Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Hallowe'en Thought

Meg, a cat, has recently moved to the country to pursue her career as a hunter and has put on weight.

Spud, a human, has moved to the country to train as a blacksmith and has lost weight.

Putting these two "facts" "together" gives only one conclusion on 31 October; Vampire Cat.

Spooky Hallowe'en Midweek Monkey Business

I Put A Spell On You isn't actually a scary song and would normally look like a fairly lame Hallowe'en effort. Or so I thought until I saw this video of Screamin Jay Hawkins performing it. Other Hallowe'en-related songs:

The Time Warp (Again) - here with Star Trek visuals (note the Pagesbar tag)

Skullcrusher Mountain - This is a Jonathan Coulton song from one of his make-a-video competitions. It has too many monkeys, and if I'm lazy I'll recycle this link as the monkey link.

Remains of the Day - from The Corpse Bride.

Spooky - Dusty Springfield. There's some other versions of this song with spookier videos, but I like this version of the song. Some of you may say this blog has had too much Dusty Springfield recently. I say that a quick google has found me several blogs with much greater Dusty content and I still want more! Ahem.

There's probably some actual hallowe'en cartoons on the internet, but here's a Wondermark cartoon that sums up my feelings. Pho999 on Scans_daily has posted a hallowe'en urban legend. Also more youtube action, this time, Betty Boop's Hallowe'en Party; as always with Betty Boop, it's 5 minutes of Whiskey Tango Foxtrot although it does actually have some kind of resolution at the end of this one.

Blogger's blogs of note has brought up this gem: Mustaches of the Nineteenth Century. Is Jim reading this? Someone poke him with a stick, as this blog is definitely in his bag.

I would post about Samhain, but it's too much like hard work. I'll pull out all the stops for midwinter though. Promise.

Does anyone else remember Tales of the Golden Monkey? Flying boats? Mysterious goings-on? Japanese bad guys? Well, the fansite above has it's own Youtube channel (which, since you can set one up yourself isn't actually that exciting).

Still looks a bit light. Here's a link to the covers of some romance novels; note that the Tricks and Treats series includes the most erotic of fruit, the Pumpkin. Or is it a vegetable?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Real Life is for Losers

The boiler has now been properly mended; we have wireless broadband and Sky in two rooms.

I may never leave the house again.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Boiler Update

The boiler has now been fixed[1] so I'm dressed relatively normally again.

That is all.

[1] Fluff in the valve; 2 minutes work to fix.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


The boiler has broken down - AGAIN - and it's been getting a bit chilly in the evenings. Rather than putting a jumper on, I indulged my eccentric side by wearing my dressing gown over my clothes.

Just saying.

The Fourth Wall

Mum and Dad went to a play in a restaurant as part of the Canterbury Festival; this was both a play taking place in the restaurant, and a play set in a restaurant (of an inn in 1950s Italy as it turned out). They were served a meal[1] and occasionally found themselves part of the action.

While talking about this I made reference to "The Fourth Wall" a drama theory term that it turned out they weren't familiar with. In case anyone else is unfamiliar with it I'll briefly explain here.

Classically a stage has three walls, the one at the back, and the two wings (which allow actors on and off). The fourth wall is the one between the audience and the play. It is, of course, invisible, to allow the audience to watch the play, but exists to separate the audience from the world of the play.

Breaking the fourth wall (interacting with or acknowledging the audience) is now an almost overused technique in films, especially comedies. Charles Stross talks briefly about it, in reference to his use of the second person in his latest novel at the start of this film (him doing a reading; it's an hour long, but the bit I refer to is near the beginning).

[1] As this was a play in a restaurant rather than a restaurant in a play, the food was good, rather than cold, and/or fake.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

What I've Learnt This Week

A Swashbuckler isn't someone who buckles his swash; he's someone who swashes his buckle(r).

If you aren't up to speed on archaic weapon combinations, the buckler is a small shield held in the hand or fist, able to be moved rapidly to block blows or to punch at an opponent. You can find an introduction to sword and buckler fighting on this page; inevitably there's some sword and buckler fencing on youtube too.

To swash it is to beat it with your sword hilt. It's the drum noise you get at the start of this trailer for Zulu except the shields are cowhide and they're hitting them with the butt of their assegais, rather than swords (can't find more relevant video at the moment).

