Friday, 31 August 2007

Evacuation on BBC 2

Yet another historical kids TV programme. Modern, urban yoot, get sent to the middle of nowhere and get to ‘experience’ what it was like for child evacuees during the Second World War. This program is genius, two fold, not only do the kids literally have to shovel shit but are constantly tormented by a Safety Warden who, if they mess up procedures, which they always do, shouts gems like:

“If I was a gas cloud I would have killed you.”

“You think I’m angry, just think what Mr Hitler would be like, he’d be very happy and he’d bomb you.”

Between the kids failing to use their cutlery properly (not that I’m a fork fascist but shouldn’t you evacuate people, who can say, use a spoon?) and the WWII reject Warden, it’ll easily keep you entertained.

Maybe doing a programme on terrorism might be more relevant for today’s yoot. They could learn how to torture suspects, hose down civilians after a dirty bomb and more importantly learn to act unilaterally.

Thursday, 30 August 2007

Second Life, Aleks Krotoski and 1984

Toilets that monitor your pee and offer you baby clothes instead of pregnancy tests, gaming giants taking away your land like a digital Chinese government - if you listen to Aleks Krotoski and Martin Sadler, we’re going to party like 1984.

By 2057, Martin Sadler of PC firm Hewlett Packard, said there could be at least 1m sensing devices for every UK resident. That means everything from my toilet to my fridge would tell me how poor my diet is and that I should get more exercise. Not a problem. On the occasion I buy a packet of cigs, there’s a glaring black and white message that says, ‘smoking will kill you.’

‘Shit, how will I every have another packet again with the truth placed so starkly in front of me?’ Easy, you forget, or rather it falls into the background. In the same way that you can watch a bomb going off in Iraq and think how terrible and seemingly hopeless the situation is over there, you just as easily forget when your favourite program starts straight after the news. It’s in our very nature to force things to the back of our minds.

My sensor fridge would say, “You need to eat more fruit Dave.”

“Hush Hal 9000 or I’ll wipe your memory again.”


Aleks Krotoski used to star in the Channel 4 gaming shows Bits and Thumb Bandits. She was ok in both but paled to Ian Lee’s humour in Thumb Bandits (he is a comedian after all). These days she passes herself off as an academic and journalist for the Guardian’s games blog.

She writes from the State of Play conference in Sing-a-prison that the parallels between the, essentially benevolent dictatorship of the country and those who control the virtual worlds that many of us inhabit i.e. Second Life, World of Warcraft etc are basically the same.

“Second Life resident Marc Bragg who owned approximately $3,000 (£1,500) worth of virtual land discovered a loophole in the land auction processes and proceeded to buy thousands more acres at knock-down prices. Linden Lab discovered that he was gaming the system, banned his account and took away all his land.”

Similar to a Chinese government peasant, smash and land grab. She then goes on to ask what happens to the data kept by World of Warcraft developers Blizzard and Microsoft’s Xbox Live and Google. What Blizzard can ascertain from where you go and what you do in WoW seems mute. I remember having to condemn an idea by ………….. when they proposed to have a branded avatar walking around in the World of Warcraft game. I think people aren’t as mindless as these kind of reports make out.

We live in interesting times where old mediums of advertising are waning but monitoring every aspect of your life in both the physical and virtual world wont be enough to shift products any more efficiently. The combination of the human mind’s ability to blank things out and the incompetence, so far, of brands and advertisers to truly understand and penetrate the new virtual spaces means we’ll be safe from 1984 for a little while longer.

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Post-Apocalyptic Britain

I love Sci-Fi films, what I love even more than your usual Space Opera or Cyber punk noir is the post-apocalyptic genre. Post-apocalyptic films have a certain hubris about them; it’s usually down to the actions taken by man that things are so incontrovertibly fucked up.

A bit of nuclear holocaust here, a totalitarian government there or even biological plagues, it’s all down to the wonder of man. The very notion of apolcalypse implies ramifications on a global scale but today I salute all the post-apocalyptic films that take place in this green and pleasant land or should that be barren and grey wasteland.

