Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Escaped Into The Wild

Yeah, so, three tracks from the BluesBerries demo CD "Back With The Blues" are available to listen to on our Myspace Page. I'm proud of them and I know my band are so I'd appreciate you all taking a few minutes to listen to them and, if you feel like it, to leave some feedback here or on the Myspace page.

I wrote "Invisible Friends", if you can think of any non-icky way to expand it to take in all the senses then I'd be interested in hearing your ideas -- I don't know why but the way I sing "lepers" on that track makes me smile, I hope it has the same effect on you.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

The BluesBerries: Back With The Blues Cover

I believe you can see what I did there.

There are new tracks to be uploaded right now and as soon as I pick the best three or four they'll be on the myspace page

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Son of the Return of Short Shorts VIII

You're never alone with a Short Short.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Son of the Return of Short Shorts VII

The difference between Marketing, PR, Advertising and Branding

Band News

I've not spoken about The BluesBerries for a while, mostly because we've had a bit of hiatus from gigging, we really needed to sharpen our sound and work on new songs.

Anyway, we spent the other Sunday in Markus' basement recording some tracks. And, well, it seems that we got about 7 good ones. Around four of these will be appearing on the BluesBerries Myspace page in the next month or so so keep your eyes peeled and your ears ready.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Son of the Return of Short Shorts VI

Pure Genius!

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Star Trek: The Trailer

What are you waiting for?

Some trailer, huh? From a weird Thelma and Louise homage to DS9 style starship porn. Everything you'd want really.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Quantum Of Solace: A Mini Review

I read a review of The Kingdom somewhere that said it was like watching a perfectly decent movie with a vibrator strapped to your face.

Well, QoS is like watching Casino Royale in much the same way.

I hope that it is the second part in a trilogy and the overdone Bourne-isms here are an attempt to show that this is the Wrath of Bond. And that, having worked out his anger, he'll continue moving toward a smoother, suaver Bond.

In hardly any of the set pieces is an attempt made to establish the space in which the protagonists are moving or their spatial relation to each other so all the action is pretty much meaningless. Even the Bourne movies made some concession to this and Casino Royale's brilliant Parkour sequence seems oddly old-fashioned by comparison.

QoS is not a bad movie in many ways, but in its attempt to make a "gritty" Bond it has gone a little too far in the gloss removal. As I said, if the subsequent movies justify excesses of this one as a part of the journey then I will feel a whole lot more warmly about it, but for the moment I'm not so sure.

For me the best scene was at the end, it had a stillness and it seemed to rhyme with the opening of Casino Royale. Craig can be genuinely scary in quiet moments.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Son of the Return Of Short Shorts Part V

Hope and Change.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Telegraph Lambasts Government For Giving Sensible Advice

The headline says "Absurd" new guidelines advise pet owners against allowing dogs to beg at the table, because, obviously the Government has no right to tell us how to care for our pets.

The fun thing, though, is in the first paragraph:

Chocolate, raisins or grapes are "poisonous" for pets, according to the code

I've not checked for raisins and grapes, but it's long been known that chocolate can be harmful to dogs. As snopes has it:

Theobromine [a chemical found in chocolate] affects the heart, central nervous system, and kidneys, causing nausea and vomiting, restlessness, diarrhea, muscle tremors, and increased urination. Cardiac arrhythmia and seizures are symptoms of more advanced poisoning. Other than induced vomiting, vets have no treatment or antidote for theobromine poisoning. Death can occur in 12 to 24 hours.

So chocolate is not "poisonous" it's straight up actual poisonous.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Light Posting Will Be Resumed Soon

So, I was away last week. I'm back now, though, so expect the current Short Shorts run to continue, with perhaps an occasional longer post.

I'll try and squeeze out a Short Short today, but if not now then definitely tomorrow.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Son of the Return Of Short Shorts Part VI

I can stop if I want to...

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Son of the Return Of Short Shorts Part V

Obey Your Thirst!

  • As a fairly regular reader of Paul Krugman I should mention his Nobel Prize which, as Patrick Neilsen Hayden has it, seems to be, unusually for an Economist, for Being Right. The Rightwing bloggers are in a tizzy, apparently.

  • Krugman likes Gordon Brown, though, which may or may not cause you to question the above.

  • A discussion of Pornography: “If real-world sex were a meal, the chicken would rarely be hot enough and there would not be quite enough dessert to go around.”

  • Nailing Your Wife. PG Porn with the fearless Nathan Fillion.

  • The Designer's Notebook: Bad Game Designer, No Twinkie! IX Earnest Adams looks at the ways computer games, and their designers, still manage to annoy us.

  • Cubeecraft. Because you never know when you are going to need a boxy model of Buffy, Darth Vader or Hellboy.

  • Quackle. Not exactly Scrabble, but you can sure make it a lot like that game. It describes itself as a "free crossword game artificial intelligence and analysis tool that rivals the best players in the world!"

Monday, 13 October 2008

Tis The Season

I'm pretty sure I've read this article, or something very much like it, a few times before. In short it goes something like this:
Confident, possibly attractive New York women fails to pull at some event or other.
Realising the problem isn't her, or her judgemental, condescending manner, she looks for another possibility.
She comes up with one. English men's fear of sex, say, or, in this case, English drinking habits.
Generalises to whole country.
Includes flight to notorious drinking spot (Dublin, Ibiza or where ever, in this case Prague), so she can compare her normal, rarefied society to the oiks.
Writes article about it for quality rag (maybe also gets book deal).

The hilarious follow up to this is the stampede of English people rushing to furiously agree with her in the comments, because Englishness is nothing if not the ability to look at other English people with revulsion, followed by a handful of denials and at least one sarcastic reply.
I went to a dinner party the other night. The new yorker sitting next to me was brash, rude, passive-aggressive and generally unpleasant, so I stayed quiet for the first part of the meal while enjoying a little wine to dull the pain. Later I made sarcastic remarks about her she didn't understand.

Then, probably, a second wave of responses will come when the Guardian, seeing how many hits the Times piece is getting, writes a piece asking if the English (or British, as it tends to be for these things, though I doubt that Sarah Lyall met a single Northern Irish or Welsh person) are really like that. Normally concluding that, despite the Guardian (and Times for that matter) readership being sensible people who like a bottle of red wine or two with dinner but don't have a problem and who aren't generally loutish on holiday, well yes we guess the British really are a terrible lot, except when we aren't.

