Sunday, 30 September 2007

The Art of Catching Lobsters

I was tearful; I’m not going to lie. It was the first time in a long time that I actually felt myself welling up. When you’re younger, crying as a form of emotional release is easy. It can be something as simple as grazing a knee in a playground that triggers the water works. As you get older it takes something devastating or remarkably poignant to get past the years of adulthood hardening.

Something poignant like Jane Drake’s deeply moving film. She captures her husband, playwright and enthusiastic fisherman, Nick and his recovery after a stroke. It reveals layers of a man who is described and I feel even without ever meeting, I can concur, “Was a good and special man.” His love for his family, his writing and the Cornish beaches he called home seemed infinite.

Someone who describes himself, “I’m no scientist but I am deeply observant” echoes my own sentiments. I’ve never been happier when surrounded by natural beauty, away from the anonymity and urban suffocation of London. Living here makes you too people centric. Your mood and state of mind are connected too deeply with the actions and attitudes of others and the bleakness of weather and grimness of the street. There is a distinct, disconnect from the natural world and the perspective it brings.

Nick and his wife Jane didn’t live a secluded life but you can see that the seemingly simple pleasure of combing the beaches of Cornwall for obscure artefacts (usually nuts from distant continents or shipping bois) and tracing their origins was enough for them. It’s less about the actual spoils of these ‘wrecking’ trips but more the quality time spent with each other and having that relationship put into context by the dramatic landscape.

Strength and the sense of humour in the face of adversity is what touched me most. As soon as Nick had recovered from his stroke he was diagnosed with cancer and the film then becomes like a last will and testament. He is filmed giving an outline of his latest play, ‘Laughing Gas’ to his friend and fellow playwright, he attempts to part as much of his fishing knowledge to his son Henry and his deeply creative and loving partnership with his wife is explored fully. They joke even as Nick lies on his deathbed.

The message I took from this incredibly honest work: if you are lucky enough to strike a balance between creativity, loving relationships with both family and friends and find a resonance with your environment, like Nick did, you will have lead a good life. I’m sure The Art of Catching Lobsters will be repeated again on BBC4, try and catch it.

Friday, 28 September 2007

Paul Barnett: how to get into the creative/games industry

Essentially it doesn't matter what your skill set is or if you’re doing what some might dub, a dull profession, you can still do it in a creative environment:

I love Valve (Orange Box)

I love Valve’s design sensibilities. Their style reminds me of Factory Records' cataloguing system, mixed with the Designers Republic’s, cyber punk, minimalist approach, before they disappeared completely up their own, post-modern arses.

If you’ve never had the pleasure of playing a Valve game, fear not as the complete works (more or less) is to be released in the form of The Orange Box. All the games, which include, Half Life 2, Episode 1 & 2, Team Fortress 2 and Portal will all be available to play on Xbox and Windows PC.

The below trailer has a TV spot (that’s terrible quality) but it does feature the synthesized voice that has become a bit of a trademark of theirs. Lets all get robot voices now!

Benefiting the Burmese protesters

When the first protests in Burma began I joined a group on Facebook, ‘Support the monks’ protest in Burma.’ It’s a worthy cause and a noble attempt to generate support. The group has contact details for charity groups, contacting your local elected representative etc but I feel they’re missing a trick.
We talked about Burma the other day and how most of the information was getting outside the country thanks to proxy-sites, forums, blogs, mobiles etc. Setting up petitions and protests outside the borders of Burma is important but I can’t help that think a more direct way of helping the Burmese protesters (which is made up of ordinary citizens as well) is to try and boost the avenues by which their message can get out.

On mass we could be setting up blogs, submitting our mobile numbers and email addresses to known protester visited forums and much more besides on the digital front. This seems like a more direct approach to supporting the protestors than by simply joining a group or signing a petition (both are still important) after all, those of us outside the borders of Burma, needn’t fear the reprisals of our own governments.

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian

Despite a pseudo-turrets tendency to talk about Chernobyl, here at I’m not dead/Is alive we’ve only ever had three visits from the Ukraine/Ukrania. So today I hope to boost this by discussing the novel, A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian.

I can’t ever remember reading a novel as quickly as I did this, and it wasn’t due to an improvement in my child like reading age or severe boredom either. The story takes place mainly in Peterborough in the early 1990s and follows two squabbling second-generation siblings as they unite against a common enemy. Their mother has recently passed away leaving feelings of guilt in the younger sister Nadia (the peace time baby), greed and self-righteousness in the elder sister Vera (the war time baby.)

