Wednesday, 31 January 2007

Because Stories About Peguins Are Always Funny

Yet another modern fancy building is having scorn poured on it by the people who have to live with it, in this case Esplanade House in the seaside town of Porthcawl. I dunno, looks like quite a fun building to me from the pic with the Guardian article, I point this out though because the article has five other examples of architects building what they want rather than what was needed which includes this one:
Penguin Pool, London Zoo

Originally from Georgia, Berthold Lubetkin came to the UK in 1931, and is best known for his elegant, spiraling concrete ramps at London Zoo. The pool is an icon of 1930s British modernism. Nobody thought to ask the penguins, though, who might have pointed out that the pool was too shallow, the concrete gave them aching joints and there was nowhere for them to conduct their courtship rituals. In 2004, the penguins were moved to another pool nearby, and are flourishing.

Well, it made me giggle, anyway...

Strangely, this page from a site claiming that it is about "people enjoy buildings worldwide" doesn't mention any movement of penguins stating instead:
This building cleverly combines practical considerations, such as a shaded area for the penguins and gently sloping access to the pool, with a powerful aesthetic statement of form and line.

FreeCol Matters

Colonization was the under-rated if slightly fiddly follow up to Civilization. It did get a Windows release but it always had the original Civ 1 style graphics.

Through almost random chance (ie. I have no idea how it happened) I lucked on a new implementation of Colonization that updates the original with Civ II style graphics and a stable-seeming Windows interface. It's free and hence called FreeCol and it's definitely worth a try out. Although similar in layout to Civ II the thing to remember here is that trade is mostly what's important while slowly building up an army to rid yourself of British rule. It doesn't quite have the historical sweep of Civ and so does feel a little flat, but it's not a bad way to waste an afternoon.

Science Fiction Economics

There are probably those about who believe that economics is some kind of science fiction especially in certain hands, but in the comments to this article in Making Light, about aliens as some kind of force for socialism as far as I understand it, there's a link to a list of academic papers on The Economics of Science Fiction of interest to me would be the Paul Krugman one on "The Theory of Interstellar Trade", but it seems that you can't get this anywhere on the Internet.

Tuesday, 30 January 2007

Double Plus Ungood

Ok, so the Guardian has an article that starts:
We live in a discipline-and-surveillance society wrapped up in a soft liberal cloak, hidden beneath slogans of freedom and democracy. Four million camera lenses follow every one of our moves, planted on street corners and in shopping centres, restaurants and cafes, schools and libraries.

The headline for this is "We're all on Big Brother now". Now, it might be just me, but if we are going to reference Big Brother there it should be the Orwellian one and not the stupid pseudo-celebrity generator TV show. Perhaps the sub-editor responsible for headings thought he was being cute or maybe he really is that illiterate.

Monday, 29 January 2007

Nick Cave May Have Issues

Video for No Pussy Blues by Grinderman.

The Shat In Time

10 Questions For William Shatner. Bill's beeing acting, yes, up a storm in Boston Legal even if only him and James Spader seem to be in the right program. This interview does occasionally make the boundary between him and Denny Crane seem mighty fine, though:

Babylon 5 actress Claudia Christian recently gave an interview in which she accused you of once making advances on the set of T.J. Hooker.

Well, who am I to tell a lady that she's a liar. I have no recollection. I'm sure it was memorable for her, though.

Thursday, 25 January 2007

Please Let It Be A Parody

A site called Love God's Way is dedicated to listing all the bands out there who might possibly not be as straight they should be:
One of the most dangerous ways homosexuality invades family life is through popular music. Parents should keep careful watch over their children's listening habits, especially in this Internet Age of MP3 piracy.

I'm guessing they added The Doors because Jim Morrison was a Backdoor Man and I like how they've included Elton John twice because, as they parenthetically point out, he's "really gay". I really have no idea at all how Frank Sinatra came to be included in that list unless I've been wilfully misunderstanding "My Way" all these years. And surely if Frank's there Elvis should be too. How does that song go? "Treat me like a fool, treat me mean and cruel, butt love me"...