Really, though, to top it all off Ms. Lyall should have made the now de rigueur trip to Rotherham and had an awful experience in a Working Man's Club. Though may be that's in the book.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Just When You Thought Their Reputation Couldn't Get Any Lower...

... bankers find a new low to go to. Apparently some on the right, ignoring the obvious reason that the current calamity has been caused by a bunch of rich venal fucks who you wouldn't trust with their granddaughter's piggy bank, are blaming the finacial crisis on being forced to help out poor people (read "darkies" or other, worse epithets).
Charles Krauthammer provides an excellent example, writing that "much of this crisis was brought upon us by the good intentions of good people." He continues: "For decades, starting with Jimmy Carter's Community Reinvestment Act of 1977, there has been bipartisan agreement to use government power to expand homeownership to people who had been shut out for economic reasons or, sometimes, because of racial and ethnic discrimination. What could be a more worthy cause? But it led to tremendous pressure on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—which in turn pressured banks and other lenders—to extend mortgages to people who were borrowing over their heads. That's called subprime lending. It lies at the root of our current calamity."

I'm not usually one to advocate violence, but Krauthammer needs a kick in the balls. Several. Until he recants this nonsense. And then till he passes out. Same goes for anybody else who believes that rubbish.

Via 3QD.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Son of the Return Of Short Shorts Part IV

Vorsprung durch linkage.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Paul Newman Helped Me Pass My Driving Test (Sort Of)

I never met Paul Newman, not that I ever expected to. So I won't ever get a chance to thank him for helping me with my driving test. I gather he was a nice man and I'd like to think he would have been charmed by the story.

Strictly it was him, Robert Rossen and Jackie Gleason. The film is The Hustler and there's a bit in the first game between Eddie and Fats where they take a break. They've been playing pool for hours and Eddie just sits around and chats, maybe has a drink, while Fats goes and gets clean. Fats takes off his jacket and washes himself and combs his hair. The black guy then helps him back on with his jacket and puts talc (I guess) on Fats' hands. Eddie looks at Fats and says something about "You look beautiful Fat Man" and cracks up with laughter. At that point you know that Eddie has lost the first game.

There's something cool about that moment. In a literal sense. Fats cools himself while Eddie doesn't take the time to stop and think he just carries on.

Well, when I took my driving test I got flustered at my first right hand turn, nothing too bad, just nerves. I remembered that moment from The Hustler and I imagined myself as Minnesota Fats putting his jacket on and feeling that little bit cooler. It helped.

The Hustler is a film of many great moments and it is one of my favourites. It helped me pass my driving test.

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Son of the Return Of Short Shorts Part III

You're lovin' it!

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Son of the Return Of Short Shorts Part II

Because you are worth it!

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Son of the Return Of Short Shorts

Because sometimes I just want to link and go!

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

You Can Mix Anything With Lego

I remember when Lego Star Wars (just the sets) was frowned upon and after that grown men, who should have known much better, questioned the sanity of Lego Star Wars The Videogame. Actually, I suppose Travellers Tales could have messed this game up but they managed to make Star Wars fun again, although getting 100% was sometimes an exercise in controller-throwing frustration.

In the same tradition, how could they lose with Lego Indiana Jones? Both franchises spring from pulpy origins, B-movies with A-movie budgets, if you like, and Indy having the advantage of lending itself to more puzzle based game play.

Well, they triumphed again. The game is probably just a little bit easier than the Star Wars games, "True Adventurer" is almost pathetically easy to attain on most levels compared to the previous games' "True Jedi" status, and the supporting cast don't have quite the variation (and is it me are all the black characters mechanics?) but it shares the same joy at breaking everything in sight and tweaking the nose of the films that spawned it.

Indy Lego has some hilarious moments and nice touches. I liked that but all the bad guy soldiers, not Nazis I hasten to add, had blues eyes. The graphics are subtly improved all-round. The backgrounds, in particular, can be quite stunning and, as before, some of the most interesting rooms are the hidden secrets (the Star Wars Cantina, for one example).

Which is all to say it's not too surprising when some enterprising YouTuber tries to recreate the Simpsons intro sequence in Lego. To be honest, it doesn't quite work, the timing feels off and there could be more detail, but you have to applaud the effort and it's worth a watch despite the flaws.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

T To The Rescue

Friend of the blog, Horst (sometimes known as T), sent me a fun link today.

It's something that calls itself a fleshmap and it's bodyparts arranged as to how often they get mentioned in certain types of music. It's kind of not safe for work in that there are very small pictures of the body part in question.

Hip hop's table is ass over head, really. The Blues, on the other hand (in first place), has very few mentions of ass. Something I'm trying hard to rectify personally.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Light Posting Expected

I'm just very busy at the moment. This is mostly a good thing. Just expect posting to be very light to non-existant for a while.

Friday, 29 August 2008

Check Out The Cheeses

Given the large overlap between my readership and fans of the Little Baby Cheeses, then the chances are good that you've already heard the new demo "Do It Yourself".

If you haven't heard it yet click over and have a listen. It's ace!

Thursday, 28 August 2008

The Dreaded Rear Admiral


Lady Love

Jorn Barger over at Robot Wisdom has unearthed this list of, currently, 40 songs about what I like to refer to as "hot lesbo action".

It's a pity, really, that the links are to videos rather than MP3s because I'd probably make them all in to one big playlist and play it every so often down at the Irish pub. Jill Sobule's I Kissed A Girl and Jonathan Richman's Dancing in A Lesbian Bar get regular play there —I have my own "Paul's Drunk" list, it's easier that way— so sneaking in a whole themed evening appeals to my sense of humour.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Olympic Gallery

Stern Magazine has a gallery of 150 interesting pics from Beijing 2008. A whole lot of them seem to be crotch shots, or pics like this one, for reasons I'm not quite sure of but would like to blame on Stern's germanness.

I liked this one very much, though:

It's All Sausage

I'd not heard of something called a half-smoke before yesterday when Making Light linked to an article in the Washington City Paper about their local delicacy.

