Friday, 23 December 2005

Happy Holidays

So I'm off for the next week and I don't expect to update this blog until the new year. Thanks to all my readers and commentors for bothering and I hope to keep all six of you in obscure stuff, knob gags and occassional movie reviews in ought six.

Cheers!

For those who are here looking for a Samorost walkthrough (the vast maajority it seems) have look here, it's the official site's forum and has plenty of hints. Then give Hapland a try if you want a bit more of a challenge...

Thursday, 22 December 2005

Tuesday, 20 December 2005

I Have The Retouch Redux

Here's a great flash animation showing how retouching subtly but completely "improves" a picture of a girl.

The point of it, I think, is to show how glossy magazines show unrealistic representations of women and that this is a bad thing. But I spent a good while making her tits bigger and smaller...

Via Boing Boing.

Monday, 19 December 2005

Reasons I don't Understand America Part 3

While Christian groups are warring to make sure that business and government workers say "Merry Christmas" instead of "Happy Holidays," one place you won't hear either greeting this December 25 is at many of the largest churches in the country.

That's because [...] the churches won't be open that day.

From Christianity Today's Weblog via The Rage Diaries.

Personally, I think it funny how religious holidays become more and more secular. Christmas is about presents and dinner and stress. Jesus gets mentioned[1] in one or two of the carols, but not so much it would scare the children. St Patrick's day is an excuse to drink too much Guiness and wear green, it's almost pagan, really. As soon as England can come up with a drink and a colour they can agree on (Real Ale and red would probably be my choice) I'm sure we can turn St George's day into the bacchanal that it deserves to be.

[1] Warren Zevon wrote a song called Jesus Mentioned:
Can't you just imagine
Digging up the King
Begging him to sing
About those heavenly mansions
Jesus mentioned

Thursday, 15 December 2005

Praise Be To Bill

It is a distinct possibility, of course, that more young people are engaging in oral sex [...] because of the example set by former junk food junkie Bill Clinton.

Really?!? Can we get him a sainthood or something.

OK, so this is slightly out of context and the ellision is naughty, but still...

They Should Use That On The Poster

An excerpt of a review of Brokeback Mountain found on the Internet:
I'm sure this will win an oscar or something and now I have to start my life over because it made my husband turn gay.

Go. Read the rest...

Via The News Blog.

By the way, they keep calling this the "gay cowboy movie". That distinguishes it from all other cowboy movies, except maybe "Johnny Guitar", in what way? Oh right! It's no longer sub-text...

Tuesday, 13 December 2005

Talking Toot: Umberto Eco

Umberto Eco pops up in the Telegraph to discuss the death of God, or something, perhaps it's the shrinking of God, or how he wrote a Da Vinci Code years before but he's not had a best-seller since Name of the Rose.

Along the way he brings up several old clichés including this one:
"When a man ceases to believe in God, he doesn't believe in nothing. He believes in anything." Whoever said it - he was right. We are supposed to live in a sceptical age. In fact, we live in an age of outrageous credulity.

He uses the Dan Brown book and how people believe its "silly, sub-Christian superstitions" as an example of this. Because, as we all know, atheists really, really want to believe that Christ was King of France.

Earlier in the year, however, the New Yorker had atheists needing ghost stories because otherwise their real and imaginative worlds would be so impoverished:
Atheists need ghosts and kings and magical uncles and strange coincidences, living fairies and thriving Lilliputians, just as much as the believers do, to register their understanding that a narrow material world, unlit by imagination, is inadequate to our experience, much less to our hopes.

Neither of these ideas is generally true. People reject God for any number of reasons, reasons as varied as those for believing in him. It's a leap of faith either way. My darkened narrow material world is shared by any number of atheists, including, according to some list I found, Randy Newman, Joss Whedon and the agnostic Umberto Eco...

Then again, Eco isn't really talking about rejecting God so much as he's talking about rejecting religion:
Human beings are religious animals. It is psychologically very hard to go through life without the justification, and the hope, provided by religion.

It's hard, he's saying, to go through life without hope and religion is the easiest way he knows of giving hope. So there you go "become a christian, it's not as hard as the alternative" they should put it on a poster outside St. Peters tomorrow. Actually, as a sort of half-cocked Pascal's Wager it's honest, at least.

He then brings up a straw man of scientists who were also religious or believed in silly things. Eco must know this is a canard himself but he's decided that this Xmas will all need a little less X and a little more Christ so let's show that Scientist doesn't also mean Atheist. Of course it doesn't, why should it?

But, really, the whole thing is comprised of weasel words and slack thinking (and point scoring) summed up by this bit:
Many of the people who now go to the Louvre are there only to look at the Mona Lisa, solely and simply because it is at the centre of Dan Brown's book.

Perhaps given a generous definition of "Many" — "enough that you would remark upon it" maybe — this might be true. But as the French say with enough ifs you could put Paris in a bottle.

Turn Excel Into A Drum Machine

Some crazy guy has found a way to map sounds to keys using, I take it, Visual Basic for Applications in Excel (and a custom DLL) so that you can now use your keyboard to trigger your midi drums. Cool (ish). Someone else has taken the next logical step and made Excel store the pattern, which is slightly cooler, though it's only one pattern.

Of course, if you've got a computer and an internet connection you could just Google for, say, "free drum software" and come up with a page like this and save yourself a whole heap of trouble...

Monday, 12 December 2005

For Steve - A Huge Cock


Ba Dum Dum Tish! Thank you thank you. I'll be here all week. Try the veal it's excellent.

Friday, 9 December 2005

Good News For My Site Meter

Yes indeed! Jay over at Jay Is Games has posted the great news that Samorost 2 has been released (although at the moment, what with being possibly the most anticipated sequel of the year, I think their server has melted or something)!

For those who came here for the original Samorost Walkthrough — click whatever is clickable, click something else, try clicking the first thing again, repeat. Here's my Samorost 2 Walkthrough:
click whatever is clickable,
click something else,
try clicking the first thing again,
repeat

Enjoy!

Strictly it's because I mispelled Samorost as Samarost that I get the hits, I think. Anyway here's to finding out.

UTA: Samorost 2 finally downloaded (or at least the first chapter), and there is slightly more to it that Samorost. Some times when you click something you pick it up, click somewhere else with that object.

Also sometimes when you click something other things become briefly clickable (taps and the like). Some taps need to be aligned properly.

Sometimes you need to click the thing at just the right time, like when a something can see something else.

For Ten-Bob

Wednesday, 7 December 2005

You're A Very Weird Person, Yossarian

Via Bookslut comes news of the annual Yossarian Book of the Year Awards. It seems that rather than fire their employees for a having a blog, Ottakars has given one of their employees official licence — and have done for 5 years, nobody tells me anything. Wisely Yossarian uses his awards to get a few digs in:
Dampest Squib of the Year
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by JK Rowling
So, how much fun was it buying it in a supermarket, huh?
Worst Book of the Year
A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby
I like Hornby’s non-fiction, I really do. He’s a great writer on inconsequential subjects – songs he likes, books he has read or failed to read – but his novels, apart from High Fidelity, leave me cold. A Long Way Down starts with four people meeting on a rooftop, preparing to commit suicide. By the end of the first few chapters I was screaming “Jump, you two-dimensional ba****ds, jump!” Sadly, they didn’t hear me.

Also, he manages to recommend lots of other books that I might have to get round to reading soon.

Tuesday, 6 December 2005

Difficult to Swallow

Not the constant reminders of the Bad Sex in Fiction Awards, they're quite welcome, actually. Ben and Jerry's on the other hand... (Yes I seem to be making a post that reference's blow jobs and ice cream, I'm not sure if I should be delighted or worried. Like Ten-bob Dylan tells me, though, may be I should get out more often).

Douglas Rushkoff has posted up an excerpt from his new book, Get Back In the Box, and it looks at how Ben & Jerry's position themselves as an ethical company while selling fattening luxury food:
[T]he company agreed to be acquired by Unilever in 2000. [...] Ben and Jerry attempted to reassure their remaining fans, explaining that theirs would remain a separate company with its own governing board. Of course, the truly radical move would have been to infect Unilever with a bit of Ben and Jerry's ethos from the inside out. By agreeing to be sectioned off, behemoth Unilever's standard operating procedures could remain unchallenged. Meanwhile, Ben and Jerry's adds yet another layer of contradiction to its already ambiguous mission: a socially conscious company selling sugar and fat to Americans, in the service of a Big Food conglomerate whose own practices Ben and Jerry's was originally born to contest.


Via Boing Boing

Isn't that the Definition?

