Thursday, 31 March 2005

Creationist Gets It Right!

"We've been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of the culture," he said, adding that the school board's declaration is just a first step.

From Yahoo News, via Chris C Mooney.

Wednesday, 30 March 2005

Peter O'Toole: Pickled Legend

If he didn't exist you'd have to drink enough to hallucinate him, but he's quite agreeably curmudgeonly in this article in the Guardian. The following quote made me laugh much more than it probably should:
Peter O'Toole is not a fan of modern theatre - or, as he puts it, the "badly done shit" performed by "smart-aleck twats" that passes for contemporary theatre.

As well as:
"Books have been written about that so-called 'renaissance' at the Royal Court Theatre," said O'Toole. "Bollocks. I watched this appaling bunch of strange young men creeping around, talking pompously..."

Tuesday, 29 March 2005

Scientific American Apologises

All that concentratin' on science an' facts an' stuff. It was wrong:
Where were the answering articles presenting the powerful case for scientific creationism? Why were we so unwilling to suggest that dinosaurs lived 6,000 years ago or that a cataclysmic flood carved the Grand Canyon? Blame the scientists. They dazzled us with their fancy fossils, their radiocarbon dating and their tens of thousands of peer-reviewed journal articles. As editors, we had no business being persuaded by mountains of evidence.

Moreover, we shamefully mistreated the Intelligent Design (ID) theorists by lumping them in with creationists. Creationists believe that God designed all life, and that's a somewhat religious idea. But ID theorists think that at unspecified times some unnamed superpowerful entity designed life, or maybe just some species, or maybe just some of the stuff in cells. That's what makes ID a superior scientific theory: it doesn't get bogged down in details.

Everything's Out To Get You!

According to this page, by an organisation called Health and Safety Management Consultants who admittedly might be a little biased, most household things want to see you dead:
Food containers: 67,000 people are injured every year trying to peel cellophane off sandwiches, opening a ready meal or opening a ring-pull can. Six out of ten of these, around 150 a day, stab themselves trying to open a jar or ready meal with a knife.

Chainsaws vs Newspapers: Chainsaws are the cause of around 1,200 injuries a year but this pales when compared to the 4,300 injured by newspapers and magazines.

My favourite is:
Bears: The UK may be devoid of grizzly bears, but we do have Teddy Bears. More people are killed by teddy bears here than by grizzly bears in those countries which have them.

Raising the question "which countries don't have teddy bears?"

Wednesday, 23 March 2005

Shakespeare's Sinister

Teresa over at Making Light makes an interesting observation:
There is one striking point of similarity between the Columbine and Red Lake shootings: in both cases, the students were reading Shakespeare when the firing broke out. It’ll be interesting to see whether school districts across the country propose a ban on Shakespeare, the way they tried to ban black clothing in the wake of Columbine.

They should. Cos you know if they outlaw Shakespeare only outlaws will read him. And literacy will, er, shoot up.

Rappers Don't Kill People Metal Fans Do

Caroline Sullivan in The Graun asks "Are the gunshots fired at a Nas gig on Monday a symptom of increasing violence in hip-hop?" Seeming unaware that ex-Pantera member Dimebag Darrell was shot dead by a fan last December.

OK, so this might only suggest that Metal fans are better shots, if it weren't for that fact that Nathan Gale, the killer, also indiscriminately shot into the fans too.

Actually, when Dimebag was shot the Graun also did a little opinion piece. Except in this case it was fairly even handed and more about Darrell's life. It did ask the obvious question at the end: Is Metal responsible in some way?
The murders have posed questions about the morbid fantasies that often seem to come with heavy metal. Fans of the music are not preternaturally psychotic or out to harm each other, says Brad Tolinski: "Metal is not a violent culture. The shows are all about channelling aggression. By and large it's the performer and the audience against the establishment." Still, Tolinski concedes, "metal fans are obsessive, and identify heavily with bands and their music. If someone takes that away from them they'll be upset." Tolinski knows from experience at Guitar World how readers respond if something is not to their liking. "There are a lot of lunatics out there," he says.

So people are aware that Metal is in someway a catharsis. Why isn't rap seen that way? It's not like the popular rappers nowadays are anymore believeable than bespandexed 80's poddle rockers or any less pantomime in their villainry. It's not like violent death is unique to either style. The Blues is full of shootings and even folk music contains it's fair share of dead bodies.

As I've said before does anyone really believe that Eric Clapton shot a sheriff?