Looks like a burenwurst to me, and some of the pictures don't seem to show it in exactly the best light, but damn if I wasn't hungry by the end of it. Every local culinary curiosity should have an article like this.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

BBC Olympic Weblog

The BBC is keeping a weblog on the Beijing Olympics. There's a lot of interesting items there. Obviously, because of his recent big win there's a few on Chris Hoy, including one by the man himself (actually he's done a couple before) and one by Matt Slater on just how great Chris really is.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

A Tale of Two Medal Tables

As I'm about to mention the Olympics, I'd better give a shout out to Chris Hoy who's my brother's girlfriend's cousin (I'm getting used to saying this really fast). Virtually family I'm sure you'll agree. Well, I'm basking in his success while having absolutely nothing to do with it, anyway. Thanks Chris and, oh, congratulations!

Anyway, I was trying to find out if Chris had won yet another Gold for Team GB when I came across an oddity. One site that I check out semi-regularly is Yahoo, mostly because another site that I've set-up sends e-mail there. Yahoo has pretty extensive Olympic coverage of it's own and also hosts Eurosport's coverage.

Now, the Eurosport page has the medal table that is in use in most places. Gold being the most important factor and the other medals just there for ordering purposes (harsh, I realise, but this is how it's done). This morning it looked like this on the Team GB page:

On the more America-centric pages, however, the table is for overall medals because guess what that does the the order. It does this:

That's right! It sticks the Good Ole US of A right at the very top, just where they belong. Despite, you know, being a country where the phrase "It is a sad fact that regardless of effort or talent second place really means you are first in a long line of losers" is used in a motivational poster.

Ordering this way does some weird things to the middle orders too. Specifically, it pushes France, on four Gold medals -- a pretty lousy haul for them --, up to sixth place above Germany (10 Golds which is a cause for concern in Germany), Japan and Korea (both 8 Golds).

The table, then, doesn't lie, but it's not quite the whole truth either.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Back Again!

If you noticed that posting was light over the last couple of weeks it was because I was very busy and then I was on Holiday (which was why I was busy).

Now I back expect posting to return to normal(ish) once I've dug myself out of my huge pile of e-mail and read through my rss feeds.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

More Monkey Love-In

If those people over at The International House of Mojo really, really liked the Secret of Monkey Island, well they simply love its sequel LeChuck's Revenge. I must say it does make me want to fire up ScummVM and give another hard playing-through.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Free Bob Dylan

Sign up to Bob's site and he'll let you download something from an upcoming bootlegs album for free. What a nice guy.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Phrase Change On Internet, No-one Hurt

I've been aware of the phrase "Jump The Shark" for a few years now, certainly before tentative uses in the mainstream media started to appear. It's a fun phrase that is actually generally useful.

Unfortunately, only certain people I know are even aware it exists. It is a breakout internet phrase, but you can sit in the pub and say something like "Well, the Indian Premier League has really jumped the shark, eh? Flaming helmets for badges, what's that about?" and be met with nothing but blank stares. Admittedly my local pub is an Irish pub in Austria so discussions about cricket clothing tend to be met with blank stares anyway, but we do have a cricket club here in Steyr so I can be fairly confident that it's the shark jumping that's not being understood.

SO you have to give a little potted history "Happy Days", "Fonzie jumps a shark", "series goes downhill", "some college kids turn personal slang into snark-filled website". You know... Sort of like how, no matter how mainstream it gets, someone will always feel the need to explain what "Schadenfreude" is, "jumping the shark" comes with its own ritual explanation. This, of course, mitigates against its usefulness as a cute phrase covering a not-too-complicated phenomenon.

That said, "jumping the shark" does somehow suggest what it means even if you don't have an American college student's encyclopaedic knowledge of seventies US-sitcoms.

There are already an number of variants, and now, because you're nobody on the Internet unless you've coined at least one phrase (I have a small claim on "mid-life goatee", not that anyone has noticed), there is a challenger for jumping the shark. You may have heard it already, or, perhaps, you just don't care about what a bunch of media geeks are patting themselves on the back for these days. Anyway, it's this:
Nuking the fridge

This probably gets a little more recognition because more people are familiar with Indiana Jones movies and the latest one is a comparative disappointment that does have a scene where Indy survives a nuclear blast by hiding in a lead-lined fridge.

The New York Times already has an opinion on this.
Hence, "to nuke the fridge" means to introduce a wildly implausible element to a once-respected franchise, or more generally, to signal the abandonment of past standards of quality.

There's even a bit of snark over the qualities of the two phrases:
"'Jump the shark' is for people over the age of 60, who remember the show," he [the owner of "nuke the fridge" website] said, adding that "nuke the fridge" was a "new, fresh take."

Again this doesn't really survive the pub test (I know, how delightfully parochial of me): "Hey have you heard 'nuke the fridge' is the new 'jump the shark'?" Cue more blank stares and about half an hour of rambling explanation.

It doesn't quite work though, does it? I mean Indy found the Holy Grail, dug up the Lost Ark and got through a whole movie without punching Short Round in the face; a nuked fridge is not so much introducing a wildly implausible element as adding another one to the list. It's not even the point in the movie that puts the franchise at risk (and it's not a bad movie, it just wasn't good enough), well, any more than, say, the prairie dog reaction shots, the clumsy lingering over Connery and Elliot images, Shia LeBeouf or the fact that you can imagine Spielberg and Lucas mirthfully stroking their beards over how clever it is that in this movie Indy's not searching for something, he's taking it back. Though I admit none of those particularly lends itself to cute phrasing, the closest I got was "pointless capoeira in the graveyard".

I don't know, it seems to be one of those phrases that is discussed rather than used.

Friday, 25 July 2008

Whatever Comes Our Way

Born to be wild friend-of-the-blog Peter Verdi has been busy recently. Spurred somewhat by the recent spat over who did exactly what to whom and with which implement in the doomed Infocom adventure sequel to Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and, well, the fact that many people he wanted to interview turned up to that spat, Peter has gradually been conducting interviews with many of the key players from Magnetic Scrolls' heyday.

Magnetic Scrolls, you may remember, were the only real competition Infocom ever had. In fact they were better in some ways and more British about it. As I pointed out before, if you don't really know what interactive fiction is, and why typing "xyzzy" into said fiction is a fun thing to do, then these nostalgia fests will probably mean nothing to you.