Friday, October 26, 2007

Friday + Five = This Post

Song: Electric Barbarella, Duran Duran. For no good reason, except Tony Hadley is apparently going into politics for the Tories.

Book: Northern Lights, Phillip Pullman. It's for kids! There's a film coming out in December under the American title The Golden Compass. It stars Nicole Kidman! Read the book before I drag you to the film! Or afterwards. Or not at all if you like.

Film: Hollow Man. This film is essentially a vehicle for the quite extraordinary "invisible man" effects; Kevin Bacon's character picks some almost deliberately stupid things to do (if you're invisible) that happen to create really striking visual images. In a film filled with ludicrous science, Elisabeth Shue's character at one point makes an electromagnet to escape from a room - this was analysed by the short-lived but entertaining program Hollywood Science.

Food: Breadcrumb cake. With too many breadcrumbs left from topping tomatoes, simply add salt, pepper, herbs, a little oil and some Parmesan and put under the grill for a couple of minutes!

Wild Card: The question was asked on Scans_daily "How many times has Lois [Lane] been engaged?" Someone with a complete run of Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane comics (running from the late 50s to the early 70s, a companion comic to the other Superman comics of the period) has taken a look at all the proposals, engagements and weddings that Lois went to in just this comic. It was the comic with the greatest frequency of Lois getting engaged, but it's quite extraordinary; the series runs in ten parts.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Business Midweek Monkey

From Paul, the excellent song/intro to Beach Blanket Bingo. Paul says "Why can't all parties be as fun as this?" I say, why does that never happen to me when I go fishing? Also, I've previously noted my appreciation of Amy Macdonald's voice, but for some reason didn't point you at this video for her song L.A.; not only do I like the song more than Mr Rock and Roll, but she smiles and seems to be enjoying herself once or twice in this one.

I thought the Jessica Simpson video for These Boots Are Made For Walking was blatant and exploitative (although there's nothing wrong with that per se); what I'd forgotten was that the Nancy Sinatra original was equally so, if in a slightly camp (kitsch? naive?) sixties way.

Via Beaucoupkevin, Nine Planets Without Intelligent Life a webcomic about 2 robots from Mercury on a road trip through a Solar System in which the human race has died out. Also about drinking, free will and the nature of being human. It got the first update in six months last month; the author says "Forget fear of commitment, I don't even go on second dates." Well, hell, I can top that, I don't even go on first... What? It's not a competition?

Wondermark gives us a heads up on the hot memes for next year's internet. And here is a pi pie.

We've just missed the anniversary of Bishop Ussher's date for the creation of the world (23 October; note also that he calculates that Adam and Eve are driven from paradise on 10 November, a very short period of tenancy indeed); note that the 9:00 AM time comes from James Lightfoot, and that's a time for the creation of Man, not of the world. In celebration here's that picture of the Earth from the Moon. Ah, the Moon. Must blog about that soon.

Via Making Light the Robotic Dalek Pumpkin, presented without comment.

And from 1959, a news report on how two monkeys were the first animals to survive a space mission.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Ravenswood Stories: The Slave who Shot himself with an Arrow

There was a man from the Ravenswood who went away to war and came back with a great fortune, and also with a slave. This was the first slave to be kept in the Ravenswood, so he caused great excitement, envy and disapproval.

(It's not true that this was the first slave; when the First people built their hill fort, they had slaves working with them; a thousand years later when the Iron Empire tore down the fort they brought (and took) slaves with them to work the fields; when the Iron Empire left and the Sea People came, they made slaves of many of the Ravenwood's inhabitants; when the Northmen came they bought, and sold, and took, and brought slaves; but by the time of the Conqueror there were few slaves and he made no more, so by the time of this story no one had been a slave in the Ravenswood for as long as anyone could remember)

The slave was mostly hardworking, and knew a lot of animal husbandry, which made him in great demand amongst those herdsmen who didn't dismiss his skills as foreign witchcraft. So it was, that when a cow strayed, he was the one to find it.

He found the cow on top of a ridge, looking down a cliff and the slave was separated from it by an overgrown gully. To try and scare it back towards the farm, he shot an arrow to just in front of it. A gust of wind came from nowhere and blew the arrow back at the slave, hitting him in the forehead.

The slave's cries spooked the cow back to the farm, and attracted the attention of the other searchers, including the priest. When the story got back to the Bishop, he went up to the ridge and declared that this was a miracle (of sorts) and that a shrine should be built there. The man who owned the slave took great pride in this, until the Bishop learned the nature of the slave's relationship, and shamed the man into freeing the slave.