Tuesday, 22 March 2005

Not Getting It

OK, so I didn't intend to turn this blog into a huge advert for Lego Star Wars The Game, but Jamie Fristrom over at GameDevBlog has just heard about it and, sat in front of his computer and thinking about it for a couple of minutes, doesn't get it. Apparently it violates a rule he came up with:
"Don't simulate a simulation," I say. In fact, lego games in general are suspect if you're trying to hit the mass market, as legos are a simulation in themselves, so why make a second order simulation by trying to turn them into a game?

This is from a man who readily admits "[w]e weren't just a *Spider-Man* game, we were *Spider-Man: The Movie: The Game*" and then goes on to chastise Lego for wanting to make making money.

Apparently he's unaware that Lego have been making Star Wars models for quite some time now, which seems to suggest that, though he goes on about games, he hasn't been in a toy store recently.

"Don't simulate a simulation" also seems, well, just a little silly. Over the years haven't some of the best games done just this? Wasn't Civilization based on a board game, as well as every RPG? Aren't real-time strategy games more about bring your toy soldiers to life than any real war-time activity?

With insight like that, it's good that his other posts built on more solid ideas.

Thursday, 17 March 2005

Freebird Etiquette

This may explain some things for my Austrian friends...
But he bemoans the decline of "Freebird" etiquette. "It was never meant to be yelled at a cool concert -- it was meant to be yelled at someone really lame," he says. "If you're going to yell 'Freebird,' yell 'Freebird' at a Jim Nabors concert."

Isn't It My Turn In The Barrel?

Suburban Guerrilla's guest blogger Maya links to an article about why there aren't enough women bloggers.

The question it seems to be answering, though, is why Wonkette the only one getting phone calls to be part of the Mainstream Media.
Anna Maria Cox. She's prettier, younger and more entertaining than most other writers – male or female – on the web. And she spends most of her time writing about sex. Her male readers – and that's her audience, trust me on this – think that's really cool. It's a cheap trick but it builds an audience. Since she's got an audience, Big Media think of Cox as "the" girl blogger. Since they've got one girl blogger in their Rolodex, they don't think they need any more. Particularly since she's pretty and she talks about sex which makes them all feel better about how bloggers aren't really a serious threat to Big Media.

As someone who's been reading Ana Marie Cox since before she was the Antic Muse, I dislike the insinuation that we're now getting into her because of all the ass-fucking jokes, but I wouldn't deny that has something to do with it.

Anyway, I don't think it's that women Bloggers are being ignored -- the media's found it's token female blogger just like it has it's goto guys for any "niche" area that it doesn't quite understand, like always getting Richard Dawkins for evolution debates -- there are plenty of them out there and there's plenty of them being read by other bloggers. Some of my favourite bloggers are women (there, I've said it and I'm not proud).

As a blogger who's partly doing this so I have something to chat about down the pub I don't mind that the NYT aren't phoning me up for my opinion on anything. It's not about that. Some people are using their blogs to promote themselves and their ideas and they are the ones getting noticed. It helps that they tend to be good writers and that having to come up with an opinion on something, anything, everyday is the sort of thing that works well on TV and Radio.

What I mean is that if you're blogging in order to get noticed by other media, think about finding other ways of getting noticed. Don't complain that your not getting noticed because of your minority status, you might be the "old" media is still still has plenty of it's old faults, but the main reason you're not getting noticed is more probably because those positions that you covet are filled at the moment and there's a whole bunch of other people waiting in line, too.

I don't know, a lot of this reminds me of musicians I've known who have the cover of their third album planned despite having only written 2 and a half songs and can't quite understand why an agent hasn't airlifted them from their dreary bedsit to the awaiting fame that they're so clearly destined for. I'm pretty sure it doesn't work like that.

She's Got Crabs: Low Moments In Games Advertising

Over at Idle thumbs they're discussing if women are put off of video games because of the protrayal of women in video games and if having to play as a man makes them uncomfortable.

What makes this discussion link-worthy is the Bioware (the people who brought you KOTOR) ad for Neverwinter Nights (halfway down the page), which looks like some bizarre tentacled crab porn thing from a teenage Heavy Metaler's worst nightmare.


Tuesday, 15 March 2005

Rolling: The Endless Thomson Interview

The Morning News has a long fascinating interview with David Thomson. It's a fully absorbing read and too full of goodness to pick any one thing out. It's nice to see that he likes the Sopranos, too.
HBO’s record in the last few years on a big range of material—I’m bound to say that there have been some lapses in The Sopranos, but if you want to argue the case that the great modern movie is The Sopranos, you’ve got a case.

