary" (yes, thank you for raising my blood pressure and wasting my night) book credit, which I'm using for Moby Dick. Alas, I do actually need to finish it before I can offer a complete queer reading.

Now, I'll admit that Charlie (my mp3 player) isn't the snazziest monkey in the tree. He's a JNC ipod-knockoff and despite the box he came in stating "MP4 PLAYER" he doesn't exactly... play mp4's. But he plays mp3's just fine! And you'll find him in pretty much every CNA and computer store in South Africa, so he's not exactly a rare model.

Suddenly, having an mp3 player and the money to buy an audiobook just isn't enough. You have to have a top-of-the-line gadget to play the damn thing. And that, right there, is capitalist imperialism at work. It's. Just. Not. Right.

Luckily, on the same forums I did find a (non-shady) way to get my mp3's. By burning the .aa files to an (emulated) CD and ripping them back to mp3 format from there. I still have to personally try this but it seems doable.

Yeah, doable. And really irritating, long-winded, troublesome and deeply unnecessary in a rational world, where (in my pseudo-anarchist opinion) it's perfectly okay to have a little friendly file-sharing. And one too many rainbows.

Monday, February 8

Spending money is good for your liver

Spending money makes me happy. So does tequila.

Being the health enthusiast I am [insert incredulous snort here] I decided to spare my liver, and just spent R300 on An Incomplete Education, which is a very, very big book with many little factoids on just about every interesting non-fiction subject ever. Besides, It's okay that I spent money, because I'm making money. I made R6 (hell yeah, you read right, SIX Rand!) from people clicking on my blog's ads yesterday. So don't be shy about clicking on them, because not only does the act induce orgasmic pleasure on its own (!) it also funds my addiction to awesome books!

So, the book looks way awesome. I plan to keep it in my handbag at cocktail parties and consult it for clever things to say. Actually, at 700 pages, I might need to keep it in my wheelbarrow. But that's okay, because I have a decorative wheelbarrow especially for cocktail parties.

Expect a review when my New Favourite Book arrives in about three weeks. Actually, you're better off expecting a review once I finish reading it. Ten years and three weeks, then.

That's the trouble with online retail therapy. The rush of clicking through your (mom's) credit card payment for something incomprehensibly awesome is quickly replaced by the stark sensation of empty-handedness.

... And that's when we head to TEQUILA!

Sunday, February 7

Orangutans have SMS language too...

So I’m back at Wits, doing my Honours in English. Being Postgrad has opened up a whole new world! Well, technically that world consists of two new rooms. One being the Quiet Room – for reading heavy books with a serious look on your face, and perhaps smoking a pipe and mulling over unsolved murders. I wouldn’t know, I’ve only been in there once, to ask for the key for the Noisy Room.

The Noisy Room is where all the magical awesomeness of postgraduateness is at. There’s a kettle and a view of the dirty Joburg streets and rockstars rising from the dead and a whiteboard and ponies. And a really big table!

Being in this room was the first time that I actually liked being in the English department. I just kept thinking “This is weird… I’m not fetching an essay, so I’m not terrified… I’m not in pain, since I’m not in a lecture… I feel… Happy!”

The best part about the Noisy Room is it’s got other Noisy English Postgrads in it! And they’re all pretty awesome. Seeing as most of my varsity friends are Psychology kids (with a few Linguistics and Sociology majors thrown in for good measure) I’ve never really gotten anyone to stand still long enough to listen to me ramble about how deliciously emo Poe was or what a lame whiney man-spinster Matthew Arnold was (and how his poetry, despite rhyming, sucks eggs.)

Don’t know who Matthew Arnold is? Good. The rhyming just doesn’t make up for the sucking of eggs.

Luckily I don’t have to study him since I’m taking American Literature and Medieval Literature. For American, I’ve already gotten my first essay topic, which in classically vague polysyllabic English style is phrased thus:

“Thus, the ambivalence of existential existence is countered solely by the intangibility of the incorrigible, ludicrously indistinguishable qualms of the soul.” Discuss this arbitrary, abstract quote with close reference to at least something that someone has written at some point in time.Oh, and guess my favourite colour while you're at it.

Medieval Lit, on the other hand, is wonderful – until we slip into languages I don’t understand. Sure, I can breeze by some Latin phrases and guess what they mean. But Old and Middle English brings a whole new level of “HUH?!”

Lines like this frighten me:

Where ys 3oure witte where ys 3oure prouidence

Okay, is it just me, or does this language need to be renamed Old Orangutan SMS Language? What I’ve gleaned of the meaning is: “Where stuff stuff 3stuff where is stuff… 3.” But I’ve got a weird feeling there’s more to it than that.

So what I’ve learned this week: English Honours isn’t for pansies. Or anyone who feels like they need to understand what they’re reading. But it’s all good, as I’m really used to being clueless. May as well embrace it and avoid Getting A Job for another year!

(Oh, and speaking of being unemployed, have you noticed the ads on this page? They’re sexy, huh? Go ahead, click on one, I get a chappie every time you do!)