We’ve got plagues/zombies in the case of 28 Days and Weeks Later, totalitarian governments ala side effects with Equilibrium and Children of Men and lastly, awaking slumbering dragons that heat up the country worse than special chilli sauce.

28 Days and Weeks Later:

- The scenes in both where familiar London locations are completely disserted are very unnerving. The contrast between the bustle that I know and dread, every time I venture out with the complete and utter desolation is remarkable.

- The army personal near the end of the first film are all knobs, which rings very true to my experiences of squadies generally. Why else would you join the armed forces unless you suffer from a mental or emotional deficit?

- Blowing London up in films is a good thing. Blowing London up in real life makes you a complete asshole regardless of your religious beliefs. In 28 Weeks Later all of the Isle of Dogs is expunged in a massive fireball. Being synonymous with wealthy twats and soulless architecture this is a good thing. The Docklands Light Railway remains cool though.

- Part of the second film was filmed locally, which could well have ended in my person being arrested. Driving past in the bus there was an upturned car and a smashed shop window. People wondering around looking very much like Zombies. What exactly are the legal ramifications for dispatching someone if you genuinely believe them to be a zombie?

Children of Men and Equilibrium:

- Some of you will be thinking how can these films be put anywhere near each other, whether that be in text or on a real life shelf? To clear the confusion, I thought Equilibrium was a steaming turd posted through my letter box (thank you Amazon rentals) and probably Christian Bale’s (big fan) worst film. I did like the Gun-Fu idea and the chemically sedating the population stuff. If you must have order use fluoride.

- Children of Men on the other hand is pure gold turd genius. Clive Owen (big fan) plays the role of the apathetic anti-hero brilliantly.

- I’m not exactly sure why all the immigrants are locked up unless, somehow the Daily Mail readership lead a coup against what inevitably would be a Labour/Tory hybrid government.

- Having holographic adverts on double decker buses is cool.

- It’s still a toss up if I’d rather live in Michael Cain’s weed growing cottage or Clive Owen’s rich mate’s place in what was either the Tate Modern or Battersea power station.

- Best action sequence I’ve seen in a long time. When Clive Owen and the pregnant calf are attempting to leave the refugee camp and all kinds of shit is going down, is simply amazing. The realism of the sequence is terrifying. The shots look very much like the footage coming out of Iraq. Amazing.

Reign of Fire:

- Christian Bale again. Wakes up dragons buried deep beneath The Tube.

- Everywhere gets burnt to a crisp.

- Chris watches over a group of survivors.

- Thingy McConaughey turns up, flexing his muscles and shouting yee ha, the Americans have arrived.

- Everyone rushes to a very nicely portrayed, burnt up London. See my comment about 28 Days.

- They kill the only male dragon, (only one male? Darwin would name your species Reptilian Retardess) happy ending, well they get in touch with a French out post, make of that what you will.

Notting Hill Carnival 07

This e-mail from the owner of the I-2-U gallery, essentially summarises my experience of the Carnival:

Awesome all,

How are you. Firstly thank you thank you thank you…………… for all your efforts
and help during the save the art galley –beer sale. Without you guys I
know this would have never been a success, and I sincerely appreciate that a

Sales takings for two days was £3375 (wish the carnival last forever :) With
that I paid 3,100 to landlord for balance of rent due for this month,
September and some for October and rest to Doug for letting us using his
alcohol licence. So now the gallery don't have to be closed by end of this
month, which is good news.

As an update- Luke is having his exhibition this Thursday from 6:30. Would
be very nice to see you here.

To be honest I had a great time with you all during the carnival. Once again
thanks a million. Have a nice day.

Kindest regards



Catherin: pls pass this to Helen,

Jo: Pls pass this to Ben

Wendy: Congratulations for drinking a bottle of Brandy in 20 seconds and
sell beer after that:-)

-message ends-

Despite the couple of shootings and stabbings that were very close to where we were, there was never a sense of hostility throughout the event. Good food, a bit of boogle boogle dancing and the police stationed nearby were having none of my, "are you allowed to drink officer? Beer for £1!"

Anyway, go buy something from I-2-U gallery or here.

