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).