Friday, 30 July 2004

Triumph of the Trivial

New Krugman. Read it.
In short, the triumph of the trivial is not a trivial matter. The failure of TV news to inform the public about the policy proposals of this year's presidential candidates is, in its own way, as serious a journalistic betrayal as the failure to raise questions about the rush to invade Iraq.

Thursday, 29 July 2004

Moore Is Less Than Truthful

The Guardian takes another swipe at Michael Moore1. It looks at how Moore bends the truth to get the conclusions he wants, concluding:

Moore's defenders say that, if not factually correct, then his film is in some way "essentially" true. Iraqi babies and US blue-collar soldiers are indeed being blown to bits for no good reason. The west's unholy relationship with Saudi Arabia and the Saudi royal family's unholy relationship in turn with its barbaric Islamists, did, in a general sense, lead to 9/11. And western politicians do seem to want to distract us from those nasty facts.

But this makes Fahrenheit 9/11, in documentary terms at least, a fraud. The film is not journalism. It is an extended piece of stand-up - a satiric riff by one deeply hostile individual. This shouldn't discourage people from going to this exhilarating movie. But it means that if you have a respect for accuracy, watching will be a guilty pleasure.

This is, essentially, the problem I have with Moore, that the truth is ignored for the Truth (or sometimes just a punchline). That is better to be entertaining and wrong than it is to be a little boring and accurate. Right-wing commentators have been doing this for years, of course. Personally I prefer someone like Francis Wheen who manages to be witty, endlessly readable and well-researched. I suppose, though, that it's good that the left have a mass-market figure-head; Wheen writing for the Guardian and Private Eye isn't going to have that many unconverted reading him and I doubt he's going to be going into film-making any time soon.

I feel that many a Guardian reader type (which would include me) is glad that someone like Moore is popular but wish that it was someone less like him.

1. They have a lot of articles on Fahrenheit 9/11 here. They aren't all negative by any stretch, though the Mark Kermode one verges on the nasty (which, for me, makes it the most fun one and seems to be pretty accurate, too) accusing Moore of being a narcissist.

Wednesday, 28 July 2004

Slight Redesign

I wanted to add some graphics to the banner for this site, especially as I realised that I could use pictures uploaded to Picasa as a banner source.

The graphic I'm using at the moment is taken from an image of the Third Man (it seemed appropriate somehow). I liked the chiaroscuro effect that the sewer floor had and copied and pasted a section of it and then flipped it to make it symmetrical.

I had to change some of the text attributes in the title but I like -- in my browser anyway -- how the text has fallen. I've made a few other changes to things to do with padding and margins and a sort of faux 3D effect on each post

Obviously, I'm no designer, but I think it looks a little better now.

Test Banner Idea Posted by Hello

Million-to-One Chances Happen Hundreds of Times a Day

295 times in America alone. It something I always tell people who believe in the power of coincidence. I'm always told that that's an overly scientific way of looking at things.

A lot of people, I guess, prefer to accept a tiny, comforting lie rather than just accepting that, you know, shit happens all the time. Quite why believing in cruel fate is more comforting than believing in cold numbers, I don't know.

Friday, 23 July 2004

DVD Commentary So Good I Bought The Movie

The Toronto Star take a look at a new DVD release of Showgirls. The hook here, apart from Showgirls playing cards, Showgirls shot glasses and a "Pin the pasties on the showgirl" party game, is a commentary by some bloke by the name of David Schmader who really, really doesn't like the movie.
"Each and every one of the people involved in making the movie," he says of movie's utterly unique awfulness, "is making the worst possible decision and every possible moment.

"I mean, at every single point in the movie ..."

I think it's a great idea. Though probably not one that's going to be too popular. There are, though, quite a few movies I can think of that would be improved by the director, George Lucas, say, saying "I'm sorry, I'm really, truly sorry about this whole mess" over and over again from the studio ident to the end credits. Commentaries as supplication. Maybe with help from the bonus features, Matrix Re-whatevered could have a 40 minute documentary where the Wachowski Brothers discuss exactly why and how they buggered up the franchise and make a promise not to do that when they try to restore public good-will with Bound 2: Fist Harder.

