Tuesday, 30 November 2004

Superman as, err, superman...

The following quote about the Incredibles, from the Christian Science Monitor, should really be sent to Private Eye's Pseuds Corner:
"I can't help thinking of [philosopher Friedrich] Nietzsche and his idea that some people are better and more deserving than others," says Mikita Brottman, professor of language and literature at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore.

"The movie salutes Superman," Dr. Brottman adds. "Not the 'superman' in comic books but the one [despots] believe in. Its idea seems to be that even in a democracy some people are 'more equal' than others, and the rest of us shouldn't be so presumptuous as to get in their way."


To a certain extent it's probably true. Pixar's movies tend to be morality plays that encourage, beg even, this sort of reading too much into them. They are also pretty good at playing it both ways.

My Mum's convinced, for example, that A Bug's Life is a sort of updated Ragged Trousered Philanthropists for the ADD generation. And it's an entirely reasonable interpretation, especially if you look on the grasshopper's as a sort of bourgousie exploiting the ant workers, and view the ant's finally standing up to them as the sort of collective action that propelled the unions.

The film, however, also managed to play it the other way by centering on a group of misfits who's individuality is what makes them special. Flik, the main ant, is the sort of Capraesque everyant who's slightly skewed look on things gives him an insight into what's right that is much more profound than the staid committees that he pushes against.

So, plucky individualism trumps the inertia that unions can create...

Wait, what was the message again?

Of course, Shark Tale is definitely about coming out.

Monday, 29 November 2004

Swells Funny Shock

Steven Wells in the Graun is often a little too self conciously "mad" for my tastes and his recent article about American Brass bands at sporting events is quite the frenzied example of this. However, as Lisa over at the Rage Diaries points out, this description of a marching band is hilariously accurate:
Dressed in Little Richardesque uniforms - the sort of thing Liberace might have insisted upon had he ever commanded a 19th century British cavalry regiment - these amazingly talented kids (way, way more talented than the dumb psychos in the football uniforms) perform incredible acts of co-ordination while hammering out note-perfect brass'n'drum versions of irresistibly ultra-dumb punk rock'n'roll classics. Imagine the Brighouse And Rastrick brass band dressed by Leigh Bowery, choreographed by Busby Berkley and scored by John Phillip Sousa, Joey Ramone, Phil Spector and Jim 'Meatloaf' Steinman. On crack.

Music Critic Discovers Pop

In what is surely a heartfelt plea for tolerance Nick Duerden in the Guardian creates a straw-man that rock lovers and pop lovers are seperate and distinct individuals and then goes on to argue that there's a bit of each in both of them. Or, at least, rock lovers secretly love pop.

Then again his article does contain the line "U2's How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, [is] a magisterial record from the world's best band", which shows just how out of whack his critical facilities are.

Even the most jaded rocker has a small place in his heart for pop. If he says he doesn't be sure that there's a small but terrifyingly complete shrine to Kylie in his attic.

Friday, 26 November 2004

Rules Rule

The Graun ask Julian Baggini, the author of What's It All About? Philosophy and the Meaning of Life, for a few rules to help make modern life more bearable. His list is a pretty decent start:
  • You should not accept or continue a phone call if a shop assistant is serving you.
  • You should never text anybody while in the middle of a conversation.
  • You should always monitor your volume when chatting on your mobile.
  • You should only send email round robins in extremis.
  • Stop for pedestrians at pedestrian crossings.
  • On public transport, allow people to alight before you board.
  • Do not put your feet up on the seats.
  • Do not smooch in the company of others.
  • Always dump in person, not by text, fax or email.
  • If you go through a door first you should always hold it open for those who follow.
  • Offer your seat to the elderly, but don't assume they'll want it.
  • Offer your seat to a pregnant women.
  • If invited to someone's house for dinner, don't be one of the ungrateful fed.
  • Don't drink more at a party than you brought.
  • Do include little Emily and baby Jack when addressing Christmas cards to their parents.
  • Never tell somebody else's child off in front of them, or criticise adults for their poor parenting. Except when you should.
  • Do not undertake.
  • Wipe down gym equipment after use.
  • Stick to the swimming lane that's right for you.
  • Remember that neither the cinema nor the theatre is your front room.
  • Don't punctuate your sentences with profanities in public.
  • Don't think "I was here first" is a trump card.