But if the picture below makes you want to type "PLANT THE POT PLANT IN THE PLANT POT WITH THE TROWEL" all over again then go and read what Phil South and Peter Kemp have to say about their time with one of the great text adventure makers.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Clothes Lines

My mother likes clothes lines. So much so that she'll sometimes take pictures of ones in interesting places or those that just look right. Apparently half of the 300,000 Homeowners Associations in America disagree:
You get people hanging towels over the railings, you get clotheslines in the backyard. We just don't like the look of it. It looks like a lower-class neighborhood.

I get my washing done by the nearby laundry, so I don't really need a clothes line, but I'm guessing that part of the subtext here is "I don't want people looking at my knickers" or, perhaps, "I don't want to look at other peoples knickers". As the Right To Dry Campaign has it:
Where in Victorian times, clotheslines were ubiquitous, Mrs. Brown's brassiere blowing in the breeze has apparently become scandalizing to some modern Americans. A strange brand of prudery has made it impossible for some people to conserve energy and money by using a clothesline.

Thanks to Fred over at Slacktivist for this, he goes on to explain about Homeowners Associations:
[W]hy on earth anyone would voluntarily submit to live in such prefab neighborhoods where, it seems, all that is not expressly permitted is forbidden. One could argue that this intrusive corporate governance of private life is un-American. But then I suppose one could also argue that the voluntary surrender of personal freedom in the hopes of attaining higher "property values" is quintessentially American.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Yet Another Link Blog

In all probability I stole these links from the people listed on the right, plus some other rss feeds I haven't mentioned yet. Anyway, there's some good stuff here:

  • What Psychologists Would Do If They Could. A list of unethical and impossible experiments that would probably tell us a great deal about the human condition.

  • Tor Books. Free e-books, by Charlie Stross and John Scalzi among others, till the end of the week. Go for the free stuff stay for the community.

  • Rock drummers 'are top athletes' Jazz drummers, though, not so much.

  • Preview Desktop Images are now available for Star Trek. Boggle once more at how much Zachary Quinto is channeling Leonard Nimoy.

  • The Watchmen Movie seems to be shaping up better than expected. Unless, of course, you realy liked 300...

Monday, 21 July 2008

See What Cheeses Saw

So, I don't just post pictures of me and big up my own band. Sometimes I give props (as I believe those youngsters have it) to Little Baby Cheeses, my brothers band. They've been getting some local attention recently, they won the Doncaster Free Press Demo Showdown, which led to them playing at the recent Donny Fest. This is a photo one of the Cheese took from the stage:

Looks like they had a great time.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

In Defense Of Link Blogs

Jorn Barger over at Robot Wisdom gives his reasons why link blogs are valuble. He's roused to this by something very stupid that Warren Ellis said:

"’s going to do a better job of being the internet’s copy/paste editors than the BoingBoing crew anyway"

And I'm never going to write a blues song as great as Hoochie Coochie Man (although I believe Vanilla Pudding Blues does give it a run for its money), so I guess I should stop trying that too.

Ellis goes on to say that there are already too many link blogs and that to add more seems wasteful. Why not just try generating content, he asks.

Well, I know that genuine content is hard between the work, the cricket and the blues as well as the drinking (let's not forget the drinking) making more than 4 or 5 posts a week is difficult for me. If some of those posts are pure link blogs then I'm not sorry for it. I doubt my tiny readership really come here for pictures of me and my band or my occasional rant anyway.

The original stated aim of this blog was to have somewhere to put links to all the stuff I was going to talk about down the pub later. Either so that everyone would be up to speed or they'd have one place to go to find out what the heck it was I was talking about.

I mean, I probably could just point them to Boing Boing or Robot Wisdom or Fark, but then they would have to pick through the things that didn't interest me, too.

As Jorn points out, we all have very different tastes. No one blog could, or should, be completely congruent with anybody's taste but the author. I like the above sites very much, but I don't always read an article just because Cory Doctorow has given it his blessing.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Link Blog To Keep You All Busy

Just some stuff I had kicking around.

Busy Again Expect Posting To Be Light

First, though, I must tell you that the Unta Da Lind'n Gig was an unqualified success. The Band was sharp, I was in fine voice and we had an audience of around 50, which is pretty good for a rainy Sunday afternoon. I didn't take the photo below on Sunday, it's a processed version of one further below taken at Brunnbach by Robert Unterfurtner, but I like it so much that I had to share it with you...

Yes, I have printed it out in A3 and as soon as I can get a suitable frame it will be hanging in my apartment somewhere...

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Advertising Versus Reality

Via the Guardian I found this page. It's a German site called pundo3000 and they've collected together lots of different pictures of food packaging and what actually comes out of the packaging.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

I've Not Actually Had Official Confirmation Of This, But...

I think you can see what I tried to do with the group picture from Brunnbach.

Anyway, blues brunch: "It’s not quite breakfast, it’s not quite lunch, but it comes with a slice of cantaloupe at the end. You don’t get completely what you get at breakfast, but you get a good meal."

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Who Didn't Know?

The Guardian has a piece on how to not waste your food.

I'm guessing it's not the first and, thanks to all sorts of factors that I'm sure you are all well aware of, it certainly won't be the last. I'm pretty sure that even the Mail and Telegraph have already done there own versions of this list. Here's the Guardian one with just the bullet-points:

1. Avoid the supermarket
2. Ignore two-for one offers
3. Shop daily for perishables
4. Bulk-buy non-perishables
5. Be storage savvy
6. Meal-plan for the week
7. Cook
8. Buy quality not quantity
9. Freecyle/become a 'freegan'
10. Reacquaint yourself with your freezer
11. Don't be afraid of an empty fridge
12. Grow your own herbs and salad
13. Buy vegetables whole
14. Know how much a portion is so you don't overcook
15. Bulk-cook meals
16. Learn how to use leftovers
17. Look to previous generations
18. Take sell-by dates with a pinch of salt
19. Rediscover packed lunches
20. Equip yourself

I'm not sure exactly who this list is aimed at, but anyone interested enough to read the whole thing is probably doing most of that anyway. I know my mother and brother both do all those things with the possible exception of item 9, though if you ignore the horrible neologism of "freecycle" and think more in terms of keep an eye out for genuine bargains then they probably cover the whole lot.

