Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Non-Christmassy Christmas Stuff

Well, I'm going away tomorrow, and there's much stuff I've failed to put up that I said I would before Christmas. If you're taking time out from your Christmas experience to read this, here's 12 links I think you might enjoy while waiting for me to come back and be told off for not writing things I was going to.

1. A Gallery of Bad Album Covers. Bonus: Volume 2

2. Warning Signs from the Future.

3. Wikipedia's Lamest Edit Wars page (on Wikipedia).

4. Especially for Jim: Wikipedia's Fictional Chemical Substances (A-M). Bonus: N-Z.

5. An expecially funny 70s Star Wars parody that's a Spiderman comic. What? Didn't you realise that Darth Vader really is Dr Doom?

6. Another one for Jim: Make your own hat!

7. 10 most Dangerous Toys of all time.

8. Something actually Christmassy - A Christmas Tree Decoration Competition.

9. The How to Destroy the Earth webpage (this isn't the people who put a button on your desktop which tells you when the Earth is destroyed, although this site links to them.)

10. What Google Thinks of You (and other people, places, times and thngs).

11. Turducken Recipe (this is like the young mans Coq au Trice; following the scheme here, his would have been Turpheasridge I guess.) Includes step-by-step photos of how to debone a turkey, something I've often wanted to see.

12. And finally Movie Posters Redrawn as Medieval Russian Illuminated Manuscripts. As this site is in Russian, it makes a great "guess the film" game.

And one last thing: Recipe for Fish on a Stick.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Coq Au Trice

Well, the story here is pretty self explanatory; First is an email from me to my brother, then my brother's reply.

First Email:
I'm sure you'll be amused to know someone turned up on my blog, looking for Coq au Trice on google (It's no 2! It's the only one if you put quotes around it).

I must put the recipe, or a report up, to make my blog the no 1 sauce of information on Coq Au Trice on the internet. (Or better yet get lots of people to link to it, as that's one of the things the googlebot measures).


Second Email:

Coq au trice.
Aka 3 bird multi bird roast.

Ingredients.

3 Coc's. Various sizes.
Sausage meat.
Breadcrumbs.
Herbs and
that.
Bacon.
String.


Get your mate Nick's local Butcher to tunnel bone some birds. We used a partridge, a pheasant and a turkey*. Remove the skin and limbs of the smaller birds and use for stock/nibbles. Mix the breadcrumbs, sausage, herbs and that together to make stuffing. Lay out the biggest bird and smear the inside with the stuffing. Put
the next largest inside and open and put stuffing on that. Put in the smallest bird. Pull together and find that you cannot tie the turkey up with the string. Remove some of the stuffing and then tie it up. Stick bacon on any exposed skin.

Roast for a long time. Baste when ever possible.

As the legs and wings are still on the turkey it should look a bit like a turkey but instead of bones in side it has 2 other birds making it easy to carve and to impress.


* Please note that you will need 4 birds for a 4 bird multi roast, 5 for a 5 bird multi roast, 6 for a.... you get the picture. I would suggest only using a fatty bird like goose or duck on the outside.

Other varieties are the individual starter coc au trice using hummingbird, Robin and thrush.

Or the often forgotten 18th century recipe using Dodo, Moa and Giant Moa stuffed with Breadfruit. You can get the ingredients at specialist shops and some supermarkets.

I hope that your blog becomes the world centre of knowledge of c.o.t. and any help you need I will provide.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Films to watch out for over Christmas

Every Christmas, I send out emails with films I claim will be on over the period. In every case, they sound like films you might have heard of, but involve my friend Stan. Anyway, here's a quick recap:


The Lord of the Stans - The Fellowship of the Stan

Jimbo Baggins inherits a magic Stan on his 30th birthday. The wizard Annedalf determines that this is the one Stan, the most powerful and desirable object in middle earth. A fellowship is formed to deal with Stan in some way. Several exciting fight scenes ensue.


The Lord of the Stans - The Two Stans

The fellowship discover that Saruman has cloned Stan. They split up to try and deal with both at once. Several exciting battle scenes ensue.


The Lord of the Stans - The Return of the Stan

More exciting battles as the fate of middle earth is in the balance. Eventually Stan turns up to sort it out. Then the film goes on for about another half hour or so.


Stanman

By day, shy retiring computer technician Chris Roberts fights for truth and justice by solving technical problems, but by night he becomes millionaire playboy Stan.


The Good, The Bad and Stan

Stan does a Mexican accent for a couple of hours. Eventually someone shoots him.


The Usual Stan

Stan lies through his arse for about 2 hours after being fitted up for a crime.