Notes on "Notes on..."

Jamie Fristrom, Manager in a Stranger Land, continues his consistently readable and thought-provoking "Notes on ..." series about different games that have caught his interest with a look at Doom 3.

Footballer's Houses

The Guardian has a look at a few of the palatial abodes that are de rigeur for today's young millionaire footballer and, surprisingly, finds one or two that don't make you go "Eeeewwww!" (though including David Seaman is probably cheating slightly). The snark is in full effect for all the rest, though:
The reason for such conformity is this. Top footballers are as imaginative as lemmings. There they go now, diving after the Beckhams, who have sunk the flag of St George into the Dubai real estate empire. Last year they bought a £1.6m villa at the Palm, an exclusive development off Dubai's exclusive Jumeirah coast, that will be - oh yes! - visible to orbiting astronauts when it is complete next year. Each villa will have its own own 130ft private beach and swimming pool. Now 11 England players, including Michael Owen, Kieron Dyer, Ashley Cole and Wayne Bridge, have bought up £1m-plus holiday homes there.

Wednesday, 24 November 2004

Tony on Tony

I feel that many on the left regard Tony Benn as the thinking person's leftie. Despite, or probably inspite, of the times when he seems a little muddled, or just plain odd, the feeling he was always a little ineffectual and that whole nuclear power thing.

Every so often he'll pop up again to remind you why you like him, why you'll miss him when he's no longer here and to make you wonder where the politicians who didn't mind letting a little ideology get in the way of their popularity have gone.

This time he's having a restrained pop at Prince Charles, and his most recent gaffe:
This is why Prince William is now being carefully promoted, in case it is thought necessary to skip a generation and allow him to succeed the Queen and thus keep this absurd and undemocratic constitution safe for the next generation.

Britain is gravely handicapped by this medieval system of government which gives us a president without any checks and balances, and keeps the serfs firmly in their place. Any serious democratic reform of our constitution would give an elected parliament control of all executive powers, firmly cap the fount of honour, and arrange for the election of a small senate to act as a revising chamber, whose speaker could occasionally act as head of state for ceremonial purposes.

This would have the advantage of liberating the royal family, leaving them free, as citizens, to live their own lives, say what they like, and take part in elections like the rest of us. They could then safely vote for King Tony and his neoconservative courtiers, at No 10, knowIng that New Labour could be trusted to preserve privilege in Britain.

Tuesday, 23 November 2004


I've mentioned the move by some Americans to have stickers put on books that teach evolution previously. Well, Colin Purrington, has decided that a few more stickers might be appropriate, for example:
This textbook contains material on gravity. Gravity is a theory, not a fact, regarding a force that cannot be directly seen. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered.

For your edification, if not education, Colin has also included some links to Creationist sites. As he suggests a stiff drink is in order if you do check them out. As one sticker states:
This book mentions Creationism, New Creationism, Scientific Creationism, or Intelligent Design.
All of these beliefs rely on the action of a supernatural entity to explain life on earth. Scientists rejected supernatural explanations for life in the 1800s, and still do today.

Talking Bonollocks

I can't claim any credit for this neologism, I found it on No Rock 'N' Roll Fun. I will, however, be using it at every available opportunity.

The only thing I'm not sure of is the stress on the "no" part, should it be "Bow-no-locks" or "buh-nol-locks"? I'm tending more towards the latter.

But you can imagine the usages for it:

"Well, I have a contract with my fans. Two shit albums and I retire."
"Ah you're just talking bonollocks there."

