Tuesday, 26 June 2007

I've Got A Theory

Via the comments to a Making Light post I discovered a hilarious picture of the Periodic Table of Elements as seen by creationists.

Given the title of this post, though, I could hardly help but link to this.

It must be bunnies

Friday, 22 June 2007

Indiana Jones and the Temples of Grey

The offical Indiana Jones website has just released a photo of Harrison Ford's tired aging stunt doub... Wait. That's actually Ford isn't it? Well, they can do a lot with computers these days.

Thursday, 21 June 2007

No One Knows Who They Were...

Or what they were doing.

Possibly just me, but this (photos of a bunch of druids, pagans and partygoers having something of a religious experience touching stones), doesn't half make me want to start singing this.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Chinese Character Tattoos

Most times when I see a non-Asian person with a tattoo that seems to be some form of Oriental word my first thought is "Wow, that guy really loves Lemon Chicken!".

It seems I'm not far wrong.

Hanzi Smatter has been going for a few years now and it's dedicated to the misuse of Chinese characters in Western culture. I reckon it'll be going for a few years more.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Louder Than Words

Mediawatch on Football 365 nick a Sun story about Lionel Richie at some footballer's wedding or other (what I'm trying to say is that I don't habitually trawl The Sun for celebrity gossip).

A witness said: "It was really embarrassing. Toni was looking very anxious about the lads making a real fool of her. When he started singing Hello the boys started chanting back to him as if they were on the football ground terraces.

They had downed so much champagne at the reception the guests became really lairy and started shouting over his set.

In the end he asked the crowd to be quiet and said, 'I've only got two more songs, please stick with me.'"

Richie, who pocketed somewhere over 200 grand for his appearance said to somebody:
"I imagine this is what it’s like at a working men's club"

Now, I'm no particular fan of working men's clubs, especially as gig venue, but it seems to me Richie would get a good reception at one. He certainly wouldn't be have been treated as a background irritant by a load of ignorant, over-paid, narcissists who'd just necked a weeks wages worth of champagne (unless working men's clubs have changed a bit since I've been in one), he would, of course, have to cut his set short for the beef raffle and the bingo and he'd probably be introduced as "The Lionel Richie Club Band" by the stone-deaf guy whose job it is to make those announcements, but if he had a bit of luck at least the bitter would be decent.

Anyway, it seems to me that Lionel owes the working men of Britain an apology

31 Different Ways To Lace Shoes

Exactly what it says on the tin. Despite there being a number of fancy ones, you do come away with the feeling that there must be more ways, but you really don't want to try it right now.

Oh, and yes, I did immediately change the lacing on the pair of trainers I was wearing.

Via TMN.

Squirells: They're Mad As Hell...

... And they aren't going to take it any longer!

Friday, 15 June 2007

There Should Be A War On Stupidity

Of course if there was a War On Stupidity then the stupid would be winning it.

Bruce Schneier, though, wants us to view the modern terrorist as an idiot. He also points out that any number of those searching for these idiots are, well, idiots too:

But read what Russell Defreitas, the lead terrorist, had to say: "Anytime you hit Kennedy, it is the most hurtful thing to the United States. To hit John F. Kennedy, wow.... They love JFK -- he's like the man. If you hit that, the whole country will be in mourning. It's like you can kill the man twice."

If these are the terrorists we're fighting, we've got a pretty incompetent enemy.

You couldn't tell that from the press reports, though. "The devastation that would be caused had this plot succeeded is just unthinkable," U.S. Attorney Roslynn R. Mauskopf said at a news conference, calling it "one of the most chilling plots imaginable." Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania) added, "It had the potential to be another 9/11."

These people are just as deluded as Defreitas.

It's a mighty fine rant, though. You'll probably be quoting bits of it over the weekend. I certainly will.

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Haven't We Done This Before?

Well yes, but it's fun to say it again...

Dr John Clarke, Sydney-based psychotherapist and author, reckons there's at least one psychopath in every major company. I would add "and minor ones, too" and then be heard to mumble "and you're probably working for him". I wouldn't be alone in this because, as The Apprentice often suggests, psychopathic behaviour is what gets you ahead in most places:

"Psychopaths are very comfortable in successful corporations because they are actually rewarded for their behaviour.

"In business you are encouraged to make money for the company and if you appear to be doing whatever it takes to make money, you are often promoted.

"They are seen as rising employees who are full of energy and creativity."

But behind the facade, such workers were "ego-centric, grandiose, pathological liars with a lack of conscience, remorse and guilt", Dr Clarke said.

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

It Seems That Everything's Gone Wrong Since Canada Came Along

Not that we should blame them or anything, but apparently they don't understand the French. Or at least Parisian street slang. You wouldn't think this would be too much of a problem, except that's what they used to dub the donkey for Shrek le Troisieme:

Mr. Dumont told reporters about taking his baffled children to see Shrek le Troisieme. "You have very Parisian expressions that are typical to Paris or France [and that] children of Quebec have never heard of, cannot understand. So this is the whole story of cultural diversity," he said.

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

More Research

I am fond, when on evening the conversation turns to the matter of law, of garbling up a half remembered quote which goes a little something like "The law is equal it prevents the rich and the poor from sleeping under bridges". Anyway as before I've got this slightly wrong, if not so much in the essence this time. The full quote is:
The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.

It's a bit more of a mouthful in this version and I'm not sure I could get past "majestic equality" without comment, but I prefer the fuller version. More about this quote can be found over at Everything

A Comment To Mark The End Of The Sopranos

OK, so I'll have to wait till the inevitable DVD Box set to find out what actually happens, but I gather The Sopranos ending managed to upset one or two.