MGS4 Foursome

There are to date, four bosses in the new Metal Gear Solid game. As another feather in the cap of feminism (can you wear feathers if you’re a feminist, or is that men forcing their will upon you?) all the bosses are female.

Not just any bunch of doll faces (bring it on militant feminists) but cybernetically enhanced doll faces. Each one having been the victim of ‘the trauma of war’ which is war speak for grievous injuries both physical and mental. Each has a creature code name, which is a running theme in the Metal Gear series i.e. Grey Fox, Solid Snake etc

Crying Wolf:

A sort of cyber dog thing (not the rave shop in Camden) which is constantly howling. Whether howling is a beneficial course of treatment for shell shock is debateable.

Raging Raven:

She’s a flying creature that resembles a hand-gliding instructor who has maybe been under a great deal of stress.

Laughing Octopus:A Medusa wanabe. Laughing is better medicine than howling as seen in the Patch Adam’s film. Take my word, you don’t have to watch that garbage.

Screaming Mantis:

Which, for the series faithful, will ring a bell. Mantis has been used as a code name before in the form of Psycho Mantis, one of the best MGS bosses ever.

Not the best boss to fight as you had to perform an r-tard inspired move of physically switching the controller port, less he read your mind and foresee what your character would do on screen. Uh. How the hell where you meant to know that the first time? Incidentally the connection continues, as Screaming Mantis seems to be levitating a small Psycho Mantis doll in the trailer. What does it all mean?!

As girl power goes, I’d much rather support these lovely ladies than the countless idiots that will shortly be buying Spice Girl reunion tickets. What do you want more, silicon implants or cyborg implants?

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Saturday in South London part II

Revolution was tacky and devoid of character but at least it was upfront about it. Other chain bars like All Bar One and Weatherspoons try and come across as authentic. A chain bar? Uhhhhh, the clue's in the name.

For such a soulless place the bouncers were very keen to keep most people out. This unwarranted exclusivity would result in my physical and mental discomfort. A friend arrived, who had made the faux pa of wearing shorts. He may as well have turned up naked, but the manageress looked like he'd just taken a dump and offered it up as a flyer.

It was agreed, providing he put some trousers on, entrance to the coolest place around, would be granted. I then made such a massive sacrifice, I think it’s yet to dawn on people's psyches, less they fall down and worship me as the new saviour. We went round to a darkened alley (thank you pantheon) and he swapped into my jeans and I swapped...into my girlfriend's.

The new fashion for skinny jeans goes beyond (and tightly round) me. I could barely walk, the cut, obviously not made for obstruction, caused friction that could start a forest fire and nearly did. Thankfully, the inauthentic: location, place and people gave way to something much more enjoyable.

A boat. A rave boat. Free to get in and with no diplomacy challenged bouncers, it proved the redemption of the evening.

Saturday, 25 August 2007

The Witcher and King's Cross

The oldest trade in the world is alive and kicking as seen in this clip from the soon to be released, The Witcher. If someone can build a mod based around the King’s Cross station area, that would be great.

When I was working at BUPA, evil I know, I was walking across the road to the station and I saw, what I assume was a pimp denoted by the leather jacket and gold chain, about to strike or forcibly move a young woman. Before he could and to his amazement, another woman grabbed his hand while pulling out a C.I.D police badge. The look on his face changed from ‘grab me woman, I kill you’ to a ‘oh shit, it is the pigs, yes.’

So get cracking on the mod.

Saturday in South London

I’m being forced, at guilt point, to attend the Revolution Vodka bar in glamorous Clapham High Street tonight. Its strange how terms like ‘old friend’ and ‘birthday’ can culminate in an emotional death threat to force you somewhere you know is going to be pure evil.

So it’s off to Revolution first, which judging by the obviously unbiased and thought out reviews, will be either arse or mega arse. Then it’s off to a dingy further down the river, which sounds like fun.

In any case, like a true soldier deep behind enemy lines, I’ve already planned all the escape routes and providing there aren’t too may enemy patrols dowsed in C.K and wearing tight, black jeans we might just get out alive. Stay blogued.