"You've got to admit 'Tonight thank god it's them instead of you' is an important line"

Monday, 22 November 2004

Good Point

Teresa at Making Light makes a great observation:
One of the reasons I’ve never believed satanic ritual abuse narratives—the ones where the supposed victims are always being “groomed” (they always use that word) to become the high priest or priestess of the group—is that their stories are devoid of normal human complications. Nobody ever develops chest pains, and has to be gotten out of their ceremonial robes and rushed to an ER. Nothing funny ever happens. Nobody ever fluffs a complex ritual. The air conditioning never breaks down. There are no theological or procedural disputes, no arguments about bookkeeping, no rebellious music committees. Satanic covens are never incapacitated because the potato salad sat out too long before the pre-ceremony setup session potluck. But most tellingly of all, no satanic group is ever riven by dissension because a couple of its members have started selling Amway and they won’t shut up about it.

Friday, 19 November 2004

Product Names

So, anyway, we've done band names and my name for a Hornby rip off. Now brand names.

Scott Miller --he's heard all the jokes about Duke Nuk'em Forever, so don't bother -- sees a can of Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper and asks "What flavor is Dr. Pepper?"

A valid question. The more pertinent one, surely, is what kind of society are we living in where a Diet Cherry Vanilla anything isn't met with a loud and derisive "what the fuck!?"?

Slacktivist has a recurring theme on how the more words you add to the name of somthing the less like that something becomes. He uses cheese as an example:
"Cheese" = cheese

"processed cheese" = cheese, sort of

"processed cheese food" = cheese, sort of, plus other stuff that's not cheese

"processed cheese food snack product" = the food in question is orange, but contains no actual cheese.

As well as the existance of weapons of mass destruction:
March 2003: Weapons of mass destruction.

June 2003: Weapons of mass destruction programs.

October 2003: Weapons of mass destruction-related programs.

January 2004: Weapons of mass destruction-related program activities.

So applying this to Dr. Pepper, you've got:

  • Dr Pepper: Interestingly flavoured drink.

  • Diet Dr Pepper: Interestingly flavoured drink with less sugar.

  • Diet Cherry Dr Pepper: Drink with less sugar and cherry flavour added to disguise that horrible diet taste.

  • Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr Pepper: Man, those last two were bad let's try and sweeten it with something.

Thanks, but I'll stick with beer.

Thursday, 18 November 2004

One Of Those Great Questions Answered

What happened to Band Aids 3-19? Of course a greater question might well be "There was a Band Aid 2?", but apparently there was. It's slightly more knowing than funny, to be honest, so the value of it probably depends one whether you find the following funny:
Band Aid 17: "Get Ur Christmas Freak On" by the Freelance Hellraiser was the toast of the London scene for those two heady minutes in 2002. How we laughed.

Very Wrong, But Cool

A book shop in America decided, for one week, to order its books by colour. It looks great.

Tuesday, 16 November 2004

Typing Swearwords Into Text Adventures

Never mind band name, the title of this post sounds like one of those angst-ridden thirty-something books put out by column writers. This one especially targetted at ex-nerd thirty somethings who remember the frustration of trying to get that damn dwarf to carry you out of the cellar.

Anyway, for those people, a site called Monkeon has launched an in-depth investigation in to what happens when you type in naughty words into various ZX Spectrum Interactive Fictions.

Ah, good days....

Monday, 15 November 2004

I Want To Defy The Logic Of All Sex Laws

Seemingly taking some Beck lyrics to heart a couple are doing a lot of naughty stuff that's illegal someplace then taking photos (that first link, by the way, is not even remotely safe for work). Given some of the strangeness in the second link, though, I'm not sure they're going to break all of them. I'm guessing this one is going to be right out:
It's against the law to make love to a virgin, whatever the circumstances, anywhere in the state of Washington. According to the wording of the legislation, it's a major crime even to marry and then spend the night with a virgin bride in that city.

(Via Memepool and an obvious need to get more hits)

Friday, 12 November 2004

Band Names

Memepool recently linked to an article about Vampire Watermelons, which struck me as almost, but not quite, a great name for a band. Then again I was briefly taken by "Airborne Scrotum", though I think you'd have to be in the right sort of band for that to be really great. I've always had a soft spot for "Woodland Fire Hazard" for no good reason except it's got a "Hindu Love Gods" rhythm to it.