Maybe that's the point. You aren't supposed to actually pick up any tips from the list. You are supposed to tick each item as you read it, leaving yourself with the warm glow of pride when you realise that you are doing most of these things already.

It feels related to those stickers and posters that seem to be appearing everywhere that urge you to do your bit for the environment, usually somewhere where the hypocrisy is so great it threatens to melt your brain like a Shell garage or Tesco.

As Bill Gates once opined on the movement to more "user-friendly" computing: "Software suppliers are trying to make their software packages more 'user-friendly' Their best approach, so far, has been to take all the old brochures, and stamp the words, 'user-friendly' on the cover".

Some things never change.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Who Knew?

So, it turns out that kids, who have no trouble at all being mean to each other in real life, are really mean to each other in virtual worlds.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Monkey Love-In

The people over at The International House of Mojo really, really, I mean really, like The Secret of Monkey Island.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Chin Chin: Photos From Brunnbach

You can see what we've tried to do here...

It's all about the hat.

A still from the previously believed to be destroyed musical version of Touch of Evil.

Even in shadow, there are my chins. But, no, really I love the chiaroscuro effect here.

There will be more photos on the BluesBerries site soon. Well, as soon as I stop looking at pics of myself and find some great ones of the rest of the band (of which I know there are plenty, our regular photographer, Robert Unterfurtner, did a really fantastic job).

Monday, 30 June 2008

Happily It Ends

So, the football finished on Sunday. Well, the EM part of it anyway. There were some great games along the way. And there were games where France took part.

My prediction for the final was that, though I wanted Spain to win, I was sure Germany would manage to grind another one out. Apparently I didn't realise Torres was due his second goal of the Tournament or that the Spanish defence would be quite so tenacious.

Ballack of Germany has had a pretty tragic year, possibly in ways that only a great footballer could have: lost the Premier League on the last day, lost the Champions League Final, lost the League Cup Final and knocked out of the FA cup in the quarter finals. To that list he can now add losing in the final of Euro 2008. If I were able to feel sorry for a multi-million-pound player for Chelsea and Germany, now would be the time.

I'm Back!

Last week was mostly a training event and then sickness (well, a bad head cold or virus or something, I believe the popular term is man-flu). Hopefully posting will be back to normal once I've got back up to speed.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Brunnbach Aftermath

The BluesBerries latest gig was not without it's technical hitches (because of the structure of the event we didn't get a really satisfactory sound check) but the music was solid and occasionally spectacular. Of course, I always say something like this, but the moment it stops being true is when I'll stop saying it.

We had a good crowd, I'd guess there were over a hundred people. They weren't particularly there for us as there was a race event earlier — our first set was split in two by the prize giving. Plenty of people stayed for us, though, and at least a couple of tables rowdily cheered us on much to my delight.

I've just heard that there are some excellent photos of the gig, and I hope to get them in the next few days, so I'll say more when I can post some pics.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

No Córdoba, Then

Gary Lineker once described football as "a match between two teams of 11 men and Germany wins on penalties". Well, they didn't need penalties last night. I like to think my prediction was roughly right, I didn't attempt to predict the result, although in the end it was all too predictable.

What I didn't foresee, however, was Austria's complete lack of anything resembling a striker. They played some very fine football, their passing tended to be accurate and they could put lovely crosses in to the box all night. The problem was that there was never anybody who could shoot on the end of that cross.

A pity. But a decent game never-the-less.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Football: Austria Vs Germany

The Scots will tell you that they only support two International teams: Scotland and anybody playing against England. The English, meanwhile, tend to ignore Scotland, partly to annoy the Scots but partly because they don't care, and concentrate on holding grudges against some of the innumerable teams who have knocked them out of a major tournament, Argentina, say, and, of course, Germany.

Wanting German teams to lose isn't a pastime that's limited to the English, however. In his book "Football Against the Enemy" Simon Kuper claims that over half the dutch population took to the streets to celebrate when Holland beat Germany in 1988.

The Austrians will tell you that they've been hating the Piefke longer and more venomusly than anybody. Well, that's debatable, but what isn't debatable is that there's been a lot of talk of "Córdoba" recently.

Córdoba, for those without a nearby Austrian to clear things up for you, is the site of a famous Austrian victory over the West Germany in 1978, their second in forty seven years, which knocked the Germans out of the World Cup. Hans Krankl netted two that day, ensuring himself legendary status in Austria.

Schadenfreude, as the ritual explanation goes, is a very German word, despite the fact that enjoyment at others misfortune is not limited to the Germans at all. And joy at Germany's misfortunes can seem like a universal constant outside of Germany itself. So it is that many Austrians are looking forward to tonight's match with giddy expectation. Howard Webb may, or may not, have gifted them a point with that penalty decision (it is to be hoped that he never needs his plumbing fixed again after earning the contempt of the entire Polish nation -- ignoring the fact that their goal was offside), but the country feels that it is on a roll. And that they're playing at home. And they've been playing well. And that, really, if Croatia can beat them, then it really is their turn. And it's about time.


Well, good luck to them. With enough luck they might just do it.

I predict that they will start off quickly using what pace they have to try and catch their opponents napping. They will fade after twenty minutes and spend the rest of the half defending. Austria will need to score a goal in that first 20 minutes because Germany will grind them down in the second 25.

The second half will be something like the reverse of the first. A Ballack-led German team will keep relentless pressure on the Austrians for much of the match. In the last fifteen minutes or so minutes Austria will get something like a second wind and again try to use what pace they have against the Germans, perhaps scenting a historic victory or just seeking a consolation goal.

I'm not going to predict the result, I just hope that it's a fun, fair match.

The 50 Worst Sex Scenes In Cinema

I usually dislike lists as a form of content, but this one is hard to disagree with.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Link Dump

Just because...

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Top 10 Philosophers' Deaths

You get the feeling that a list with the title "Top 10 Philosophers' Deaths" shouldn't really exist, or at least the number should be smaller. But it seems something about being a philosopher does lead itself to eccentricity:
3. Chrysippus (280-207BC)
Perhaps the greatest of the Stoics. There are two stories of his death, both involving alcohol. In the first, he took a draught of sweet wine unmixed with water, was seized with dizziness and died five days later. But the second is even better: after an ass had eaten his figs, he cried out to an old woman, "Now give the ass a drink of pure wine to wash down the figs". Thereupon, he laughed so heartily that he died.