This pleased everyone but the former slave, who complained he now had no home or work. The Bishop, thinking quickly, made the former slave warden of the shrine. The man who had been a slave (as he was now known) sent abroad for his wife and children, and they came and joined him (as did his wife's mother who he had not sent for). They lived at the Arrow Ridge Shrine for many years, until the Night of the Fires.

But that's another story.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Christmas and Wishes

Dad has been making Christmas Puddings. When you make a Christmas Pudding and stir it, you can make a wish. Like many wishes, if you tell anyone about it, the wish won't come true.

Logically you can game this by wishing for something you DON'T want to come true, then tell everyone about it. This of course can't work; by the nature of magic and wishes, a wish must be made with all your heart. Wishing for something you don't want can only have bad consequences.

But what if you wish for something you truly want, then change your mind? Breaking a wish can't be good, but if the wish would cause damage, what are you to do?

If I believed in this stuff, it would make for quite a dilemma. I played safe and wished for something personal to me.

What Real People do on Sundays

Last Sunday I managed to get a group of friends out of their post-Saturday languor and we went out for a pub lunch. The first part of my plan to make us more like real, adult, Middle-England-type human beings on a Sunday is working!

Next time, of course, I'll have to sell them the idea of "going for a walk".

Friday, October 19, 2007

Things you learn on Wikipedia

Just been on the Sandwich (disambiguation) page on Wikipedia. Who would have thought that it includes a link to the List of Sexual positions page?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Helicopter Music Update

Over on the Facebook Version of this challenge, there's several good suggestions, all of which will get discussed when the entries are closed. On a slight tangent, one of Ross's "modern options" was My Chemical Romance's I'm Not Okay (I Promise) (some profanity so probably Not Safe For Work). As I've noted on Facebook, in the admittedly small genre of music videos which are in the style of movie trailers, this promo comes second only to The Beastie Boys' Sabotage. Which would make a good song to blare out of the stereo while riding a huey over the treetops... I think this is where we came in.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Food to Annoy Stan

On Sunday Claire, soon to be housemates with Stan, was extolling the virtues of some sort of Pork, Pear and Parsnip dish( I wasn't paying quite as much attention as I should have). Stan however wasn't keen on the mixing of sweet and savoury flavours. Obviously there's two ways Claire could go with this; either alliteratively or continuing to pick flavour combinations Stan doesn't like. Equally obvious is the path I'd choose; hence I'm volunteering to make Puff Pastry Onion Tart as a starter.

Slice up quite a few onions; enough to cover a baking tray after they've been cooked. Then cook them in olive oil as slowly as you can for quite a while. Eventually they'll be soft, sweet and translucent, or you'll get bored. Spread them out on a baking tray.

Roll out some puff pastry so it will cover the onion covered baking tray, then actually cover the tray with it. Follow whatever instructions your pastry packet or recipe suggests re: cooking temperature and times and egg wash or whatever. When it's done, take it out of the oven, let it cool a little, then put a wire rack on top of the tart and turn the whole lot over, which hopefully will leave you with a huge puff pastry onion tart on top of the wire rack. Then decorate liberally with anchovies and olives. When you finally get around to taking a mouthful of crunchy puff pastry, sweet, sweet onions, and salty anchovies and olives, you'll either be like Stan and go "Urgh", or you'll be like me and say "That's bitchingly good". Mmm... sweet and salt...


To fill in what promises to be a light blogging week, here's a couple of scanned images, just because.

There are many reasons to like Modesty Blaise, either in the novels or the strips. The novels have tended to lose out in the cover stakes, but I really like this one.

Nicholas bloody Parsons!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The origin of the A-Team reconstructed

The characters in the A-Team are NOT inspired by the Athos, Aramis, Porthos and D'Artagnan[1] from Alexandre Dumas classic novel Les Trois Mousquetaires. Nevertheless it would make a good comedy sketch to

a. have the A-Team brainstorming session and
b. show a few sample scenes if they had based the A-Team members on the Musketeers.

Obviously the best thing to do would be round up all the A-Team actors[2] and put them into scenes from the 3 Musketeers, except with direction from the A-Team. In the event this can't be done, then a bunch of "us" dressed up as the A-Team dressed up as Musketeers driving around in a black van with a red stripe would have to do.

