July 7th, 2002
|01:20 am - You show me the interests list and I will show you the man|
I spent rather too long working on my interests list last night and still had to tweak with it this morning. It was great fun - isn't navel-gazing always great fun? - but somehow it's still rather too blunt a tool and some of the comments require further explanation. Essay-length navel-gazing ahoy.
First of all, forcing yourself to think about your interests is a fascinating exercise. I'm writing this article out in full as a snapshot of my life. It'll be interesting to see how things have changed in coming years. I can begin to imagine how the list has changed over the past, say, twelve years - even the past twelve months.
The LiveJournal system isn't near perfect, though. I would love it if the interest matching system were a bit cleverer with regard to punctuation. For instance, I am interested in "in-jokes"; ideally, this should also register an interest in "in jokes" and "injokes". Searching for one should search for all three.
Likewise, you've got to do a fair bit of trial and error to see whether, for maximum effect, you should list "dungeons and dragons", "d&d", "d & d", "d+d", "d + d", "dnd", "d n d" or some other version of the name. (Happily, we don't need to distinguish between D&D and AD&D any more and I am not an n'th edition purist.) Another point is that there are a huge variety of punctuations of "jk rowling", "j k rowling", "j.k. rowling", "j. k. rowling", "jkr" and the like. Admittedly it's a little redundant as almost all uses with any of them will have put "harry potter" as well, but I'll be looking out for anything un-Pottery she writes as well and I dare say I'm not alone.
There is an awful lot of trial and error in other respects, too. There are some interests which can't be summarised in a catchy phrase. (For instance, "frequent flyer miles" was about my sixth try to express the concept.) Ideally you want to use the version of the phrase with most popularity, because you're trying to match with as many other people as possible. (Well, up to a point - there are things you're interested in and things that you're so interested in that you want to get to know other people with the same interest.)
I have a suspicion that, in a few years' time, LJ will be primarily regarded as a good source of raw material for the ultimate dating service. While I'll (probably?) never find someone with 25 matching interests to mine and nothing objectionable on their non-matchers, it's always nice to find new people who give you a surprising number of hits (better still, interesting hits!) and get to know them.
Also, when I decided to start this, I feared that I might just end up splitting my desire to write still further. After all, I spend quite a bit of time on USENET and keep a private diary offline. (I still harbour ambitions about writing more material about games - even producing a decent burial issue of "Games In Testing".) On reflection, though, there's a major difference between posting about topic X to the topic X group on USENET and posting about topic X here when you have it listed as an interest; there's no compulsion for your other posts here to be on topic X. Indeed, I think this works quite well in co-operation with USENET; once you've found a good writer on a topic of your choice, you can follow the rest of their life here.
And so to the details.
banzai, big brother, bruce forsyth, game shows, interceptor, keith chegwin, knightmare, late night poker, scavengers, the crystal maze, the mole, tim vine, wanted: Game shows are my first love; despite those who post before they think, alt.tv.game-shows remains my spiritual online home. Bruce, Keith and Tim are all hosts. I am not convinced that all those linking to The Crystal Maze, Interceptor, Scavengers or Wanted are thinking of the same thing as me. (Some or all of them may well be bands, which seems an awful shame, but I suppose you can't fault the bands concerned for taste.) Big Brother and Knightmare have built up far more of a following than any of the others, though of course both Big Brother and The Mole are hits worldwide. Knightmare is possibly unique among British game shows in generating its own fandom - indeed, to an extent that even this fan of both game shows and fandom at large finds slightly scary - but that's another matter.
comedy, comedy songs, in-jokes, jokes, puns, quality jollity, singing badly: Tim Vine would fit into this category as well. I particularly like groaners. Examples of comedy songs, as a genre: the spectacularly silly "John Kettley Is A Weatherman" by A Tribe Of Toffs is a tremendous singalong song, so is the theme song from "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang". The Wurzels, Chas'n'Dave, all the one-hit wonders, Monty Python, Tom Lehrer, that sort of thing. Singing these sort of songs with some of the boys, especially when paying far more regard to volume than accuracy, defines quality jollity. Eeh, we're just like the world's most milquetoast gang of rugby hooligans. (Incidentally, the wonderful phrase "quality jollity" has another, related, meaning. Look it up if you're interested!)
games: What types of games? Every type of games. Well, at least all these types of games:
board games, bohnanza, conventions, diplomacy, settlers of catan: This is where we go to sing our comedy songs. (The) Settlers of Catan and Bohnanza are two of my favourite board games - not my very favourites, but two of the few among the class (often known as "designer games" or "German games") which are likely to get any hits. This really could do with a longer explanation some other time. I'm not a huge fan of playing Diplomacy, but I do enjoy the company of Diplomacy players very much. Funny, that.
