Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Telly

I'm watching the BBC's new Doctor Who spin-off show Torchwood. It's not very good.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Tolerance

Tolerance is great, tolerance is good, tolerance is necessary to create a stable and peaceful existence for all. Tolerance says, “I don’t understand your ways, maybe I don’t even agree with them or like them, but I know what’s required of me to keep things ticking over. I know I need to be tolerant and let you go about doing whatever the Hell it is you’re doing and maybe, just maybe, I’ll start to understand as things progress”. And, truth be told, this is possibly the best we can hope for. It’s impossible to understand everything and everyone it’s all most of us can manage just to be tolerant and forgiving and not an arse. We live in a diverse and varied culture and are surrounded by people of all faiths, creeds and beliefs and are bombarded with new information of all kinds twenty-four hours a day. How could we possibly be expected to understand all that we would like to. We can’t. Hell, I can’t even understand my nearest and dearest. I can sympathise with them and even empathise with their situations but I would never say that I understand.
But here’s my dilemma, tolerance seems to have become our default setting and maybe this should be changed. Tolerance for a religious belief that’s trying to find it’s way integrating into a dominant society is a good thing but maybe tolerance for those who blatantly disregard important issues is bad. I’m not advocating mass lynchings or the death penalty for those who drop litter but maybe being less tolerant as a society in certain areas could help matters in some way.
To be frank I’m not entirely sure what I mean here, it’s just too big an issue. But I do know that we should stop being so tolerant of those who willfully disregard all the proven information given and, whilst the rest of society are running around breaking their backs trying to become more environmentally sound, (often at great inconvenience), they (Clarkson, O’Leary) carry on regardless and not only wear their disdain for the cause like some kind of badge of honour but delight in standing up against the rest of us and deriding our efforts (Clarkson, O’Leary).
Think of that story about the Mum’s who feed their children chips and pies through the school railings because ‘little Tyler’ and ‘ickle Jordan’ didn’t want to eat the healthy stuff that Jamie & the Government had decided they should eat for their health and wellbeing. "It's their choice not to." screeched the Mum's. No it's not, they're at school you stupid waste of skin! Since when has school been about choice. Well maybe it’s time we started saying to these people, sorry but you clearly don’t care as much for your children as you’d like to think or, as is often the case, as you’d like us to think (because, and let’s be honest here, these types always want to shout and scream about how much they love their kids whilst they drive the five minutes to McDonalds in their 4x4 to get their chubby little blob of a kid a quarter-pounder with cheese for their dinner) and you are, in actual fact, harming them in more ways than the obvious. Maybe it’s time we looked these people in the eyes and, instead of trying to reason with them, instead of trying to mollify them maybe we should just say, “Clarkson (& co), you are a cunt.”

Friday, November 24, 2006

It's true.

There really IS nothing better than a dog in a costume. These have all been submitted by various crazy folk over at the brilliant CuteOverload site.









Thursday, November 23, 2006

23rd November

On this day back in 1963, the first episode of the longest running science fiction show on television aired on the BBC and Doctor Who was born. The story titled 'An Unearthly Child' starred William Hartnell as the first Doctor and was transmitted the day after the assassination of American President John F. Kennedy.

To celebrate this factoid here are a few others regarding the 23rd November (today). Source: Wikipedia.

  1. 1654 - French mathematician, scientist, and religious philosopher Blaise Pascal experiences an intense mystical vision that marks him for life.
  2. 1863 - American Civil War: Battle of Chattanooga begins - Union forces led by General Ulysses S. Grant reinforce troops at Chattanooga, Tennessee and counter-attack Confederate troops.
  3. 1867 - The Manchester Martyrs were hanged in Manchester, England for rescuing two Irish men from jail.
  4. 1869 - In Dumbarton, Scotland, the clipper Cutty Sark is launched - one of the last clippers ever to be built, and the only one still surviving to this day.
  5. 1955 - The Cocos Islands are transferred from the control of the United Kingdom to Australia.
  6. 1990 - The first all woman expedition to the south pole (3 Americans, 1 Japanese and 12 Russians), sets off from Antarctica on the 1st leg of a 70 day, 1287 kilometre ski trek.
  7. 1993 - Rachel Whiteread wins both the £20,000 Turner Prize award for best British modern artist and the £40,000 K Foundation art award for the worst artist of the year.
  8. 2004 - Alex Ferguson takes charge of his 1000th game as manager of Manchester United Football Club.
Boris Karloff, Harpo Marx & Zoe Ball were born today in 1887, 1888 & 1970 respectively and the world lost Roald Dahl in 1990