Funnier still is that the "safe bands" page has very short list of bands that you've never heard of. Plus Cyndi Lauper. Presumably because any songs she did about gays were way after she was famous.

Wednesday, 24 January 2007

Six Months In The Wilderness

According to the Guardian, as part of research for a book philosopher Julian Baggini spent six months in Rotherham. I think we're meant to feel sorry for him. While he was in Rotherham he heard the word "paki" fairly often and, because this is an article in the Grauniad, he has to tie this in to the recent Big Brother hoohah. He can't quite stop himself from being condescending to northerners, though:
Although people's use of the word made me feel uncomfortable, there was a kind of innocence in their use of it that made me react less strongly than I would have imagined.

Even when he chastises some of his friends for doing the same:
Many professional urbanites regarded my move to Rotherham as though I was going to Outer Mongolia. More than one joked about sending me food parcels, as though it would be impossible to get such staples as balsamic vinegar and buffalo mozzarella in Rotherham, and that life without such things would be intolerable, both of which are ludicrous suggestions. (As it turns out, Morrisons stocked plenty of exotic foodstuffs such as octopus and excellent regional sheep's milk cheese.)

Julian does manage to find one outspoken racist at his local, though:
Toleration is an underrated virtue. The most racist person I met in S66 was in some ways frighteningly close in his opinions to those of the majority. His grievances against Asians were based on perceptions of British Muslims that are widely shared, only more extreme. He now refuses to get into a taxi if the driver is Asian, or eat from an Asian restaurant or takeaway. And he also said that if he knew he was dying, he would walk into the nearest mosque and blow himself up.

I think I may have met that bloke.

Tuesday, 23 January 2007

Freakiest Show

Great very short Life On Mars trailer in a Camberwick Green style.

Reasons I Don't Understand America Part 12

Via Bookslut comes this tale:

I was at this birthday party for a child, and I took a bite of the birthday cake and my tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth. The parents were so proud that they had provided this "healthy" birthday cake, because it didn't have anything in it that would make you want to eat a cake. It didn't have eggs, or milk, or wheat, or butter, of course, and it didn't have any sugar because, of course, that could kill you immediately. I started thinking, "It is bizarre that this is what we've come to," and that was kind of the turning point.

I shall, of course, be ranting in public about this the moment that the Irish Pub they are building right in front of my apartment is finished, but until then: wasn't this a side-story in an episode of House? I think House shouted something like "It's the kid's birthday buy her a damn cake!" at the mother. And, you know, nothing else need be said.

Monday, 22 January 2007

Speaking Of Minear

Tim's got a new show that's about to be cancelled. It's called Drive and it will star Nathan "Mal Reynolds" Fillion. Over at TeeVee Nathan Alderman has written down on the Internets exactly what I'm thinking — right down to that Amy Acker thing.

Friday, 19 January 2007

A Tiny Bit More Firefly

Because I was googling to see if his name has one or two "n"s I recently discovered that Tim Minear has a web site. Tim Minear being writer/director/producer (or some combination thereof) of a number of shows including Angel and Firefly — along with a couple of shows called Wonderfalls and The Inside. It seems that when it comes to having promising shows whipped of the air with indecent haste Tim is some kind of god among men.

Anyway, because I just found the site I didn't know that in June of last year it published the script to the Firefly episode Bushwacked. There's a couple of deleted scenes in there, including an extended Basketball game that has some snappy dialogue. So if you're a Firefly fan, and who isn't, it's well worth a read.

Wednesday, 17 January 2007

Yeah, That's Why It's... Ah Forget It

I'm trying to figure out if an article in the Opinion Journal, titled Intelligence in the Classroom, is a joke or not, but the sub-heading is repeated in the body of it:
Today's simple truth: Half of all children are below average in intelligence.

Next week: 40% of sick days are taken on Monday or Friday.


I was going to link to an article on procrastination, but —eh— maybe later...