The conflict initially arises out of their mother’s inheritance, which was to be divided by the two sisters equally. But through Vera’s nagging on her mother’s deathbed, she manages to get it divided by the three grand children instead, Vera having two children to Nadia's one.

They cease communicating after a massive row at the funeral. The silence isn’t broken until their crack pot father, a once brilliant engineer, who’s eccentricities have got the better of him, announces that he has been seeing a Ukrainian woman more than half his age, with intentions to marry her.

Comedy ensues, as the ideologically apposed sisters unite to defeat the ‘tart.’ Themes cover everything from marriages of convenience, tractors, the war, the insanity of the UK immigration system and the cultural differences between the UK and the Ukraine both now and then. It’s a shame that we don’t get to learn more about the current state of the Ukraine as the book focuses more on telling the story of Nadia’s parents Ukraine during Soviet occupation and the Second World War. The only mention of modern Ukraine comes from throw away comments like, “It’s run by gangsters and prostitutes” or, “Our best and brightness seek a better life in the West.”

It’s an enjoyable read and if the accolades strewn all over the front and back covers isn’t enough, you do learn a lot about the history of tractors, which is more interesting than it sounds.

Eye of Torment (a bit like Star Wars Chess)

An interactive card game coming out for the PS3 reminds me of the holographic chess game played in Star Wars. You know the one between C3PO and Chewbacca.

It works by using the Playstation Eye peripheral camera, which over looks a 9 Fields tablemat featuring a 3x3 rectangular grid. Players place their carefully selected decks on the board and the actions of said cards are carried out on a connected screen in real time.

I’ve never been a massive fan of card battle games being even geekier than I can bare. Developing a medium that had previously never been explored with this type of interactivity is interesting but I’m gonna have to give it a Chewbacca, “Mmmmuurrrrrrrr!”

Go play chess instead.

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Pipe up the volume (Gaia theorist James Lovelock strikes back)

James (it’s all over unless we build a nuclear power plant on every street corner) Lovelock has teamed up (in a superhero fashion, they are trying to save the world after all) with the head of the science museum Chris Rapley. They’ve come up with a theory to place huge vertical pipes into the tropical seas.

“Floating pipes reaching down from the top of the ocean into colder water below, move up and down with the swell. As the pipe moves down, cold water flows up and out onto the ocean surface. A simple valve blocks any downward flow when the pipe is moving upwards. Colder water is more "productive" - it contains more life, and so in principle can absorb more carbon.” – BBC news site.

Still, if the worse comes to pass and the ice caps melt flooding us all, living in a Waterworld won’t be so bad. I’ve been practicing with my harpoon gun in the bath tub for years.


As per Dan's comment below here is his take on the climate problem:

Phoenix Wright and Myth II reviews get published (sort of)

Behold and behold again!

Rupees make the world go round (Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland)

Freshly Picked: Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland: a game that has the free market and capitalism at its core. With a name as long and strange as that, it could only have originated in the land of the rising sushi.

If you’re a thirty one year old, single, male in Japan you’re pitiful. So pitiful that only the pity of an old Rupee (rupee is cash for the non Legend of Zelda indoctrinated) Lord, called Uncle Rupee, has the power to turn your life around. This isn’t accomplish through the traditional avenues of spending sprees, buying into a pyramid scheme, or attending a motivational seminar but by throwing rupees (cash) into a spring, west of his house. Once the well has been satisfied, a tower grows out of it leading to what we can only assume is a consumer’s paradise called Rupeeland. Mental.

It’s not as easy as it sounds; Tingle is transformed into one of those cosplay-looking types, tight green tights and all. Now rupees are linked to his health, run out of rupees and he’s dead. Whether this is an analogy of consumer society as a whole, I don’t know.

You then run about talking to some certifiable characters, bribing, selling, trading etc until you have enough money to get to rupee nirvana. When I get some spare rupees myself, I think I will invest them in this bizarre adventure. I’ve always held a place in my dark heart for quirky original titles that seem to crop up less and less on the big three consoles (I suppose Wii excluded) but this is exactly where the DS shines. I’m coming Tingle!

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

A call for authenticity in the Forbidden City

A Starbucks Café that was formerly slap dab in the middle of the Forbidden City has been forced to close thanks to an internet campaign lead by TV personality, Rui Chenggang. The people, power petition, accumulated over 500, 000 signatures, in essence saying buck off.

The Arsebucks will be replaced by a traditional Chinese tea shop. However no one has raised the issue that despite the new tea shop fitting in more aesthetically, it’s just that, new. It’s not a like a tea shop has stood there since antiquity and was then replaced by the evil corporation clone. Any brew, I’d take a cup of green tea over a flappop crappo rappo chino any day.