(Extracted from a conversation this afternoon)

[1] If only because they are clearly based on characters from the Robin Hood legends:
Hannibal - Robin
BA - Little John
Face - Will Scarlet
Murdoch - Friar Tuck
[2] Or a good impersonator in the case of George Peppard

Friday, October 12, 2007

Firday Fvie

Song: The Rolling Stones, Sympathy for the Devil. Too obvious for a special-forces-in-a-helicopter scene, but not for my Friday Five. No Siree. Comedy or Tragedy? - Tragedy (obviously)

Book: Jonathan Coe, What a Carve Up! Claire has recommended this book for, well, forever, and I finally got around to reading it. It confirms two of my thoughts about Claire; 1. that she has excellent taste; and 2. that she's as mad as a bag of cats. Comedy or Tragedy? - Tragedy. It's pretty damn funny for a tragedy, but tragedy it is.

Film: 300. I haven't seen it yet but got the DVD today. Still we all know the story from Herodotus and it's not like it's the first time it's been filmed is it? Comedy or Tragedy? - Well, they've all been dead for over 2000 years, so I say Tragedy.

Food: Rock Cakes. It's always Rock Cakes. Comedy or Tragedy? - Comedy. With Rock Cakes it's always Comedy.

Wild Card: The Stan Roberts IMDb page. Comedy or Tragedy? - Comedy. If you follow it through you can see it's also a tragedy, but that's because it stops being a self-contained narrative and spreads out into the rest of the world which contains both, and other things that don't fall neatly into those two categories. Not that any of them did. Time to return to the rest of the world for a while.

'Sympathy for the Devil' is too obvious

The situation is that you are part of an American Special Forces Unit[1] flying on a helicopter on a mission into the jungle[2]. The question is, what song (or songs or other music) would you have blaring out on the stereo?

Since it's the only way to get anyone to answer, I'm making this a competition, for a prize I'll figure out later. If Stan is the only one to answer he'll obviously win, and no one wants that[3]. Maybe everyone who enters should get a prize. That would be good. Perhaps I'll do that.

Entries either in comments, or if it's too embarrassing for that by email, or for even more embarrassing than that[4] by email, but claiming it's a friend's selection. The deadline will be one week from today, but I'll probably accept anything that limps in over the weekend of the 20th-21st. Go check out your music collections and war films!

[1] Including Green Berets, Delta Force, SEALs, Rangers, Marine Force Recon etc.
[2] If the jungle is jungly enough, then you might be sailing on a boat up a river, in the back of a truck, or maybe even riding on top of a tank; conversely other terrain would be acceptable (mountains and deserts being topical) but then it would have to be a helicopter.
[3] Stan does, but he'll be forever haunted by the possibility that he's won not through his virtues but by default.
[4] No excuse now Jim.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Still running on empty

To fill in until there is content, here are the top search engine searches that have turned up on Night of the Hats:

1 52 a frenchman went to the lavatory (and variations on this)
2 18 psychopath test (and variations)
3 9 night of the hats (and "nightofthehats")
4= 6 night hats
4= 6 blackberry ripple ice cream (and "blackberry ripple")
6 4 case nightmare green
7 3 lammas day
8= 2 joull wikipedia
8= 2 pictures of buttervant
8= 2 pippin the fat
8= 2 ace of cups cup of plenty

That thing I do on Wednesdays, with monkeys.

Midweek Monkey Business looked a bit light last week, and seems even lighter this week, so I'll probably take next week off and institute a one Wednesday off a month to let the links and enthusiasm build up again. Meanwhile:

I caught this while flicking through the music channels last night. I know nothing about this band, but I like the video a lot and the song quite a bit; The Young Knives, The Decision. (It turns out there was an earlier video which was darker, funnier and a bit more disturbing.)

On Saturday night, or rather Sunday morning, the disc jockey in the discotheque we were patronising put on a version of Son of a Preacher Man. I didn't recognise the version[1], but was pretty sure it wasn't Dusty or Aretha. A quick flick through the Youtube archives got me this live Joss Stone version which is pretty close, but the Wikipedia entry on the song lists 69 covers, so I'm unlikely to get to the bottom of it soon.

(I'm not going to apologise for linking to 3 versions of Son of a Preacher Man but this is what I mean by being a bit light on ideas).

