Friday, July 31, 2009

A Heavy Bass Beat Is Everyone's Silence

I've become aware that my endorsement of the line "A heavy bass line is my kind of silence" was illustrated by a Youtube video, which compresses the sound and, especially in combination with my slightly tinny computer speakers, removes much of the bass.

Well, that's awful. It's like back when I was a kid and listened to all my music on the radio. They compressed all the bass off. Allegedly this was the cause of all the high bright pop sound of the 80s. Will Youtube as a juke box for kids bring this kind of sound back? As I have no skill at precognition, I leave the question open.

007: This Never Happened To The Other Fellow

Drax's face was thunderous. 'Damn fool. Always seeing trouble,' he muttered. And then abruptly, as if he wanted to clear his deputy out of his mind, 'Come along to my office. Show you the flight plan. Then we'll go off to bed.'
Moonraker, Ian Fleming.

Really Sir Hugo! That's not the kind of thing Bond was expecting when he became security officer for Sir Hugo Drax ("Hugger" to his friends).

This is the least of the changes made between the book and the film. Drax has built a "...super-atomic rocket[1] with a range that would cover nearly every capital in Europe - the immediate answer to anyone who tried to atom bomb London" and put it at the disposal of Her Majesty. Well of course! A single MRBM would mean the destruction of any enemy who attacked Britain[3], and hence guarantee peace in Europe! Or would it just make the coast of Kent the first target for any pre-emptive attack?

[1] The rocket itself is fueled by fluorine and hydrogen[2]; it's the payload that is an atom bomb
[2] "That's top secret by the way"
[3] I call this doctrine "Single Assured Destruction" or SAD.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Waterstones Bookseller: When I read the first line, I just had to smile.
Me: You know, the intersection of people who like zombies and like Jane Austen seems bigger than anyone would have thought*.
Bookseller: Some people were a bit sniffy about it.
Me: Well, it can't be any worse than those bloody awful sequels people were writing a few years back.
Bookseller: You're right there.

I'd been resisting buying Pride and Prejudice and Zombies because the publicity had included the following diagram telling me that this was right up my street.

Am I really so predictable? Apparently so.

I had another conversation on the bus on the way home.
[Ex-pupil]: Hello Sir. What are you doing out here?
Me: What am I doing here?
[Ex-pupil]: Oh right. You live out this way.

This was especially aggravating as I've been catching that bus** since before that kid was born.

* I should note that I've previously had a conversation of with the many and varied links between Jane Austen and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Of course that could just be me.
** Not that actual bus*** but that bus route. Although the route has changed slightly in that time, it's the same number bus and it goes from the same stop to the same station.
*** On that journey. The one on the way out might easily have been on the road for 20 years.

Beard Lottery

I have several friends who have beards. But sometimes we don't have beards! Also the styles of beard are highly variable.

This has led to an unoffical game called "Beard Lottery" in which various interested on-lookers attempt to guess who will be displaying which beard. I feel it is time to put this sport on to a more professional basis. As such, here is my proposed beard lottery playsheet.

(Click on it to get the full size version)
Comments are open for those with queries or suggestions, although I anticipate that most of the players will be on the facebook version of this post.

The phrase "beard lottery" was, I believe, coined by Mr Schnee.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

All I Care About Is Sex And Violence

I'm not a big fan of the ubiquitous Dizzee Rascal, although unlike Jim I don't blame him for the state of the toilets at Glastonbury. As it happens he doesn't need (or want probably) my endorsement for his Number One record Bonkers. I give it anyway as I must admit the man has a facility with words:

And all I care about is sex and violence
A heavy bass line is my kind of silence

Today has definitely been a heavy-bass-line-is-my-kind-of-silence day.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Legendary 007 Wit (Or At Least Half Of It)

The man at the all-night garage was not as sleepy as Colonel Johns said he would be.

'Goin' huntin', mister?'

You can get far in North America with laconic grunts. Huh, hun, and hi! in their various modulations, together with sure, guess so, that so? and nuts! will meet almost any contingency.

Bond, slinging the strap of his rifle over his shoulder, said 'Hun.'

'Man got a fine beaver over by Highgate Springs Saturday.'

Bond said indifferently 'That so?' paid for two nights and walked out the garage.
For Your Eyes Only, Ian Fleming

Really Bond, it may be 3 AM, but did you hear what he said? 'Man got a fine beaver...'? There's loads of room to slip a double entendre in there. I can only hope Bond becomes as amusing as this minor character elsewhere in the series.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Conversation Of The Day

[Student A]: Sir! Sir! Look at my tie![1]
Me: You're a prefect then?
[Student A]: Yeah!
Me: You're going to boss people around?
[Student A]: yeah!
Me: Wrong answer. You should have quoted the three laws of Prefectics:
1. Protect the innocent
2. Uphold the law
3. Serve the public trust
4. (Classified)

[Student A]: What?

Is no one teaching kids the classics these days?