A slight return to the ID debate. James Wolcott has a post calling Intelligent Design the "Opiate of the Dummies" and, while name calling is not particularly constructive, it's hard to disagree. What struck me though way this bit:
I suspect most conservative demagogues practice a strange form of hypocrisy: talking shit in public that they would be wary to do in private. (Most hypocrites do the opposite, talking trash one on one that they would never say over the sanctity of the airwaves.)

Isn't that there whole reason to exist? That they express the private hypocrisies of there audience, saying in public what their listeners wish they could say if only it wasn't for all that "political correctness bullshit" or the fear of a good kicking, which ever it is?

Thursday, 1 December 2005

I Hate To Say "I Told You So"...

What am I saying? I love it.

I told you so.

According to The Guardian's The Northerner, far from heralding the collapse of society as we know it drinkers in the North-East and North Yorkshire behaved themselves better:
Similarly, the Northern Echo revealed an apparent change in the north-east and North Yorkshire drinking culture as bars and clubs actually closed earlier than their licenses permitted, and police reported less drink-related trouble than normal. Even where the chance to gulp into the small hours of the morning didn't prompt a change in our drinking habits - such as Cumbria - the debauchery forecast never transpired; the Westmorland Gazette reported that the new laws had "hardly any effect at all" in their patch.

Wednesday, 30 November 2005

When Analogies Attack

Richard Conniff looks at how we compare ourselves to animals and sees how we get it wrong.
You don't want to be an 800-pound gorilla. No such animal has ever existed. The average big daddy silverback tops out at about half that weight. And gorillas are not predators, but vegans, with an almost unlimited appetite for fruit and bamboo shoots. I once worked on a TV documentary about lowland gorillas; on an average day the dramatic episodes consisted of the alpha male passing gas, picking his nose and yawning. Then he did the same things, the other way around. Over and over. This is probably not the image a hard-charging executive wants to present to the public.

Phrases You Seldom Hear

"I bet it'd be great to be in Doncaster tonight!"

Said by me after watching Donny Rovers comprehensively thrash Aston Villa 3-0 to go through to the Quarter finals of the League Cup.

Tuesday, 29 November 2005

Serenity: A Review


So, I finally got to see Serenity. They had the OV on at the Megaplex in Linz on Monday. Serenity, as I'm sure you all know, is Joss Whedon's movie based on the pre-maturely cancelled TV show Firefly. Also, I'm sure the regular readers of this site know I'm a Joss fan verging on fanboy. I've got all of Buffy and Angel on DVD and I know which lines he wrote in the X-Men and, of course, I have watched Firefly five or six times on DVD.

That said...

Serenity, eh? Just an overblown two-parter really. You could tell Joss only directed for TV before because of the way he kept cutting to Kaylee (Jewel Staite) for reaction shots.

Nah, just kidding. It was good, bordering on great and, without hesistation, about twice as good as all the good bits from the recent Star Wars movies put together. It had the dark version of Captain Mal Reynolds, played to great effect by Nathan Fillion, last seen in the Pilot episode of Firefly (and, briefly, in War Stories), some fine work by the rest of the cast (though not enough Kaylee, in my opinion, even if she had lost a little too much weight) and it had Joss's almost-trademarkable witty dialog.

It also had Joss's hackiest ever plot. Two of the fun things about previous entries in the Whedon oeuvre was that he, and his other writers, invariably found ways of confounding your expectations of the way the plot should go and the seemingly effortless way that he would give viewers, to paraphrase Joss himself, what they needed rather than what they wanted. Here it seemed that he had a big checklist of "beats" that he had to hit and he hit them with a crisp regularity. The beats included a long loving ship flyby (OK, I loved that bit), a fight over a big spinning thing (didn't Galaxy Quest kill this off?), the big device that reveals everything (They Live and countless others), shock death of a beloved character (twice, perhaps two and a half times, Simon even got a deathbed speech), robot sex doll (Buffy, repeatedly), an unstoppable Boba Fett-like character (Objects in Space, OK so ripping off your own finest moment is not necessarily a bad thing seeing as that episode never got aired) and the Big Inspirational speech (didn't he get tired of these after Season 7 Buffy) all made an appearence.

Still, it had Mal as an occasionally nasty, opinionated, curmudgoenly, bad tempered, out-of-his-depth rogue (but, you know, loyal, lovable and honourable) and if that was the only twist on the usual space opera that Whedon thought he could get away with on his first movie then maybe it's enough. The slightly warmed-over feeling of the plot was more than compensated for by the characters, anyway. Though there wasn't time to dwell on more than Mal and River, the cast as a whole seemed to have an ingrained knowledge of their characters and how they would deal with things and none of them sounded a false note. They each had their moment to shine and that was all you could expect with such a large ensemble.

So, yes, I enjoyed it. I laughed, I may have cried, I wandered round the Megaplex looking for Serenity posters to steal. Here's to a sequel.

Fred's Roll

Really I could steal all of Slackivist's links from the last few days and just add a little comment of my own, but it's probably best you go over there yourselves and check out all the goodness.

I will point out, though, his link to a retelling of the story of Jonah which does indeed work so much better if you read the original first. And his link to a post to a fellow calling himself Neddie Jingo who has taken some photos of ludicrous American houses and made suitably snarky comments about them — it's much better than my description makes it sound honest. Though, really, nothing quite tops my favourite ever photo of all that's wrong with modern planning...

Fred, of course, is so good he doesn't actually need to link to other people, so while you're there read his stuff, too.

Monday, 28 November 2005

Kinky? Why The Hell Not?

Sticking with the Grauniad, they have a nice overview of the Kinky Friedman campaign for Governor of Texas.
Occasionally, Kinky suffers a spectacular smash. In 1986 he ran for justice of the peace in Kerrville, near Echo Hill, and lost badly. 'I couldn't decide whether to kill myself or get a haircut,' he remembers. 'There must be a place in politics for a man of my talents.' Maybe he should run for mayor of Austin? And then - eureka ! - what about governor of Texas? 'That might be therapeutic. When I meet a potential voter,' he says, 'I'm good for precisely three minutes of superficial charm.' He was certainly looking for a new distraction, and jokes now that 'by the time you've written your 17th mystery novel, if you ain't crazy there's something wrong with you. If you happen to be your own main character, it tends to be even worse.'

Martin Rowson Gets E-mails

So, there I was skimming through the headlines on the RSS feed of the Guardian looking for news that the UK had descended in to fiery anarchy over the weekend. What with all the drunken violence that was expected over the new extended drinking weekend and everything. I found nothing. I was slightly disappointed, but I did find an article about the e-mail Martin Rowson gets from right-wing nut-jobs every time he has a cartoon that is critical of Bush published on the Guardian website. I particularly liked this bit:
Otherwise, for 48 hours, nothing. Then, on the Wednesday, they started pouring in: foul-mouthed, abusive, often obscene and frequently threatening. I got about 600 emails altogether, but I also managed to track down the neo-con website which had issued a call to arms to its subscribers to deluge me with this stuff. I don't know why they waited two days. Maybe they were busy cleaning their guns or praying or something.

And his summary made me laugh:
Not that I want to censor cyberspace. I just want my correspondents to have to go to the trouble of finding a bottle of green ink and a stamp before they remind me what an asshole I am.

Friday, 25 November 2005

Reasons I Don't Understand America Part 2

When reviewing a DVD of the best of Beavis and Butt-head a reviewer can say the following:
It's impossible to imagine a post-9/11 Beavis and Butt-Head. Not because the show was devoid of political content but because the world it so ruthlessly satirized, a suburban cocoon of mindless consumption and complacent self-regard, abruptly ceased to exist at the beginning of this millennium.

Seemingly blind to the fact that the existance of the very thing the she is reviewing would suggest that that's wishful thinking at best and a big fat lie in any case. I'm desperately trying to find signs that it's a joke...

Really?

It's not news that I got spam today. Or that most of it was offering to my todger significantly bigger. What did amuse me though is that I got one entitled "Did you know 67% of women are not happy with you". I didn't know that. But, I figured, since that meant 33% were OK with me I'd take my chances. It's certainly better odds than I'd expected.