TTFN FFF

It's with sadness that I read yesterday the news that Craig Robinson is closing his Flip Flop Flying blog. For those of you that don't know, Craig essentially 'invented' the whole 'pixel-people' thing back on his website FlipFlopFlyin, (If you live in the UK then you've almost certainly seen his work on ads for the Guardian Music magazine, Esquire magazine and Reebok amongst others), and the blog he started back in April 2005 has gained a decent sized crowd of regular reasons, of which I was one. The FFF blog pretty much directly inspired me to start this wee little blog-o-mine as FFF made me realise that blogs don't have to be about anything in particular, like new music or advances in science, nor do they have to be exclusively editorial in content but can simply be about whatever you want to say.
So, TTFN FFF and all the very best to you Craig. I'm glad you're keeping the original site going and I look forward to lots more exciting stuff to keep me amused when I'm supping tea and munching on biccies. Cheers beardy-fella.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Finally. The future is getting closer.

This is now 'the future' we're living in so I've been waiting patiently for many things that were promised to me in the past. The car that had tyres that could turn 90degrees to make parking easier; space food style meal-pills (though I'm in no particular rush for that); Marijuana-gin; self-drying clothes; a personal rocket pack; cds that don't scratch when someone nearby farts and various other trinkets that, as yet, haven't materialised. (Ooo, a Star-trek style teleporter too.) But it looks like the science-boffins out there have finally got their fingers out of their collective bottoms and started to sort things out. Look - wireless electricity! Brilliant.

Monday, November 20, 2006

33

On Thursday Beth & I celebrated 33 years of me, firstly with a day out in London posing as tourists, then a lie in the following morning, a trip to see Bond and then a somewhat lacklustre Saturday night out in Brighton.
As usual Beth pulled out all the stops and made me feel so amazingly special and happy (she's damn good at this surprise thing) and she got me some pretty fine pressies too. On Wednesday I awoke in a minor panick when I realised her alarm hadn't gone off and I rushed about like an idiot for a bit until this wee little voice squeaked "Surprise" from somewhere under the duvet. Sleepily she explained that we were off to London to be tourists for the day and to take a trip on the London Eye (something I'd wanted to do for a long time now). Originally she'd told me that she had the Thursday & Friday off work so we could 'do stuff' and it was a lovely treat to get her for an extra day.
So, we wobbled off to London on the train to go see the wheel in all it's glory. It's a very impressive sight, especially when you come at it from the south and see it looming over the tops of the buildings. Anyhow, we grabbed our tickets and found out that, now we had them, we could take our 'flight' whenever we liked so we decided to take in another sight first. As it was my birthday Beth let me choose and, being a boy, I choose the Imperial War Museum. Which, in retrospect, wasn't a very 'birthday-ish' idea.
The Imperial War Museum is amazing, there's a tonne of tanks, planes and cannons in the foyer and then more intellectual stuff on the rest of the floors. Beth & I were blown away by the 'Trench Experience' (it even smells the way you'd imagaine) and we had a few tears in our eyes looking at all the evacuee memorabilia in the 'Children's War' exhibition. It's incredible to think this actually happened, can you imagine having to send your kids away from you for a long, unknown period? It must've been awful for all involved. There were some heartwarming stories, some funny ones (for quite a lot of London kids it was their first taste of the country) and some truly upsetting tales. There's a letter in there from the Admiralty informing a family that the transport ship their kids had been on had been torpedoed and lost with all hands. Imagine that, you think you're sending them away for their protection and then that happens. Those children went through so much. One equally disquieting aspect is the standard of spelling and grammar in their letters home. It's excellent. A five year old back then could write far better than a five year old can now I tell you. There's also a highly moving picture of a home-coming that brought us to the edge of tears again and a recreation of an old house in West Wickham, which is where I grew up (which was after rationing despite how I sometimes look).
To cheer ourselves up we went to go see Beth's mate's Laura's grandfather in the Victoria & George Cross exhibit. He received a GC for his daring rescue of his mate when their mine collapsed and flooded. His medal was there along with a smiley picture of him.