The Stankillers

A motley group of criminals fail to kill Stan.


Stan's baby

Stan becomes pregnant with the antichrist. Again.


Stan's A series of unfortunate events

Stan goes on a pub crawl.


Gone with the Stan

Frankly, no one gives a damn by this stage.


"Get Stan"

Stan does a Micheal Caine impression for about 2 hours, until eventually someone shoots him.


"Being Stan Malkovich"

Stan works on platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross, until one day he disappears up his own passage.


"Stanablanca" - Stan fights the Nazis while doing a Humphrey Bogart impression. Eventually Igrid[1] Bergman leaves him.


"Breakfast at Stan's"

Stan has breakfast with Audrey Hepburn.


"The Stan who fell to Earth"

Stan does a David Bowie impression. Eventually someone trips him over.


Stan Wars I: The Phantom Stan

Stanakin is a small child with bad hair who turns out to be extraordinarily gifted in the Force. Despite this, it takes really quite a lot of people being killed for the Jedi order to train him. Stan also flys like the very devil himself.


Stan Wars II: Attack of the Stan

Due to some unclear political chicanary, Stanakin, now an adolescent, finds himself at the centre of a plot to tear the Galactic Republic apart in civil war. But worse still, he fancies a girl who treats him like a small child! Anyway, a long and spectacular battle sequence ensues, although Stanakin doesn't get to show off his piloting.


Stan Wars III: Revenge of the Stan

An opening sequence allows Stanakin to show off his piloting once more. But then he's forced to hang around being morose and broody as more politics happens. Boooring. Eventually he turns to the Dark Side, for more reasons than you can shake a stick at. Fairly swiftly he's forced to wear a big black hat, while the other characters do a lot of things that don't really make a lot of sense, except that the setup of Episode IV wasn't all that well thought out to begin with.


Episode IV: A New Stan

Luke Stanwalker, Stanakin's son, heads off into space to try and rescue a princess. He gets to show off his piloting skills, and oh boy! You think Stanakin could fly? Stanwalker is definitely the dogs bollocks. He and Stanakin, now Darth Stanner, dogfight in a chasm on the Death Stan. The Death Stan blows up. Darth Stanner is sent spinning out into space.


Episode V: The Empire Strikes Stan

Luke Stanwalker gets plenty of piloting in at the start of the film. However, it's clear that without the force, he'll never fly as well as Darth Stanner, plus, there's always the possibility that he won't meet him in deep space, and instead have to use the light saber or all those other Jedi tricks. Just as Yoda's non-training is about to take effect, Luke flys off to rescue a princess, who's Luke's sister. Darth Stanner has got her again! Anyway, Luke foolishly doesn't try any clever flying tricks, but goes saber to saber. Stanner reveals that he's Stanwalker's father! Luke is so suprised, his hand falls off.


Episode VI: The Return of the Stan

See The Lord of the Stans - The Return of the Stan, but with more piloting.

[1] Or maybe Ingmar Bergman

12 Days of Christmas Script Page 5

Page 5 - 3 tiers, 1st tier 2 panels, 2nd tier 1 panel, 3rd tier 2 panels

1st Tier - Panel 1

STAN is sitting on a chair. He's tied on, and in the nip, although shadows prevent us from seeing anything we wouldn't want to. The silhouette of CARDINAL REICHSTAG can be seen holding a piece of knotted rope. This really wants to be a Frank Miller style frame, but whatever you can draw will do.

CARDINAL: I expect you're wondering what's going on.

STAN: Since this chair has no seat, there's only two possibilities. Either I've been elected Pope, or you're going to beat me around my parts with that rope.


Panel 2

As above, but the CARDINAL is swinging the rope.

CARDINAL: Actually, it's both.


2nd Tier - Panel 3

The Bogcave - except there are now many members of staff, JIM, BEN, AUZ, Ben's sprogs etc. working in here. At one end the World Crisis Monitor has lit up. STAN can be seen, dressed as the pope, but looking in pain, maybe bent over, maybe being held up by two members of the Swiss Guard. Just in case noone gets what's going on, the words "STAN ELECTED POPE" are on the screen.

No dialogue.


3rd Tier - Panel 4

We zoom in on JIM who has become aware of the report on the World Crisis Monitor. He looks unhappy. BEN has come over to him.

BEN: Don't worry. That Stan may now have diplomatic immunity as head of state, but there's still 159,999 we can get at.

JIM: Stan... Pope... But that means...


Panel 5

Close up on JIM.

JIM: ...Stan is infallible!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

New Words!