Dark Horse Comics have a graphic novel version of War of the Worlds (Story H G Wells, Adapted by Ian Edginton, Art by D'Israeli) online - it's good, although I can't help comparing it to Volume 2 of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen[2]. On a lighter note, to get the most out Sluggy Freelance you need to got through the 10 years of back issues. Nevertheless there are some bits that standalone pretty well, like last Friday's strip.

Warren Ellis recently linked to what he described as "the best found-image photoblog in the world" the Not Safe For Work named riotclitshave. It has images that are not safe for work, and in some cases not safe for anyone, many fascinating ones (the German girls ice hockey team from the 30's with swastikas on their chunky jumpers; the nun with the eye patch; USS Iowa from above firing it's guns so you can see the shock waves; 2 clowns heading for a corner, around which is about to come a man with a trolley of pies and none of them watching where they're going etc.) and some pictures that everyone in the world should see. Also some monkeys.

I really am out of ideas now to bring up this link to The Medieval Cookery website. There are many interesting recipes (remember, no using anything from the New World - not tomatoes, potatoes, chili, or (gasp!) chocolate) but the main thing to remember is that they loved pepper. So much pepper.

And of course, Mr Monkey's World of Hats. There. The tank's empty. Hope you're satisfied.

[1] Possibly because of the two hour happy hour at the cocktail bar earlier that day
[2] Repeat to yourself 100 times: "There was no film. There was no film."

Monday, October 08, 2007

Polite Fictions

I'm going to talk about polite fictions, to no great purpose and with no conclusion in mind; this is a subject I'm interested in as a someone who spends a remarkable amount of time lying, evading and not answering questions[1]. If you're not interested feel free to go and read Stephen Fry's blog; it makes mine, and indeed every other blog on the internet quite superfluous. I'll be here when you get back.

(If you know me and think this post is about you, it probably is; on the other hand if you think it's only about you, you're very wrong).

So we all know that there are times when we have to pretend that certain things haven't happened, or that we don't know something we do, or that we shouldn't give clear and unambiguous answers to certain questions. For example, at work a few years ago, it became obvious to me that one of my co-workers was pregnant. For good reasons pregnancies aren't announced to the world for the first three months so I simply kept my mouth shut and acted all surprised when it was announced (although I'd taken the liberty of coming up with a response wittier than "How did this happen?")

This is somewhat different to the situation where someone is ill, but refuses to draw attention to it. After having to drag someone home and force someone else to go to hospital, I've pretty much given up being polite about this stuff.

Of course this is most interesting when it comes to relationships. When two people are not together, but we all know they are, there's room to have some fun; flirt outrageously (after all they're officially single!), try and set them up on dates, make double-edged jokes, serenade them outside their window at 4 in the morning, leave bad poetry tucked in their underwear draw... ah the list is endless. So much fun.

Anyway my point is this; none of my friends answer my calls anymore and I don't know why. Can anyone help?

[1] In particular as someone who blurted out on Saturday night an unacknowledged and unofficial answer to the question "Are X and Y together?", when the questioner meant "Are X and Y travelling here together?" rather than "Are X and Y an item?"[2]
[2] Not helped by his rephrasing his question with the barely less ambiguous as "I meant 'Is X with Y?'"

Nazi Dance Fight Revisited

At the risk of making my blog seem obsessed with Nazis, I'm reluctantly revisiting my post Nazi Dance Fight. When attempting to reconstruct the hungover conversation with Jim and Stan, it seemed to me that the most likely to have come up with this idea was Jim. Now though, Stan has said he was the one with the idea of making the Nazis in The Sound of Music dance fight in the style of West Side Story.

I'm making the correction; we were all throwing ideas into the ring, and if Stan remembers it was him I'll take his word for it. But what if Jim disagrees? With no record the only way to resolve the dispute will be some kind of contest, perhaps a formal duel. A formal duel set to music. A formal duel set to music in costume. Yeah, that'd do it.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

"It seems the tables have turned"

Voice Mail Message from 2:30 This Morning

Hi Neil... It's James.

[Long Pause]

[No, a really long pause. A strangely long pause in fact.]

It seems the tables have turned. Stroder is locked out of the

[Another Pause]

Can you call me back? Bye.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Friday 5 October

Song: Aretha Franklin, Respect. A karaoke favourite! For me that is.

