Friday, 28 September 2007

BluesBerries News

We've recorded some things and got a photographer to try and make us look pretty, so actual gigs might be forthcoming in the future.

The band recently got bigger by two members; Markus, a harmonica play, and Walter, a bass player. I've finally got round to doing their "berry face". I've put them all in one pic and it looks like this:

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Diners Rights Through Dining Right

Over at the Accidental Hedonist Kate Hopkins looks at a suggestion for a diner's bill of rights and suggests that the restaurateurs get something similar.

Both seem to boil down to "act with politeness and propriety and try not to annoy anyone". Really that should go without saying. These things do seem to come up semi-regularly, though, whether its diners wanting to set some kind of minimum standard of service or waiters describing how terrible customers can be. It seems even something as potentially pleasurable as eating out can quickly turn hellishly adversarial.

Then again certain establishments pride themselves on treating their customers with something like haughty disdain and, well, the customers do seem to like it that way. Being, as it can be, all part of the game.

Going back to the list linked to above, though, two items stand out. First:
Diners deserve to hear the list of specials with the price included. Don't make us ask.

Huh? I can't see this a important enough to even mention, never mind call a right. I'd expect the specials to be roughly the same price as the standard main courses and that the price might need to be mentioned if this was not the case, but otherwise this seems like churlish penny-pinching.

And from the other side:
A restaurant has the right to expect that a person who makes a reservation, will be on time for that reservation, and not show up twenty minutes early or twenty minutes late and still expect to be seated.

If I turn up early I'd expect to be seated at the bar and if I'm late I'd expect the restaurant to simply assume that I had my good reasons and try and show some class about it. So, while, in general this seems a decent rule of thumb it also seems to be a little restrictive, though if the restaurant does make it a clear rule that if you are 20 minutes late they will give your table away, then that is their rule to make and the customers to respect. Of course it wouldn't predispose me to try to eat there again.

Cheeses Need You

This image was left on my Myspace page, and I thought I'd pass it on:

Tickets are available from the band members who you can contact through their myspace page.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Digital Game Canon

Apparently a Digital Game Canon is not something that would be useful in a round of "Capture The Flag", but an actual list of games from around the world recognised to be the most important in digital game culture. The list, just ten games for now, is actually pretty solid containing, as it does, a collection of games that every film critic should play through before opining on video games' worth in comparison to movies:

  • Spacewar! (MIT, 1962)

  • Star Raiders (Atari, 1979)

  • Zork I: The Great Underground Empire (Infocom, 1980; PDP-11 version)

  • Tetris (Alexey Pajitnov, 1985)

  • Sim City (Maxis, 1989)

  • Super Mario Brothers 3 (Nintendo, 1990)

  • Civilisation I/II (MicroProse, 1991-1996)

  • DOOM (id, 1993)

  • Sensible World of Soccer (Sensible, 1994)

  • Warcraft I/II/III (Blizzard, 1994-2003)

I only found out about this Canon today because I belatedly discovered that Gamasutra is running a series charting the history of each and every one of them. So far they've covered Spacewar, Zork, Civilization and, most recently, Star Raiders. Great stuff.

Monday, 24 September 2007

Great Headlines Of Our Times

Disturbing youth trend: Drinking to get drunk via Fark.

I can't quite figure out how this is disturbing, a trend or, for that matter, news. But I suppose the Telegraph does have to demonise teenagers as much as possible.

One thing that struck me, and here it is oddly in agreement with a Guardian article among their many on drinking culture, was the digression into how great the Italians are at drinking:
On a recent visit to Rome we saw our friend's 11- and 13-year-old boys drinking wine from a very small glass as they tackled their pasta.

Although they had only a few drops to drink, the act had tremendous symbolic significance. The gradual socialising of children into the grown-up world of alcohol consumption can really work.

Italian teenagers hanging out in bars on a Saturday like their drink. But the idea that it is cool to get drunk for its own sake is alien to their way of life.

What rose-tinted bollocks. The Italians are quite capable of getting drunk and rowdy to match any Englishman. Just look at any of the recent reports of unpleasantness at Italian football matches and you'll notice quite a wide difference between them and fanciful ideas of preteen wine sippers in select Roman dining establishments.

As far back as 1990 Italy was out supping England. That they've slipped down in the rankings since is odd, but they still drink more than double the amount of wine per head as the average Englishman (who drink 5 times as much beer, but there you go).

I'm sure the writer is well-travelled and believes himself to be a traveller rather than a tourist but I very much doubt he's been in any bars where the majority of Italian youths go. He'd probably find them deplorably tacky and blank all memory of them, in any case, lest his Fellini dreams of Rome be shattered by the grimness of reality.

Friday, 21 September 2007

Writer's Rooms

The Guardian has pictures of a number of different writers' rooms and the writers own description of that room.

I'm sure the rooms say something about the writers, although they all seem more similar than different (lots of books, plenty of light, a single often simple table, a chair of varying degrees of comfort and lots of little trinkets). The exceptions being AL Kennedy and Jonathan Safran Foer though in both cases there's a sense that they might be trying just a little too hard...

Via Snarkmarket.

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Emoticons at 25

It's alledged that the Emoticon —the seemingly random bit of text that looks like a face on its side eg. :-)— is 25 today (or roundabouts). Professor Scott Fahlman is even owning up to the idea, although I feel that this is one of those things that was just in the air at the time. If not Fahlman, it would have been somebody else.

As you can probably tell, I don't like them. I do get how they are useful in conveying something about tone of voice, but it seems that once you start using them they become line noise, random little observers of your own inability to express something without recourse to winking (or whatever) at your reader. I also think that the have a tendency to obfuscate where you expect them to clarify, in that when I've seen them used it tends to be along the lines of "You wanker :-)". Is the writer happy that the reader is a wanker or are they hoping that smiling while calling someone a wanker somehow makes it all alright.

