Spellcheck the Shell Way

I was reading this awesome book (about which I shall soon blog) and there was this moment of, “Fark! What a brilliant line!” like I actually said that ’cos it was so good, followed by, “Fark! Spelling mistake of spacecraft’s name!” And I thought wouldn’t a good way to deal with spellchecking (besides my favourite cmd-;) be to take the entire text, do something fancy command-line to it, and output all the words alphabetically by frequency. Then you could just spellcheck that file, find the weird words, go back to the original document and correct the shit out of them. So I did. Brilliant!

# take a text and output all the words alphabetically by frequency
# spaces replaced with line breaks, lowercase everything, punctuation included (apostrophe in ascii \047)
# http://unix.stackexchange.com/questions/39039/get-text-file-word-occurrence-count-of-all-words-print-output-sorted
# http://tldp.org/LDP/abs/html/textproc.html
# http://donsnotes.com/tech/charsets/ascii.html
find . -name "foo.txt" -exec cat {} \; | tr ' ' '\012' | tr A-Z a-z | tr -cd '\012[a-z][0-9]\047' | grep -v "^\s*$" | sort | uniq -c | sort -bnr

Causa Creations: The Station

About 18 months ago, I got an email from Georg Hobmeier. We’d met late the previous year and realised we know all the same people, courtesy Freiburg and other Germano-Austrian places filled with dancers. Georg wrote:

I’m sitting in a room making games. I might require your particular skillset. It’s the story of a woman who’s supposed to activate an unruly missile defence station on an orbital station. There’s drones involved, vending machines and a lot of death in space.

I replied, “… death in space? I say yes!”

And so, in May 2015 I became something of a copy editor, proofreader, translator, fact checker / researcher (just how big would a standard-ish Oort cloud object of slushy comet nucleus type, or d-type asteroid need to be to flatten a city?), co-writer of Georg’s text for Causa Creations’s and Gold Extra’s interactive sci-fi novella The Station. Which was released on Tuesday.

Which makes me a published sci-fi writer / game writer. I think. Woo!

What started out as a quick-ish proofread turned into a few weeks of ever more involved discussion on identity, feminism, colonialism, 500 years in the future. You know, my usual gear, the parts of my particular skill set you get when you require my particular skill set. Some people think they can get me without the politics, like it’s optional. Not Georg! He knows what I’m about.

Which led to me thinking about the main character — already a woman — thinking about utopian-ish futures, and deciding she was bisexual and brown. Georg replied, “So, did I get this right, our hero is an umber-skinned bisexual? Somehow I picture her now as Deborah Dyer aka Skin!” Or Hannah John-Kamen, or Korra, both of whom were in my sci-fi imagination around then. So when you play The Station you have three handy references for who you are.

You’re in space! But why? And how did you get there?

“The Station” is an interactive sci-fi novella set in turbulent times, which the protagonist has a hard time remembering. It’s an orbital rabbit hole tale developed by gold extra with Causa Creations’ support. Text by Georg Hobmeier and Frances d’Ath, Code by Patrick Borgeat, Sound by Juan A. Romero.

Featuring:

  • lasers
  • brain damage
  • lots of accidents
  • vending machines
  • zero gravity horror
  • one rather short labyrinth
  • visually compelling feature list
  • linux puzzles, but not too hard ones
  • a full menagerie of quirky & annoying maintenance machinery

Please also enjoy a full hour of magical space drone music with deep space bass. Available soon.

Available on: App Store and Google Play.

causacreations — The Station
causacreations — The Station

Reading: Caroline Walker Bynum — Jesus as Mother: Studies in the Spirituality of the High Middle Ages

The third of seven. I am reading Caroline Walker Bynum the way I read Iain M. Banks. Of the remaining four, one is decidedly unaffordable, so let’s pretend I’m half-way through her opus with Jesus as Mother: Studies in the Spirituality of the High Middle Ages.

As with  Fragmentation and Redemption, this is a collection of essays, and was published in the same year: 1992. I’m reading it disorderly, in part because I have an agenda, in part because it surpasses my limits of comprehension. Bynum became a phenomenally better writer over the two-ish decades between these two collections of essays (some of which in Jesus as Mother go back even further to the 1970s), starting as she did from quite celestial heights; she also reveals her true abilities in longer works, where she can cut loose with ideas developed and returned to over hundreds of pages.