Thursday, 24 November 2005

Not Quite Follow Ups

In an almost follow up to one of my old rants the Accidental Hedonist sees a list of Ten Commandments for restaurant goers:

  1. Honor your reservation

  2. Don't hog your table

  3. If you don't like where you're seated, speak up!

  4. Bring your kids, but keep them in line

  5. Put your cellphone on vibrate

  6. If the food isn't to your liking, say so, politely and immediately

  7. Life's too short to drink bad wine

  8. Communicate dietary restrictions carefully and early

  9. Don't even think about leaving a penny tip to show your scorn for a disappointing experience

  10. Spread the good cheer


And responds in kind with a list of rules that restaurants should honour (Kate expands on these a bit at the site itself, the list here is to give you a flavour, as it were):

  1. Honor the reservation.

  2. Respect the Table - If the customers don't wish to interact with the wait staff, they shouldn't be forced to do so.

  3. Make no presumptions about your customers.

  4. Thou shall not upsell.

  5. Play your piped music at a point where it doesn't dominate a conversation.

  6. Don't play off of your customer's supposed ignorance of wine.

  7. Ensure that your staff keeps personal conversations in the back of the house, away from the customers.

  8. Thou shalt have clean restrooms.

  9. The patron has a right to respectfully question any aspect of service.

  10. Hot food should be served hot.


As I say it touches on some of the things I was ranting about, but with more class.

Also as another etiquette post I made, this time about jam sessions, came to me when I read a post on Usenet (alt.music.blues) about Blues Jam Rules, the original poster was a bit of a, well, let's just say a bridge-dweller and leave it at that, so I'll reproduce the list here:

  1. Make sure everyone is more interested in the hardware (amps/guitars/
    mics) than the music.

  2. Don't let anyone play who:

    1. can read a chord chart

    2. play a proper tune

    3. has any taste

    4. has ever done a proper gig.


  3. Make sure there are lots and lots of over-amplified harmonica
    players.

  4. Ban anyone caught suggesting anything that isn't an absolutely standard three chord 12 bar or "Hey Joe" in E.

  5. Have a queue for the bedroom Strat strummers who want to do "Red House" or "Crossroads".

  6. Find drummers and bass players who don't get bored too easily or are
    stupid.

  7. Make sure all lead singers are complete amateur novices (and it's even better if they do a bit of appalling grating harmonica nonsense).

  8. Make sure none of the "tunes" are too short. Ten or fifteen minutes per song is normal in order to instill true tedium. Any shorter and it might start becoming entertaining.

  9. Make sure all the players only listen to themselves. You get the proper Blues jam cacophony then.

  10. Turn all the back line up to ten to start with. This will save the Strat strummers having to do it themselves during their stint.


Dunno, it made me smile... Mostly because I don't have a Strat, I have a Tele.

The ATM Fraud That Dared Not Speak It Name

Through Boing Boing, who linked to an article about how difficult it is to shoot off a padlock that they found linked to on his site, I happened upon the author Charlie Stross' Blog (well, he calls it a diary, but the url says blog, who am I to trust?) where he links to an article in The Register. If you've got this far you're probably curious as to what that article is about, well, it's this:
[T]he UK banking system could have collapsed in the early 1990s, but for the forbearance of a junior barrister who also happened to be an expert in computer law - and who discovered that at that time the computing department of one of the banks issuing ATM cards had "gone rogue", cracking PINs and taking money from customers' accounts with abandon.

Go. Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, 23 November 2005

"Angry, angry young man."

No, not Sideshow Raheem, but Aaron McGruder creator of the Boondocks and now producer of The Boondocks tv show. The Onion AV club get an interview with him:
AVC: So what are you feeling angriest about these days?
AM: I'm actually kind of angriest about the fact that everybody keeps saying how angry I am.

Tuesday, 22 November 2005

Great Moments In Scientific Research

According to The Guardian scientists have ascertained that:
[Y]oung men as a group [...] when aroused, they (1) become sexually attracted to things otherwise offputting; (2) grow more willing to engage in morally questionable behaviour that might lead to sex; and (3) are more likely to have unprotected sex.

Thanks For The Info

"WHEN A BULL whale comes at you with an erect penis, it’s nine feet long," said Gregory Colbert, aiming a fork at his Caesar salad. "It’s like a torpedo. And you’d better get out of the way, fast."

From the "Advice on taking wildlife pictures: don't become the hors d'oeuvres" in the Times.

Location, Location, Location

A quick note to mention that my brother's site is no longer The Hanks one, apparently that's going to get a do-over and they are going to have a smoother web-presence, as I understand it.

Anyway my bro now resides at Ten-Bob Dylan. Check it out, as they say, and perhaps encourage him to post a bit more often...

Thursday, 17 November 2005

Because Saying "Blog" Wasn't Awkward Enough

We now have "Splogs". Spam Blogs whose only reason to exist is to generate ad revenue and push my hit counter into the low double digits...

Wednesday, 16 November 2005

Speaking of Games

The BBC has a couple of crackers at the moment.

The Seven Noble Kinsmen and Death in Sakkara. Old school point and click adventures with the occassional arcadey bit, well, Sakkara is. I'm not so sure about Kinsman as I've not had long enough to go through it, but in both cases they are well-made with great porduction values and compelling, if, perhaps, a little hackneyed, stories.

I first found these through Jay Is Games, of course.

Happy Games Only

UK Resistance are launching a campaign to bring the joy and fun back into gaming. It's called the Blue Sky In Games Campaign and it has some advice to developers on how they can improve their games

  • Change everything that's grey into blue.
  • From now on, everyone wears red shoes.
  • Make everything happen at midday or sunset.
  • Replace gun textures with banana textures.
  • Turn all cars into pink convertibles that wobble and only do 15mph.
  • If you get 100 of anything, a little tune plays.
  • Instead of saying "crew" say "your buddies".
  • Instead of saying "hood" say "zone".
  • Make the female characters something other than prostitutes.
  • Make the black characters something other than drug dealers.

You know, none of that seems like a bad idea at all. Though I guess it could all get a bit samey after a while. However, the last four suggestions should be taken up immediately.

Monday, 14 November 2005

The Pen Is Mightier Than The Sword...

...But shooting someone will really get their attention.
Bolivian writer Edgar Ra-miro Reynaga on Wednesday shot and wounded a street vendor in downtown La Paz after accusing him of selling an illegally printed copy of his book, police said.

Via Bookslut.

Friday, 11 November 2005

Defending Imperial Nudity

Paul Krugman recasts Hans Christian Andersen's "The Emperor's New Suit" as if it happened today.
Fox News repeatedly played up possible finds of imperial clothing, then buried reports discrediting these stories. Months after the naked procession, a poll found that many of those getting most of their news from Fox believed that the emperor had in fact been clothed.

Imperial officials eventually admitted that they couldn't find any evidence that the suit ever existed, or that there had even been an effort to produce a suit. They insisted, however, that they had found evidence of wardrobe-manufacturing-and-distribution-related program activities.

Thursday, 10 November 2005

Odd Moments In Advertising Part 1

I know what this is supposed to be. It's a rip-off of the Shining being used to show the "horror" of petrol prices. Driving past billboards with it on, though, you get a wierd subliminal image that it's about something else entirely... Or maybe it's just that I think everything is about anonymous blow-jobs.

Wednesday, 9 November 2005

Lesbian Cheerleader Bust Up Follow Up

For those of you who cannot read the phrase "Lesbian Cheerleader" enough times. Susie Bright has a long thoughtful article on the recent Lesbian Cheerleader incident.
Most of the web comments came from horny men who couldn't believe they'd found the mother lode, the actual article of the lesbian cheerleader. They had no concerns about the girls' career... one man said, "if they make a video where they fist each other's mayonnaise jars like there's no tomorrow, they'll be set." He apparently has no idea how little porn models are paid, regardless of their ephemeral fame.

"Mayonnaise jars"?!?

Tuesday, 8 November 2005

Economists Proved Right!

From Accidental Hedonist comes news of research showing that the price of seafood changes with its availability. They said that they were happy with their findings and are now moving on to the vexatious problem of exactly where bears take a shit.

Actually, it's interesting in that they've used the price of fish to take a guess at that particular fish's abundance, working backwards, I guess. Though they then do go on to denigrate the very people who helped them:
“All this comes from a few crazy people who collected menu cards, but it’s a remarkable resource,” Dr Holm said.

Monday, 7 November 2005

A Thought So Scary You Have To Laugh At It

Slacktivist has an intriguing post on how low Bush's approval rating can concievably go. Based on the premise that he'd have to go round to some Americans' homes and light a cigar with the Declaration of Independence while shooting their dog before they'd admit that, maybe, he wasn't all he's cracked up to be, and they won't be sharing that drink with him after all.

Anyway, Slacktivist borrows this dialogue from the Kung Fu Monkey site:
John: You realize this leads to there being over 30 million crazy people in the US?

Tyrone: Does that seem wrong?

John: ... a bit low, actually.

Probably explains my confusion in the last post, anyway...