Anyhow, the London Eye is brilliant and well worth taking a trip on. You seldom (almost never) get to see London from on-high and it's fascinating to see what buildings look like from above. I had no idea Charring Cross station was so funky. London is such an eclectic mix and it spreads out away from you like spilt fluid creeping across a table. It's amazing. There were only six other people in our pod so we got to wander around inside taking in the view from all angles. The pace is leisurely (it takes a full thirty minutes to complete one rotation) so you're only aware you're moving when you look at the foreground, whilst the view just idly drifts by.

Chris meet us off the wheel and took us to a lovely local pub where we experimented with a couple of new, unpronouncable but lovely Czech beers and had a brilliant Macaroni Cheese before heading off back to the station and home. On the way Beth suggested we pop into the Market Porter for one for the road. When we got there however it turned out a load of my mates were there. It was brilliant. I was momentarily phased and spent ten minutes fiddling with my zip and going "Duhhhh... Ummmm." before regaining my legendary cool and drinking Black Sambucca until my head spun. All in all a very lovely day.

Because of the drinking we didn't haul ourselves out of bed on Thursday (my actual birthday) until around 2 and Beth cooked me kedgeree for brunch. Lovely. After that it was Bond time which was fantastic. What a great birthday. What a great lady.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Bond intros

You may have noticed that I've not added anymore Bond intros, well there's a simple reason for that. The new Casino Royale intro is just so damn good that it's kinda blinded me to all the others. If you've not seen Casino Royale yet then I urge you to go (providing you like that kind of thing of course) if only to see the amazing, Saul Bass style graphics. Shame I can't post it up for you here really. Anyhow, maybe I'll have a look at the old intros again soon.

Friday, November 17, 2006

You know the name. You know the number.

For my birthday my lovely lady pulled her second surprise of the week (more on the first later) and took me to the cinema where I witnessed something truly wonderful in the proper sense of the word. Martin Campbell, Neal Purvis & Robert Wade set out to rejuvinate the franchise with a more pared-down, back-to-basics approach and, I'm overjoyed to say, they've delivered the goods. The hype had told me that this was gonna be great, I'd always thought their choice of actor was inspired despite how the sheer volume of doubters and their pitiful calls for the film to be boycotted (I'd felt the same way when Christopher Ecclestone was announced as the new Doctor) and the whole premise of taking it back to the very first book was simply genius.
And you know what, it works. Casino Royale is, quite possibly, the finest Bond film I have ever seen. It's just incredible. Daniel Craig owns the screen (despite some truly scene-stealing moments from Judi Dench and frankly, if you're gonna loose scenes to anyone...) and portrays a grittier, more naive, more vulnerable and therefore more dangerous Bond than any actor before. He's arrogant and makes mistakes, he's flawed and mis-judges situations, when he fights it's realistic, scrappy, far from pretty and he bleeds - a lot. I'll get shot down in flames for this but, if Bond 22 is as good as this one then, I'm sorry Connery lovers, but Danny-boy could very well be THE James Bond. Read the early books and you'll see what I mean.

Anyhow, I'm not writing a lengthy review here, you should go and see it yourselves and make up your own minds but be warned - if you love the campness, the multitude of Bond girls, the quippy one-liners, the overblown effects, the gadgets and the invisible car bollocks then you may very well be disappointed. Funny really, my favourite Bond was always Moore so by my own argument I should've loathed this film but I didn't, I loved it.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Bond intros - 02