Friday, 24 August 2007

Shuffling Zombie vs. sprinting Zombie

I just watched 28 Weeks Later. As far as I know, 28 Days, 28 Weeks and the Dawn of the Dead remake are the only zombies films to feature running zombies. Strictly speaking, the first two don’t really have zombies. Shuffling zombies can be found pretty much everywhere else. I think there’s a unique sense of fear behind both variants.

The Sprinting Zombie:

1. The sprinting zombie is terrifying because the possibility of outrunning it isn’t great. If it’s a true zombie than it doesn’t need to breathe, which puts your twenty pack a day lungs at a bit of a disadvantage.

2. They’re also harder to shoot. Again, if they’re proper zombies then usually only headshots count. Trying to shoot someone in the head whilst stationary (in a game) is hard enough.

3. No respite. This relates to the first point but lets say you manage to put some distance between you and the mindless horde, there is no guarantee, the reverse in fact, that they will lose interest on your Tesco Finest fed arse.

The Shuffling Zombie:

1. Decomposition. Being slow by nature the ravages of time and nature can usually leave the shuffler looking a lot more grotesque than their sprinting counterparts, possibly putting you off your lunch, stunning you with horror or making you miss.

2. The inevitability. Shufflers are on mass. That means you will never have enough ammo or strength to dispatch them all. Sooner or later one will bite you.

3. Lurkers. Whereas a sprinting zombie will make itself known by heavy footfalls, the lurker can seem to be dead, lying still on the floor or behind a corner but then chomp, game over.

There you have it. Which is your favourite?


Sean of the Dead and one scene from 28 Weeks Later were shot in and around Crouch End. It’s still being taken over by idiots, which are worse than zombies. More on that next time.

Why I hate going to the cinema in London

Going to the cinema is like flailing yourself. Apart from getting mugged for the ticket, which ranges from £7 - £15, you have to contend with the people.

You expect a certain number of r-tards to attend big blockbusters but even obscure films are being infected. I went to see Tales of Earth Sea, Miyazaki’s son's first stab at the big screen. I'd heard the film was dire which I’d come to terms with but was being optimistic none the less.

It wasn’t the film that made those two hours feel like purgatory, it was the audience. Or maybe just the back row. I couldn’t believe it, rude boys, roadman, had come to see this? This?! A limited showing Japanese anime film? To avoid sounding like too much of a Daily Mail reader, I’ll explain why they made, what was a crap experience turn into a latrine experience.

Phones: I thought it’d pretty much been establish as modern courtesy (is it that an oxymoron?) that you’re meant to switch your mobile phone off during the film.

They even have reminders if you’re a bit slow to prompt you. But the back seat posse thought fuck this. So, throughout the film some grimy ringtone kept sounding off, with the little prick saying, “Yeah, yeah, can’t chat now blud, manz be in the cinema, init.” Either his friend hadn’t got the message or the roadman in question hadn’t taken all the muttered, “what a prick” as enough of an incentive to switch it off.

Chatting shit: Again, mostly the back row posse, saying things like, “Yeah, dat mandem look like a pussyhole init. I could fuck him up.” That’s an impressive deposition but maybe one to be shared later.

Eating: This a bit of minor one but still annoys me when you can hear someone chomping away over the film soundtrack.

I think my spleen is clean now.

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Enthusiasm: Paul Barnett vs. others

Paul Barnett is the Creative Director for the upcoming, basement geek drooling MMO, Warhammer Online. Warhammer is an alternative to Warhammer 40k, explanation here. But I don’t want to talk about that; I want to talk about Barnett’s level of enthusiasm for the project.

In all the interviews, vodcats, podcats etc I’ve seen him in he’s always overflowing with enthusiasm for the game. Even at the EA Mythic Christ-mass party, where I’m sure he was pissed if not indulging in other substances, he managed to remain coherent and enthusiastic.

I’m surprised it’s not something that other developers are taking on board. In contrast to Barnett every other spokesman for a developer I’ve seen often looks glassy eyed and zombified. This is understandable; no doubt they’ve had to utter the same sentence a hundred times to different gaming bodies. But so has Barnett.