I realised I was out of my depth when I inadvertently returned to reading the first essay, The Spirituality of Regular Canons in the Twelfth Century and had entirely no idea what she was talking about. No. Idea. Word porridge. I was being sneaky anyway, and jumping forward to the last essay, Women Mystics in the Thirteenth Century: The Case of the Nuns of Helfta.

(I also intend to read Did the Twelfth Century Discover the Individual? and the other two, maybe returning to that first one later.)

There should be one of those brooding, shirtless highland miniseries about the nuns of Helfta. Gertrude the Great of Helfta, Mechtild of Hackeborn, and my favourite, Mechtild of Magdeburg. The others around or near them like Gertrude of Hackeborn, or preceding them like Hildegard of Bingen. There is no way I can do these incredible women any service in writing anything here, but wow are they impressive.

I wish I had more focus at the moment for reading, mostly it’s a couple of pages over breakfast, very much out of rhythm. This isn’t my favourite of Bynum’s which might by why I’m trudging through, but the detail and care—and joy—in her research and writing, and the beauty of the subjects, definitely I’ve turned mediæval in the past year because of her and people like Mechtild of Magdeburg.

Caroline Walker Bynum — Jesus as Mother: Studies in the Spirituality of the High Middle Ages
Caroline Walker Bynum — Jesus as Mother: Studies in the Spirituality of the High Middle Ages

Fest — 6 (and other things)

Another week gone, into the fifth week in Vienna, and yesterday it seemed we found the show, Ramadan is into the second week, and I discovered Orphan Black. Yesterday was also our last day for the moment in Kasino Theater. The ImPulsTanz party is there tomorrow, so we’ve scooted back across town to Volks Oper for the next days, hopefully moving back to Kasino early next week as it’s empty and it makes much more sense to be using that space seeing we’ve arrived at set-costumes-lights-sound stage (and with that, Giacomo is also arriving).

Today Ivo veers off to rehearse X-on, which is being performed on Sunday, so my morning and early afternoon is unexpectedly free. Another arrival later this afternoon, is Dasniya, who is teaching Yoga & Shibari this weekend and next week. Hopefully rehearsals will fit that I can turn up also.

The last week in Kasino, then. We’ve made and discarded so many scenes, found several endings and similarly discarded them. Sometimes an idea would work sublimely once and then each subsequent time become more and more forced. The script has been progressively hacked shorter, though still sits around eighty minutes, but for the moment it’s only one part of the third act that falls over. Still, it’s a reliable occurrence that when we get one problem scene sorted, it affects other scenes, usually in different acts requiring more surgery.

Yesterday, Christian Bakalov arrived and watched us run through the whole thing. We’d been working on some ideas all day for delivering the text in the third act in an especially grotesque manner, and somehow – perhaps the desperation of an audience of one – caused everything to fall into some kind of order that for the first time looked like a performance. A very intense, occasionally hysterical performance.

And speaking of performances, Tuesday I got to see Ultima Vez’ What the Body Does Not Remember. Twenty-seven years since its premiere and not looking dated, which is a marked rarity in dance. It was well-impressive also, much throwing around of selves in the way Garry Stewart does at ADT — actually it reminded me of his stuff quite a bit, though more if it was mashed together with mid-’90s Frankfurt Ballet. It was also not infrequently annoyingly heteronormative, which I expect from Wim anyway, but it’s still tiring to watch. I did wish though I’d had that kind of training when I was at VCA in Melbourne, instead of the American Modern (and occasionally Post-Modern) Dance fixation, which never interested me and has had no bearing on what I do (other than avoiding it). Oh, and the dancers were fucking insane, just bloody brilliant, and keeping up that relentless intensity till the end … most impressive, especially from the front row.