Tuesday, 16 January 2007

Think Local, Act Global

Apparently people are using the Internet to settle scores with their neighbours.

Why not use the 'Net to say snarky things about Bono like everybody else?

Actually, some of these sites look like fun, You Park Like An Asshole would be swamped if there was an Austrian version, and, well, the Austrians actually cared what anyone thought of their parking.

Monday, 15 January 2007

And Yet It All Seemed So Obvious

According to The Guardian Peter Kay had the best selling celebrity biography over the Christmas period. Experts put this down to Kay being likeable and the book being well written. Imagine that.

The flops include Cashley Cole, Rio Ferdinand, Chantelle, David Blunkett and so on. You know, people you'd probably avoid having a chat with never mind getting to know at any length.

Also it seems that publishers have discovered that just because someone is on TV it doesn't necessarily mean that anyone is particularly interested in that someone. Again, imagine that.
"The main criterion is affection - do people like the person?" says Joel Rickett, deputy editor of the Bookseller. "It's so simple but it has been lost sight of by publishers thinking, this person is on TV every day, they've got a huge profile, they are worth half a million. People will happily buy a paper and read about a celebrity but when it comes to buying a book they feel like they are buying a piece of that celebrity. Do you want to line their pockets if you don't like them?"

It seems not all publishers are inwardly disgesting this idea:
David Gest was snapped up last month for a rumoured £500,000 after his stint in I'm a Celebrity ... At Little, Brown, Hodgson has taken on Ozzy Osbourne. She has also got Tara Palmer-Tompkinson fronting a book about how to live fabulously[...]. Richard Madeley of Richard & Judy is reported to have got more than £500,000 from Simon & Schuster for a memoir about generations of men in the Madeley family.

That last one in particular boggles my mind.

Friday, 12 January 2007

Bus Stop As Artistic Expression

Via Boing Boing comes this collection of Soviet Roadside Bus-stops. Collected by a group called Polar Inertia, they range from surreal to minimalist and they are all great.

Thursday, 11 January 2007

It's True, But Only In Certain Ways

For some reason it seems Simon Cowell, judge of American Idol so it says, has decided to have a go a Bob Dylan. No Rock 'n' Roll Fun have had a go at this and it's probably only a matter of time before Ten-Bob Dylan has a go, even the Guardian article get's in the required cheap shot:
"Of course, who could dispute the musical gravitas of the man behind such talents as Robson and Jerome, and Il Divo, versus that of one of the defining icons of the last century?"

But it seems to me that Cowell is right, in a way. Bob probably does bore him to tears, that's just a matter of taste I don't think Dylan will be losing any sleep over that.Cowell also says, though:
"I've got to tell you, if I had 10 Dylans in the final of American Idol, we would not be getting 30 million viewers a week. I don't believe the Bob Dylans of this world would make American Idol a better show."

The first point is almost undeniably true. If 10 Dylans are in the final, a Dylan is going to win, so why watch it? Perhaps if they let him do some original material instead of trying to make all those Dylans sound like the same, bland karaoke contestant that American Idol churns out (although it might be fun to watch Dylan trying to remove all the things that make him unique in order to belt out a soaring rendidtion of Wind Beneath My Wings so he can be told "he really owned that song") , then it might drag in a few viewers but even then probably not 30 million. Ratings for a show and the talent displayed on it being rarely connected.

The Bob Dylans of this world couldn't possibly make American Idol a better show, it s what it is and no amount of turd-polishing is going to help. The Bob Dylans of this world could make a better show, they could make something with integrity, talent, heart, artistry, all those things that are important to people who really like music, given the audience we have, unfortunatly, it would probably last about 5 episodes before the ratings killed it, with people turning over to watch the next great soap event instead.