Who knows, maybe it has something to do with him being Northern and toughing it out. His vodcasts are some of the most downloaded content on the Warhammer Online site, which just goes to show that gamers really do respond to genuine enthusiasm and authenticity. There could be a whole new line of work there: Game Cheerleaders. You’d have to be careful not to employ slimy PR types or rabid fan boys but a happy medium could see more hype and loyalty build for your game than any knee jerk publicity stunt.

Full motion Sims film!

Or maybe it isn’t. It does look like an interesting premise none the less, as well it should. John August has GO, Big Fish, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Corpse Bride all penned to his name.

Charlie wasn’t so great for a Tim Burton film.

Big Fish had more of an emotional connection than maybe it warranted, as the dad character reminded me of my own.

GO was entertaining in a ‘I did reckless stuff like that when I was a teenager, isn’t taking drugs cool but I’d rather get cirrhosis of the liver like all the other law abiding adults these days’ kind of way.

Corpse Bride seemed a bit mediocre compared to the Wallace and Gromit film that came out at the same time. I really like Burton but he needs to try harder in future and stop worrying about putting his wife in every, bloody film.

Anyway, if you look half way through the trailer everyone has those little Sims symbols above their heads. Also, all the talk about the protagonist having multiple personalities could be a reflection that a player has used the same template but changed the personality parameters, just like a Sim. Uh, geek levels reaching critical, better stop now. Watch The Nines trailer and tell me what you think.

Devil May Cry and cry and cry

I’ve never been a religious person but I very much believe in the denizens of hell and they’re murderous intent towards me. Which is why I have no qualms, religious or otherwise, in dispatching them by gun, sword and demon fist. These weapons of the righteous can all be found in the upcoming Devil May Cry 4.

If you haven’t played the testosterone pumping previous games, may God have mercy and you should, as they’re as cheap as a catholic priest’s vows in an orphanage. Procure all except the second game, that’s the weak link in the trinity. Go forth my child.

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

C.I.A: how many agent friends do you have?

The C.I.A (know doubt MI5 will soon be following) are ‘APPARENTLY’ building a communications tool based on social networking sites aka facecrook and myface.

You can see it now:

“007 get in my office now!”

“What’s the situation M?”

“Why haven’t you added me as a friend yet?”

C.I.A applications:

License to kill tool
Pussygalore tool
Send a spy gadget gift

Spore! Not the chemical weapon kind

Will Wright, who incidentally has more than a passing resemblance to Louis Skolnick from Revenge of the Nerds, is developing theDarwinian love fest, Spore. Wright shouldn’t feel averse to being called a nerd, as it’s these nerdy powers that have enabled him to create some of the most famous and well-loved games in recent memory.

As the creator of Sim City, Wright introduced me to a world, even at a young age, that I could fully control and manipulate. Ok, so this might have led to some slightly totalitarian tendencies in later life but it was immensely enjoyable. Apart from building and destroying your city in a multitude of ways it was maybe a bit too easy to learn tricks to placate the city’s population. This all changed when Wright developed the much loved and blood shot eye inducing, The Sims.
It could be argued that The Sims was the first mainstream game that truly achieved gaming audience equality. Judging by a recent focus group I attended on The Sims the sheer volume of female participants proves to me that this really is a game for everyone. So, whereas in Sim City you controlled things on a macro scale and The Sims allowed fiddling with individuals lives, Spore moves to the next natural evolution (boom boom.)

You start off as a single celled organism in primordial goo. From there you’ll have to eat and fight, as you grow larger. Then you become a fully-fledged creature that you can design any which way thanks to an ingenious modelling/creation system. Next you become a tribe and so on until you become an intergalactic species.

I wont say more than that, as you really should check out Will Wright's TED lecture. Ignore the cyborg type arm strap that he’s sporting and you’ll be fine.

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

There’s something about Murlocs

I don’t know where these fascinations come from. A while ago it was Mind Flayers and now its Murlocs. It could have something to do with finishing, 'The Call of Cthulu and Other Weird Tales' by H.P Lovecraft. The Murloc’s are creatures from the ridiculously successful, cash sea cow, that is World of Warcraft. They're fish men that live in huts and make a gurgling, foaming noise, like they’ve just tasted some Strongbow.