Burmese Bloggers Battle Back

By using proxy-sites, blogs, emails, mobiles, internet cafes, YouTube etc protestors on the front line are getting stills and videos outside the borders of one the most totalitarian regimes in the world.

Compared to neighbouring China’s cyber controls, discussed here, the Burmese authorities are less sophisticated. Still, this has lead to an interesting game of cyber cat and mouse as protestors meet their contacts outside the country in forums that are quickly discovered and shut down. For the first time I can use the words ‘cyber’ and ‘dissidents’ together. We’re moving ever closer to a Gibson vision of the future.

We the readers of this blog and I, salute you protestors of Burma (Myanmar.) I even shaved my head and donned some robes in solidarity but what with the massive littering problem I won’t be going bare foot.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Maglev railway makes Tube look even more rubbish

It’s all very well being the first to do something. The first one in the pool is never the rotten egg for example. But not keeping up to speed or in this case, continued development, means you’re worse than a rotten egg, you’re just rubbish.

The London Underground Railway was the first in the world, 1863 no less. The first trains were steam hauled and needed ventilation otherwise it would have been a sauna and not the kind you get in an exclusive day spar, with beautiful people but with normal dirty commuters. The cut-and-cover construction methods were made redundant with the advent of electric traction, which meant deeper tunnels. And so it should have continued. You build something and you try and improve upon it.

In the here and now the Tube is crap. It’s overcrowded, the signalling may as well be done by a guy shouting down the tunnel, “Your train still there Jim?” for all the good it does. The Oyster card system, I’m convinced, is a totalitarian Big Brother scheme.

In the Deutschland they’re planning the first magnetic track in Europe. With the train literally gliding over the track, much faster speeds can be achieved. And so Daily Mail readers everywhere, they may have lost the actual war but they’ve won the err, transport one. I wouldn’t mind a return to the steam hauled trains. Let’s make all of London a steam-punk paradise, choo-rific.

Unlocking Apples leads to bitter cores (iPhone)

Apple has warned, unlocking your iPhone means new firmware and software updates won’t work. And “ …Y
ou could find that you own a £270 brick," said Ben Wood, director of research firm CCS Insight. I used to own a ‘brick’ phone, as they’re called and it never did me any harm. It was a Nokia something and almost indestructible. An accidental field test involved me smoking out a second floor window when the ‘brick’ slipped between my digits and landed with a satisfying crunch on the pavement below. Oh no, thought I. But on closer examination it was perfectly fine; it had a bit of a scratch on the back but was otherwise better than ever. I had that phone for ages, literally, ages. No idea what happened to it though.

I want an iPhone and not just because I’m what the planning department at my old work used to call, ‘an early adopter.’ Not interested in children yet, thanks but because it’ll save me hassle. I’ve owned three different iPods in my time. One was the very first ‘brick’ version that simply died but the other two were snazzy iPod Nanos, causing immense jealously to my Patrick Bateman type friends. I lost both of these incredibly expensive things due to their smallness and what in hindsight I’m sure was the built in feature of, ’slip out of jean pocket so rtard has to buy a new one’ technology. This way I'll have a phone, browser and iPod all together and this time I'll graph it to my skin.

If you’re rich enough or lucky enough to own an iPhone don’t try and unlock it because then you won’t be able to download the plethora of ‘useless’ features. Idiot.

Microsoft slimes over Facebook

Don’t repeat Bungie's betrayal Facebook! It would seem that Microsoft are hinting at buying a stake in Facebook which has now surpassed MySpace as the U.Ks most populated social networking site.

I can only imagine the design and functionality of Facebook will go down the shitter if this is allowed to take place. I might even start up a group, ‘stop the evil empire from buying out Facebook…group.’ I suppose Bill Gates isn’t as bad as Rupert Murdoch…maybe.

Monday, 24 September 2007

No More Heroes (not The Strangler’s song)

Imagine if you will, you are a lowly uber geek, known as the otaku in Japan. This is geek obsession that goes beyond the call of booty. One day you win a light saber or beam katana in an eBay style auction.

For some bizarre reason or lapse of judgement, you think this makes you a hardcore assassin and start to climb the ranks of the UAA, the governing body of assassins in your hometown of Santa Destroy. Nice name.

A name like Travis Touchdown would destine you to become a football player (US sense) or a hit man, so maybe it works out for the best.

The game will be a sandbox very much like GTA. You will travel around on your Akira style bike and dispatch Hitmen and their cronies to become the very best. The Pokemon ideology but for grown ups.

