Category: General Culture

The Ancient Art of Raymonding

Raymond verb:
To completely miss the point in an hilarious or embarrassing way.

Example of Raymonding, during the credits of The Dark Knight : “Why was that movie dedicated to Heath Ledger? … Was he originally going to play Batman or something?
… Heath Ledger played The Joker!?”

My friend Raymond is the world’s chief committer of the act of Raymonding, but I am not above admitting that I have Raymonded a movie or two in my time. My most recent example is The Counterfeiters, which won Best Foreign Movie at the Academy Awards this year.

The Counterfeiters is the story of a group of Jewish prisoners of war in Nazi Germany who are forced to counterfeit various currencies for the war effort. The movie has a master counterfeiter serving as the protagonist, and he has an antagonist in the film in the form of a man who was a vocal protestor in his days on the outside – and who is trying to sabotage the operation from the inside. I found myself thinking during the movie that this guy was just endangering the lives of the other prisoners with his sabotage efforts, and I got very frustrated with him. My explicit thought was “Just counterfeit the damned bills, they’re going to lose anyway.”

You may have noticed the flaws in my argument, these being: the prisoners did not know that Germany was going to lose the war; that, in sabotaging the progress of the counterfeit operation, they actually contributed to the weakening of the Nazi war effort, which may have been part of the difference between victory and defeat.

I did not vocalise these thoughts, so there was no one around to keep me in check. It was not until halfway through the following day that I realised that I was an idiot. At that point, I came to the conclusion that not even I can be protected from Raymonding.

Post-script: I don’t think that I spoiled The Counterfeiters by telling you that Germany suffered defeat in World War II. If you want to correct me, though … I’ll actually be pretty worried, in fact.

Cryptonomicon: No, I think you’ll find that I’m right.

Take this, Shamus!

It proves something.

You may recall, if you’re one of my three regular readers, what I had to say about Cryptonomicon. In fact, if you’re one of my three regular readers, you’ve already responded to it, either internally or on your own site. Mark bit first, and now Shamus has had a crack at it.

It’s nice to see that not everyone thinks that Cryptonomicon is the greatest book ever, but I never set out to dispel that; what I particularly like about this is that everything I stated is actually in the text proper – and liking it is simply a matter of interpretation. What makes it the best ever to some people makes it unfathomable for others. It’s an interesting examination of opinion, because it ultimately proves that one man’s novel full of digressions is another man’s novel full of digressions – but that Man A might be allergic to that while Man B bathes in it, and Woman C thinks “Dangit, Snow Crash was so compact, what went wrong?”

Which brings me to my next point (wait, I’m making points here?). Twenty Sided Reader dishuiguanyin states the following:

Even Snow Crash, while it has a wonderful racy plot, great ideas, and ancient near-Eastern mythology … also contains terrible dialogue and huge great infodumps from the librarian. So, yeah, tis a pity, but still hugely enjoyable.

The Librarian is great because the internet is reduced to goggles, and Hiro Protagonist can be doing whatever – speeding through the vast blackness of cyberspace, because they didn’t bother putting addresses on those bastards; fighting Raven; raving with avatars that all look alike – and he can still be being fed exposition! Snow Crash is awesome not because it’s got equal opportunity rapist pirates in it, but because it’s the literary equivalent of this comic:

Hacking revealed!

Sometimes all we require in life is goggles and fishnets, rather than eight page treatises on stockings and furniture. Goggles and fishnets delivered at HYPER SPEED while BYPASSING THE COMMON MAN to fight an ALEUT (like you’ve ever heard of them) with MAXIMUM HARDCORENESS. EXTREME!
Perhaps Snow Crash differs from Cryptonomicon in that it’s not afraid to be silly, whereas Cryptonomicon equates graphs with silliness. I think it hinges on Stephenson’s use of “badass”. You can see it in Snow Crash and say “fuck yeah!”, but you get a rather different, more selfconscious vibe from the later work.

Finally, as to XKCD:

Hacking revealed!

I think that says it all! Wait, it doesn’t. I just thought it was funny if you know the original strip.

Graph provided by Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal
XKCD parody courtesy Nobody Scores

Beauty born of vandalism

Last night I saw Sweeney Todd once more, but beforehand I stopped by the bathroom of the cinema. In this particular bathroom, every stall had the words “Mr. Moops” or simply “Moops” carved into either a door or a wall. In my careful selection process – for you can never be too careful with public toilets – I saw that one of the stalls had “Moops” written in it … but underneath someone had scrawled “Moors!”.

I laughed long and hard – it was a perfect intermission for a lovely evening.

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