The Murloc’s are heavily influenced by H.P Lovercraft’s The Deep Ones, as mentioned in stories like 'The Shadow Over Innsmouth,' which I’d highly recommend if you’ve never read a Lovecraft story before. It’ll make you think twice about visiting Blackpool and other seaside towns, not that you wouldn’t anyway.

I dunno, maybe I just want to live at the bottom of the sea…not if it involved the cast of The Little Mermaid though. Any singing and I’d let off depth charges and boil up Sebastian’s remains.

The three states of Richard Dawkins

As far as I can tell Richard Dawkins has three modes of being:

1. Angry and hostile (usually as a result of talking to religious extremists)

2. Slightly bemused (when talking to alternative health practitioners or new agey types)

3. Funny and enthusiastic (when discussing the achievements of science)

The first mode is most obvious in his series The Root of All Evil, where he travelled the world meeting and losing his temped with religious extremists. The problem with talking to any kind of extremist is they’re extremists. It doesn’t matter how rational or well constructed your counter argument is they gave up rational thought a long time ago. It’s the equivalent to being trapped in The Matrix. To speculate that religion or your mode of thinking maybe false or flawed is enough to sending you screaming into the dessert of the real, only to be confronted by even more, potentially disconcerting questions.

The second mode is most evident is his current series, The Enemies of Reason. Dawkins swaps, skullcaps and crucifixes for Tarots and crystals, confronting the legitimacy of New Age practices and alternative medicines. So far, Dawkins has met all the usual sort of people you’d expect to be embroiled in something like this. Most are harmless. He tries to dispel their illusions by either supplying, double blind tests or asking why they haven’t been conducted in that field. Usually the practitioners crumble or resort to, ‘I don’t know how it works but it does.’

The third state is in his TED lectures. My favourite is his talk on ‘militant atheism,’ where he argues atheists across the globe should unite and let our collective grey matter, green matter and political matter be felt.

If I have any criticism against Dawkins, it’s his militancy against horoscopes and tarot readings. I agree that religious extremists must be challenged wherever they spout rhetoric of hate and oppression. I agree that alternative medicines need to undergo strict testing like their scientific counterparts. And I agree that spirit mediums and the like should be held to account for perverting people’s feelings at the passing of loved ones.

The only reason I spare tarot cards and horoscopes is they’re fairly harmless. Anyone who truly believes in the legitimacy or power of one of these practices to actually guide their lives by it are obviously idiots. The fact is, even if you took these things away they’d still be idiots. This is the one thing I think Dawkin’s fails to grasp: take away religion, spiritualism, superstition whatever; you will have to find something to replace it. Not everyone is cut out for the life of being placated by the natural wonder of the universe and life itself. It’s too big for some, too random and non-linear. I’ve personally found solace in western philosophy. There’s something comforting to know that for centuries there have been other people wrestling with the same big questions you have been.

Go watch Dawkins or read some Wittgenstein. Go!

Final Fantasy VIII & IX stole my life

Not that much really, just the majority of a summer in 1999 and 2000. It’s all a bit vague but for one of those summers my friend’s parents had gone on holiday, leaving us home alone. Sadly no burglar’s attempted to break in, so the opportunity to build a series of elaborate booby traps, made from house hold items didn’t arise.

A routine of playing, making cups of tea, eating pot noodle and drinking ensued. Being strapped for cash, it really was a diet of McVities Digestives and Chicken and Mushroom flavoured Pot Noodle. They should have changed the tag line from, ‘the slag of all snacks’ to ‘game junkie’s choice.’

I heard the battle victory music so many times I thought I was going to bash my friend’s head in with the Playstation controller. Still, it was a memorable experience, if a bit scarring.