Book: Neal Stephenson, Cryptonomicon. I was reminded of this by the Mitchell and Webb sketch in which Admiral Karl Dönitz is appointed the new Fuhrer[1] as there's an hilarious sequence in Cryptonomicon in which some of the characters are reading transcripts of intercepted German transmissions between Dönitz and a U-boat captain Bischoff:

Bischoff : Sank another merchantman. This newfangled radar shit is everywhere.
Dönitz : Acknowledged. Well done.
Bishoff : Bagged another tanker. These bastards seem to know exactly where I am. Thank god for the Schnorkel.
Dönitz : Acknowledged. Nice work as usual.
Bischoff : Sank another merchantman. Airplanes were waiting for me. I shot one of them down; it landed on me in a fireball and incinerated three of my men. Are you sure this Enigma thing really works?
Dönitz : Nice work, Bischoff! You get another medal. Don't worry about the Enigma, it's fantastic!
Bischoff : I attacked a convoy and sank three merchantmen, a tanker and a destroyer.
Dönitz : Superb, another medal for you!
Bischoff : Just for the hell of it, I doubled back and finished what was left of that convoy. Then another destroyer turned up and dropped depth charges on us for three days. We are all half dead, steeped in our own waste like rats that have fallen into a latrine and are slowly drowning. Our brains are gangrenous from breathing our own carbon dioxide.
Dönitz : You are a hero of the Reich and the Fuhrer himself has been informed of your brilliant success! Would you mind heading south and attacking the convoy at such-and-such coordinates? P.S. please limit the length of your messages.
Bischoff : Actually I could use a vacation, but sure, what the heck.
Bischoff (a week later) : Nailed about half that convoy for you. Had to surface and engage a pesky destroyer with the deck gun. This was so utterly suicidal, they didn't expect it. As a consequence we blew them to bits. Time for a nice vacation now.
Dönitz : You are now officially the greatest U-boat commander of all time.
(Page 391. From here the narrative turns from comedy towards tragedy and returns to the plot.)

Film: There's actually opera on TV all the time if you search far enough down through the 10 zillion channels Sky has. I haven't actually seen this production of The Magic Flute, but with the English libretto by Stephen Fry, what do I have to lose. Must make a note: watch more opera -it's like Miss Saigon but without the helicopter!

Food: Roast Pheasant! Pheasant season opened on 1 October! Pheasant is a game bird and very lean so dries out easily (my mantra for cooking game). Avoid this by smearing the bird in butter, laying bacon over the breast and thighs, and baste in the middle of cooking. Roast for maybe 10 minutes at 230C and another 30-40 minutes at 200C. Serve with game chips (crisps heated in the oven make a fine impersonation), a clear gravy, fried breadcrumbs, watercress and rich jellies like quince or blackberry. Alternatively look back through my archives for Pheasant Pot Roast.

Wild Card: I've been keeping this in reserve for a while as I'm still not quite sure what my reaction is, but anyway here's the music video to Jeffrey Lewis' Williamsburg Will Oldham Horror. Let me know if you think anything. Not Safe For Work. In fact probably this whole post is NSFW.

[1] Based on the factoid that Dönitz was the short lived leader of Germany after Hitler killed himself.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

To lighten the mood

I had intended to follow up my previous downer of a post with something that always cheers me up: Hilary Swank crashlanding a shuttle in the film The Core. Jim and I once watched a film entirely about a shuttle crash, which I can't find listed on IMDb, and afterwards said "but it was so much better in The Core!" so we watched that sequence from The Core and they'd done a much better job in a five minute sequence than the 90-odd minutes it had taken the other film. Anyway, nobody has been cheeky enough to upload that particular sequence onto Youtube so instead, if you want a moodlifter Warren Ellis asks the question What is the Greatest TV Title Sequence of All Time?

Update: Jim reminds me that the film we saw was Max Q, 91 minutes of our lives we aren't going to get back (except in Argentina, which IMDb claims has a runtime of 98 minutes for this film).

48 Hours Critical Window

Numb3rs is an American TV show which is better than that aggravating 3 in the title would seem to indicate. It does seem specifically aimed at me - young brilliant maths prodigy is the brother of a young ass-kicking FBI agent[1]; whenever a crime is a bit unusual Don (FBI) calls in Charlie (Maths Professor) as a consultant[2] - but I didn't have anything to say about it that you couldn't get from a close watching of an episode or two[3]. Then on Tuesday, at the start they flashed up 4 numerical factoids that I was familiarish with (from watching Without a Trace):


And I'm putting together 90% Parents responsible and 56% Children found alive and I'm not liking what that adds up, and I'm really not liking those figures combined with 203,900. Even if we include kids being snatched by parents who are split up and then vanish.