Reasons I Don't Understand America Part 1

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Two Carolina Panthers cheerleaders were arrested after a bar dispute that broke out early Sunday after patrons complained the women were having sex in a bathroom stall, a police arrest report said.

So let me get this straight. Someone complained that two cheerleaders were getting it on in the lav? Were the complaints that their video tape had run out? There wasn't a decent place to a real good view? As Bill Hicks once said, after finding out the lesbian sex scenes had been cut from Basic Instinct because they turned the test audience off, "Boy, is my thumb not on the pulse of America".

Love(l)y

A site called theatre VOICE are making a big deal over a new CD called Essential Shakespeare. They currently have samples. The actors featured include Sir Larry, Sir Ian and, er, some other people.

Friday, 4 November 2005

Sensible Advice

Via Fark comes a number of flu related tips from MSN, including this:
During flu season, never let anyone lick your keyboard.

Outside of flu season keyboard licking must be fine, I guess.

But I Digress

Some say that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results (some say that it was Einstein who first said it still others Benjamin Franklin[1], but plenty are saying it without caring too much about that).

Anyway, that form of insanity can be pretty funny, too.

[1] Footnote to a parenthetical comment, I really know how to structure my posts, huh? What I wanted to add, though, was that there must be some theory about how Einstein and Churchill said everything that Wilde didn't, it almost always turns out to be someone elses bon mot, but because those three are known for saying quotable things they tend to get attributed eventually. Apparently it's called the "Rule of the Lesser Attribution" which says "acclaim and reputation tend to be allocated to people unevenly". Curiously, I found this because I was reminded, in writing this, of something called Stigler's law of eponymy which states that no scientific discovery is named after its original discoverer, Planck's Constant, for example, wasn't actually found by Planck.

Peyote. It's Good For You.

Sort of. I'm not sure if the Guardian's headline to the piece, Peyote Not Harmful to American Indians, is a hedging of bets, but it seems that the occasional hallucinogen isn't bad for you and, in fact, can be beneficial. Bill Hicks would be so happy.

Thursday, 3 November 2005

A Cheap Laugh Is Still A Laugh

Today Fametracker posted an article on Notes from the Esquire Editorial Meeting At Which Jessica Biel Was Named "Sexiest Woman Alive". I probably laughed way too loudly at this bit:

2: What about Elizabethtown? That's a big deal movie. Cameron Crowe directing. And it stars that hot, willowy, dewy-lipped blonde.

3: Orlando Bloom?

2: No, the other one. Kirsten Dunst.

Free Books

I didn't notice this before, but Chris Mitchell of Spike Magazine has a great online resource in his blog Free New Books.

Recent finds have included Douglas Adams's Meaning of Liff, the complete works of George Orwell and a whole mess of Sci Fi. I'm trying to avoid finishing this post with "check it out", but, er check it out...

Wednesday, 2 November 2005

An Unplayhouse?

James Howard Kunstler finds a rather Kafkaesque note.

Boondocks Animated

Need I say much more? Oh, ok:
Huey Freeman has a dream. The 10-year-old hero of Boondocks—a new animated series based on the popular comic strip—fantasizes about walking into a ritzy white man's garden party and inciting a riot by speaking truth to power. Stuff like "Jesus was black, Ronald Reagan was the devil, and the government lied about 9-11." Huey's reverie is interrupted by his own granddad, who slaps him awake shouting, "How many times I told you, you better not even dream of telling white folks the truth. . . . I'm gonna go find a white man and lie to him right now!"

Nine Bob Note

50 Cent shows how real and down with people he is.
"What KANYE WEST was saying, I don't know where that came from."

Update: The ever perceptive Steve Gilliard has a good look at this and the history of it. Seems Fiddy has nothing to offer but thuggery and cynicism.

The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves

So, it was a long weekend, what with Monday off and Tuesday being bank-holiday. But worry not. The knob gags interspersed with curiously naive social comment will continue as soon as I get through that massive backlog of other peoples blogs.

Friday, 28 October 2005

One For My Bro

Civ IV is out soon. It's best for all concerned if you check in at CivAnon now.
It is important that you take control of your life and wrest the upper hand from your addiction once and for all. CivAnon (Civilization Anonymous) is a support community in the mold of traditional 12-step programs that can help you find your higher power in order to break the chains of your addiction-for good.

Thursday, 27 October 2005

In Search Of Lost Time

Slacktivist has a good post, with fine comments, on how tracking what you do at work all day is hardly ever a good or morale building thing to do:
I suppose it's possible that this exercise might have some purpose other than thinning the herd for eventual layoffs. It could, for example, be part of an attempt to improve efficiency by systematically reviewing everyone's daily workload. Such an effort would need to be carefully explained, however, to ensure honest and objective participation.

A guy called Duane begs to differ, slightly:
As a director who sometimes tasks individuals with tracking their time, the goal is generally not for me to see what they are doing. Rather, the goal is for them to see how productive they are (not) being. It usually works.

It is important to remember at a job that we are looking for accomplishments, not activity.

Though another commenter replys to this with:
Asking employees to start tracking their behavior has, in my experience, always registered in their minds as
a: a threat to their long term employment,
b: an indication that their management knows very little about what they do,
c: a waste of often valuable, even essential time, and
d: a source of stress.

You can see where Duane is coming from and, I suppose, applied sparingly and with an upfront explanation it might be useful. However, it seems from the comments that most places just seem to be applying it in order to be seen using yet another management tool, the results of which are hardly cared about by anyone, least of all the management.

Unless your time is billable, I can't really see the point and, to recast the second commenters point b, if the management don't already know what you're doing they aren't managing.

Slacktivist also has a fine post on Rosa Parks and how accidental heroes often need a little careful planning.

Pathetic!

Ireland manages to get it done with the minimum of fuss, even Italy, Italy!, bans smoking, but England hums and hahs and then proposes a ban so weak it's barely worth the bother. Absolutely useless.

The Guardian say that "Tony Blair made it clear that he did not want a total ban on smoking". Blair should step down now before he further damages the reputation of the country.

Of course all that money from the high tax on fags did nothing to effect this decision.

Tuesday, 25 October 2005

Shaft! Badde Mooder-Swyver

Shaft as Chaucer would have written it. Hilarious.

Damn right I'll be calling someone a "badde mooder-swyver" at the earliest opportunity.

Because I haven't stolen enough links from Robot Wisdom this week.

I'ma Hoist Your Hood, Mama, I'm Bound To Check Your Oil

Thanks to this article in the Times about sex advice through the ages, I found out that Haynes publishes a sex manual. I'm sure it's a serious ane thoughtful book, but I can't help wondering if it's like the car manuals and has illustrated, step-by-step instructions for everything you might want to do. Oh! Apparently it is.

Anyway, the Times column gathers together some of the wisdom of the ages at the bottom:
"Rub your penis with the bristles of certain insects that live in trees, and then, after rubbing it for ten nights with oils, rub it with the bristles as before. Swelling will be gradually produced. Then lie on a hammock with a hole in it and hang the penis through the hole. Take away the pain from the swelling by using cool concoctions. The swelling lasts for life." Kamasutra, translated by Sir Richard Burton and F. F. "Bunny" Arbuthnot (1883)

Never marry these women
"Redheads. Any girl named after a mountain, a tree, a river or a bird. Ones with rough hands or feet. Ones who sigh, laugh or cry at meals. Any girl with inverted nipples, a beard, uneven breasts, flap ears, spindle legs or who is scrawny. Girls whose big toes are disproportionately small. Girls who make the ground shake when they walk past." Koka Shastra, The Indian Scripture of Koka (12th century)


And, of course, the sanest advice of all:
“Never fool around sexually with a vacuum cleaner.” Dr Alex Comfort, The Joy of Sex (1972)

Monday, 24 October 2005

Only The Stupid Get Caught

Alt.folklore.urban currently has an amusing/scary thread on the perils of certain sets of self-selecting data.
During the infancy of what is know called 'Operations Research' a study was performed in during to examine fighter aircraft damaged by enemy ammunition, in order to determine which parts of the fuselage should receive additional or improved shielding.
A then-Junior Researcher pointed out that they were only able to examine the aircraft that had been able to RETURN from battle.

Then there's this:
This reminds me of the tale of the researcher who subjected some prison inmates to an intelligence test and concluded that crime was caused by low intelligence. It was eventually pointed out that he had documented that criminals of low intelligence spend time in prison.

It turns out that this might be wrong, and that the more accurate way of presenting the above data is this:
The right conclusion is that people of low intelligence spend time in prison. This could occur just because they're not able to effectively defend themselves when the charges are false.

The more you think about this the more you realise it applies to anything where failure is catastrophic, but success is hardly noticed.