There's does seem to be a lot of talk about David Chase subverting expectations and deliberately trying to make Tony unlovely (he's a murdering psychopath mob boss, what's not to love) and how some stories never went anywhere (whatever happened to that Russian in "Pine Barrens").

There's plenty of talk about which season was the best and whether it went downhill some time around season 3. Much like Buffy fans where you can get posts on Usenet that just read "2,3,5,1,4,7,6" or somesuch as if that ranking was definitive and, well, actually meant anything. Lost, in particular, both suffers from and is beholden to Internet led nit-picking and clue hunting as well as unending declarations of how it's just not making any sense anymore.

It seems that now that viewers expect season long "arc" stories they also expect them to make sense the moment they spot them, citing the X-Files and how they'd followed all that and they never really had someone come in and explain it all for the slow-watchers in the cheap seats. And while I feel their pain, they also had it in for Doggett from the very beginning whereas Robert Patrick was actually doing some sterling work.

But it's the nit-picking that can be too much. I like and dislike individual episodes of, say, Sopranos, Lost and Buffy, there's a larger story that's holding the smaller stories together (to a greater of lesser extent). You hope the larger story will get told but I'm not sure it's as important as the emotional impact of any single episode. I'm not sure The Sopranos told a consistent, coherent story from beginning to end, but what saga of two families would? Then again the audience could be willfull in misunderstanding what exactly was going on. I seem to remember large numbers of fans getting upset because Chris punched Lauren Bacall in the face, as if this was a step too far for the loveable murdering drug addict.

So, it's over and it seems that David Chase had no intention whatsoever of wrapping it all up neatly and putting a little bow on it. How could it be any other way?

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

It's All About Research

Vince Keenan recently linked to an article in the Independent on how Graham Greene used The Third Man to settle some score or other.

This reminded me of one of my favourite, though unverified, stories about The Third Man. It seems Orson Welles and Joseph Cotten were discussing the script and at one point Cotten asks "Well what's it all about?" to which Welles replied "About? It's about buggery. It's all about buggery". Cotten, somewhat shocked, went off to demand, and get, a number of changes made to the script including changing the name of the character from "Rollo" to "Holly" —though how that removed the suspicion of buggery I was never able to figure out.

It's a fun story and I do tell it occasionally. I half remembered the details from some BBC program, I think. Anyway, steeling myself to google for '"third man" buggery', I tried to check if there were any truth to my anecdote. Actually, Google didn't bring up anything shocking, but it did bring up the real version of events —I can see how I got my mangled version (something to do with the Rule of the Lesser Attribution). So, here is what actually happened:

In The Third Man, Holly Martins, an American writer of cheap westerns, indefatigably pursues the truth about his friend, Harry Lime, a black marketeer in postwar Vienna, because they had been close "back at school." To an American, this sounds a bit weird; such old-boy loyalty would make sense only to a graduate of an English public school. The film's Hollywood producer, David O. Selznick, also thought Holly's pursuit of Lime inexplicable, and went into a sort of anglohomophobic panic over it. "It's sheer buggery," Selznick ranted, according to Greene's memoirs. "It's what you learn in your English schools."

ScreenOnline has an article called Homosexuality and The Third Man which has an unfilmed bit of the script that has Martins and a character called Captain Carter share a bed for the sake of convenience. The article surmises about this scene:
As the finished film shows, this scene was entirely unnecessary. So why was it written? It's almost certain Greene wrote this draft and he might have done so in the knowledge that Selznick detected evidence of a sexual relationship between Holly and Harry in the very premise of his story. Perhaps, then, Greene wrote this scene just to wind up Selznick: certainly Selznick read it and complained. Greene was a mischief-maker, so this wouldn't be out of character. Without decisive evidence, though, this can only be a theory.

Grahame Greene, then, partial to a bit of a wind-up.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Eyesore to Eyesore

Yes, it must be beer and architecture week here at LFTNBT.

James Howard Kunstler, Next Bests passim, has published yet another Eyesore of the Month, and this one is truly ugly. It looks like Darth Vader's summer house, all it needs is a regular fly-by by a couple of Tie-Advanced and perhaps an Imperial Shuttle on top. Especially in the picture James chooses, the one below is slightly less bunker like.

But then again it's not too dissimilar to a previous Eyesore that I think I disagree with. This is the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto.

Kunstler describes this as a "stuffy old gentleman of a museum [that] has developed a horrendous steel and glass tumor". I get what he's saying there, but to me it seems that there's an idea behind the "tumor".

The older building is perfectly fine to my eyes if, yes, a little stuffy. It looks like an old museum with slightly churchy pretensions (I'm sure there's a proper jargon for this). The extension is something new, but it also looks like it is growing out of the original building. Almost like the old place couldn't quite contain all those ideas in one place and the new annexe just exploded out of it.

I don't think that it's crazy for crazy's sake; it's saying museums don't need to be stuffy whilst being, rightly, anchored to its past.

Monday, 4 June 2007

First, They Came For Our Tortillas...

... But I don't eat many tortillas and so I thought it was an amusing, if slightly worrying, side-effect of the move to bio-fuel.

But now... Now it seems that that side-effect is also going to make tequila and German beer more expensive. How about we just outlaw SUVs, and maybe make public transport more attractive, and leave the beer alone, eh?

Friday, 1 June 2007

Building Britain

The Guardian has a very eyecatching slideshow of British architecture through the ages.

I particularly liked that one of the examples for the Victorian era is Salt's Mill in Saltaire near Bradford, as it is an impressive building, and village—Saltaire was, to a large extent, built by Salt to keep his workers happy—, and well worth a visit just to walk around the place itself, but the David Hockney stuff should be perused too.