4ncl, chess: I don't play chess - or, rather, I have played chess fewer than ten times and I have no real desire to play again - but am interested in following the pros. With startling unoriginality, I support the Brits. (Especially Nigel Short, who can't really be bothered any more because he has a beautiful wife and a beautiful daughter and everything else really loses importance once you've got that.) The 4NCL is the closest Britain will ever get to a professional chess league. I support the teams in which people I've met play.
card games, mao, poker: Ooh, here it gets tricky. These are all playing card games; I haven't been bitten by the CCG bug, more through good fortune than anything else. I'm interested in the card game Mao (also more politely known as The Chairman's Game) which is really half game and half practical joke. Poker also gets an asterisk in that I like playing poker less than I dislike losing money, so I only ever play when people are happy to play freezeout tournament-style for chips only. (It still works. "Getting knocked out of the game" is enough of a disincentive and "choosing what to play next" is enough of a prize to force people to play seriously.) Other than that, poker is the most fascinating, admirable card game I've met yet. Yes, I have played bridge.
dice, liar's dice: I play Liar's Dice instead of poker. It's a great game. It's amazing how much fun numbers can be. I have a whopping collection of dice of many shapes, but not nearly enough. Never enough!
d&d, dragons, fantasy, live role playing, magic, role playing games: Not that I regard myself as a particularly great RPG player, but certainly an enthusiastic one. The live-action RPG campaign at university was the single greatest game I ever played, simply because all the other people involved were so fascinating, intense and talented. My preference is for constructive, light-hearted low fantasy, as opposed to, for instance, goth angst.
laser tag: Quasar (Q-Zar) was my first love, but there was a fairly good Laser Quest in Oxford. (Originally it was a Megazone.) I'll play anything, me, particularly if I'm in good company.
fanzines, game design, pbm, postal games: PBM games are Played By Mail; postal games are PBM games with a slightly more staid title. There are some fanzines which run lots of postal games. They tend to be organised by wonderfully nice-mad people (see "conventions", etc. above). I ran a bit of one myself for some time, mostly with games of my own invention. It wasn't too bad, considering.
betting, gambling, spread betting: Strictly a theoretical interest, hem hem, but more power to the elbows of those who can make it stick.
bubble bobble, mame, pinball, retro gaming, video game music, zx spectrum: Video games and computer games aren't as much fun as they used to be. The last one which really gobbled me up was Civilization. I'm still waiting for a really clever, successful crossover between board and video games - and no, I do not mean Mario Party; there's a long way to go to beat Brian Clough's Football Fortunes, as improbable as it may seem.
creativity, intelligence, mind sports olympiad, puzzle hunts, puzzles, treasure hunts, world puzzle championship: Admittedly these are all wrapped up with doing mental things just for the sake of it, but there are an awful lot of happy memories here and achievements that seemed at first impossible but proved practicable. The Mind Sports Olympiad, which does what it says on the tin, is a wonderful idea, movement and venture which has brought me in touch with many outstanding people who I am privileged to know but on the whole I preferred them when they had the money to pay me to work on their web site.
nomic, rules: Exploring the boundaries of games and the rules which govern them in a game-like form. Too much of it and you'll go blind.
mornington crescent: The great Radio 4 game-like joke. Er, joke-like game. Which way round should it be? I'm sorry, I haven't a clue...
athletics, boxing, decathlon, football, formula one, nfl europe, olympics, snooker, speedway, sport, track & field: All sports that I like to watch, rather than play. Many apologies to the one other person (at press time) listing decathlon, who actually takes part in it. They're a better man than I.
bowling, ceilidhs, cycling, karting, sustrans, walking: These are the few sports that I like to do - except Sustrans, which is a charity who support the National Cycle Network. Many (6-7, to increase to 10) thousands of miles of cycle tracks criss-cross the country, which is an excellent initiative. Route 1 goes within 200 yards of this house. Ceilidhs aren't a sport, either, but they involve dancing. Always good.
geocaching: Being the intersection of treasure hunts with GPS units. Not that I own a GPS unit, but when I do then I shall certainly get involved. Letterboxing always sounded great fun, too.