Monday, 20 August 2007

Why Alan Moore’s comic visions have never been realised and why Frank Millar’s have

To date three of Alan Moore’s graphic novels have been turned into major motion pictures or bastardised, depending on where you stand. I’m beyond the latter. These films are: From Hell, a jaunt into the world of Jack the Ripper. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen; a collage of colourful characters from fiction, saving the day. And V for Vendetta, a scathing judgement on the greed and moral ambiguity during the Thatcher and Reagan administrations. From Hell became a so, so thriller with Johnny Depp passing a questionable cock’s egg accent, a Dick Van Dyke for the MyFace generation.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is so amazingly shit I’m surprised someone didn’t commit hari-kari. Head’s should have rolled. It’s not even that the characters have seemingly no resemblance to their comic counterparts; Alan Quartermain changes from being a has-been geriatric (in the comic)to an all action hero, played by Sean Connery.

No doubt because Sean didn’t want to be seen as weak, he used to be a champion body builder you know. Its just bollocks, the producers, director, whoever’s head is on a pike in my imagination, tried to pull every Hollywood trick imaginable. The leading lady, who happens to be a vampire, mysteriously doesn’t have any gaping wounds on her neck in the silver screen version. And Captain Nemo’s sub alone isn't enough of a toy making opportunity, so they’ve got a League of Gents, souped up, burnout car, that sort Vin Diesel would drive.

Last we have the most agreeable of the three in the same way that the flu is preferable over Ebola and AIDs. That’s too harsh V isn’t all that bad. If they’d told Natalie Portman to jump ship in both senses and hadn’t tried to make it overly English, cue the Benny Hill sequence, then it would have been a good film. Visually it’s the most similar to the comic version. Alan had nothing to do with these abominations and went as far as having his name removed from the last one.

But if the rumours are true and The Watchmen is being turned into a film I beg you Alan, you hairy Northampton troll, you have to co-direct or at least be on set. It’s too important a story, especially in the current global climate, political and literal for you to distance yourself. The Watchmen is incredible, I’ve made several none comic book converts read it on principal and all have said something along the lines of, ‘yep, tour de force.’ It’s a shame people don’t say that in real life. Seriously, if you’re ever to gamble on reading just one graphic novel let it be The Watchmen.

It’s getting late so I’ll make this short: the simple reason that Frank Millar’s graphic novels have been better realised on the big screen is his active participation. That’s not to say directors Robert Rodriguez and Zack Snyder on Sin City and 300 respectively aren’t talented in their own right but the fact that Millar co directed both helped massively. (I hope your taking notes Alan because you need to do this too from now on) If you want your creative vision realised then you need to do it yourself, to an extent.

Ok, done. Go read The Watchmen.

Sunday, 19 August 2007

“Education, education, education"

That was Tony (I’m leaving now, byeee) Blair’s big thing in his first term. Even I remember it despite being a mere amoeba at the time. I was slap bang in the middle of my education about to embark on the, supposedly, most formative years of my life.

I felt it then and I feel it now, I was shafted. Even before being submerged in a world of SATs, GCSE and A-level exams, I was labelled. It’s a strange experience being labelled anything when your very young. It wasn’t that I was a hyperactive or disruptive pupil, I just tended to daydream, a lot. This, I imagine, was seen as an affront to my teachers who mistook my wondering mind for a lack of cognitive ability. There were other ‘tell tell’ signs too. I didn’t have much interest in reading, my handwriting was very bad, and I didn’t do very well in class exams. ‘Ah ha,’ they concluded, this is obviously a sign of learning difficulties. I remember being taken out of class at least twice a week and being brought to a small room. Luckily, there was no chair with straps, electrodes or surgical equipment. There were however, bored games, picture cards and marbles. The horror!

The teacher who, I’ve either forgotten her name or erased it, would sit me down and we’d read books that consisted of, ‘Tim has a red hat and likes to sit on a matt.’ Even at a young age I knew I wasn’t stupid. I had discussions with teachers that went beyond, ‘miss miss Timmy kicked me.’ I’d ask for more information on the Egyptians or Vikings or if that story about Newton and the apple were true.

This trend carried on, until my last year of primary school. I always excelled in the Arts as well as the Humanities. Some teachers were obviously perceptive enough to see some vestiges of intelligence and treated me accordingly. Others were just bastards. In any case, in the last year I was lucky enough to have a liverpuddlian teacher named …., ah, bollocks that’s always the way. He allowed me to read what I liked and I was very much into the literary exploits of Molder and Scully from the X-files. I even remember him telling me, “teachers are just people, they like to be able to catergorise students.” And there it was, my first real truth from an adult, outside of the family.