One of my favourite features is the ability to shake the Wii mote to recharge your light saber when it’s low on energy. Not only an interesting game mechanic but it also makes Travis look like he’s pleasuring himself. Genius.

Halo Hype

It’s everywhere! Everywhere! The amount they’ve spent on advertising for the release of Halo 3 could single handily wipe out third world debt, cure Aids and err, buy me a liquid gold pond with Coy fish that sink to the bottom(they're gold too.)

I’m almost proud to say I’ve never played Halo or Halo 2, like one of those virgins who wear a ring to show their abstinence to the world. I wouldn't take it that far but I did feel like Bungie betrayed me by sleeping with the enemy, when Microsoft bought it out. I used to love the Myth and Marathon series of games they produced. But everyone, including me, will take the big sterlings and run if given the opportunity.

The Halo domination was complete, when before the events of the Trip of Doom, we atepped outside Waterloo Station for a dirty fag, like the lepers we are and I saw across the way Halo 3, with the ridiculous tag line, “Believe” all over the iMax theatre.

If religions conducted their advertising the same way, they’d get a lot more converts. A huge poster of Shiva wielding dual blades with “BELIEVE” under it would definitely make me consider conversion.

As I lack a Xbox 360 or any money for that matter, I won’t be partaking in the ’bragging rights’ when Halo 3 is officially released.

Finish the fight or not, whatever.

Saturday, 22 September 2007

Journey of doom!

Don’t go to Martins Heron. I was forced at guilt point. You have a choice. If you don’t believe me, just travelling there is cursed. We got to Waterloo just in time to see the back of the train. Then I had to coax out of an inept ticket inspector where exactly we could buy some tickets and after nearly drawing an air diagram like an irate mime, he pointed across the station and said, ‘machine.’

Once on the next train, the power cut out and the doors wouldn’t open. A bizarre scratching noise was coming from one of the ceiling ventilators giving the whole scene over to the beginnings of a bad horror film.

The train finally left Waterloo twenty minutes late and another forty minutes later, filled only by bleak looking scenery, we arrived. There we were met by our hosts who informed us that we wouldn’t be going to the quaint, traditional pub for lunch but instead one in the middle of a junction.

No shrubberies here, just a concrete car park. The pub was called The Seagull or something and I was told that it used to be dog kennels, which gave the place a weird sense of inauthenticity. I mean you could tell anyway, but somehow the information made the darkened ceiling beams; huge hearth and old photographs seem even more out of place.

The food was ok and the wine was pretty good too, that was the only saving grace. From what I could tell there’s sweet fuck all to do in Martins Heron, apart from something we passed on the way called Coral World. The sign read, almost more as a plea than a statement of fact, ‘Start being excited.’

They should replace Martins Heron with a giant coral reef no one would mind

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Big love to Paul Barnett

He hasn’t let us down with the latest ream of podcasts despite lacking all the finished assets…*insert British ingenuity* *insert people who put insert into anything are rtards*

Paul Barnett reads the blog so how could I not give anything but love as the first, as far as I know, sort of, a bit obscure, celebrity. I’ve been star struck and am now comatose. Selling out, sorry.

Metaplace democratises virutal world building

Users of Metaplace can build 3D worlds accessible by PC or mobile without having to know l33tcore-programming languages.

Raph Koster or God in this case, has 'democratised' the ability to create online worlds (He was also on the team that made Ultima Online, nice one).

"You can come to the site, press a button and have a functioning virtual world that supports multiple users in about 30 seconds."

The idea being you can utilise the software to make any kind of online world you like. Unlike Second Life and WoW there's no need to download any specialist software or buy a physical game. Each online world can connect to every other 'metaplace.'

Invariably this will lead to some unorthodox situations where fantasy characters wielding massive weapons will be invited for a cup of tea in a virtual gardener’s conservatory. I'm all for interconnectivity and the ability to embed these metaplaces into a Facebook or Myspace account will only serve to increase its fan base. Connect or fry!

The Wild Gourmets aka Posh Butchers

Careening over wild landscapes in a vegetable oil powered Land Rover…it’s the kind of person or maybe the idea of the kind of person I’d like to be. But after watching the first episode of the Wild Gourmets I’ve decided there’s something inherently smug about these two.

Thomasina Miers and Guy Grieve, apart from their stupid names, obviously, have our old enemy, smugness, lurking around them. The one named Guy has this annoying habit of ‘getting stuck in’ so much so he should have it tattooed across his smug face. Anyone who describes himself or herself as an adventurer after the 19th century has got to be mentally unhinged.