Possibly the most famous Bond film and the start of the obsession with titles that have the word 'Gold' in them. Though they've yet to hit their stride and become unmistakably 'Bond', this intro in my mind is almost better the film. It's just genius. There's a foxy chick painted gold (echoing one of the Bond's most infamous and iconic moments) and scenes from the film are projected onto her.
What I love in particular is the fact that this was before the day of hi-tec computer wizardry so the model just had to sit there whilst being filmed, consequently you can see the occasional wobble. Nowhere more-so than at the very beginning when the music comes crashing in and her clasped hands appear on screen, with the villain of the piece, Auric Goldfinger, projected onto them, a shot that must've taken ages to set up properly, only to have her start twitching her thumb. I can see them all now cursing and swearing and re-setting cameras only to have some exec say "No. We're over budget as it is, and the paint's starting to flake. No-one will notice anyway."
Besides all this it features the unmistakable massiveness of Burley Chassis and her attention-demanding voice which, from here on in, would set the precedent and benchmark against which all Bond theme songs would be judged.

Goldfinger.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Bond intro - 01

Despite the fact that I don't want to jump on the crazy, media-fuelled, publicity band-wagon, I thought I might celebrate the fact that it's Bond-time again and walk (nae - run) you through some of my favourite Bond intro sequences. The intro has formed a big part of the anticipation I experience surrounding a new Bond outing and, although the musical accompaniment has taken a desperately shite turn of late (Maddona? Cheryl Crow? Fuck off - We all know it should be Shirley Bassey or the Jones-meister.) they're still a microlight-flying, jet-pack-wearing, magnetic-watch abusing visual treat of the highest order. Oh how I wish other filums would pay this much attention to their opening. Mind you, if they did then Bond's would no longer be special so I'm kinda glad they don't.

So without further ado let's start at the beginning with the wonderful Dr. No.


As a graphic designer I love this sequence, it's just brilliant and stands up just as well today as any of the newer, effects heavy intros. I especially like the very beginning when the dot first appears to tell you it's a Harry Saltzmann & Albert R. Broccoli production, and I always chuckle at Connery's hat and his wee little hop he does when he spins to shoot his gun at us. What makes it all the more special is the fact that, as it's the first film, it runs to the Bond theme that we all know and love right up until about halfway in when it unexpectedly veers off on a tangent and goes all Mr. Tito-Madcap and his Magic Toga Band. Suddenly there's a bunch of midriffs cavorting around in some kind of semi-transparent, mono-tone, seisure-laden chaos and then, hang on, what's that? Isn't that three blind blokes wandering past the screen? What the Hell's going on? Brilliant.

Like the new look?

I've upgraded my blog. Whadya think folks? Like it or hate it? I'm not sure how to get rid of that annoying line around the title though, guess I'll have to put my codey head on and have a look. Apparently you can subscribe to the blog now if you like. There's a wee linkie down at the bottom of the page.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

They blew up her windmill!

This is a really sad music video. I came across this yesterday whilst trawling YouTube. Poor old Noodle.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Nice windmill

I love this track (despite disliking Damon Albarn and his strangled, wimpy voice) and this is such an incredible video I just have to post it. I'm sure most people out there have seen it already but, hey. The windmill seems so serene and peaceful floating up there in the clouds with little Noodle perched on the front.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

TV

I don't want to worry anyone but last night there appeared to be a show on television called 'Celebrity Scissorhands' where famous people train as hair and beauty experts. It was on the BBC too. What is happening in the World? Apparently Steve Strange, that waste of skin Darren Day and the bloke what used to be in 'Right Said Fred' are in it. God help us all.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The more I think about it

The more I realise that I have to, nae - NEED to drive a dog-sled across the ice flows or frozen tundra. It's been a desire that's been with me for so long now that it's pretty much eclipsing every other dream I have, probably because it combines three of my most favourite things. Snow, dogs and the possibility of cuddling up in front of a fire with Beth.
After watching David Attenburough's outstanding Planet Earth - Ice Worlds last night I've spent most of the afternoon gazing at pages and pages of info and pictures about the Ice Hotel, dog-sledding safaris & the North Pole on the good ol' interweb. I've also been scouring said web for info on just who I can beat with a shitty stick in retaliation for the destruction of the Antarctic ice and, as a direct consequence, the loss of habitat of the beautiful polar bear. If you're out there reading this mister ice-destroying man, then you are a git and, if I ever find you, I will kick your arse six ways from Sunday.