Via the effervescent Cinetrix

Thursday, 22 July 2004

Ron Gilbert has a Weblog

He describe's it as "often incoherent and bitter ramblings about the Game Industry". And why not. Especially as his credits include:

  • Maniac Mansion
  • Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders
  • The Secret of Monkey Island
  • Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge
  • Sam & Max Hit the RoadSee comments
  • Day of the Tentacle

Essentially, then, Lucasarts' Golden Age back when they didn't just put out stuff with Star Wars logos on in a hope that no-one would notice the quality1(though I've enjoyed their recent Star Wars stuff on the XBox).

Anyway Ron's site is called the Grumpy Gamer.

1. Masters of Teras Kasi, for example, a beat-em up game that I payed money for, which may have actually been play-tested but certainly didn't seem like it.

Monday, 19 July 2004

"My Ass The Unfoolable Film Critic"

Film bloat as a metaphor for something. Possibly Americans.

Although, like the long films he's trying to have a go at, John Patterson's article is too unfocussed to make anything like a coherent point. And his pop at Scarface seems to be just mean.

Link via Green Cine, as was the last one.

Piracy Funds Terrorism...

...Yeah, like your taxes don't.

Duncan Campbell takes a look at some anti-piracy adverts and doesn't like what he sees.
A couple of years ago, the Bush administration launched a major anti-drugs television campaign. It showed teenagers "confessing" to having killed a judge or a police officer because they had used drugs, and it said that drugs funded terrorism. Even if you were just having a joint in your back yard, the ad said, you could be helping terrorists.

This was nonsense. The main profiteers from drugs in the US are American citizens who, if they are smart, vote Republican to ensure that the value of their product remains artificially high.

Dance, Voldo, Dance

For reasons that are beyond me at the moment, this is hilarious.

It's quite a simple idea, though it probably took ages to work out, it's a character from Soul Calibur, Voldo, dancing with himself to Nelly.

Wednesday, 14 July 2004

RSS Feed

Apparently this has been working for a while and I only just noticed it. For those of you out there who know what this is, here's the address of my RSS feed.

For those who don't, here might be a place to start, at least for Windows users. What it does is take a look at my site every so often and lets you know if I've updated it. You can use it for other sites, too. I keep tabs on the Guardian, BBC News and a few blogs using it. It's convenient and also, somehow, a great time waster.

Iconoclasm for Dummies has discovered the joys of reading bad reviews of good things on Amazon and called it the Knee-Jerk Contrarian Game!

I'm sure you'll all have your favourites, but as an orthodox Cinema lover I found the comments on Citizen Kane funny:

  • "The only good thing about Citizen Kane is that it will put you to sleep faster than any film."
  • "Please stop the hype on Citizen Kane. It doesn't work. It's like you are trying to convince people that poop smells good."
  • "Citizen Kane is a hymn to all filmmakers who have ever tried to create something artistic and meaningful and failed miserably every step of the way."
  • "It was just a bad attempt at a boring story about newspaper tycoon. It's one of the worst movies I have ever seen."

I got into an argument with one such heretic some time ago. It's odd the pride with which they hold their opinions, as if not liking something they are told is great makes them better than anyone else. In my particular argument, notice how I use one or two facts to back up my points only to be told that these are worthless compared to the opinions of my arguee and his teacher (whose argument against the film he briefly and sketchily summarises). Then again, discussion on Usenet rarely rises above schoolyard level.

Actually, a point could be read into some of this, in that, peoples opinions on something are only opinions and once you have one its usually impossible to argue you out of it.

Link via the often wonderful Boing Boing.

Monday, 12 July 2004

Postmodernism in Computer Games

Gamasutra look at how postmodernism in Computer games can break your sense of immersion.
One of the worst annoyances of video gaming is the designers who want to show off how clever they are. Interrupting the players' immersion in order to remind them "Don't forget, it's only a game!" may be the designers being playful, but the game is supposed to provide gameplay for the players, not for the designers. Such cute gimmicks don't improve the players' experience; they harm it. It's a direct slap in the face. Imagine if Ridley Scott, for example, had done that right in the middle of the most suspenseful parts of Alien, or if Tom Clancy did it in the middle of Patriot Games. As the audience, we would be rightfully infuriated.