Not that I need a band name at the moment, but if I do it's good to be ready.

Plus having vampire and scrotum in a post is bound to send the hits up...

Hey! Now there's a band name Little Pauli and the Vampire Scrotums.

Thursday, 11 November 2004

When The Saints Go Crashing Out

Fans are asking Southampton's players to refund the ticket prices 2400 of them paid to endure the 5-2 Carling Cup humiliation at Watford.

From The Guardian.
I sympathise, but that's football. Ask Newcastle fans who had to endure a 4-1 thumping by Fulham despite seeming to have the run of the ball. As for players being disappointing, I doubt Saints fans have payed to close attention to the career of Harry Kewell, but I reckon he'd owe fans of Leeds and Liverpool quite a few bob a-piece by now.

Speaking of owing right-thinking people a bob or two... Apparently Micheal Bolton has recently claimed that he will stop singing when he stops breathing. I'm sure some people are more than willing to help him with that, in fact No Rock & Roll Fun want a large pillow for Christmas.

Wednesday, 10 November 2004

Book Angst

Vince Keenan describes Book Angst as " the website of the moment". So I'd better link to it.

Certainly if you like long, mostly coherent screeds on the publishing industry (and who among us doesn't) it's a place to go.
I take issue w/ the fact that I'm bashing the industry per se--I see this as trying to open up some sort of constructive dialog--but beauty (like abuse) is in the eye of the beholder.

Tuesday, 9 November 2004

Tin Foil Hats At The Ready

The conspiracy theories have started already. It's being said that exit polls in states with Electronic Voting were curiously inaccurate compared to those without, and that inaccuracy almost always favoured Bush by around 5%.

MSNBC have found some more incidences:
Interestingly, none of the complaining emailers took issue with the remarkable results out of Cuyahoga County, Ohio. In 29 precincts there, the County’s website shows, we had the most unexpected results in years: more votes than voters.

I’ll repeat that: more votes than voters. 93,000 more votes than voters.


Talk about successful get-out-the-vote campaigns! What a triumph for democracy in Fairview Park, twelve miles west of downtown Cleveland. Only 13,342 registered voters there, but they cast 18,472 votes.

Vote early! Vote often!

Of course, you would be a fool and a communist to read anything but glitches and errors in to any of this.

Well, That Didn't Take Long

Ah, the "Values Voters" are starting up already. Evolution textbooks row goes to court is about a school board trying to placate Christian fundamentalist parents by putting a sticker saying that evolution is "a theory, not a fact" on science text books. Two things strike me about this. One is that the sticker is true; evolution may be as near to a fact as a theory gets and it does explain and predict so much, but it is still only a theory.

The second thing to occur to me is what would happen if, to placate me as an atheist, I had them put a similar sticker on all the Bibles at school.

As usual an image of fairness is attempted:
The board says the stickers were motivated by a desire to establish a greater understanding of different view points. "They improve the curriculum, while also promoting an attitude of tolerance for those with different religious beliefs," said Linwood Gunn, a lawyer for Cobb County schools.

Obviously this is a load of old cock. The stickers were motivated by one viewpoint while promoting intolerance for those who would tell you different.

Scarily, near the end of the article it is mentioned that "Pennsylvania's Dover area school board has already voted to teach intelligent design". As I've mentioned before intelligent design is creationism in slightly fancier clothing and, as such, a way of attempting to get religion taught in a science classroom. It is not a scientific theory and has no reason to be regarded as such.

Thursday, 4 November 2004

Pulled Off At Half Time

Warning: The banners on the linked to site are not "Work Safe" and neither is the pop-up it generates.

For those of you who think football doesn't have enough homoerotic moments as it is...

Smilin' Through The Tears

Fark doesn't really need my traffic, but what the hell.

Fark, for those who don't know it, is a kind of collaboritive effort to find links to some of the weirder corners on the Internet -- and plain ordinary corners, too, if they suddenly become interesting. Americans often post links to the Guardian as an example of how wacky those English can be.