Boris came up with a new word on Saturday night. (Here's Boris, dressed as a pirate). The word was "Alchofrolic", The mystery is, how a word of such obvious utility has never been invented before!

Or so I thought. However, a google search shows One (1) previous use of this word on the internet. Still, it beats my word, ambigamous, which has been used 5 times.

Lamb Shanks

After being given 2 lamb shanks and a handful of vegetables on Friday, I checked out Good Housekeeping Cook's Book, a book that tells you everything you need to know before you start following a recipe. It noted that Lamb Shanks would normally be braised for 3 hours. The page on braising suggested that, after browning, the meat should be put on a bed of aromatic vegetables (called a mirepoix if you're feeling posh, or are actually using onions, carrots and celery in the proportion 2:1:1) and some stock and/or other liquid poured in. So here's what I did:

2 Lamb Shanks
2 Medium or 1 Large Onion roughly chopped (as might be imagined, I actually used one medium and half a leftover large onion)
2 or 3 Stalks of Celery, roughly chopped
2 or 3 Cloves of Garlic, peeled
a Fistful of Rosemary
Half a Lamb Stockcube
Olive Oil
Salt, Pepper to taste

Brown the shanks in a large casserole in a little Olive Oil. Put to one side; we're going to be quick so they don't need to be kept warm. Throw the Onion, Celery and Garlic into the casserole and cook on a high heat for just long enough for the kettle to boil. Make up some stock with the half Stockcube and the water from the kettle. Stir the vegetables, add a little Salt, a generous amount of Pepper and the Rosemary, then add the stock, making sure it doesn't cover the vegetables. Put the Shanks back into the casserole and turn the heat down. Put the lid on and leave for 3 hours. You can make a cup of tea with the hot water left in the kettle if you want.

After three hours, check the meat. It should be cooked, and nearly falling off the bone. Put the shanks to one side (keep them warm this time), bring the liquid to the boil and reduce. Then use a hand held whizzy thing, or a food processor, or you can do that thing with a sieve and a spoon they used to do before electric appliances came along; anyway, purée the vegetables and stock. It makes a nice sauce for the shanks; it's a little dull grey-looking, and tastes of garlic and rosemary; if these turn you off, maybe a touch of wine in the casserole after browning the meat three hours before would work, or you can use your favourite lamb flavourings.

Friday, December 08, 2006

If Dale Brown wrote romances, this is not what would happen.

Dale Brown[1], Technothriller author doesn't write romances. That this came up in an online conversation is entirely my fault. (The recurring theme of Dinosaurs and Sodomy on that page is an injoke which is explained fully here).

I'm not Dale Brown, I don't write Technothrillers, and I don't write Romances. So what follows is also entirely my fault...


It was a starlit night at HAWC, the High-technology Aerospace Weapons Centre[2] in Southern Nevada. As he walked into the hanger USAF Lt Col Patrick Maclanahan[3] looked up into the sky. That was wjere the trim, sandyhaired officer wanted to be; flying in a cutting edge jet rather than managing research projects on the ground.

Everyone else had left for the night, but Maclanahan was determined to sort out the bugs in the weapons system submenu. He climbed into the darkened B-2 Spirit stealth bomber and retrieved the troublesome electronic box, intending to tinker with the display. Just as he got the box hooked up to diagnostics, the phone rang.

"Hello? Oh hello General. No, I'm the only one here... the security system is off? Several checkpoints appear to be unmanned? No one released the dogs this evening..." He paused, abruptly distracted by a shapely woman's leg propped up on the crew ladder of the aircraft in front of him[4].

"Sorry General, can I get back to you?" Without waiting for an answer he hung up.

"Patrick! There you are," said Wendy Tork. "What are you doing here? Is there anything wrong?"

Maclanahan showed her the box. "I've been trying to get this to work all day. The weapons submenus consistently choose the wrong weapon parameters for the loadout."

[For my own reasons I've chosen not to write the page and a half explaining how the Multi Function Display is supposed to integrate the onboard radar and IR, as well as external satellite, radar and other information sources along with GPS and inertial guidance with the currently available weapons as well as the current threat and mission parameters to offer the optimum selection(s) of weapon choices.]

"....but it doesn't recognise which weapon is in each position in the CSRL, so it might launch a SLAM as though it were a SDB or vice versa, with an obvious reduction in effectiveness[5]."

"Patrick, that's not important now though, is it? I mean, what are the odds that terrorists or foreign agents are going to break into this highly secure and isolated airbase, forcing us to escape in an experimental bomber, then discover that we're the only ones in a position to make an attack against an immediate threat to world peace?[6]"

"Pretty slim, I guess," said Maclanahan, "but you did ask what's wrong."