One Star Reviews

You are probably the same. Confronted with a long list of reviews, in a magazine, say, you probably jsut read the 5 star ones. And the 1 star ones. Because while it's nice to find good art, or whatever, it's also fun to read about some of the train wrecks that occur to make good art even more spectacular.

That said Lone Star Statements over at The Morning News (what's happening over there, by the way? When it started I read every new article, then I just didn't bother —I think it just got too self indulgent— now it's got 2 or 3 must read articles a week) isn't quite the train wreck you were looking for. It's one star reviews of classic novels. Some bizarre, some chuckle-worthy:
The Sound and the Fury (1929)

Author: William Faulkner

"This book is like an ungrateful girlfriend. You do your best to understand her and get nothing back in return."

And some you probably quite agree with:
Gravity’s Rainbow (1973)

Author: Thomas Pynchon

"When one contrasts Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five with this book, it’s like comparing an Olympic sprinter with an obese man running for the bus with a hot dog in one hand and a soda in the other."

Friday, 21 October 2005

New York Changing

The Morning News has a fascinating gallery up at the moment called New York Changing. You can't help but keep flicking back and forth between the paired images, watching a city getting gradually filled in. Or staying eerily the same.

Thursday, 20 October 2005

On Gambling

I was trying to quote something to friends the other day about cards and getting lemon in you ear. Turns out I was half remembering something from Guys And Dolls. Who knew? Anyway, the quote was:
One of these days in your travels, a guy is going to show you a brand-new deck of cards on which the seal is not yet broken. Then this guy is going to offer to bet you that he can make the jack of spades jump out of this brand-new deck of cards and squirt cider in your ear. But, son, do not accept this bet, because as sure as you stand there, you're going to wind up with an ear full of cider.

Bringing The Pretty

The BBC has a slideshow from the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards.

via Robot Wisdom.

Bridge Burning For Fun And Profit

Alan Parker has a new book out featuring bitter, sarcastic cartoon he drew while trying to get movies made. The Guardian go and ask him about it. But not before spotting a cartoon with the caption "Mr Parker, I'd just like to ask you some superficial, stupid questions to augment the smart arse article I've already written."

I particularly like his anecdote about Martin Scorsese's story-boarding skills:
Most directors are decent draughtsmen, Parker explains. It goes with the job, whether it involves storyboarding a movie or simply scribbling ideas down on the set. "On the other hand, a lot of directors can't draw at all. Steven Spielberg, for instance, cannot draw. He works from a storyboard drawn by someone else to his instruction. Whereas Scorsese does stickmen. There's an exhibit in the American Film Institute in a big glass case. The first square shows two stickmen standing up. The next square shows one stickman lying down. And that's the storyboard to Raging Bull." He cackles with mirth. "Whoa!" he says. "Go Marty!"

Tuesday, 18 October 2005

Rumpole Will Be Relieved

It's been a while since I read them, but I remember a few Rumpole of the Bailey cases where Rumpole used his encyclopedic knowledge of typewriters and how different typists emphasise different letters to great effect. It always seemed a little sad to me that in this age of laser printers and thousands of fonts that all that would be lost.

Well, it seems that the manufacturers of laser printers thought so too, or perhaps had other motives, and made it so that each printed page has a microscopic configuration of dots on it that tells you the id number of the printer and the time and date of when the printing was done.

Boing boing knee-jerkedly call these snitch codes and they believe "that this is done to get your equipment to incriminate you without your knowledge". Well, now it can incriminate you with your knowledge.

Monday, 17 October 2005

Recent History

Scrolling past the excerpt of the excellent Paul Krugman excelling himself, Eric Rauchway has this definition of recent history over at Altercation:
The recent history of the world divides into roughly four phases.

1865-1914: When the British Ran Things All Right, Considering;
1914-1945: When the Americans Made a Bad Mess Worse;
1945-1968: When the Americans Ran Things All Right, Considering, and
1968-present: When It Sure Looks Like the Americans are Making Another Big Mess But It's Still a Little Too Soon To Tell.

I guess you could quibble with this. In fact it's definitly quibblable. But, considering, it's pretty true.

Nielsen On Blogging

Nielsen summarises his article "Weblog Usability: The Top Ten Design Mistakes", thusly:
Weblogs are often too internally focused and ignore key usability issues, making it hard for new readers to understand the site and trust the author.

So you don't need to read anymore. Actually if you're a blogger you probably should at least read the headings. So, er, here they are:
1. No Author Biographies
2. No Author Photo
3. Nondescript Posting Titles
4. Links Don't Say Where They Go
5. Classic Hits are Buried
6. The Calendar is the Only Navigation
7. Irregular Publishing Frequency
8. Mixing Topics
9. Forgetting That You Write for Your Future Boss
10. Having a Domain Name Owned by a Weblog Service

It's tempting to quote Balfour here, you know 'there were some things that were true, and some things that were trite; but what was true was trite, and what was not trite was not true'.

I mean, do photos really matter. I've been put off of plenty of Blogs by their author photo, for a start. As for biographies, quite a few top blogs are written anonymously (also isn't that rule sort of contradicted by rule 9?).

As a Blogger blogger rule 10 seems needlessly snarky. It's true that being free and easy has devalued blogspot addresses, but, surely, given that it's the content of your blog that's important the last 12 characters of your web address is of barely any consequence to anybody.

And as Boing Boing puts it:
[I] take exception to "8. Mixing Topics" in which he advises bloggers to restrict themselves to narrow subject-ranges. I believe that the thing that makes blogs so exciting to read is that they represent a view into the diverse interests of their authors.

So maybe the Balfour is apposite after all...

Thursday, 13 October 2005

And, As If By Magic, His Argument Disappeared

Mark Steyn, in the Spectator, has this to say about Serenity:
[Kaylee's] played by Jewel Staite. That’s right: Jewel Staite. For a space show, the characters all have fairly normal names — Mal, Zoe, Simon — but they’re played by actors who sound like minor parts in Star Wars: Summer Glau, Morena Baccarin. The bad guy is a shadowy operative called The Operative, and he’s played by an actor called Chewitel Ejiofor. Didn’t Chewitel Ejiofor get killed by Mace Windu and Oppo Rancisis in Attack of the Clones?

I'm surprised he didn't go on to question the sexuality of the Key Grip.

Wednesday, 12 October 2005

"Ringo Was The Coolest Beatle"

Alex "Franz Ferdinand" Kapranos sets some things straight in light of the fuss over Yoko Ono's recent comments.

By the way, did I ever mention the new bar on my street is called "Franz Ferdinand"? I'm not sure why I find this slightly annoying, well apart from the fact the owner isn't sharp enough to have "champers and lachs fish" on the menu. Mostly, I think, it's because it makes me want to start one further up the road called either "Scissor Sisters" or "Gavrilo Princip".

Tuesday, 11 October 2005

Going Downtown

A quick mention of a funny refferal. Twice recently my reffer logs have shown Googles for "Sean Connery" "Petula Clark" "Up the Arse". This makes me happy for no good reason.

BTW the canonical version of this is "1964. Petula Clark. Up the arse". Don't let anyone tell you different.

Mystical Minorites: A Movie Cliché

There's a movie cliché where if the white guy hero has an elderly black or indian friend, that friend will have so kind of mystical knowledge or some homespun philosophy that tells simple truths in a simple way. Because they're more connected to the earth or something like that (I have a whole other rant on that, but I'll save it for another day).

Anyway I think the idea is often that if this simple man can see the truth then it, well, must be true even if the hero's modern life has obscured the fact to him. "Simple" sounds horrible, but it's often then intention. There's an album I have that I mostly like apart from the point where the, black by the way, singer affects a terrible Jamaican accent to make some horridly pretentious quote about music even more unlistenable. What I gather the artist was trying to do, rather than always make me skip that bit, is have a simple man tell a simple truth making it more simply true.

I mention this mostly because I recently watched The Interpreter on DVD. While it never quite trundles in an elderly black man to tell Nicole Kidman a simple truth about terrorism or genocide it does the next best thing. Three or four times in the movie the whole thing just stops so Kidman can recount some made-up custom from some made-up country that has a direct baring either on the point or the emotional state of either her or Sean Penn. The first time it happened I didn't mind so much, it's very lazy script writing but these things happen in movies and you accept it. By the end of the second one I'd had enough.