He thinks the face is the best special effect in film. and it's hard to argue against:
It’s a myth that the audience loves special effects and computer-generated images. Children do. But grown people don’t. I think these people remember movies ended on close ups. And in the crisis where somebody was going to do something good or something bad, the face told the whole story from the early days of movies, the silent movies, whoever the face was, Chaplin, Garbo, whoever you’d like to name, it was the face that could let us know what that person was thinking. That was the engine of films. It’s still true. I don’t think it’s changed.

Celeb News

"Cameron Diaz needed 19 stitches on her head after falling off a chest of drawers at her Hollywood home."

I know what you're thinkin'. Was she dressed as Batman?

More IDiocy

Lisa Schmeiser over at The Rage Diaries links to a NYT piece about how Intelligent Design is a load of old tosh and highlights a rather neat rebuttal:
Such disregard for economy can be found throughout the natural order. Perhaps 99 percent of the species that have existed have died out. Darwinism has no problem with this, because random variation will inevitably produce both fit and unfit individuals. But what sort of designer would have fashioned creatures so out of sync with their environments that they were doomed to extinction?

Monday, 14 March 2005

Celeb Blogging

There's a Wikipedia page that has a list of Celebrity Bloggers. Mostly it's bloggers who have some level of celebrity (Wonkette for example) and one or two actual Celebs.

Jamie Oliver has a decent site that is part diary and he seems to update it fairly regularly. Plus there's a quite a few recipes. The interface for the recipes is a little odd, though. It shows the last three and that seems it, but if you make a selection from the drop down box just above them, you get loads more.

The Shat has a web diary that it looks like he updates about once a month. Plus you can leave comments. That's right you can have dialogue (or at least pretend to, he doesn't seem too active in the comments, to be honest) with Bill Flippin' Shatner. Good times.

Wil Wheaton also has a blog with comments and he updates it regularly. He's been at it quite a while and is often very witty and quite aware of his place in the Star Trek universe. He also seem to have a regular spot talking about vintage video games over that the Onion AV Club. Cooler than you'd think.

ETA: Hannah points out in the comments that David Byrne's tour diary is rather good.

Friday, 11 March 2005

Givin' It Away

So the demo for Lego Star Wars is out there. Unfortunately I can't run on any system I have access to. Something to do with pixels and vertices, apparently.

What I can do is unpack the thing, though. And then sift through the .TXT and .WAV files for anything interesting. In the wavs, not so much, but in the text there's all sorts of goodies...

Including what seems to be just about all of the plot, minus the banal dialogue, of Part III. For, a hopefully not too spoilery, example:
General Grievous
465 "Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker have saved Chancellor Palpatine. But his captor, General Grievous, has escaped."
466 "The Jedi Council assigns Obi-Wan Kenobi the task of hunting down Grievous, and the Jedi Knight tracks him to the sinkhole world of Utapau..."

As well as the slight game spoiler of:
"Congratulations! You've collected all 10 LEGO canisters. Your secret game code is A725X4. Use this in the full game for a special bonus."

And the fact that the bonus level on the full version looks like it takes place in the original film:
485 "It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire."
486 "Princess Leia Organa now has the blueprints for the Empire's new weapon, the Death Star. But her ship is intercepted and boarded by Darth Vader and his Stormtroopers..."

I dunno, still looks pretty cool to me...

Thursday, 10 March 2005

Dead Funny

Via No Rock 'N' Roll Fun comes news of a survey of the music people want to hear at their funeral -- strictly that should be music people want other people to hear at their funeral, surely.

French people, Italians and Spaniards go for fairly sensible choices of Ave Maria and Mozart's Requiem.

Germans want AC/DC's Highway to Hell, Metallica's Nothing Else Matters and Queen's The Show Must Go On which suggests that their survey was taken at the local youth club on Friday night.

The English dully and predictably want to inflict Robbie Williams on their nearest and dearest one more time. Second comes Frank Sinatra's My Way which does make some sense, though the fact that it's second in the survey suggests that your way is pretty much the same as everyone elses and far for being one last defiant show of your individuality is in fact one confirmation of your, er, conformity.

And in third comes Monty Python's Always Look on the Bright Side of Life which, again, seems to be the last hurrah of someone who probably is now surprised that they weren't the only one who thought of this, but is still insisting, nay, demanding, that it's hilarious.

My choice, since you asked, is, and has been for quite some time, John Cale's version of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. My favourite version of one of my favourite songs and Cale's reading of it makes it sound like a hymn. Or perhaps just because of the way it rhymes "out drew you" with "Hallelujah".

