Thursday, 31 January 2008

StumbleUpon worse than crack

The StumbleUpon plug-in has breathed new life into my web exploring but it might end up destroying my 'real' life. Where texting cost you money and fingernails, prolonged Facebook use made you sad and playing games for too long made your eyes, fingers, sanity and relationships, real ones, deteriorate, StumbleUpon has no obvious, discernable drawbacks...yet.

By its very nature the longer you spend on it the more you like it. Next thing you know, every press of the Stumble button fills you with a sense of glee. This is ‘surfing’ the right way. Then again, hours can fly by and seem like minutes, a definite sign of addiction. Maybe I should nip this in the bud?

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

An ode to Genndy Tartakovsky

I was going to write a lengthy essay on how Genndy Tartakovsky’s (creator of Dexter’s Laboratory, The Powerpuff Girls, Samurai Jack and Star Wars: Clone Wars) imagination and love of brickolages makes him a real inspiration. He’s made cartoons more cinematic, poignant, funny and entertaining than I thought possible, blah, blah, gush, gush. Anything I write amusing, insightful, fanboyish or otherwise will only distract from this man’s genius. I wouldn’t do it justice, well, not judicial justice.

Instead it’s an ode the Tube way:

The Powerpuff Girls are unlikely heroes. Their accidental creation at the hands of Professor Utonium through a concoction of sugar, spice, everything nice and Chemical X is what makes them pocket sized punchers. They constantly have to ‘save the day,’ sometimes against the green super chimp, Mojo Jojo, the yokel with a death ray, Fuzzy Lumpkins and the nefarious cross dressing devil, HIM.

Tartakovsky’s use of sound, light and colour:

Three blind jackals guard a wishing well. Despite being blind the jackals have an acute sense of hearing with deadly bows to match. Jack realises he can’t defeat them with all his senses intact so he blindfolds himself to gain the same sensory advantage. Once blindfolded the screen turns black and you are treated to flashes of a foot fall crunching against the snow or a whirling noise as one of the arrows passes overhead. This all combines to convey Jack’s heightened sense of hearing in a remarkable way.

Tartakovsky always manages to weave new and old, mythology and technology into all of his works:

Tartakovsky never fails to inject some humour:

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Attention deficit

Wow, with cartoon promos like these, its no wonder I turned out the way I did.

Destructive decks

I’ve never been a massive fan of skateboarding ever since the ripe old age of twelve when I found I had no aptitude for it. The question arises how do you make a youth sub culture that has sold out so spectacularly, edgy again?

Blow things up of course. Make the Olis’ who Ollie skate over, under and through, incendiary obstacles. It brings new meaning to the term, ‘blood sports.’

A slew of indie games

Crayon Physics Deluxe

As a child I had a brief stint in drawing. I would scribble prolific galleries of crayon coloured wonderment. The reason for this proliferation is once you’ve laid oversized crayon to paper that’s it. Finality. In Crayon Physics Deluxe however, you can recapture warm, fuzzy, childhood memories but this time your pictures come to life and you can keep on drawing!

The aim is to get a ball from one end of the screen to touch a star at the other. How you manage this task is entirely up you as ever shape you draw takes on the physics of the game.


As well as a name for a stylish hat, Fez is a 2D character. Problem is he’s just realised he lives in a 3D world. A metaphysical problem if ever there was one. Still, he can console himself with the Descartian premise, “I think, therefore I play.”

World of goo

Stick different bits, kinds, sorts, odd and ends of goo together in a Lemming style attempt to save the little gooites. Be prepared to battle giant chainsaws and climb the belly of an eel!

Play the original, Tower of Goo.

Monday, 28 January 2008

Future Shock Me

Ever since Marty McFly was told not to give his letter to Doc, less the time space continuum collapse, I’ve wanted the ability to send myself a message from the future. Sadly, I lack a Flux Capacitor or a Delorean for that matter.

Sending myself an email that won’t arrive until the future is the best I can hope for. Lame.

The Geek Hierarchy

Now we know where we stand. Great.

Silhouettes are so i-dodge

Stomp the musical: dustbin men, who look a bit too metro-sexual to pass as authentic, start banging lids and sweeping with brooms in a rhythmic way.

In this animation ghosts of dustbin men are caught in an eternal musical purgatory. The horror.

Mindless Pollocks?

Mine looks more like an epileptic’s worst nightmare…

Have a go here

Five different 'creative' work phases

I went to see Martin Orton of Bold Creative; they do dem tings wiv da yoot. We got to talking and he disclosed to me the theory of the ‘five different work phases.’ Despite sounding like a long lost martial art it works like this:

1) The first stage of your working life revolves around people paying you purely for your time, i.e. low skilled, Mcjobs.

2) Employers then start paying you purely for a skill set, i.e. mad milking cow skills.

3) A combo arises where sooner of later people pay you for both typing or drawing away but also the rare light bulb incidents too.

Next, “Hey I don’t want to move my hands ever again, I want to be like that worm thing in Dune and only move vast distances with the power of my mind (and the spice).

4) Money's coming in for ideas but, oh dear, there’s someone on the tier below who’ll make your ideas a reality and for cheaper!