Another event in the week was running out of books to read. I finished off Iain Banks’ last one, The Quarry (haven’t blogged it yet), which led to the discovery of Orphan Black. This came about on Sunday courtesy the wonderful Charlie Jane Anders on io9 (yes, I somewhat regularly read this site, but to be fair, mostly I look forward to what Charlie writes), and in the comments was a mention of this series, referencing Torchwood, and seeing I’ve already worked my way through Arrow, I thought, OK, perhaps just one …

Ten episodes later (and four of them last night), and this is now my favourite show. The science is mostly accurate and well-done – far better than most – the ethical and moral issues are handled very cleverly, and the script, the acting … it’s not Game of Thrones, the  universe isn’t that large so it doesn’t require such a monstrous budget, but really it’s the best science-fiction show I’ve seen since Firefly. Better than recent Doctor Who episodes also (and filmed in Toronto!).

I’m especially enjoying it because the lead role goes to a female which is still – especially in science-fiction – depressingly rare, and the main supporting role to a beautiful, makeup-wearing, femme-butch gay boy, Felix. I don’t think I’ve seen a role like his that hasn’t either been written as a caricature or as tragic, especially in the last few years when everyone ‘gay’ or ‘lesbian’ on TV is trying so very hard to show how very much ‘just like you’ they all are, desexed and only interested in marriage. And he even has sex with a large, black bear of a man; he’s the best bent role since Captain Jack.

Back to Sarah/Beth/Alison/Cosima/Helena/Katja/Rachel/etc, she’s a clone so that explains that, and all the clones are played uncannily by one actor. It’s disconcerting, especially when one plays another, which happens often. Obviously I have a thing for Cosima, who is the best queer-ish female I’ve seen on TV, super smart and so sexy (and her lover Delphine also, and yes, this is the second decade of the 21st century, we see bed action!), and maybe it’s just me, but somehow I think her character, dress, mannerisms, glasses, is based a bit on Lana Wachowski.

Anyway, Ramadan is into its second week and I’m still performing it in a pretend way, fasting as much as I can, doing Iftar, reading some about Islam, and yes, it’s basically Christianity (in any of its forms) or Judaism with the names changed, and the adherents behave in much the same way, mindless fixatation on social policing, obsessional literalism, hegemonic absolutism, the usual amounts of misogyny, heteronormativity, xenophobia … religion, basically. Amidst all this pathetic dross is something beautiful, an attentiveness to life, to self, the people around one’s self, to the physical world, to the philosophy of being, to restraint, humility, care, to pleasure, to joy. Ramadan carries this within it precisely because it’s an act that’s been performed in a codified manner by billions of people for thousands of years, which is why just doing this at any old time doesn’t have the same weight; it’s the sense and awareness of social participation that makes it such a profound personal experience. It’s also caused me to cook far more diligently, seeing there’s only one chance in the day to stuff my mouth.

Off to rehearsal now.

pre-rehearsals

Having taken some time to get this far, I spent the last couple of days extracting a couple of year’s of notes from my old abjection notebook and transplanting them into a new one. Some original ideas now seem embarrassing. Others it’s surprising how little they changed, springing fully-formed to life, and merely refining themselves over time.

I sat in a café yesterday before ballet, reading Howard Barker’s Death, the One and the Art of Theatre. At times the bias of the author is plain; the faint discrimination of which he speaks, I try to read it by changing words, to eradicate this irritation, yet quickly the meaning entangles itself into incomprehension, and I see the only option would be to rewrite these parts entirely.

Still, I come across a description of photography that once more causes a scene to spring fully-formed to life. It feels as if it is one of the remaining missing scenes now accounted for. Difficult to say. It is though comprehensively different from anything else in the work, and so without having been there so early, reading and making notes, there is no way it would have otherwise occurred to me.

For the moment then, this leaves one last unidentified scene. Some possibilities exist for it amidst the ideas which have the feeling of failed seeds, but equally, all of them feel somewhat arrangements of convenience; used because none better exist.

It’s new for me to make a work thus. Normally I do have notes and ideas, and dim visions of what they might amount to, but for abjection, I’ve been working on it and thinking over it for so long, it’s coalesced in my thoughts into a nearly complete work. As for what the effects being in a studio and rehearsing might have on it, that I will begin to find out next week.

Yes, finally coerced myself into rehearsals.