What all this rambling is meant to encapsulate, is my first hand experience of the education system failing to capitalise on my love for English, the Humanities and the Arts and instead quite literally forced me to pick subjects in my later years that would, ‘get me a job.’ I felt almost completely alone for ages, as everyone I knew seemed to be buying the same message, that providing that you absorb every text book and provide carbon copy answers, not only will you succeed in your academic career but also your vocational one.

I couldn’t believe it. Here I was surround by people who were gushing out figures and dates that had absolutely no resonance with them.

A lot of my friends are finishing their degrees now and all come back with similar complaints.
“I’ve tried to get a job but everyone else who applied had either more experience or a Masters.” What now then? If the vast majority of people in my school year have gone on to do degrees does that not indicate a rise of robots with 1sts, 2-1s, 2-2s, as massive inflation?

In any case, its not just because I’m an academic failure and deeply jealous…I want one now! With nations like China and India producing many more robots, with text books tattooed onto their very beings, than this country is, perhaps then our biggest commodity will be creativity.

After all it’s very hard to teach creativity to a robot, it’s much easier to nurture it in humans. And had it not been for a measly 2% of the teachers through my academic life doing just that, I might have turned out like one of them. All steel and no soul.

If you haven’t switched off completely, and you might have, what with the large number of robots about, then watch this video. Its Sir Ken Robinson giving a speech at the recent TED lectures, which I’ll probably write about too as it’s ‘awesome.’ He covers the same points that I have and more, in a succinct and amusing way, that you’d expect from a man of his years. Go Ken!

Friday, 17 August 2007

Facebook, nodes and Bluetooth (a nordic king)

They’re watching you! Well, not physically but digitally. Facebook has seeped into the real; beyond creating or attending events. A new piece of software called Cityware tracks your movement around a city through a combination of nodes and Bluetooth enabled phones.

Move into a given area and a node, that is constantly scanning for Cityware enabled devices will pick up your signal. The idea is to see how people interact with cities and each other. Just look outside, fool.

That person you see on the bus or train everyday, if they also have a Facebook account and are being achingly, cutting edge with this Cityware stuff, will pop up on your phone/Facebook account.

It’s meant to track how both digital and biological viruses circulate as well as throwing up statements like, ‘"It is also demonstrating that encounters that are short and infrequent help spread innovation and new ideas."

What does this mean for you?

1. Stalking is now child’s play.

2. Theoretically someone, somewhere will always know where you are.

3. Even more awkwardness on the commute to work, as that person you occasionally say hello to tries to add you as a friend.

4. If short encounters equal innovation, you wont actually have to spend more than ten minutes with anyone. No more offices?

5. One step closer to a William Gibson future dystopia.

See, now you don’t even need to read the article and you can pass off those bullet points as your own, like you’ve really spent time thinking about it and not just staring into space…

Thursday, 16 August 2007

I can’t talk now; the line’s not secure

Wikipedia Scanner allegedly shows that IPs registered with the CIA, Vatican, Democratic Party and others have been manipulating pages on whack off pedia.

It’s all manipulation you’d expect:

The CIA put ‘wahhhhh!’ in front of a section describing the Iranian president’s plans for office.

The Vatican removed a reference to an article that alleged that Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams’ fingerprints were found at the scene of a murder.

"Most of them are legally retarded." Was a Democrat’s opinion about Rush Limbaugh’s audience.

So far, so obvious. In an alternate reality:

The CIA wrote on their page, “Straight up, we’ve been a bit lost since the end of the Cold War. Global terrorism is too spread out, not bunched up like the Soviet Union used to be…”

The Vatican states, “Is there a God? Yes, yes there is. Don’t use condoms.”

The Democrats are honest about their presidential candidates, “None of them have the charisma of say, the Kennedys' but they will stay in Iraq, not do much about CO2 reduction and generally continue to be disliked on the world stage. Bush bad!”