7-up, curry, eating out, jam doughnuts, mango lassi, pizza, ring pulls, yoghurt: My curry preferences are for beef and chicken dishes on the mild-to-medium, vegetable-heavy side (massala, rogan josh) with a garlic naan. World's best pizza yet: peppers, onions, olives, tomatoes and garlic without cheese. Even more of the topping taste, wayyyy less of the fat. Oh yes - I also accumulate ring pulls from cans (normally only the ones I have drunk) and am about 0.2%-0.3% of the way towards my goal of a million. Seriously. If anyone else is collecting them seriously then they can have mine and I can stop worrying about it.
harry potter, j. k. rowling, quidditch: I dare say that everyone has some sort of opinion on the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling, but if yours is not yet informed and you are even the slightest part well-disposed towards this sort of thing then I urge you to give them a try. My preferences within the fandom: book over movie but both great, PoA closely followed by GoF, very weakly favour Hr/H, Draco is unredeemable and uninteresting, very weakly favour Hufflepuff. Quidditch is the intersection of Harry Potter with sport and so interesting even if it Doesn't Really Work.
barb purdom, fan fiction, psychic serpent: While we're all waiting for the fifth book in the series to come out, many brilliant, creative, dedicated, talented and slightly scary people are filling the gaps and exploring the hidden depths of the rich landscape. At the risk of slighting all but one of the abovementioned brilliant and slightly scary people, many of whom are even on my Friends list, I shall highlight "Harry Potter and the Psychic Serpent" plus sequels by Barb Purdom as a complex yet consistent intricately interwoven fifth year story which is the most outstanding I've found yet. Barb asks the questions that most people don't even think should be asked and comes up with satisfying, deep, thoughtful answers. It's Harry Potter written as social science fiction. Don't expect to get through it in an evening, though.
his dark materials: While I'm not actually a particularly voracious fiction reader (indeed, I regard myself as poorer than most at appreciating stories) people were talking about this trilogy in the same high regard as the Potter series so I thought I'd give them a try. The first two books don't really stand up well on their own, but the overall 1200-page story is worth the effort.
bats, ducks, pandas: My favourite animals. None of them are particularly practical pets, which suits me fine. There is a cage of bats within the Night Safari next to Singapore Zoo where you can see them extremely close up. It's one of the most wonderful places on earth.
blackpool, manchester, middlesbrough, oxford, oxford university, teesside: Significant places. A holiday destination, my favourite city, my current town, my university (and its town) and my local area. In some order. I love them all.
the forbidden corner: A little known folly in Teesdale (that's Teesdale in North Yorkshire, not the chunk of reclaimed industrial land between Thornaby and Stockton) which should be a pilgrimage point for anyone who claims to have fantasy or magic in their hearts. The best waste of money in the world ever. English eccentricity at its most creative and directed. Needs about fifty times more space to do its justice - better still, just book a ticket to go and visit it.
economics, game theory, mathematics, mersenne primes, nihongo, prisoner's dilemma, probability, statistics: My academic interests, though no longer at anything other than a superficial level. Nihongo is an English transliteration of the Japanese language for "the Japanese language"; the elements are actually surprisingly easy to speak, though the writing part of it is much harder. I'm interested in all the social dilemmas, not just PD, though the generic term is not strongly in use. My interest in Mersenne Primes extends only as far as GIMPS - the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search - but if you put gimps as an interest then you tend to get the other sort of gimps. "It's the wrong gimps, Gromit!"
news, politics: Politically I am a floating voter, having voted for Labour, for the Liberal Democrats, for the Green Party, for at least two Independents and for a Conservative counsellor - the last one only because she demonstrably cared about good public service. On the whole, I think reasonably highly of the majority of Britain's politicians, largely based on positive experiences with the few I know. Fundamentally, I am somewhere vaguely left of centre, economically weakly libertarian, socially strongly statist, weakly in favour of closer European ties and currently against closer monetary union without being prepared to rule it out forever. A bit of a jumble, really.