It's OK To Watch Rome Now

Apparently just watching it for the nudity and the rumpy-pumpy wasn't enough now it means something:
This season sees rapid shifts in Rome’s ruling authority—"Long live the Republic!" the town crier calls, hedging his bets—and a deepening of the show’s understanding of where power ultimately resides. In the world view of the Republic, curses were the court of last appeal; soon, Rome’s final word will belong to its Emperor. Power is not bestowed by the gods but seized by the ambitious. And it can even be used, we are rather brutally shown, to quell the unrest caused by other ambitious men—that is, for the public good. By challenging the liberal conviction that all power corrupts, the show, despite its flaws, has finally become a drama worthy of HBO’s name.

Actually, though, James Purefoy begs to differ:
When we started doing publicity early on in the last series, we fought billing it as a soap, but actually it is a soap; it's sex in the sandals, it's like Roman Dynasty. Then, once you get your head around that as an actor, you kind of play into it a lot more, you relax into it, it's fine, that's what it is. The Sopranos is a soap, there are good soaps and there are bad soaps, and just because it's a soap, don't be bitchy and snobby about the genre, make the best soap you can. And that's what I think it is, and now everybody realises they are in a Roman soap, it's kind of a lot easier to do - and you're not quite so precious about it.

Tuesday, 9 January 2007

Theory And Practice

Michael Berubé discusses, at length, the merits of Charlie Watts as a drummer and doesn't even tell the "Your drummer? You're my singer!" anecdote. Still, it does have this little gem tucked in there somewhere:
[T]he great Elvin Jones, when asked in 1982 by Modern Drummer whether he’d gone to the 18-inch bass drum for a "jazzier, poppier sound," replying that he’d gotten an 18-inch bass drum because it fits in the trunk of his car. He’d always wanted one of those huge 28-inch Jelly Roll Morton-era bass drums, he explained, but he had to keep tying it to the top of his car, see, and it kept falling off. . . .

Friday, 5 January 2007

Must Be Getting Old

I was going to get all snotty about this article in Vanity where the reviewer tries to test 11 premium vodkas in one evening and manages six. But then the idea of "Premium Vodka" stumped me. I think it comes down to vodka they'll charge you more than 30 EUROs a bottle for. I'm not much of a vodka drinker but I believe the main things you need to have for vodka are pure alcohol and water, and premium vodkas are exactly that, so how can they cost so much?

Marketing and gullible posers must be the answer.

Vodka comes in three varieties surely:

1) Due to all the impurities it will definitely give you a hangover
2) Some impurities and a possibly hangover
3) No impurities and a hangover only if you really over do it.

After that it's a matter of bottle design as to whether you buy it or not. So if you're paying more than the price of a bottle of Absolut you are being ripped off.

Thursday, 4 January 2007

It's Not A Graphic Novel, Percy

Bookslut's Jessa Crispin links to artist Eddie Campbell's blog entry on illustrating panels of a page of From Hell book from Alan Moore's descriptions. Digging around Eddie's blog I found, well stumbled over really, a series of posts comparing the photo references Campbell and Moore took to the completed images. Eddie made 6 posts and a post script, they are absolutely fascinating. You can find them here:

Alan Moore's London 1, Alan Moore's London 2, Alan Moore's London 3, Alan Moore's London 4, Alan Moore's London 5, Alan Moore's London 6, Alan Moore's London Postscript

It Takes A Stadium

I guess it takes a shiny new Stadium to get Donny Rovers in the Guardian.

It's only a slight pity that "Keepmoat" has connections to Doncaster Council's less than illustrious past.

BBC Finally Get Joke Behind Brass Eye

Stars must 'check science facts'
Celebrities have been asked to check their facts before lending support to scientific research and campaigns, rather than risk misleading people.

Wednesday, 3 January 2007

Dancing Fool

The Bluesbakery website has reorganised the Galleries and added some new pics from recent sessions. Personally I like this one:

I have no idea about this one, however:

Tuesday, 2 January 2007

Happy New Year

Sorry for that whole week and a bit of nothing, but I was back in England seeing family and friends and drinking as much bitter, and sometimes stout or mild, as possible. More later, maybe, my regular posting schedule should return to normal, but I do have a week's worth of catching up to do.