I'm sure his line loses something in the tranlation.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Slow Posting

I'm just a little busier than usual at the moment. No crisis or anything, I just don't have a great deal of time to think about a post for this blog. I'll try and get something through every now and then. But, please,expect posting to be a little light for now.

This probably means I'll find three really interesting things today and post on all of them, just for irony's sake.

Until then enjoy this thing I missed a few days back: Shatner vs Kirk a video for Bill's Common People made out of bits of Star Trek: The Animated Series.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Hypocrisy: A Republican Luxury?

For those who keep up on the American Right's hypocrisy when it comes to matters sexual —if a Republican politician ever vehemently denouces gay marriage (or whatever) it's a fair bet that he unwinds at night by having a rent boy tongue his balls—, or are even vaguely aware, what Teresa Nielsen Hayden says here is not new. It is, however, well said and all in one place, with links to further reading.
Remember the endless, salacious coverage of the Monica Lewinsky incident, and all the politicians who professed to be shocked that such a thing had happened? Not one of them was shocked. Not a single one. And that's not because Clinton was particularly randy. It's because most of their personal lives were as bad or worse, and all the Washington insiders knew it.

The Monica Lewinsky thing was not about morality, outing hypocrisy, or Clinton sullying the Office of the President. It was an attempt at an extra-Constitutional power grab. The Gingrich Republicans were furious that Clinton had gotten elected. I'm afraid they didn't hold the will of the voters sacrosanct.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

In Defense Of Auto-Tune

In The New Yorker Sasha Frere-Jones looks at Auto-Tune (the thing that made Cher's voice all warbly in that track) and sees it as if not exactly a necessary evil then an evil that has as much place in music as any other.
[T]here is nothing natural about recorded music. Whether the engineer merely tweaks a few bum notes or makes a singer tootle like Robby the Robot, recorded music is still a composite of sounds that may or may not have happened in real time. An effect is always achieved, and not necessarily the one intended. Aren’t some of the most entertaining and fruitful sounds in pop —distortion, whammy bars, scratching— the result of glorious abuse of the tools?

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Review: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of Crystal Skulls


Not So Much Blown As Teased Slightly

3 Quarks Daily link to a piece titled The Red Pill: 10 Films Guaranteed To Blow Your Mind. The list looks like this:
The Truman Show (1998)
I Heart Huckabees (2004)
Waking Life (2001)
The Matrix (1999)
Dark City (1998)
American Beauty (1999)
Fight Club (1999)
Donnie Darko (2001)
Brazil (1985)
Network (1976)

Apparently somewhere around 1998 and 2001 minds were being blown on a regular basis. If I had to guess I'd say Ian MacKenzie, the author of the list, was aged somewhere around 28 to 32. Not that that would have stopped him from seeing, say, F for Fake, The Manchurian Candidate, If..., The Discrete Charm of the Bourgousie, Even Dwarfs Started Small or whatever, but he might have put less weight on those movies the made him go "whoa" as a teenager. You can imagine Ian and friends stroking their goatees to the wee small hours while considering the myriad intracies of the Fight Club and its place in the Fincher ouevre.

I guess I'm just disappointed, I wanted tips but all I got was list of movies I'd seen already.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Donny Champions of the Weekend

In the end it was a fine game. Both teams wanted to win, but Doncaster Rovers simply played the better football with a tight passing game and a very solid defense.

Leeds certainly didn't disgrace themselves and I am quite confident that they will be promoted next season as league champions.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

More Photos At The BluesBerries Site

I finally got hold of some pictures from the April gig at The Vernissage in Gallneukirchen. I've put some on the BluesBerries site, including this one:

What's In A Name?

The Independent takes a trip to Shitterton. Literally, it turns out.

Later in the piece they discuss Nob End, Twatt, Bell End and Muff, among others. Hilariously, Muff does indeed have a diving club.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Words That Mean What They Say

Not onomatopoeia -- that's words that sound like the the thing, quack for example -- but a word that has something of its definition about it. For example "glister" seems to have an oily gleam somehow. Joseph Bottum want to call these words Agenbites:
Let's coin a term for this kind of poetic, extralogical accuracy. Let's call it agenbite. That's a word Michael of Northgate cobbled up for his 1340 Remorse of Conscience--or Agenbite of Inwit, as he actually titled the book. English would later settle on the French-born word "remorse" to carry the sense of the Latin re-mordere, "to bite again." But Michael didn't know that at the time, and so he simply translated the word's parts: again-bite or (in the muddle of early English spelling) agenbite.

Which is all very clever if somewhat lacking in any real logical reason for the choice. It's not a word I'm about to start dropping in conversation. Bottum, though, has any number of great examples many of which will have you nodding in agreement:
Ethereal is an agenbite, isn't it? All ethereal and airy. Rapier, swashbuckler, erstwhile, obfuscate, spume--agenbites, every one. Reverberation reverberates, and jingle jingles. A friend insists that machination is a word that tells you all about its Machiavellian self, and surely sporadic is a clean agenbite, with something patchy and intermittent in the taste as you say it.

Monday, 19 May 2008

Go Donny, go Donny...

Go go go. Also Leeds, Leeds, Leeds.

I'm so confused. I'm happy if either wins. I'll cheer on Rovers, though, as Leeds will get promoted next year anyway, whereas it seems like this is Doncaster's best chance.

Friday, 16 May 2008

Photographer's Rights in the UK

On one hand this page, The UK Photographers Rights Guide, seems exactly the sort of thing that the Internet should be doing. On the other it is worrying that it needs to exist at all.

Maybe it's just the sites I read but the harrassment of photographers by security guards and policemen, often for what seems to be the most inconsequential thing, is getting to be a regular happening. CCTV, which according to recent reports is of little use, is somehow acceptable but still photography is frowned upon. Perhaps it's a human presence that scares these tin pot harrassers so. To me it feels like a worrying trend to assume that any out-of-the-ordinary activity has some criminal intent and to act accordingly rather than, say, assume innocence as the law expects. I suppose that those who are paid to protect us do have some vested interest in doing the most to make us feel less safe.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

The Portrayal of Bush in Advertising

I'm sure it's nowhere near exhaustive, but it's got examples from everywhere. Fun stuff.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

John Wayne and America

What Rio Bravo says about both.