Then they start to become the whole message:


Possibly expressing that the writer is so overcome by sadness that three keystrokes is about all they can manage.

No doubt there's an article somewhere on the Guardian website by some trendy, wannabe intellectual iconclast about how freeing they are and how they've changed language along with those texting abbreviations (FYI if you say "LOL" out loud to me I will PYITF).

Emoticons are, at best, lazy. There's rarely any real need to use them and if you do please stop and ask yourself why.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

Much as it took a Frenchman to tell us "Hell is other people", in a recent study an American tells us that taste isn't important in beer...

NB: Yes I'm hitting that old stereotype again, despite, as Vince pointed out last time I used this for a cheap laugh, America having any number of fine microbreweries making a whole range of different and tasty beers. It's not their fault that Bud and the like give US beer a bad name.

Hoshi Saga 1 & 2

Until Jay at Jay Is Games pointed out that Hoshi Saga 2 had recently been released, I didn't even know there was a Hoshi Saga 1.

Well now I do. And you do too. Each saga is a collection of mini games, all beautifully designed, that range for the simple to the maddening. Some puzzles simply require clicking, others waiting, and some require a specific movement of the mouse. All with the aim of uncovering a star. The fun is in finding out the proper mechanism.

No puzzle should take more than a few minutes at the very most (often it is a matter of seconds once you know what to do &mdash with the exception, for me, of the one with the thistly things flying about seemingly at random, I was on the verge of throwing things) and the game saves your progress so you can come back to it at any time.

An elegant pair of time-wasters that are well worth playing.

Monday, 17 September 2007

Steyr Cricket Club

Or whatever the eventual name is. Here's a team photo in the meantime:

There was a game at the weekend, we lost yet again, but Uli (bottom row centre) got our first half century and the performance throughout the team was much improved. I even managed a couple (well four) of runs this time...

Friday, 14 September 2007

Short Shorts: Friday Quickie Edition 2

I've blogger-block or something, but here's a few things I saw this week that interested me:

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Dig Doug

Doug MacLeod was on at the Unta Da Lind'n this past saturday and was, if anything, even better than the last time. Utterly mesmerising.

If you are remotely interested in the blues, acoustic or not, or just great story-telling then you should go and see him any chance you can.

More about Dig Dug here, by the way.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Zatoichi: More Real Than You'd Think

The key paragraph here is probably:
But what the attacker did not know [...] was that his victim was a world-class blind judo wrestler.

Via Fark

That Took Genius

Russian Football skipper, Andrei Arshavin, has noticed a weakness in the England team: the goalkeeper. And he aims to exploit this weakness.

"Robinson, putting it mildly, is not the strongest representative of his profession - this is our chance!

"We will have to try and disturb Robinson. "

Now I might not be the most tactically minded of people, but this essentially is saying that if our players keep hitting the ball toward goal, then one might just go in. That seems tactically sound to me.

Of course having watched England on any number of occasions, this does seem like advice that not everyone is aware of. It does though make me wonder what happens when Russia play a team with a good goalkeeper. Do they not go anywhere near the goal for fear of looking bad, or what?

Always Remember...

... Unless it might upset the young 'uns.

Although you can just about understand it:

"We don't want our kids thinking about that. We want them to move on," said Beth Johnston, principal at East Layton Elementary in Davis County, whose oldest student was just 6 on Sept. 11, 2001. "It might be age-appropriate for older students to acknowledge and talk about it, but for our younger kids, we don't want them to dwell on violence."

Try as I might, though, I can't see this this would excuse not observing Remembrance Day... "Yes the sacrifice made by members of the armed forces during both World Wars was truly great, but we wouldn't want to scare the kiddywinks would we..."

Monday, 10 September 2007

Indy and the KOCS!?

Apparently so.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. It's almost as if George Lucas was trying to beat "Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace" in the stakes for the movie with the most unwieldy title.

Somewhere, right now, Frank Darabont is weeping silently to himself.

Friday, 7 September 2007

Short Shorts: Friday Quickie Edition

There's probably a lot more I could say about the following, but it's Friday and I'm off shopping...

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Playing Computer Games Increases Your Vocabulary

Kotaku, influneced by this conversation on Something Awful, reckons that they've learnt any number of words playing computer games, including:
Stuff like reticulating (Simcity 2000), trireme (Civ), trebuchet (Age of Kings) and taciturn (FFVI). Two stand out for me: apothecary, which I picked up from Quest for Glory II, and ziggurat, which I learned from Alex Kidd.

I'm not exactly sure if I've picked up anything, names of weapons and armour —greaves and cuirass I picked up from Dungeon Master on the Atari ST— aside, but I do remember from a long time ago getting a quiz question right (What was the capital of ancient Egypt?) because I'd been playing Civ a lot that week (Memphis, by the way).

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Cheeses Live

A stonking slice of Hidden Threat recorded at Heckmondwike Crown Of Lights Festival really showcasing just how tight the band are live. Go here and experience Little Baby Cheeses goodness. Don't forget to download it too!

It looks like a video may be available soon, I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

For Joe

Who's probably seen this already, but, as I always tend to excuse myself, it made me smile...

Monday, 3 September 2007

Tipping Point

Jack Arnott on the Guardian Food Blog gets slightly wound up about tipping. I must admit that, like him, I'm never entirely sure of the protocol. One good thing about Austria is that when they tell you how much your meal is, €15,60 or somesuch, you can just round up and add a bit and say "17" and it's taken care of. They get the change that you really didn't want all that much.

The article also links to an list, in PDF format, of the various International differences to the "10%" rule of thumb. Oddly fascinating.