24, commercials, d&d cartoon, theme tunes, the truman show, tv: Other televisual interests, secondary to game shows, news and sport. 24 is highly unrepresentative of my normal likes, but the story just keeps rolling along. The D&D cartoon came along at just the right time for someone born in 1975 and I cannot believe I am the only LiveJournalist - now how pretentious does that sound? - with fond memories of it. No movie has provoked a higher emotional response from me than The Truman Show, even if it does have Jim Carrey in it. Second placed film would be WarGames (again, a case of hitting a growing young geek at the right time) which I have seen more times than any other. Specifically, when the BBC show it once a year, normally some morning at Easter. I do not list wargames as an interest because I'm not actually very interested in them, just the film. Possibly out of character, but true.
airlines, airports, frequent flyer miles, xenophilia: Meeting new and interesting people is a worthwhile goal in itself and flight is often the best way to do it. Xenophilia is the love of foreigners (the opposite of xenophobia) and isn't there solely to give me something starting with X. Honest. Maybe it's my love of complicated social systems that attracts me towards the air industry, even though I'm not rich enough to take advantage of it. Frequent flyer schemes and the way people participate in them are fascinating; anyone who says that average people aren't interested in playing games with complicated rules should study just what people are prepared to do in the name of a cheap deal.
light rail, london underground, maps, public transport, railways, trams, transport, tyne and wear metro: The practical, fun and stylish way to get around for those who aren't interested in cars. I'm not interested in the vehicles that are doing the moving (I couldn't care what sort of an engine it is!) but I'm interested in where they go, why they go there, where they're going to go next and how they're going to get there. Maps are always fascinating and beautiful whether diagrammatical or literal. Harry Beck is one of the world's least well-known heroes.
all your base, gadgets, memes, mozilla, segway, slashdot, usenet, words: Miscellaneous geekery - but if it raises a thought, a standard of living or a smile then I'm all in favour of it. All are very good at what they do.
dreams, happiness, ideas: Abstract concepts but life would be markedly inferior without them. Given that human nature is inherently such a bugger, we've got to make the most of what we can.
interests lists, self-reference: No, really - I'm being serious here!
giving blood: This may be the closest I get to saving a life. I'm not really sure whether I want it to be the closest I get to saving a life or not, but doing something is better than doing nothing.
piano: It's hard to quantify or qualify this, but it's somehow nice to have a rudimentary appreciation of why things sound the way they do, why things sound good or bad and how to get the sounds running around in my head into some more useful form.
jiggery-pokery: Shenanigans. Malarky. "I don't know what it is, but I know it when I see it." Or when I read a journal with it in. More tea, vicar?
One hunnnn-dred and fif-ty! It may be useful to identify classes of things which are largely missing at the moment.
Music: Many people say "I like a bit of everything". Well, I like not very much of anything and could probably live without it far more easily than most. I get exposed to most of the things I listen to from TV, from games or from my friends and am happy to largely ignore the fashions, the charts and the radio. For reference, the last chart record I really enjoyed was "Porcelain" by Moby. A while ago, wasn't it?
Films: Again, I could live without them far more easily than most. I visit the movies, oh, maybe three or four times a year, almost never rent features in and will seldom stick with one that comes on TV. This is because I'm infrequently gripped by stories. Maybe I'm missing something here. (Seeing something spectactular on the very big screens at an IMAX is always a treat, though.)
Books: Potterica aside, I'm a very reluctant fiction reader. However, I like books when they're on a subject which grabs me; my collection of game rules books, puzzle books and the like is fairly respectable. Will this change over time? We'll see.
Relationships: Not much on the horizon, largely due to - as they say - "not getting out much". I get along just fine with those who share common interests (I'm convinced that I'm reasonably personable!) but the average person on the street holds very little interest for me - indeed, I have a low opinion of humanity and human nature as a whole. This, I suspect, is my fault rather than being that of humanity. Maybe I've still got a lot of growing up to do.
150 interests isn't a huge number - I reckon I could have got to 200 without much difficulty. (Some day I'll post this hypothetical next fifty, but not today.) Admittedly perhaps half of the extra interests would probably end up being more specific examples of some of the general topics that are already listed. It's certainly the case that the 150 that are included are a pretty tight selection; when one of them becomes superseded, it'll be a tricky decision as to what gets cut.
Lastly, please note that this is my U-rated (US: G-rated) interests list - all the interests that I'm prepared to admit to. :-) I can't prove that there isn't another, anonymous, LiveJournal somewhere out there containing all my sordid details, but you'd be wasting your time looking!
A rather cool toy which hasn't popped up for a while:
Finally: Venus Williams, OJ Simpson. Anyone else see some resemblance in facial structures?
|Date:||August 28th, 2002 03:39 am (UTC)|| |
is about right, I think.