The idea, as I saw it, was that this was some kind of tribal wisdom carried through the ages and, if it had worked for thousands of years, then a seasoned New York cop, Penn, could learn a thing or two from it. Except, well, except that since the country and it's people were made from whole cloth, whilst, you know, still giving them real world relevance, and these little homilies, quite obviously, were too. They were just tailored to give Kidman here long, emotional speeches while serving the plot as much as possible. The whole thing just became tooth grindingly fake. Instead of connecting with the characters I spent more time wondering how Nicole got through some of the speeches without rolling her eyeballs. That all the "wisdom" seemed to deal with getting Penn's character through whatever grief he was going through -- his wife died or maybe it was his partner it didn't seem totally important except as a reason for him to look hungover through the whole thing -- just made it even more fake.

I think I was supposed to have some kind of emotional response to them. Well I guess I did. I really wanted to Kidman's character to shut the fuck up.

Americans Caught Lying On Survey On Lying

How else to explain the jump from 35% to 43% of people claiming to have made up excuse for not going into work? And why it's only 43% especially in the US where they get two weeks holiday a year if they're lucky.

The following excuses are given as among the more creative:
"I'm too drunk to drive to work;"
"The ghosts in my house kept me up all night"
"I'm too fat to get into my work pants"
"My son accidentally fell asleep next to wet cement in our backyard. His foot fell in and we can't get it out"

The first and third ones in particular don't strike me as remotely creative. Well maybe the third one is a little creative but only if you're not American. Fat git that I am, I've never had a problem getting my trousers on.

Monday, 10 October 2005

He'll Be Cheap In January

Via Mediawatch, who found it in the Daily Star and Sky News Online and comes news of a rumour that a number of teams are trying to sign Man City player Kiki Musampa's brother Kriss.

That's right. Kriss Musampa.

It's almost a pity he isn't real.

Serenity: Never Mind The Reviews Look At The Box Office

Joss Whedon's first movie as a director did OK in the UK over the weekend, it was the most popular moive to see and had best gross per screen. Whatever either of those mean.

Metacritic averages Serenity's reviews as 74 out of 100. "Generally favourable", apparently. The Onion AV Club, who I find tend to have similar tastes to mine, likes it:
Like all Whedon's work, Serenity is steeped in snappy, irreverent one-liners and complicated character dynamics

So that's all good then. Well, perhaps not. The obsessed over at Whedonesque have had a trainspotter-like feverish devotion to picking over every last Box Office report that goes up on the web. Apparently it was second last week and only made $10million, or there abouts. This week's BO has dropped off by about 50% which, again apparently, isn't bad for a Sci-fi film starring people most movie goers could be forgiven for never having heard of. The speculation is that if the movie makes enough money then a sequel could be in the works. Fine. That the movie exists in the first place is a minor miracle and that it's has been glowingly reviewed is a surprise. Can't that be enough for now? (For an example of using the movies money making ability to bash the movie's fans, all the while protesting that you don't hate them, check out this fun example).

By the way, you can watch the first few, nine?, minutes of Serenity over the Internets right here. Plus, just for fun, check out the Whedonesque page where they discuss whether Joss's show and Serenity in particular are naughty, "twixt my nethers" indeed!

Friday, 7 October 2005

Pin Hole Camera Tree

I know the title of this post looks like a few random words, but it's true the gaps between the leaves of a tree can act as a pinhole camera. Here's picture take during the recent partial eclipse to prove it.

Via Robot Wisdom.

Ig Nobels

Recognizing that some areas of science should be more, er, recoginized these awards have been going since 1991. The Ig Nobels are given for research which "cannot or should not be reproduced". The Guardian has a lot of fun with the velocity of penguin crap, but I quite liked the one for literature:
The internet entrepreneurs of Nigeria, for using email to distribute a bold series of short stories, thus introducing millions of readers to a cast of rich characters, each of whom requires just a small amount of money so as to obtain access to the great wealth they will share with you.

For those curious about the history of these awards, there is a list of past winners here.

Wednesday, 5 October 2005

Spam Stock Tracker

One of those ideas that's so simple and yet good that you are surprised no-one else has done it before. Some guy has listed all the stock tips he's got from spam and listed how much he would have made or lost if he'd bought 1000 shares of each. He's currently virtually out of pocket by eight and a half grand.

Monday, 3 October 2005

Maybe I'll Just Stay in

Nelson Rocks Preserve - A Disclaimer:
The Preserve does not provide rangers or security personnel. The other people in the preserve, including other visitors, our employees, agents, and guests, and anyone else who might sneak in, may be stupid, reckless, or otherwise dangerous. They may be mentally ill, criminally insane, drunk, using illegal drugs and/or armed with deadly weapons and ready to use them. We aren't necessarily going to do anything about it. We refuse to take responsibility.

Via Making Light

Today I'm Mostly Copying Links From Robot Wisdom

May be you should just check Jorn's blog, instead, but here we go:

Apparently a group of astronomers have found a new planet in the solar system and have decided to call it, for now, Xena. More cutely Xena has a moon orbiting it. The astronomers have called that Gabrielle. Go here if this means nothing to you. Unfortunately it seems these are just placeholder names:
Brown planned to submit a paper describing the moon discovery to the Astrophysical Journal next week. The International Astronomical Union, a group of scientists responsible for naming planets, is deciding on formal names for Xena and Gabrielle.


The Guardian has a profile of Jon Stewart.
The key dividing line in America, he says, referring to the New Orleans flood, is poverty. "I have to say poor is poor. And in this country that's where people really get screwed. If that had been in Appalachia [a poor white area of West Virginia], it would still have been a real fuck-up because they're the people that people think about last."

So, as the host of The Daily Show, does he think about those people first? "Us, no," he says without skipping a beat. "We're thinking about jokes."


World of Warcraft, an On-line Role Playing Game, recently had problems with a plague. The problem was mostly created by certain players, known as griefers, actively trying to pass the disease on to other players. There is, of course, a real world message in this:
"Giving it the ability to propagate at all beyond a limited environment definitely reminds us that self-propagating code is likely to bite us in the ass without careful consideration and planning," Martin said. "This also underscores the fact that adequate testing is a requirement for software, as this--and thousands of other bugs--would have easily been discovered and hopefully fixed had the testing been more thorough."

Friday, 30 September 2005

Discreet Penguin Sex

Possibly in reaction to all those articles saying how that March of The Penguins movies was a metaphor for what ever you wanted to think it was a metaphor for (there out there and not hard to find, I'm certainly not linking to any of them), there's a coupleof articles today about, well, let's let them tell you:
Adelie penguins regularly steal stones from fellow nest-builders to fortify their own, even though they get pecked and chased in the process. More surprising yet is the recent discovery that some females resort to peddling their bodies in exchange for the precious pebbles.

That's right. Penguin prostitutes...

There's some denial going on among the academic community, though:
"I think what they are doing is having copulation for another reason and just taking the stones as well. We don't know exactly why, but they are using the males."

And to conclude:
Other animals have been seen trading food for sexual favours but only within a partnership.

Wednesday, 28 September 2005

Changing Tastes

I bought Beetlejuice on DVD recently. Play.com had it for €10 if you bought it with something else (so I got American Splendour, Battlestar Galactica and The Pledge, too, I'm sure that says something I don't want to know about me). When I first saw Beetlejuice in the cinema I had the hots for Winona Ryder, she shoplifted my heart. But this time round it was Catherine O'Hara who stood out for me.

I don't quite know what this means and whether or not to worry about it.

Illusory Cock

Also from Fark. It's the statue's arm, apparently. Though the artist who designed it is called Mr Wood....

The Sopranos, Truer Than You Think

Fark links to a story about a mob boss, who had been portrayed by Joe Pesci, dying in prison. Not normally something that I'd care about, but the article has a couple of bits that seem to have been written by David Chase. Specifically:
[S]he called her husband a ruthless thug who abused his family, broke the mob's code of ethics and even cheated his daughter at tic-tac-toe.

There's got to be a name for a sentence like that where there's something funny about it but you can't quite put your finger on what, or why. They later add:
"I couldn't believe what I was hearing," she said. "I was shocked, nauseated, disgusted. It was Father's Day. His sister and mother were coming over for a barbecue.
"What was I supposed to say? 'Albert just buried the Spilotros last night so we can't barbecue today.' "

It's really not hard at all to imagine Carmella saying that.

Tuesday, 27 September 2005

I'm Just Sayin'

This was a surprise to me. I'm not sure it's out in Europe yet, though. It might be out before Xmas...

Waldo's Not Here If I Can Help It

Apparently this week in Banned Books Week. Celebrate by picking a book from the 100 Most Frequently Challeged Books list and readining it in public, maybe.

Actually, I've read less of that list than I'd expect. I was glad to see Slaughter House 5 on there, because if it wasn't the only other books that I've read are, errrm, James and the Giant Peach and Where's Waldo.