[1] [Student A] is sporting the red-striped Prefect's tie, rather than the standard version.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Disco History Lessons

Previously I've complained about historical inaccuracies in pop songs[1] to a generally uncaring internet. Anyway, to be fair I should point out good history in pop culture[2] when I find it:

Boney M, Rasputin.

I note in passing that the exact circumstances of Grigori Rasputin's death are disputed but the latest findings (2004) suggest that it was a bullet that killed him. Much of the theological and political background has been simply ignored, but I can excuse that in a disco track, especially after seeing the finance director Cossack dancing to it one Christmas office party. Ra ra!

[1] In one case a Finnish Biochemist turned up to tell me that humans and dinosaurs (or dragons) did co-exist, as was proved by the fact that people have been drawing them for thousands of years. My preferred theory is that legends of dragons come from a combination of cautionary tales of pre-historic giant snakes and giant birds of prey with surface fossils of dinosaurs, all brewed together in the oral tales of a hundred cultures, giving wildly different versions with a few points of congruence, but his collection of pictures was fantastic, even if not what I'd call proof.

[2] If Hollywood ever makes a historically accurate film I'll be sure to blog about it mere weeks after I've seen it[3].

[3] Oh, all right, Alexander; good, but if you don't already know far too much about Alexander the Great, disjointed and confusing.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Professor Lovebody's Differential Pressure Cleaner; a short steampunk story in which the protagonist loses his trousers

I present below the design for a Victorian steampunk Modern and Efficient Steam-Powered House of the Future, which, if memory serves is filled with clunky steam-powered versions of every day 21st century household gadgets.

However, I am compelled to note that I created this design as the result of a discussion of some disappointing steampunk, um, erotica, which is why it's Professor Lovebody's Modern and Efficient Steam-Powered House of the Future, and is also why it inevitably goes wrong leading the doors to lock, the steam engine overheats it requiring the loosening of cravats and corsets, and it also vibrates at a frequency that arouses the visitors. As might be expected it is riddled with spyholes. I never got around to finishing the story it's supposed to go with/be part of the notes for, which is just as well as I expect I'd be too embarrassed to put it up under my real name.

Anyway, it had gone the way of most of my writing projects, and most of my projects in general until an online conversation took a left turn leading me to write this pitch for a TV show:
Every week Professor Lovebody and his companion Miss Prudence McVenture discover wonders and fight evil in a 19th century that never was, but should have been, during the course of which the Professor inevitably loses his trousers.

Which inevitably lead to me writing this:
Professor Lovebody turned to his audience. "Ladies of the Croydon, Sutton, Belmont and Cheam Gentlewomens' Society For Science and Technology, I have a demonstration that, although modest, I feel will be of great interest to you. I present my Steam Powered Differential Pressure Cleaner For Carpets, Floors And Other Indoor Surfaces."

To a smattering of applause, the professor pulled several levers. An unearthly howl built around the room, as the professor lifted a tube of ridged canvas resembling nothing so much as an elephant's trunk. Suddenly a strange breeze began to move across the room, causing the ladies to grasp at their hats and skirts.

"There is nothing to be concerned about" shouted the professor, as he struggled with the unruly hose. The device is perfectly safe, while sucking up any loose dust, dirt or other household debris. In fact..." At this moment the tubing twisted in his grasp forcing him to wrestle with the tube, which now seemed more akin to a boa constrictor. An unexpected movement caused the end of the tube to point directly at the professor's ankle, catching hold of his trouser leg. In moments, the device had swallowed the garment, and was making a highly distressed choking noise until a loud metallic clang could be heard outside. The noise swiftly died away. Mrs Dingle, the chairwoman, stood.

"Well Professor" she said in tones of deep disapproval, "you promised a demonstration that was both interesting and modest. To whom it would be of interest I dare not say; however I shall say that while you may consider it modest, I certainly do not!"

A voice from the back spoke. "He's certainly got nothing to be modest about!"

At this moment Miss McVenture entered, a lock of hair escaped from her usual severe bun, an oil stain on her cheek, soot on her pinafore and an oversized monkey wrench in her left hand. "Oh, Professor, I had to hit the emergency stop... PROFESSOR! What on earth is going on here!"

"Miss McVenture! Mrs Dingle! Ladies! I can explain! Wait! Where are you going? This device, easily adapted to a household stove or steam engine will make household chores a thing of the past! Can't you forgive this minor problem for science? Miss McVenture! Can you at least bring me something to preserve my dignity?"

"Here Professor; your patented spring-loaded-ejecto-pants should prevent any further embarrassment. But I thought that science was a respectable field of work; you may consider this my resignation."

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Car Numberplate Adventures

Last night, while walking past a parked car Jim spotted this numberplate:


"Hey guys! Look at this numberplate!" he called[1].

However he had failed to notice that

1. the car was occupied; and
2. the driver side window was open.

"What's wrong with my numberplate?" asked the lady in the car.

We all ran away to the bar and ordered cherry beers.

[1] In case it's not obvious, Rob, Dean and I all read it and immediately got the word vagina.