So anyway. That was today's depressing moment. Time for something uplifting.

[1] An FBI agent whose team is so flexible they get brought in on any type of crime; either that or the LA office is very short on big crime solving teams
[2] No nepotism going on there
[3] Not that that usually stops me

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

David Tennant's Hamlet

So David Tennant, known for his portrayal of "The Doctor" in Dr Who is to play Hamlet for the RSC. Has he thought this through?

(Um... the opening lines of the play? If you aren't carrying them in your head, take a quick look.)


I'm pretty sure that you'll have heard that Lois Maxwell has died. You probably saw her as Miss Moneypenny in 14 Bond films, but did you know she was Miss Holland in UFO and voiced Atlanta Shore in Stingray? On which note, here's the Stingray Megamix.

Growing up, one of my parent's albums I played a lot was Boney M's Nightflight to Venus. As a tribute to the continuing influence this disco classic on my life and taste, here's one of the many singles, Rasputin. The lyrics are surprisingly historically accurate.

Xkcd has a cartoon that adequately explains Stan's drinking at work. Also a comic book exposition of the history of hollow earth theories from scans_daily. And from Kevin Church here's the goddamn Batman.

Have I really not blogged about the Planetocopia, where a real climatologist has created a number of fascinating planets? And some monkeyness.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Servers and Personal Computers

(This got sent to me in 2003)

Dear All,

There are a lot of changes taking place across the board in regard to servers & personal computers. The goal is to remove all laptop computers by June 2003 and all desktop computers by August 2003 as a part of the ongoing cost-cutting around the business. Instead, everyone will be provided with an Etch-A-Sketch.

There are many sound reasons for doing this:

1. No boot-up problems
2. No technical glitches keeping work from being done.
3. No more wasted time reading and writing emails.
4. No more worries about power cuts.
5. Budget savings on Upgrades unparalleled

Frequently asked questions from the Etch-A-Sketch help desk:

Q: My Etch-A-Sketch has all of these funny little lines all over the screen.
A: Pick it up and shake it.

Q: How do I turn my Etch-A-Sketch off?
A: Pick it up and shake it.

Q: What's the shortcut for Undo?
A: Pick it up and shake it.

Q: How do I create a New Document window?
A: Pick it up and shake it.

Q: How do I set the background and foreground to the same colour?
A: Pick it up and shake it.

Q: What is the proper procedure for rebooting my Etch-A-Sketch?
A: Pick it up and shake it.

Q: How do I delete a document on my Etch-A-Sketch?
A: Pick it up and shake it.

Q: How do I save my Etch-A-Sketch document?
A: Don't shake it.

Monday, October 01, 2007

All Cretans are Liars

Jim and Dean are back in the country and have been swiftly followed by this postcard, which sadly is too phallic to show the picture of. Here, though is the text:

Dear Neel,
Deen and I are in Creet. People from Creet are called Creetuns, not Cretins. This is importunt. Deen took me to a place called the Labi-Rinth and we got seperated, but a thred from my T-shurt had got cort on the entrance and I followed it back.
Deen was very suprised to see me!
Everywun talks about the Myno-tour, but Deen said it was at least half bull.
Wether continues fine.

Nice Weather for Me

It was raining, but, as it's after the equinox, I went out for a walk anyway (otherwise I'd never go out for six months of the year). Along the townwall I passed some ducks who were walking along the grass. Just like me! Perhaps it really was nice weather for ducks.

Further on I found some ducks asleep with their bills tucked under their wings. Just like me when it was raining earlier (except the wing bit). So it was nice weather for walking and nice weather for dozing. If you're a duck. Or me.

Am I going anywhere with this? No, not really.

Quick Cooking

I was watching an episode of Nigella Express, in which Nigella demonstrated recipes for widweek supper parties. One of them was her stripped down, express Coq au Riesling. Which is all very well. But I've generally found that when cooking things from the French-peasant-dishes-with-wine family that they get better (or at least no worse) if you leave them overnight and reheat them. So I'm dubious of the time saving qualities displayed here.

On the other hand, it does give me an idea for a Christmas taste-test. And serving it Alsace-style on noodles - that's time saving and brilliant.