James and the Giant Peach I get. James climbs in a hole in a giant peach and talks to enormous bugs while flying around and having adventures, it's clearly a drugs metaphor and couldn't be more so if it was called James Takes A Shit Load of Acid.

Where's Waldo, I don't get, though. Unless red and white striped jerseys are a threat to the American Way of Life. Apparently the usual reason given is that in a picture (some pictures?) there is a topless sunbather. So naturally I've tried to find a pic of this for your delectation, but my Google skills are getting rusty and I can't find one. What I did find was an article on sexuality myths, though, with this priceless paragraph:
The American Family Association in Florida forced the passage of an ordinance banning nude sunbathing on a beach near Cape Canaveral with the explanation, "It will allow you and your family to walk without fear of being offended, or worse, physically attacked by nude or partially nude persons." Beware, beware of the naked man.

Good advice indeed.

Monday, 26 September 2005

Neologism: Bonstingo!

The BBC website has a cute little article on very specific word in other languages. You know, how Germans have a word for schadenfreude, that sort of thing. Apparently someone's gone through several dictionaries to right a whole book on them. Looks like fun to be honest.

I guess on some level we expect these odd words to tell us something about other cultures, especially if it's something that's happened enough that you need a word for it. Like the old canard about eskimos and how many words for snow they have. Apparently this is called the Sapir Whorf Thesis, though to me that sounds like a device used on Star Trek: TNG to escape an intelligent gas cloud.

Anyway they mention that Germans have "Backpfeifengesicht - a face that cries out for a fist in it". I'm not sure there is an English equivalent of this, which is a pity because it looks like it could be a useful word. So I have recommendation in homage to the BBC article and it's this: Bonstingo. The bonus here is that it has a nuance of insufferable smugness on the face's part, too...

UPDATE: Language Log offers a little debunkage. Particularly that the Malay word for "the space between the teeth" is actually "gap-toothed" and, therefore, totally unremarkable. Although at the weekend I may use "razbliuto" in a sentence even if I know it comes from The Man From U.N.C.L.E

Friday, 23 September 2005

What's Wrong With Being Sexy?

David: They said the album cover is a bit sexist.
Nigel: Well, so what? What's wrong with being sexy?
Bobbi Flekman: Ian, you put a greased naked woman on all fours, with a dog collar around her neck and a leash, and a man's arm extended out up to here holding the leash, and pushing a black glove in her face to sniff it - you don't find that offensive? You don't find that sexist?
[...]
Ian: Well you should have seen the cover they wanted to do.

Oliver Wang, the man they call O-Dub, has a new gig over at MSN. Naturally it's a music blog. His old gigs, by the way, are still going and include the peerless Soul & Hip-Hop MP3 blog Soul Sides and the ever interesting more general blog Poplicks.

Anyway, in a recent post he's discovered the Museum of Bad Album Covers by way of annoucing a hope to do a post on sexy album covers in the near future. He links to a couple of places where others have attempted to list their favourites. One of those links includes a place called Bullz Eye. When, though, their top ten list places the notoriously shit cover for Roxy Music's Country Life at number 10 you just know you are dealing with a site that doesn't know the difference between sexy and, heh heh, pictures of boobies. Just looking at the list you have to wonder about the average age of the contributors: I'd say about 14 but could also believe 35 and still living in their parents' basement.

Thursday, 22 September 2005

I Don't Often Get A Chance To Say This But...

Go Donny, Go Donny, Go Donny Go Go Go!
Though Pearce should surely sympathise with anyone who misses a penalty he cannot really have expected the top three in his shoot-out order - Darius Vassell, Antoine Sibierski and Richard Dunne - to fail to beat a stand-in goalkeeper playing his first first-team game in England.

Wednesday, 21 September 2005

Bummed!

You would think and article that has the headline "Ass Backwards" and the sub-head "The media's silence about rampant anal sex" would be quite fun, but as it is, it's a little dry. Although this bit raised an eyebrow:
Talking to your kids about oral sex is the easy part. If you're going to be frank about the most dangerous widespread activity revealed in the survey, you're looking at the wrong end of the digestive tract.

Trouble is, now I've got that old Oxo Tower review stuck in my head...

Neologism

I was all ready to try and trademark "mid-life goatee" until I found out there was a prior usage.

Tuesday, 20 September 2005

Arrr (gh)!

Apparently Monday was International Talk Like a Pirate Day and I spent it suffering from food poisoning... Anyway, according to the three pirate name generators linked to by Making Light my pirate names are:
Wilhelm The Dense,
Red Sam Rackham, or
Noseless Jim Dawkins

It's Not Knives That Stab People

[D]octors are calling for a ban on long pointed kitchen knives to reduce deaths from stabbing.

From the BBC Website. It's getting to be that Doctors will call for the banning of anything if it gets them on the news. Maybe that's what should be banned. There does seem to be a serious point here, though it is undermined by the third paragraph of the story:
They argued many assaults are committed impulsively, prompted by alcohol and drugs, and a kitchen knife often makes an all too available weapon.

Sort of suggesting the banning knives wont stop attacks happening, just make the injuries different...

Thursday, 15 September 2005

Earthy

There is probably a name for it. You know when you have to add a word to an odd object to distinguish it from a new one, like ice skates where skates was sufficient until roller skates appeared. Retro-something, I'm guessing. The extra words suggest that there's another something out there, like the ballpoint in ballpoint pen tells you there's other types of pens.

With that in mind I liked this photo from Chris C Mooney's blog. That's right "Earth Based Spirituality". It suggests that somewhere else in the shop there are "Non-Earth Based Spirituality" books and that there's enough of them that they need an extra section. Maybe it's me, though, but isn't "Non-Earth Based Spirituality" an oxymoron?

Subversive Book Covers: Return of The Knob Gag

After You've Blown It subtitled "Reconnecting with God and Others" has a startlingly literal cover, though it seems the enormous penis is a cliff in other versions...

Via Boing Boing, who call it unintentional. Given that opposite the cock there's what looks like a chin and mouth it can't possibly be unintentional on the designer's part.

Tuesday, 13 September 2005

Of Course, I Get All My News From The Daily Show...

That's right, the two week lead-time for the comics pages is up. Let the joint Doonesbury/ Boondocks smackdown commence.

Gits

A while ago I pointed out an article where it claimed free Internet access was giving Americans reasons to be inappropriately rude. According to Vince Keenan there's now a Verizon advert that targets that very demographic.

Instant Improvement

The Flangitizer converts all your hard work blogging into to complete nonsense. I'm quite tempted to rename my blog "Flapbla Wow BLA Bing Ling Oodle" for a while... But... nah!

Friday, 9 September 2005

A Little Something For The Weekend

Via Robot Wisdom: Well made, well presented and fiendishly addictive Table Tennis game.

Floodweiser

Boing Boing bring news, and pics, of Anhauser-Busch's help for flood victims. Water in a can.

It's probably got more taste than their usual product...

Tuesday, 6 September 2005

Come All Ye

Amidst all their tireless coverage of Katrina, Making Light somehow find time to take a fun look at the conventions of English Folk Songs and the dire warnings contained therein:
Avoid situations where the obvious rhyme-word is “maidenhead.”

If you look at the calendar and discover it’s May, stay home.

If you are a young lady do not allow young men into your garden. Or let them steal your thyme. Or agree to handle their ramrods while they’re hunting the bonny brown hare. Cuckoo’s nests are right out. And never stand sae the back o’ yer dress is up agin the wa’ (for if ye do ye may safely say yer thing-a-ma-jig’s awa’).

If you’re a brunette, give up.

Not that being a blonde will improve the odds much.

If a former significant other turns up unexpectedly after a long absence, don’t throw yourself into his/her arms right away.

That goes double if they refuse to eat anything.

Triple if they turn up at night and want you to leave with them immediately.

There's more there. Some of them do have you wondering just how specific the reference is to a song, but that's all in the fun of it. The commentors contributions are also worth the time.

Monday, 5 September 2005

Random Jam Session Photos


Jamming!  Hey this guitar almost hides my belly!Posted by Picasa


A Little Star. Just above the Three Lions.Posted by Picasa


Peter, Bernd and Me just trippin'. Posted by Picasa


Damn B7. From left, that's Peter, Martin, Peter, some Drummer and Me. Posted by Picasa

The Big Jam Session Last Saturday

OK, so my reputation as a raving ego-maniac stage whore was cemented if nothing else.