Wednesday, 9 March 2005

Major Change

In order to give this site more of a pub-like feel I've altered some of the graphics and the layout for this site.

I hope y'all like it...

Tuesday, 8 March 2005

Movie Quotes

Cinetrix mentions that there's something going round the 'Net where people come up with the first 5 movie quotes that come in to their head.

Not being one to pass up on any fad that passes me I gave it a try and came up with the following:

And you got these fucking claws and these fangs, man! And you're looking at your claws and you're looking at your fangs. And you're thinking to yourself, you don't know what to do, man. "I don't know how to kill the bunny." With *this* you don't know how to kill the bunny, do you know what I mean?
- Swingers

I'm here to kick ass and chew bubble gum and I'm all outa bubble gum
- They Live

Well, it's no trick to make a lot of money... if what you want to do is make a lot of money.
- Citizen Kane

Well, they seem to have an open door policy for assholes though don't they?
- Heathers

He was some kind of a man. What does it matter what you say about people?
- Touch of Evil

To be honest I did use IMDB to clean up some of my rough approximations of these quotes. And, as always with these things, if you asked next week, or even later inthe day, most of these would change, except perhaps the Swingers one because I do tend to quote that one rather a lot. And there would probably be a Kane quote but maybe not that one.

Monday, 7 March 2005

Minor Changes

If you've noticed something different here and you're not sure what it is. It's the fonts. I've made the posts "Times New Roman" and the titles "Arial". I've also made all the font sizes percentages, which should mean that if you change the size of the text for your browser that change should be seen here, too. (If you have a wheel between the buttons of your mouse try holding down "CTRL" and moving the wheel up or down to see what I mean).

Anyway, apparently serifed fonts are easier to read, so I thought I'd give it a try.


Bookslut has a sister site, Saucy. There's not really enough content on it at the moment to judge it properly, but if it is to food what bookslut is to books then you should bookmark it now, read it religiously and tell everyone you were there first when its inevitable fame happens in about 4 months time.

S****horpe Sc**** Win!

Actually, I put in Newscastle in this link, here, as it was for a friend who's a Toon fan.

I realise that the Mail on Sunday don't wish to facilitate the sending of profanities across the Internet, but surely there must be a Penistone-Scunthorpe test that every checker has to pass. Naturally, however, a special case is made for Arsenal.

Fatal Consequences of Excessive Masturbation

That thing you do with your hands is very bad...

via Grumpy Gamer

Sunday, 6 March 2005

Living In Denial

I am studiously trying to pretend that the massive spike in hits on this page -- massive for me, I've been averaging around 5 a day, I've had 235 thus week -- is not because I have hints, and a link to a solution, for the game du jour, H*pl*nd.

So in the spirit of honesty, thanks everyone for making me a little happier this week I hope some of you had a look around a bit and liked what you saw. But if you didn't, that's cool too.

Also I recently made a promise to mention Barbara "Babe" Jordan on here because she's a fine barmaid and she thinks I'm a weird and crazy guy. Again, I was hesitant because I didn't think that this was that kind of blog, but who am I kidding. Plus, I promised.

So, while we're doing this, shout outs to Mum, Joe (wherever you are, Singapore last I knew, and if you get time to read this), Steve, Peter, Mike, T and anyone else who considers themselves vaguely regular here. Cheers.

Thursday, 3 March 2005

Not a Total Answer

While a go cinetrix, fresh from proving her superiority to video store customers[1], asked "Why is Catholicism always the religion of choice in these horror flicks?"

I dunno, maybe it's crap like this:
Does a stone carving in one of Rome’s biggest cathedrals know whether Pope John Paul II will survive his latest health crisis?

The monument to Pope Sylvester II, who ruled the Catholic Church 1,000 years ago, is said to moisten when the death of a pontiff is imminent.

On Friday, a priest touched the carving in Rome’s Basilica of Saint John Lateran and confirmed it was dry — good news for the pope, who had windpipe surgery Thursday after being rushed to the hospital with breathing problems.

[1] I normally like cinetrix, but that article pissed me off no end. It's the unspoken assumptions mostly. I rent a whole heap of terrible movies, mostly to revel in their terribleness. I've got the likes of Ozu, Welles and Renoir in my DVD collection, so I'm not going to rent them from Blockbuster, or wherever, and I'm not sure that I would want, or be able, to. So, while I'm glad that trixie got to feel superior to someone while doing a dead-end job, I'm less glad of her gloating about it later.