I'm not sure what the dig on something called "the left" is about: "Wayne has always been close to a comic-book version of American power in all its swaggering crudeness". I'm sure politics does inform some of a person's reaction to Wayne, but he's always been more complicated than the caricature above suggests. To say that being of "the left" somehow blinds a person to this is ridiculous. So ignore the third paragraph and this is a fine appreciation of a classic movie.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Not Quite Random Stuff

I should find a proper home for these links, but I'm fairly busy at the moment:

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

For Some He'll Always Be The Operative

Chiwetel Ejiofor, I have only a vague idea of how it's pronounced but don't call him "Chewie", first came to my attention because of his role in Serenity, but I've seen him in quite a few things since and he's never been less than terrificly watchable.

The Onion's AV Club have an interview with him. He comes across as very focused on his acting, but likeable none-the-less.

Do pieces of characters ever stick with you?
For me, it tends to disappear, which is good, because, you know, I've just been playing Othello, and I'm not prone to psychopathic, jealous rages, which is fortunate. It can be a positive and a negative. You want the good things in the good characters to stay with you, but lose the bad things with the bad ones.

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

The Strange Tale Of Doncaster Rovers

In the Guardian David Conn looks at the volatile recent history of Donny Rovers.
The bare fact that Rovers would become the first club ever to rise from the Conference to the Championship in five years does not capture the far-fetched episodes in this saga - from the former chairman convicted of conspiring to burn down the main stand, through Irish tribunal hearings into alleged ministerial corruption, to a smart new stadium somewhat controversially built by the local council with £30m of public money and the revival fashioned by the current chairman, John Ryan, who made his money in cosmetic surgery - "Principally," he notes, "breast augmentation."

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Consensus on the Weather

Boy, am I just behind the times or what?

I was reading an article in the Washington Post about Wikiality (the idea that if enough Wikipedia readers believe that something then it must be true) and it mentioned a service called described as "a wiki-weather site in which users can collaboratively decide whether it is raining outside". That description is not very far from the truth.
The idea is that the aggregation of information in groups results in decisions that are often better than could have been made by any single member of the group. is built under the premise that aggregating as many available forecasts as possible (both from experts and not) will result in a more accurate forecast, and that the aggregation will be a new source in itself.

Their faith in the massed ranks of anonymous users is quite touching.

Wil Treks On

This time Wil Wheaton reviews Code of Honour:
Oh good! We're going to be racist and sexist in this one!

Not related, particularly, but the Onion AV club have a video of Prince covering Radiohead's Creep.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Marketing: UK Not That Much Cop Either

This one's been going around and has been linked to on Fark, but I think my readers will enjoy it anyway. The Office of Government Commerce has had a logo designed for it. It looks like this:

Nice font, you may be thinking. Bland but elegant, perhaps. That is until you turn it on its side:

A spokesman for the OGC said, according to the Daily Telegraph, "it is not inappropriate to an organisation that’s looking to have a firm grip on Government spend."

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Interactive Fact

Much like comic books became Graphic Novels (at least for some, I hear Alan Moore can't stand the title), what were once called "text adventures" became "interactive fiction".

You are either nostalgic for the time you knew what "XYZZY" meant or you probably can't care less. Some people are keeping the flame alive, though. It may be a dead genre commercially but a small group of IF enthusiasts are keeping its spirit alive and, along the way, producing much that is very playable and often, yes, thought provoking (I played AdVerbum the other day and the thought it provoked was "what kind of a sadist wrote this", but in a good way).

Another way to keep the genre alive is to build shrines to IF's past glories. Friend-of-the-blog and occasional contributor here, Peter Verdi, has done just that. His new site is a paean to all things Magnetic Scrolls. It's not entirely finished yet, but as a prior warning of future perfection it sure does bring the pretty. Peter has let me know that he has interviews lined up with a number of key players from the company and hopes to publish these soon.

MS was one of the great IF publishers. Probably only directly rivalled by Infocom in terms of overall gameplay. Infocom were more prolific, but MS had graphics and arguably the better parser (the bit that understands your input, famously one MS game boasted a problem who's solution was "PLANT THE POT PLANT IN THE PLANT POT WITH THE TROWEL").

Infocom, by the way, was the publisher of the official Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy game. Well, in some cases, not so much a game as an act of sadism by Douglas Adams on gamers. Despite this, it was Infocom's top selling title (except for Zork, if you've got this far you'll know what that is) and they desperately wanted to make a sequel. This never happened. Some of the reasons why this was are explored over at

What's interesting about the above article is that some of it's issues are mulled over by a number of ex-Infocom members (including Dave Lebling, Marc Blanc and Steve Meretzky) and quite a few from Magnetic Scrolls (Anita Sinclair, Phil South, Michael Bywater). So it's not just fascinating as a piece of history. It's a tear-jerking reunion as well!

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Marketing: UK & US Differences

Charlie Stross, a fine SF writer, has a new book coming out in hardback soon. This is the cover his UK publisher is giving the book:

A fine cover, I'm sure you'll agree. It's something of a piece with his other "space opera" works, though different enough to mark it out.

This is the US cover:

Monday, 21 April 2008

Do More Expensive Wines Taste Better?

No, apparently, at least according to this academic paper:
Individuals who are unaware of the price do not derive more enjoyment from more expensive wine. In a sample of more than 6,000 blind tastings, we find that the correlation between price and overall rating is small and negative, suggesting that individuals on average enjoy more expensive wines slightly less. For individuals with wine training, however, we find indications of a positive, or at any rate non-negative, correlation.

That is, expensive wine is only better if you know how much it costs. Or you've trained your palette to recognise expensive wines.
Our results indicate that both the prices of wines and wine recommendations by experts may be poor guides for non-expert wine consumers.

That is, wine snobs like what wine snobs like, you go ahead and drink what you enjoy, no matter how cheap.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Scalpel. Swab. Video Phone.