Both their names are an indicator that they’re not exactly ‘salt of the earth,’ chances are some relation owns the land they’re cooking on.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (River Cottage), Bruce Parry (Tribe), Ray Mears (Bushcraft), all these men of the wild (wildish for Hugh) have a charm when divulging the techniques they’ve learnt. The Gourmets are just annoying. I mean are they lovers? What’s the deal with all the bad in jokes? Maybe they’ll grow on me, like the fungus they had for dinner.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Facebook for cash

Facebook founder offers big bucks (£125,000) for new applications for the social networking site. Some I’ve been working on:

My narcissism has grown exponentially since joining Facebook app
Time wasted on Facebook counter app
Why does no one like me? app

Get cracking.

Monday, 17 September 2007

His and hers shopping

There were three kinds of muzak in the high street whorehouses I was dragged into today: Background bar funky house, G-A-Y mega anthems and lift muzak.

I ate in a ‘food court’ for the first time. There wasn’t a judge or king in sight but plenty of fast food. I’m not a massive fan of fast food. I’ll occasionally eat a chicken burger from a reputable restaurant the likes of Chicken cottage and Dixie Chicken (when severely inebriated) but today I settled for a dirty, dirty, Pizza Hut, Chicken Supreme. There was nothing supreme about it. Food for kings, food for rtards, you decide.

Again I experienced the P.O.W camp style waiting game outside the female changing rooms. Its horrible, I felt like waving around the shopping that had already attached itself to me, like parasites from early outlets, just to prove I wasn’t, in fact, a pervert waiting outside the changing rooms for a curtain to flap.

High street shops should really make more of an effort for the millions of us who are forced to stand around looking morkish and not even making eye contact, even though we’re in the exact same situation!

And lo, when it was my turn the whole venture took less than ten minutes. Who would have thought?

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Can’t get your show made? My Sell-Out accepts anything

Producers of Thirtysomething and My So-Called Life have failed to grab the interest of puss filled, undulating TV execs. So, in a somewhat bold move, they have set up shop with Rupert (I’m evil, honest) Murdoch’s, My Sell-Out.

The program will make revenue by product placement and adverts placed in the stream. When will they learn?

Flawed heroes (The Dark Knight and Iron Man)

Iron Man aka Tony Stark and Batman aka Bruce Wayne have a lot in common: They’re both multimillionaires, both are perceived as international playboys, rowdy bachelors and both have an arsenal of technology to enhance their human abilities. Oh and they’re both deeply flawed individuals.

My personal favourite is the Bat. I’ve always enjoyed the noir elements of Batman stories. His parent’s were brutally murdered when he’s still a child and apart from the constant guilt he feels at surviving the ordeal, he’s always skating the line between sanity and psychosis.

As far as any character can bring a sense of authenticity to something as fantastical as a superhero role, I think he manages it. Here is a man who, whether rightly or wrongly, has taken it upon himself to avenge his parents by tackling the criminal element.

Using his own immense intellect, detective skills, physicality and gadgets he accomplishes this. The thing is you could remove the utility belt and batarangs and you’d be left with a hard-boiled noir vigilante.

New trailers for both are here and here.

Dragon Wars (will be awful)

I was only talking about dragons the other day and another flies into being. This film will be awful but it could have at least marketed itself as entertaining rubbish. Considering how shiny all the CGI is it'll just make you want to flame grill yourself. They've even had to shorten the title to D-WAR for the rtard generation.

Interactive media industry buzz words and phrases that sound rtarded to people outside the industry

User Content
User generated content
Graphic fidelity
Skyscraper, letterbox banners
Viral media
Next Gen
Network thinking
The right audience
Target audience
Youth market proliferation (I made this last one up)

If you can think of any more please comment below.

The Great Firewall of China

It could keep out Mongolian raiding parties but the updated Great Wall is failing to find and block all the material the Chinese Government feels is ‘objectionable.’

The best way to scale or breach the wall is by attacking it on mass.

“Filtering and blocking was "particularly erratic" when lots of China's web users were online, said the researchers."

Terms that will definitely get you into trouble are related to the Falun Gong movement, Tiananmen Square protest groups, Nazi Germany and democracy.

Good thing MMOs aren’t that popular over there yet.

H.P Sauce, I mean Lovecraft update

Sherlock Holmes and a Cthulhu team up is a promising premise. Lets just hope its not utter squid.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy and why Crouch End is shit

In Douglas Adam’s, Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy, he talks about a concept where the last man alive, Arthur Dent feels displaced because his home planet, Earth has been destroyed. The concept is that each of us has an invisible tether by which we are bound to, in this case, the world of our birth.