Costik Caustic

Greg Costikyan over at Games * Design * Art * Culture is angry that 50 Cent can get a games deal while no-one remembers the gaming heroes who can't.
Now lets look at the logic of this. Industry legends like Noah Falstein, Lee Sheldon, Hal Barwood, and Chris Crawford can't get a game funded. EA tosses Richard Garriott aside like a used condom when they decide they've squeezed whatever juice they can get out of him, and take Will Wright's staff away from him, lest he come up with something disturbing and unmarketable like, say, THE SIMS. The only person in the field who gets cover credit is Sid Meier (and okay, American McGee, and what a joke that is), and the only person Joe Gamer knows is Miyamoto. Thus, lacking any stars ourselves--precisely because the publishers have done their level best to prevent anyone from becoming one--they're forced to turn to Hollywood and the music business to find headliners for their titles.

By the way, combine the names in this post with the link to Abandonia below and open yourself up to whole new worlds of gaming goodness.

You'll Find Funny Elsewhere

In a number of places recently (Grumpy Gamer, The Guardian, here) there's been talk of a "New Games Journalism". Articles about games that are neither glitzy reviews nor academic papers, but occupying some of the space between. Longer articles about the impact of a game or interesting encounters that illuminate the games or gamers.

The Grauniad has compiled a list of ten good examples of this type of article. There's some good reading there. I'm slightly surprised that nothing from Idle Thumbs is on there but other than that is hard to quibble.

Wednesday, 2 March 2005

Uwe Boll: Genius

CHUD review Alone In The Dark. They don't like it.
You really feel sorry for these actors, who have come to the very end of their careers, who are standing in front of a surely kinetic and screaming Teutonic madman who has no fucking clue how to make a movie. Christian Slater was in Heathers, man. He deserves better than this.

Adding for good measure:
It’s obvious that Uwe Boll is a genius of some kind, and I am not saying that with mockery. There’s a vision behind this film, even if it is astonishingly cheap, tacky and stupid. The problem is that Boll is working with the parameters of narrative storytelling, something he seems to really hate. He needs to move into something experimental, something without the need for cohesion or character, which are his weak points.

The folks over at Something Awful have an article by some people who worked for Boll and they back all of this up:
For those of you who actually give a shit, the original script took the "Alone In the Dark" premise and depicted it as if it was a actually based on a true story of a private investigator in the northeastern U.S. whose missing persons cases begin to uncover a disturbing paranormal secret. It was told through the eyes of a writer following Edward Carnby and his co-worker for a novel, and depicted them as real-life blue-collar folks who never expected to find hideous beings waiting for them in the dark. We tried to stick close to the H.P. Lovecraft style and the low-tech nature of the original game, always keeping the horror in the shadows so you never saw what was coming for them. Thankfully Dr.Boll was able to hire his loyal team of hacks to crank out something much better than our crappy story and add in all sorts of terrifying horror movie essentials like opening gateways to alternate dimensions, bimbo blonde archaeologists, sex scenes, mad scientists, slimy dog monsters, special army forces designed to battle slimy CG dog monsters, Tara Reid, "Matrix" slow-motion gun battles, and car chases. Oh yeah, and a ten-minute opening back story scroll read aloud to the illiterate audience, the only people able to successfully miss all the negative reviews. I mean hell, Boll knows that's where the real scares lie.

Who Likes Short Shorts, too?

Random stuff that may or may not deserve a much fuller post:

Zombie Terror

From Sisyphus Shrugged, whose title for this story is great -- "First they came for Joss Whedon, and I did not speak up, for I was not Joss Whedon" --, comes the story of a student arrested for Terroristic Threatening.

His crime? He wrote a story about zombies set in a High School. He was turned in by his Grandparents. The police say "Anytime you make any threat or possess matter involving a school or function it's a felony in the state of Kentucky".

Then again, in Kentucky "No female shall appear in a bathing suit on any highway within this state unless she be escorted by at least two officers or unless she be armed with a club."

Tuesday, 1 March 2005

How The Simpsons Ruined My Life

In much the same way that I have to say "Uh huh" every time Elvish is mentioned in Lord Of The Rings, I can't say "phenomena" without adding "do do de do do" and no impression of Sean Connery is complete, anymore (thanks, Popbitch), without "1964. Petula Clark. Up the arse." Mention of Mendoza has me looking in to the air arms raised screaming "Mendoooooooozaaaaaa!" in my best Rainer Wolfcastle impression. Needlessly to say this article in The Graun was difficult to get through.