Crazy spam

Along with just about everyone else in the country, my junk e-mail folder seems to be bulging at it's virtual seams these days. The bloody thing is heaving with invitations to buy shares in obscure overseas companies, cheap software offers and the occasional 'Phishing' attack from Barclays, a bank I don't even use. (I don't mind the latter as I was starting to feel left out that I'd never been 'phished' when it was clearly on the increase.) But now it seems I've been targeted by some kind of DaDaist movement that have become jaded with the art world and have moved into... er... spam. I'm getting all manner of odd Haiku-esque e-mails that frankly make my head spin.
Here's a selection.

Subject: Hi Annemarie

Hi iamjustsendingthisleter.
How are you ? Call me.
what children


Subject: open-headed mill-ink

boulanger ×"



Subject: oil pan parlor car

"no, i should have turned in a moment."but when her mother was gone, jane would not be prevailed on to go down without one of her


Subject: mouth-watering palm grub

"i should like balls infinitely better," she replied, "if they were carried on in a different manner;

Friday, November 03, 2006

Todays funky robot is...

Soundwave/Gnarls Barkley

I've no idea is this is genuine but I kinda like it. The bit with the little tape robot (don't know if he's supposed to be Rumble or Frenzy) dancing at the end is brilliant.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Nigel Kneale



Nigel Kneale, the creator of the brilliant 'Quatermass' television shows has died aged 84. BBC News.

Hailed as the founding father of television sci-fi, Kneale pretty much invented the 'must-see' TV event, emptying the streets and pubs when the BBC aired 'The Quatermass Experiment' live in the 1953. The shows lead character, the alien-battling Professor Bernard Quatermass, was televisions first TV serial hero and went on to star in three more adventures.

In 'The Quatermass Experiment' the first manned space mission, sent into space by the British Experimental Rocket Group, crash lands back on Earth with two out of the three crew dead from mysterious circumstances. Once back on Earth the surviving astronaut slowly transforms into an amalgam of man and plant. 'Quatermass 2' followed in 1955 and featured an alien infection infiltrating Earth and turning people into zombies.
The third was perhaps the most successful of the series and in 'Quatermass and the Pit', Professor Quatermass finds himself involved in the discovery of a bizarre object at an archeological dig in Knightsbridge, London. As the serial progresses, Quatermass and his allies find that the contents of the object have a horrific influence over those who come into contact with it, and darker implications for the entire nature of mankind. The British Film Institute described the show as: "Completely gripping, under the guise of genre it tackled serious themes of man's hostile nature and the military's perversion of science for its own ends." Despite it's success, 'Quatermass and the Pit' was to be the last outing for the professor for twenty years.

Kneale also pre-empted the current fashion for reality TV shows with the creation of 'The Year of the Sex Olympics' in 1968. Here, society in the future is divided into two classes, the hi-drives and the low-drives. The low-drives are controlled by a constant broadcast of pornography that the hi-drives are convinced will pacify them.
In 1979 the BBC broadcast Kneale's modern horror story 'The Stone Tape', a terrifying tale concerning a group of electronic engineers who become fascinated by the supposed haunting of the historic house where they have set up their new research laboratory.

He returned to his most famous creation in 1979 and wrote 'Quatermass' for ITV. The serial starred Sir John Mills as the titular character and this time, after the destruction of a new space station, young people find themselves mysteriously drawn to an ancient stone circle in England where they believe they’ll be taken to a better place by a higher power. Quatermass discovers that they are actually being harvested by an alien race and must find a way to stop them.

In his illustrious career Kneale earned two BAFTA best screenplay nominations for his film adaptations of John Osborne's plays 'Look Back in Anger' and 'The Entertainer'. He worked on literary adaptations of 'Wuthering Heights' and most famously George Orwell's 'Nineteen Eighty-Four', starring Peter Cushing. The latter case creating a television production which became almost as famous as the book itself, being labelled both horrific and subversive, provoking death threats and raising questions in Parliament.

He continued working until the late 1990s, writing 'Sharpe's Gold' and episodes of 'Kavanagh QC' and his legacy can be felt throughout the sci-fi horror genre.