I find a similar thing happening to me at the moment, with the family home about to be sold. Now I’m guessing everyone will say, well you’ve got to leave home sometime, true enough but how many of you can still go back to the place you spent most of your life, without people saying, ‘what the hell are you doing here?’

I’m in a kind of Cartesian duality about the whole thing. On the one claw, I’m sad that somewhere that’s encapsulated so many happy memories (gush) is going but at the same time I’m glad to be getting out of Crouch End.

‘Aren’t you being a sore loser? You’re only saying that because you have to leave Crouch End.’

Not really, if you’ve had the miss fortune of hearing me drone on in the past, you’ll know there’s no love lost between Crouch and I. ‘It used to be’ (what am I, middle aged?) a kind of bohemian village, Clock tower and everything. But you can see it all around now, the corruption.

The Crouch End Broadway now has only four variants: Hairdressers, chain cafes, supermarkets and estate agents. Nicely tying back into the Hitch Hikers Guide theme, you’ll be surprised to learn that mankind’s ancestors aren’t the stoic Neanderthals we all thought, it is in fact the survivors of a space ship crash.

The space ship in question was one of three all escaping some unknown apocalypse. The one that was programmed to crash and burn on Earth was filled with hairdressers, estate agents, waiters and supermarket middle management. Just goes to show I suppose, Crouch End has officially become the third ship. Good thing I’ve been shown the escape pod.

The memory rapists return

Vultures swarming down, an endless number swoop in through the front door. Cock sure builders voices echo through and across the space. They talk incessantly about knocking down walls, bastardising hallways.

A screaming queen, a stereotype in stereo, chimes in on the fabulous garden and what fantastic parties are to be had here. The whole alien family is here poking and stripping the corpse clean before it’s even cold.

Is there an up shot to all this? Probably not.

I’ve had a knife held to my throat before but even then it seemed hyper-real, like a film or something. All the lines the mugger was coming out with made it sound too cliché to be real. I felt detached.

This is completely different though. The muggers smile and not with malevolence. They’re polite. And yet can there be a bigger ‘fuck you’ to the buyer than coming round while we’re still here with builders in toe, as they literally talk about demolishing everything that made that place your home.


Adaptation, Charlie Kaufman and Ben Oliver

I feel like Charlie Kaufman in Adaptation. For those of you unfamiliar with the film’s premise, Charlie Kaufman is a real life screenwriter who wrote the surreal being John Malkovich. Adaptation is a post, post, post, so post in fact it can just about make out the ‘m’ in modern, film. It tells the story of Charlie as himself or at least a parody of himself. He’s finished writing Being John Malkovich and has been approached to write the screenplay for a recently published book, The Orchid Thief.

Charlie Kaufman being a perfectionist when it comes to conveying ‘the truth’ of any written piece finds it increasingly difficult to tackle the screenplay as he desperately tries to veer away from what he sees as the everyday mediocrity of most Hollywood scripts. His brother who has recently become a scriptwriter and has attended ‘screen writers’ conferences, with ‘Ten commandment’ style lists, compounds the problem. As Charlie struggles, trying to make something original, his brother’s paint by numbers script is instantly picked up.

What’s this got to do with me? Well, throughout the film Charlie is constantly struggling with, apart from his own neurosis, bewilderment and downright despair at the seemingly endless success of those who are obviously not very bright. This is likely to resonate with people in a multitude of professions.

It seems like a maxim that the majority of your immediate superiors will be mentally inept in someway. I’m not saying their bad people, just a bit thick. But it’s not just the bosses it can be colleagues of even complete strangers that ignite this feeling. You need only watch any of the various MTV, E-entertainment, and Living channels to see the proof of morons with success in practice.

This might all be thinly disguised jealously though. Like the sense of superiority that Charlie Kaufman feels towards his brother’s cliché writing style or the mainstream taste his agent champions, ultimately Larry learns the biggest lesson from his seemingly stupid brother. It wouldn’t be a compelling film or script if the lesson didn’t come too late.

Lacking the geek investment (Zelda research)

I’d consider myself pretty geeky or at least acknowledge a pseudo-geek status. Having ventured to gaming conventions for work, there is no doubt in my mind that I'm lacking the fundamentalist geek mentality.

A high level of what could be seen as obscure knowledge in film, TV, games and comics is mine to wield, useless or not. But it’s the truly obsessive, those who seem to have enough time to devout in the pursuit of mapping storylines and inconsistencies there in. They are something truly to behold, with an equal measure of wonderment and fear.