Friday, 9 July 2004

I'm like a one-eyed cat peepin' in a seafood store

The title is a line from Shake, Rattle N Roll. Apparently, Bill Hailey must have forgotten that one.

I found this through a discussion on Fametracker, which is a snarky film site that has its moments. The rest of the discussion could be broken down into:

  • Ewww... I just figured out what Sledgehammer is about

  • Ewww... I just figured out She-Bop/My Sharona/I touch myself is about masturbation

  • You know, Prince wrote a couple of dirty songs

  • I used to sing [name of song] when I was 5. Imagine how embarrassed, etc

There, I've read it so you don't need to.

Anyway, an old blues song had recently come to my attention called "Don't Mash My Digger So Deep". It was written in the mid-thirties by Bo Carter and goes a little something like:
Baby if you don't like my peaches, baby please don't-cha touch my tree
Baby and if you don't love my peaches, baby please don't touch my tree
And if you don't want me to have your potatoes, don't mash my digger down so deep

Says when I get to use my digger, I use it like I should,
the women all cryin' your old digger, ya know, it digs and feels so good

Echoes, in a way, of my Vanilla Pudding Blues, I'm sure you'll agree. After a little more searching I found some more Bo Carter songs. They were "All Around Man", "Banana In Your Fruit Basket", "My Pencil Won't Write No More" and "Please Warm My Wiener". As you can see he had a singular obsession. They are all extremely funny. I hope that's intentional, I can never quite tell with blues songs.

I present here "All Round Man" in all its glory:

Now I ain't no butcher, no butcher's son,
I can do your cuttin' 'til the butcher man comes
'Cause I'm a all-around man, oh I'm a all-around man,
I'm a all-around man, I can do most anything that comes my hand

Now I ain't no plumber, no plumber's son,
I can do your screwin' till the plumber man comes
'Cause I'm a all-around man, oh I'm a all-around man,
I'm a all-around man, I can do most anything that comes my hand

Now I ain't no miller, no miller's son,
I can do your grindin' 'til the miller man comes
'Cause I'm a all-around man, oh I'm a all-around man,
I'm a all-around man, I can do most anything that comes my hand

Now I ain't no milkman, no milkman's son,
I can pull your titties 'til the milkman comes
'Cause I'm a all-around man, oh I'm a all-around man,
I'm a all-around man, I can do most anything that comes my hand

Now I ain't no spring-man, no spring-man's son,
I can bounce your springs 'til the spring-man comes
'Cause I'm a all-around man, oh I'm a all-around man,
I'm a all-around man, I can do most anything that comes my hand

Now I ain't no auger-man, no auger-man's son,
I can blow your hole 'til the auger-man comes
'Cause I'm a all-around man, oh I'm a all-around man,
I'm a all-around man, I can do most anything that comes my hand

Pure Genius. I hope to be able to sing this at the Blues Bakery next Thursday.

My point? None really, it's just that I find old dirty songs hilarious, the older and dirtier the better.

Will there be titty?


Thursday, 8 July 2004

More Self Indulgence

I've updated my South Park character to show my new haircut, that I'm not as tired and that I've had a shave. The creater for this is at this placePosted by Hello

Going for the Juggler

Juggling as a simple stick figure animation. It's a java applet that simulates various juggling moves. It's hypnotic, if nothing else.

Flash Flash Games

Three flash games are available at this site. Two are remakes: Thrust and Nebulous. They both look and play great (or, at least, seem to as I've only had a quick look at them) as does the other game there which is a cute-looking platform game.

Link from the ever impressive Retro Remakes site, which has oodles of this sort of thing. And gets more oodles every month.

Tuesday, 6 July 2004

Myths Taken Down

A good solid article, from PC World, on a number of beliefs people have about their computers. Including "Windows' Japanese edition uses haiku error messages."
We have a yen for this legend, which claims that rather than offering the cryptic error messages Windows displays for English readers, Japanese editions use calming haiku poems, such as this one (our favorite):

Yesterday it worked.
Today it is not working.
Windows is like that.