It was mostly to the good. I was, undoubtably, just a little too much full-on for the early part of the Jam but my justification was I wanted to get the crowd interested. I ripped off the Hayseed Dixies' "Do you like Bush?" intro to nobody's amusement but my own, though I think one or two at the back got it.

I had a fairly good crack at Muddy Waters' "Nineteen Years Old" when a slow blues was played. I was, mostly, restrained and when the two verses had run there course Peter got up and did something else instead, so that saved me running through all the other slow blues I could remember. I know Jam Session are supposed to be semi-endless noodling, but sometimes I'd be happy with "verse, solo, verse, end" as a structure and leave it at that. Which is why my best moment was, again, Dead Drunk and Naked. I start, I sing, I make my point and stop. This time it had a decent build up as more band filtered in during the song. Actually the unfortuate thing here was I had nothing to follow it up with. I quite fancied Mr. Bad Example, but I didn't think I my time-keeping would hold through all of that, so the mood kind of fizzled while the band found something else to play.

I did manage a sly version of Jacques Brel's Next, later, to a tango, apparently it worked.

A Djembe player, Lamin, turned up for the first time so there were quite a few extendend percussion based work outs. These made a change from the usual jazz, blues, rock 'n' roll template and were a crowd favourite, I think. I also seem to remember I snuck my way in for some of that, too, with some Bo Diddley and Woody Guthrie's Hoodoo Voodoo plus, if I remember correctly, a verse of Living for The City.

Trouble, normally an easy song to blast through, flopped and died quite horribly, though. Again "verse solo verse solo end" would have suited it but it was just flabby all round and never really took off in the way that it can. I may have to retire it for a bit (like it's cousin Hootchie Cootchie Man) until I feel it can be brought back with some dignity.

One last highlight late on was Klaus, the night's main drummer, playing Suzie Q on guitar while Peter did Set Them Free over it and I added wild-man backing vocals. At some point I started doing Papa Was A Rolling Stone which was a slightly odd choice, but fun never-the-less. A nice capper, really.

Thursday, 1 September 2005

The Hanks

My brother's started up a blog to let you know where the Country band he's part of is playing in the future (and, if you check out the archive, the past, too, I guess).

ID KO'd

"When two opposite points of view are expressed with equal intensity, the truth does not necessarily lie exactly half way between. It is possible for one side simply to be wrong."

Richard Dawkins in The Guardian pointing out that in the Intelligent Design debate both sides are not equal.

Wednesday, 31 August 2005

Shouldn't It Be On DVD?

Jessa Crispin reviews a self-help book on how to read books. She hates it. And the next book she reads. Luckily for us she gets to write about it:
But I follow his instructions and write the titles [of books that I might be interested in reading in the future] in a notebook. Now I have to categorize them. He suggests helpful categories like "books about your next career," "books on places you plan to visit." My categories include "books that I should just admit to myself I'm not going to read," "books bought solely for the pretty cover" and "books I can't remember why I wanted to read."

She worries that a book might change her life:
I'm almost afraid that it will, and I'll be changed into the type of person who wears t-shirts that say things like "Cats . . . Books . . . Life is good!"

But this particular one definitely hasn't:
For all of Leveen's talk of how reading is supposed to be an enjoyable, enriching experience, he really did suck all of the joy out of the process. I felt like I was back in school, made to explain the turtle chapter of The Grapes of Wrath in 500 words.

Not Just Desserts...

... you can buy the whole menu from a catalogue. The Guardian shockingly reports that gastro-pubs are just ordinary pubs with better suppliers:
These outfits will do all the chef's work, delivering to the kitchen door every shortcut from pre-balled tri-colour melon, hand-tied bundles of frozen haricots verts, olive oil mash, ready poached egg and ready-to-use Hollandaise sauce to fully prepared dishes such as paella, Malaysian beef rendang, lamb with dumplings in cider sauce, asparagus and lemon risotto, braised lamb with flageolets, three cheese pasta and broccoli bake, and whole William pears with stalks on baked in red wine.

Actually, though, the list of warning signs at the bottom of the article reads almost like a list of things to avoid in any restaurant, especially:
Mini-anythings (crostini, canapés, cheesecake, brioche, kebabs, blinis). Fiddly and time-consuming to prepare. Why should chef bother unless you are paying at least £35 a head?

Tuesday, 30 August 2005

Play It All Night Long

I've mentioned Archive.org before. They have a whole slew of Warren Zevon concerts to download.

Well they have a whole slew of other people's live concerts, too. Not too many that I've ever heard of to be honest. Hayseed Dixie put in an appearance, though. As do one of my favourite discoveries of last year The Drive By Truckers. It was quite a joyous moment to see that they'd actually covered some Zevon. Well, Play It All Night Long in particular with a bit bit of Ain't That Pretty At All, it's quite the stormer.

Monday, 29 August 2005

Curry: Glorious Bastard

The Guardian review a new book on the history of Curry (a "biograpy" as the modish term goes). They present one or two nifty bits:
In 17th-century Goa, for instance, it was the visiting Portuguese who taught the local Indians how to make the exquisite egg and milk-based sweets that have since become part of the fabric of eating on the western seaboard. By way of reciprocity, the natives taught the Portuguese how to be clean: not previously known for their personal daintiness, the settling Europeans started lathering up and changing their pants with a regularity that amazed newcomers as they reached for yet one more helping of bebinka, a delicious mix of coconut milk, eggs and hunks of palm sugar.

Friday, 26 August 2005

Funky Bass

Not Coming To A Theater Near You — a title which is simultaneously startlingly accurate and stiflingly condescending — has a tribute to Saul Bass.

Bass has designed credit sequences for Hitchcock, Scorcese and Wilder. Credit sequences that, especially in the case of North-by-Northwest simply and elegantyl set-up the rest of the movie. He's also done any number of movies, his own Phase IV, for example,and Walk On The Wild Side, where the best thing about them was the titles.

Not Coming's tribute is beautifully done and, as they say, well worth checking out.

Thursday, 25 August 2005

Typing Rude Words Into ... Online Apps

Number two in an occassional series...

Bookslut link to a site called Word Count, which, er, counts the words in the materials it has and then ranks them by frequency.

Obviously I spent a few minutes typing rude words into it. Fuck is ranked 5598th, and it and its neighbouring words go like this "Shallow Charming Fuck Workshops", which struck me as a decent idea, but then I figured Shallow Charming Fucks don't need training to be like that. Ah well...

It also occured to me that you could use it for band names too. Pick a word and then see what turns up:

Chocolate Panic
Lucille Funk
Execution Lounge
Economic Love Means
Knife Dates

Hmm. Maybe not. Though I quite like Chocolate Panic to be honest.

Spit It Out

James Wolcott reads Pornstar biographies so that you don't have to. He finds a similar structure in each:
  • A DEPRIVED CHILDHOOD
  • INITIATION INTO THE PORN BIZ.
  • ADOPTION OF A NEW IDENTITY
  • WAR STORIES FROM THE SET.
  • HOLLYWOOD-MOVIE-STAR CAMEO APPEARANCES.
  • THE CAUTIONARY TALE UNHEEDED
  • TENDER MERCIES AND RECONCILIATION

Also it seems that much like Shatner-bashing in Star Trek biographies Ron Jeremy-bashing is de riguer in porn memoires:
Female performers harbor their own existential dread: the revolting prospect of working with (worse, under) Ron Jeremy. A roly-poly, well-endowed veteran of the porn scene and the subject of the recent documentary Porn Star: The Legend of Ron Jeremy, he is fondly nicknamed "the Hedgehog." But there are those who fail to see the sexual charm of a human-size hedgehog, endowed or not. He's never quite mastered even the Neanderthal rudiments of grooming and etiquette, compelling some actresses to apply motivational psychology to get themselves through the ordeal. Making her first porn loop, Ginger Lynn realizes that Jeremy will be her inaugural partner. "I looked at him, and I almost left. Then I thought, 'You know what? If I can do it with this guy, I can do it with anybody.'" On Christy Canyon's first shoot, she's agog at the sight of "the hairiest set of butt-cheeks I had ever seen." Hairy-butt-cheeks turns around, and it's Jeremy, guarding the buffet table against poachers. No one had the specter of His Hairiness lodged deeper in her haunted head than Traci Lords, who psychs herself for a lesbian grudge match with Ginger Lynn (whom she loathes as only one porn diva can loathe another) by telling herself, Hey, it still beats having to service a "fleshy hairball" like Ron Jeremy. Later, suffering a combination jet-lag and porn-withdrawal hallucinatory spiral, Lords is pitchforked in her dreams by detachable body parts. "I saw dicks everywhere—dicks and fat faces and beady, Ron Jeremy eyes. It made me crazy."