A constant of Fark is the Photoshop contest. Some of them are very funny and some devolve in to slagging off how bad an idea the contest is. Some reach a halfway point where insider jokes (know on Fark as "cliches") tend to overwhelm what's there.

Today's Photoshop was "What if other popular movies were performed by puppets?". There's some great stuff. Be warned, though, that there's some really awful stuff, too. I particularly liked the "Passion of the Pig", "Apocalypse Now", "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" and the one below.

Disturbing, but funny... Posted by Hello

The People Have Spoken... The Bastards!

Eric Alterman in Altercation (linked to on the right) puts it well:
Let’s face it. It’s not Kerry’s fault. It’s not Nader’s fault (this time). It’s not the media’s fault (though they do bear a heavy responsibility for much of what ails our political system). It’s not “our” fault either. The problem is just this: Slightly more than half of the citizens of this country simply do not care about what those of us in the “reality-based community” say or believe about anything.

They don’t care that Iraq is turning into murderous quicksand and a killing field for our children. They don’t care that the Bush presidency has made us less safe by creating more terrorists, inspiring more anti-American hatred and refusing to engage in the hard work that would be necessary to make a meaningful dent in our myriad vulnerabilities at home. They don’t care that he has mortgaged our children’s future to give trillions to the wealthiest among us. They don’t care that the economy continues to hemorrhage well-paying jobs and replace them with Wal-Mart; that the number without health insurance is over forty million and rising. They don’t care that Medicare premiums are rising to fund the coffers of pharmaceutical companies. They don’t care that the air they breathe and the water they drink is being slowly poisoned and though they call themselves conservatives, they even don’t care that the size of the government and its share of our national income has increased by roughly a quarter in just four years. This is not a world of rational debate and issue preference.

Just about every blog I've looked at today is upset and trying to work things out. I realise these thing are self-selecting so I probably had greater hopes that Kerry would win than I should have. Still, it's hard not to feel a little down today.

Tuesday, 2 November 2004

Damn! My Job Is Boring... Here's A Diary of It

The Indy has an article by someone being reasonably witty about his terribly disappointing job, in this case as a Bookseller. It has all the usual little anecdote about silly customers:
Constant enquiries along the lines of "Have you got that book? It's red," begin to chafe.

Angry customers:
The growlers were the worst, barking at us, demanding maps of the Dordogne and biographies of Napoleon.

"What do mean you still haven't got it! It was ordered a bloody age ago!"

Crappy managers:
He had caught me leafing through a copy of Sylvia Plath's diaries. Before I could turn the third page, Ronald was upon me. Incandescence in a cardy, he stormed: "Get on with some fucking work, Anthony, I've got better things for you to be doing than reading in this shop."

In a modern bookshop, literature is of no great importance unless it is neatly stacked, branded with a three-for-two-sticker and sold to some idiot who wants what they saw on the advert. God forbid you read any.

It's not a bad article and, as I said, reasonably witty. It just seems to me that there's a lot of this sort of thing about these days. I'm pretty sure there someone who works in Waterstones (or wherever) blogging something now along much the same lines. I know that there's at least one fast-food employee, video shop employee and prostitute (assuming Belle De Jour is real, but there are probably plenty of others out there) blogging merrily away, letting us all in to their little private hells, or epiphanies, or that moment when the manager did something really funny/ totally out-of-order.

You know, people you would start drinking in other pubs to avoid are suddenly touted as the fresh face of blogging. I don't get it. When I go out, I don't really want to hear other people's work stories, unless that story is exceptional or something that really affected their mood and them not getting it out of their system is harshing my buzz. Daily accounts of the tedium of someone else's job is, well, tedious.

These things happen in jobs everyday for just about everybody. The decor changes and some of the props, but the main difference between a bloke at McDonalds and a bloke in an office is that the bloke in the office is going to go out of his way to deep fat fry something.

I suppose on one level these blogs are the living embodiment of "Write what you know". But at least one writer has opined that "Write what you know" is the sort of advice you give to writers that you suspect have difficulties holding a pen.