The video below is one such example of this fundamentalist geekdom. The sheer amount of time and effort to put, not only into the hypothesis but into the research and double checking each statement is up there with the most rigorous scientific method. Make up your own mind:

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

It's alive!

Make yourself better, stupid (DS)

Since purchasing my Nintendo DS a year ago, I’ve become an accomplished, tactician, private investigator, surgeon, genius and intergalactic bounty hunter. If I had less of a psychotic streak, I might also have taken several varieties of mammal to my heart. You never know.

Owning a DS is your key to self improvement. Forget self help books, university courses or learning on the job. Each miniature cartridge contains a world of knowledge or destruction. Sadly I wasn't paid by Nintendo for this…


The power of spin

Spinning Jennies, spin doctors, ‘baby you spin me right round,’ none of these come close to the true power of spin. That most lazy of methods for television show genesis, the spin off. The Legendary Adventures of Hercules, Cheers and Buffy the Vampire Slayer all preceded Xena: Warrior Princess, Frasier and Angel.

Being a member of the zero attention span generation, I’ve forgotten what made the original programmes so compelling. I think Hercules was entertaining in a sort of pseudo-educational way. What with being barely an embryo I’m sure I conceived the notion that watching a programme where evil was battered and mythological evil at that, was probably beneficial.

Xena on the other hand was a much better show. Former evil warrior badass changes her ways and seeks atonement through saving the innocent etc with lesbian undertones and plenty of scantily clad, everything. I’ve never seen it but I understand that in the last ever episode, Xena is finally taken down not by a God or mythological monster but by Genghis Khan. Not that meeting your end by Genghis’ blade isn’t a bad way for a warrior to go but he’s not very big or got more than one head.

I can remember even less about Cheers other than Woody Harrelson played a dunce and often had the best lines. The owner of the bar, Sam, was a womaniser and the rest of the characters were obviously all alcoholics, spending all their spare time in a bar.

Frasier was a part of the bar fly crowd but eventually moved to Seattle. The lusting of Niles Crane, Frasier’s brother, for the live in physical therapist, Daphne, made the show great. All the characters often had superb one liners. It’s like comparing a rose to a turd, they’re both made from organic material but that’s about all they have in common.

Whereas Xena was marginally better than Hercules and Frasier was miles apart from Cheers, Buffy and Angel were a lot closer in the stakes of quality. Buffy was, and is genius. All the characters were great whether good or evil or interchangeable as most had a stint as both. The lines were fantastic, the post-modern tone of the show appealed to my, ‘I’m so beyond everything now’ teenager stance at the time. Stand out episodes were, the Buffy musical, Buffy’s mum dying and the one where everyone loses the ability to speak. But that’s just the tip of the buffberg.

That being said, the first few series of Angel were pretty piss poor. Poor enough that even I, who will gladly watch anything unless it’s causing me actual physical pain, found that I wouldn’t bother to watch. Then suddenly, it was like a different program. Much darker and the best embodiment of evil in the guise of the law firm, Wolfram and Hart.

Having the main villains as the Senior Partners is faultless. It taps into something that feels so acute and well observed, it must be true. You know who you are. Spin offs can often transcend the original shows they geminated from, some with more success than others. That’s quite an inconclusive statement, isn’t it?

Monday, 10 September 2007

Queen’s Park day, the right day this time.

Small people overran the park but apart from that it was wild bird handling, goat burger eating, Spanish cider drinking, environmentally educating, cooking herb buying, merriment.

The bird of prey area was easily the most entertaining: Barn Owls, crazy mad owls, Eagles that could rip your face off. The Falconer went on to explain at length all the English phrases such as, ‘at the end of my tether’ and…I can’t remember the others but they were numerous, that originated as Falconry terms. The golden piece of advice was, “Don’t just go out there and buy yourself a bird of prey, ladies and gents. Just cos you’ve seen it done ere today doesn’t mean you’re an expert.” Had he not have said it, I’d have been straight on Ebird.

Goat burgers are baaaaar yummy. No doubt the distinct flavours are produced by the hairs on their chiny chin chins. That was drowned down by a bottle of Spanish Cider. I mean an actual bottle not the tramp of leisure/teenager sitting in the park, two-litre Strongbow variety. The Spanish fly was one of the nicest ciders I’ve ever had but bearing in mind most cider I’ve tried has come out of a plastic bottle and before that, the rotting part of a tree.

Then we picked up an SUV load of environment flyers after talking at length to what you’d call, ‘a darling old dear’ about urban bats. Not to be confused with the kind that’s swung by urban yoots.

To end the day I temporally became the green man as a huge variety of cooking herbs was strapped to me like a pack mule. Queen’s Park day is genius.