It seems nowhere is safe anymore. You can be filmed doing anything. Including having a perfume canister removed from your arse.
Doctors involved in the operation were seen laughing boisterously during the operation, which was recorded on video. A video clip was later uploaded to the video sharing website YouTube.

Hey, do you think Rectal Foreign Bodies would be a good name for a punk band?

Monday, 14 April 2008

Isn't This a Week Late?

The Telegraph announces a big win in the War On Drugs. This times it's not for the side that's high.

Apparently, in Afganistan local farmers are swapping crops; heroin for wheat. Not for any particularly honourable reasons, you understand. It's just that the price of heroin is going down while wheat prices have doubled.

I've looked and looked and I can't find the link to The Onion that should accompany that piece anywhere.

Friday, 11 April 2008

Knife Sharpening

Onion AV club use the imminent release and subsequent critical mauling of Scarlett Johansson's debut album, an album of Tom Waits covers no less, to look at why we don't really like bands formed by movie stars.
Unlike every other singer on the planet, Johansson didn’t have to bother slogging through small gigs in empty nightclubs, printing up press kits and cold-calling labels to get them to listen to her demo, or any of the other various trials that kill most musicians’ careers before they even get started. All she had to do was casually mention to her agent that she might like to do an album, and the next thing you know she’s swapping vocal lines with David Fucking Bowie. No wonder everybody’s aching to piss on this thing.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Monkeys And Monty Hall

How can anyone resist an article with the title "Cognitive Dissonance in Monkeys"?

Well, actually that's the page's title. The article is titled "And Behind Door No. 1, a Fatal Flaw", which really isn't as fun.

Anyway, the Monty Hall problem is well described by the writer here:
Here’s how Monty’s deal works, in the math problem, anyway. (On the real show it was a bit messier.) He shows you three closed doors, with a car behind one and a goat behind each of the others. If you open the one with the car, you win it. You start by picking a door, but before it’s opened Monty will always open another door to reveal a goat. Then he’ll let you open either remaining door.

Suppose you start by picking Door 1, and Monty opens Door 3 to reveal a goat. Now what should you do? Stick with Door 1 or switch to Door 2?

The odd thing is that the answer feels entirely counter-intuitive. It seems that it goes against all that "coins don't remember results" guff, because the answer is:

[W]hen you stick with Door 1, you’ll win only if your original choice was correct, which happens only 1 in 3 times on average. If you switch, you’ll win whenever your original choice was wrong, which happens 2 out of 3 times.

That is, if you switch you are twice as likely to win.

To see how this relates to monkeys and M&Ms read the rest of the article.

Friday, 4 April 2008

Idiocy and How To Fix It

Gamasutra has an article titled Fixing Online Gaming Idiocy: A Psychological Approach. I'm sure your first thought at seeing that was something like mine "Yeah, right. Good luck with that." Though your thoughts were probably more literate.

The article talks about how societal pressures keep the real world functioning:
In real life, people are capable of an incredibly wide variety of behaviors. People go to a bar on Saturday night and church on Sunday morning and manage not to get kicked out of either. How? They don't sing hymns and pray while at the bar, and don't smoke and drink during the sermon.

If I read it right, though, the essential mechanism for stopping idiocy happening is to make the penalty for being an idiot greater than reward for being not idiotic. In the real world examples above the penalty for breaking the rules is to be barred from those places and it's no fun being an idiot without an audience.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Misperception and Missing It All Together

In what is surely a piece of research destined for an Ig Nobel a paper is coming out on how men misperceive sexual interest in women.

It has two theories on why this happens. One, men are thinking with their john thomas' and don't care and, two, men aren't too bright when it comes to this stuff.

I feel like I've been insulted, but I'm not sure how.


Wil On Angel One

Convention season must be over because Wil Wheaton has written another Star Trek: TNG review. This time he notices how much Angel One stinks up the place.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Last Suppers

Via Grumpy Gamer.

A collection of Last Supper parodies including the famous MASH and Sopranos ones and some more mind bending other ones.

The House parody gets a note that there are only 11 disciples:

It's pretty obvious, though, that there are 12 bodies other than House's, also Chase being in the Judas position isn't aas quibblesome as the note suggests.

Hey Hey Hey!

I'm back!

OK, so I never said I was away, but I've been on holiday. Doing a bit of walking drinking lots of beer, that sort of thing. Normal posting should resume shortly.

I was at the Doncaster Beer Festival on my last day in England and had a whole range of great beers (and one or two not so good). The porters and dark beers in particular were very good this year. As usual there were any number of punning names (eg. the Idle Brewery had a Sod beer). I tried to set up the barmen each time I bought one, but it never quite clicked. For instance, when I went to but a glass of Regal Blonde, the exchange went something like this:
"I'd like a Regal Blonde, please"
"There you go, sir, one token please"

Whereas in my mind's eye it went more like:
"I'd like a Regal Blonde, please"
"I'd like to be a foot taller and look like Brad Pitt, but it'll never happen"

Still, you can't have everything.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

It's Not Easy Being Green

The BluesBerries rocking the house at DohStock last Sunday. More photos at Doherty's Bar.

Notice this time I wore the cream jacket so I didn't blend in with the curtains. That sort of stagecraft is something I'm learning all the time...

Here's a better look at the ensemble:

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Corrupting Influence of The Web

Perhaps it's the sites I read. Maybe it's because I know such phrases as "security theatre" and "movie-plot threat", but when I read the headline in today's Guardian UK is a safer place than a year ago, says security minister. My initial though is "how did they measure that?". Instead of "much less terrorism than the government wants you to believe" has GBP2.5 billion spent to have that read "much, much less terrorism than the government wants you to believe"?

The spokesman went on to state the obvious but in a way that implied your life might very well be at risk:
"Issues that were once local, national or regional are now global. Whereas 20 years ago the terrorism threat came from the IRA, and the nuclear threat came from the Soviet Union, now we face a loose affiliation of terror groups and networks spanning the globe and we also see how failed states such as Afghanistan and regional tensions such as those in the Middle East affect our national security."

I think you possibly have to say "loose affiliation of terror groups and networks spanning the globe" in a deep throaty rumble as if you were that guy who does all the movie trailers. In fact if you preface the whole quote with "In a world where", I think you have the pitch for Alias.