"No Patrick," said Wendy, "I meant is there something wrong with you? You've seemed so distant. Is it... is there someone else?"

Patrick looked at her. How could he be so blind? Ignoring the brief flutter of guilt, he took her in his arms and kissed her.

"Wendy, I could never love another... woman..."

As his voice stuttered his eyes flicked up involuntarily to the where the dark nose of his specially modified B-52 stared down at him reproachfully... [7]


[1] Dale Brown in not Dan Brown.
[2] HAWC is also known as Dreamland and Area 51 in Dale Brown's novels.
[3] Maclanahan appears in many of Dale Brown's novels and has his own wikipedia page.
[4] I stole the shapely woman's leg line directly out of Hammerheads.
[5] All real acronyms: CSRL is Common Strategic Rotary Launcher; SLAM is Standoff Land Attack Missile; SDB is Small Diameter Bomb.
[6] This is a rather flippant description of the plot of Flight of the Old Dog.
[7] In my mind this is an inside out and warped version of a joke from Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man's chest:
Elizabeth: I'm here to find the man I love!
Jack Sparrow: I'm deeply flattered, lad, but my first and only love is the sea.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Sailing the West Indies

As some of you know, my friend Bella is getting married in the British Virgin Islands this weekend. As some of you have noticed, Stan and I have been a bit elusive for the past few days. I can now reveal that these two facts are connected!

Stan and I have been sailing across the Atlantic Ocean, to make an unexpected and probably unwelcome appearance at Bella's wedding. In case anyone doubts this obviously true and accurate tale, here are a few photos.



There we are, about to set off, on a damp day in Falmouth.





The immensity of the ocean. This can get pretty dull after a while, so I'll skip onwards to...


Landfall! Stan thought we were at Antigua, and it turns out we were.


This guy got far too close. We had a good mind to report him to...


The cops! "Now that's what I call a police boat!" said Stan.


We took the afternoon off to relax on the beach...


(Stan may have got a touch too much sun!)


Now Stan, where did you leave the boat?


Stan! What's happened to our boat!


Eventually we found it (actually we'd been drinking rum and ginger beer for the last 4 hours).


And here's the crew, who are all sober enough to set off at first light...


Or maybe a little earlier than that!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Blogging about Star Wars, which has never been done before anywhere on the interweb, ever.

After watching Barbarella on Saturday and Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones last night I'm intrigued to note a parallel in the most fantastic of each films premises; the politics[1].

The Galactic Republic (Star Wars) has no standing army, but relies on the Jedi to keep the peace (with, it appears, the co-operation of local security forces; the Jedi's skills and leadership act as a force-multiplier).

The President of Earth and rotating Premier of the Sun System (Barbarella) has no armies or police and can't spare the Presidential Band[2], so send Barbarella, a triple-A star navigatrix.

These are both Western and, more generally, Adventure storylines - lone gunslinger has to pacify the town as there's no-one within a hundred miles to back them up - in one case filtered through George Lucas' superior imagination, and in the other, through a french comic book.

(George Lucas wouldn't make Barbarella, and, even if he did, it would probably be terrible. But if it did work...)



[1] That the most fantastic thing in each film is the politics is already a paralell. Good lord, they're practically the same film!
[2] Considering the seriousness of the situation, perhaps he should have tried doing without the band for a few days, but that's just my opinion.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Dream Diary 7

I was in a house with some friends. It's a summers day and the garden is a patio with bright flowers. The church behind the house caught fire, and burning debris kept drifting into the garden and onto the house. We had to run around putting out the fires, but our conversation was an important one, so we kept talking while we did so. I don't remember what the conversation was about.

(I recognised the church when I woke up; it was one I saw on TV, on Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares. It's St Margarets in Kings Lynn).

More adventures in the 21st century

It's not that C21 to have a film based on a comic book.

It's not C21 to have a film based on the battle of Thermopylae.

It's not even C21 to have a Frank Miller comic book based on the battle of Thermopylae.

But it's a little furture-shock-wierd to have a film based on a comic book based on the battle of Thermopylae. [1]

(It must be the same future where Dave Cockrum, best known for drawing making the X-Men successful gets most of a page for his obituary in the Independent)


[1] Due to the wierdness of Hollywood (and as this post notes that wierdness is understandable and, indeed, sometimes a good thing) the time between wrapping a film and it's release is a good time for those involved to pitch their next projects(s). The director, has Zack Snyder attached himself to Watchmen, which is a film that really should have been made in the 20th Century.