So ill...

...bare with this afternoon there should be something much more visually rewarding, so keep the faith.

Friday, 7 September 2007

Left 4 Dead


What’s happened? Oh no…Oh God, Dave. You’ve…you’ve been bitten.

You know what to do…


And so it would go if the world were suddenly overrun by the undead. It’s just a realistic situation. To prepare for such a mental and physically exhausting experience as a zombie rampage, I’d advise you play Left 4 Dead. In the same way that you can download games that are meant to be as close to being in a US Army led campaign, here you’ll have the opportunity to train for, let’s face it, a certainty.

There are four of you to start with (see, clever yeah, like the name) as you navigate the usual urban sprawl of subways, warehouses, streets, hospitals etc all the while the ungrateful dead pursue you.

The characters shout things like, ‘reloading,’ ‘hunter,’ ‘go, go, go’ etc. to inform anyone else your playing with either what your currently pumping three kinds of Pb into and why you’ve suddenly stopped shooting.

From what I understand every time you play Left 4 Dead, the experience will be different. This is because the Skynet type A.I monitors how each player is reacting and adjusts when and the intensity of each attack happens. This makes it perfect practice for a real life zombithon.

Not to mention you can see things from the other side. Yep, you can play as different Zombie ‘bosses.’ There’s an exploding one, a fat one and a fast one. A accurate reflection of society then. It’s always good to be objective.

Arrrrrr, brains!

Thursday, 6 September 2007

WoW addiction and clarity

I used to be an addict. Lucky for me, I had a moment of clarity. It’s like a film where a man becomes possessed and its not until he gazes into the mirror, blood stained and bewildered and has that, ‘what have I become’ look. There was no blood, except from constantly pressing keyboard keys but this article, SAVED MY LIFE. Or maybe it just bought me more time to waste in other ways.

It’s strange when you become addicted to something and couldn’t, if asked, say why. Then someone points out to you the very simple and superficial reasons and then it all comes crashing down leaving you a jabbering wreck. Blizzard would do well to listen to Chris Dahlen.

They and Euroman

Being sad, easily amused individuals, my dad and I invented a character called Euroman. Probably after critical blood alcohol levels were reached. Anyway, Euroman is the culmination of several, I guess, northern European countries and talks a bit like that guy from those old Grolsch adverts, ‘itsssh not ready yet.’

I’d completely forgotten about Euroman until today. Below is a developer walkthrough for a new game called, ‘They.’ Ooooweeeoooooo. The developer in question is an amazing example of Euroman. Listen out for comments like, ‘we’re creating a FPS myyystery game’ and ‘rooobutz.’
It’s not big or clever to laugh at people’s accents but I do it to family members all the time, regardless.

Humans vs everything else

There are two upcoming MMOs that have drawn my attention away from the abyss: Tabula Rasa which I talked about here and Hellgate London which I made a flippant remark about there.

Both are set in the near future and both have you playing exclusively as human beings. Xenophobia is the only thing that will save the humans in these games and the rest of us in real life. Xenophobia not of each other, we have enough of that to fill several swimming pools full of hate but against something alien.

It’s a concept that’s explored, and I suppose I need to write one of these now:


The character known as Ozymandias who happens to be inhumanly intelligent and wealthy, (they’re not mutually exclusive) comes to the conclusion that the only way mankind will ever unite is by having a common enemy that is alien to this world. It works. I won’t spoil the plot any further but suffice to say, the final solution is enough to stop the USA and USSR from nuking each other.

Back to the games and it’s about time we had some more sci-fi orientate MMO games. The tsunami of fantasy, fuckwit fare, is enough to slit your wrists with a +4 knife of krull. Its just not realistic, human beings have it hard enough not killing each other let alone be all chummy with elves and dwarfs etc. Below are some developer walkthroughs with Richard…

Facebook privacy goes out the window and kills a small child

It’s a interesting phenomenon to have people you work with as ‘friends’ on Facebook. This isn’t necessarily because you like them but if they added you and you didn’t add them, it would make lift journeys as awkward as if you’d involuntarily pissed yourself.

Stranger still is the trend of bosses and managers adding lowly worker ants as ‘friends.’ It’s a very real possibility to be friends with your boss but it does lead to some strange situations: a night crawling on a bar floor, omeone is sadistic enough to take a compromising pic, the enclave sees it in the stark morning light. Blackmail is a legitimate pastime.

So what does this all mean? Well, it seems to imply that bosses shouldn’t really do the social networking thing or at least not put worker drones in the position where they might have to deny the online friendship, I mean that would be professional suicide, wouldn’t it?