5) You’ve been churning out ideas for a good long while and your body is now withered but your mind pulsates like a sea of jellyfish. Well done, you’ve now entered the last phase where your ideas are so awe inspiring people simply refer to you as ‘He’ or ‘Him.’

“Shhhh, you must not speak his name less his creative gaze fall upon us.”

Thursday, 24 January 2008


I’ve been calling my significant udder, ‘mushi’ for as long as I can remember. It’s not due to a stroke but an ongoing case of affection. Now go to the nearest reflective surface and make an ‘O’ with your mouth and that’s the same expression I had when I saw a new Japanese game for the DS was named, ‘Mushi-shi.’

Whacking the Google with ‘Mushi-shi’ brings up a whack-off-pedia page that has this to say, “Mushi are described as beings in touch with the essence of life, far more basic and pure than the grotesque creatures we are accustomed to. Due to their ephemeral nature most humans are incapable of perceiving Mushi and are oblivious to their existence, but there are a few who possess the ability to see and interact with Mushi.”

Indeed. From the trailer below, it’s safe to say that my lady friend wins out on visuals, interaction and game play. I might well give this one a miss.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Portal: A Day in the Life of a Turret

Sometimes you just feel like something quick, cheap and filthy. That’s how fast food chains, kebab shops and greasy spoons make money. The blog equivalent is to find something that someone else has made by which I mean a ‘user’ of the interweb and not a studio, agency, conglomerate etc and post it with as little comment as possible. Instead of writing another lengthy post, enjoy the web equivalent of a McMuffin.

Juno and Wristcutters: A semi-independent world

I always imagined that when you die, that’s it; it’s the oblivion show. This isn’t the case according to the semi-indie film Wristcutters: A Love Story. Like the name suggests, suicide whisks you to a world where, “everything is the same, only worse.” No drifting in the ether or eternal hellfire, instead a stark landscape reminiscent of the more arid parts of California where you still need somewhere to call home and therefore need a Mc-job to pay for it. There’s no smiling either, instead you while away eternity by going to bars and playing the ‘how do you think they offed themselves’ game.

Our protagonist, Zia, has his hope for something better rekindled when he learns that the ex-girlfriend, who he killed himself for, has, in turn, offed herself. He embarks on a journey of reunion accompanied by his alcoholic, Russian musician friend, Eugene. Eugene has a black hole under the passenger seat of his car by the way. This and many other small anomalies make up the washed out world of Wristcutters.

In that same evening, which in hindsight can only be described as Indiethon ’08 I also viddied Juno. No bizarre after life planes of existence here but instead the equally strange Suburbia Americana. Juno (the name of Zeus’ only wife, apparently) is a sixteen-year-old girl who through an act of boredom/charity/and genuine affection for a long time best friend becomes pregnant.

Juno is exactly the kind of friend you’d want in real life, full of quick-witted barbs and pop culture references. She determines early on, that the best course of action for her unborn ‘sea monkey’ is adoption and the film progresses around this eventuality. It’s great when a film isn’t predictable and as a viewer you can retract your jaded, media saturated, gland for the duration.

Juno and Wristcutters: youngish casts, unusual stories and semi-Indies. I’ll just summarise like that next time…

Monday, 21 January 2008

Pop up ads make me cry

I usually like the technology section of the Guardian: there’s that man with the pipe who looks like a less paedophilic kind of granddad, who could probably help you mend more than the punctured tire on your bike and then there's that guy who looks slightly odd that they send to all the technology expos (probably because they don’t like to have him around the office.)

But pop ads threaten to destroy all the love I have for it. That is to say not just on the Guardian site but all over the interweb. You wouldn’t stand for it in ‘real life.’ You don’t have billboards that fall off the side of buildings crushing you under the weight of their message. Your TV doesn’t attempt to mount your face during every commercial break. And you don’t have Nicolas Cage jump out of a magazine stuffing that tacky watch he’s sponsoring into your retina. So why is it that you can’t visit some of your favourite sites without some obtrusive ad pop up and chase you around the screen like some drunken psycho you accidentally started talking to on the night bus.

Not so much a pop up but annoying none the less: a man receiving the data love juice from a PC tower or maybe it’s the other way round or maybe they’re swapping like some new genre of niche web porn.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Why the love for J.J Abrams?

I was catching up with my TED viewing yesterday when I chanced across a lecture given by J.J Abrams, writer, producer, director and spectacle wearer. The lecture was interesting enough, much talk of character development over special effects, a mystery box that he keeps in his office to remind him about, well, the importance of mystery presumeably.

Despite the passable lecture I didn’t understand why the assembled audience made up of scientists, designers, artists etc laughed harder than was necessary at so, so jokes and gave a standing ovation once he’d finally stopped.

I’ve seen many a TED lecture and although it is a rare occurrence, some can be quite dull but usually this is down to the specific orator rather than the subject of discussion. J.J Abrams ‘owned the stage’ which essentially meant he walked up and down it and made sure to make eye contact with as much of the audience as possible.

So far so unremarkable but it must have been the enthusiasm he brought to the TED hall that caused the TEDites to temporarily lose their senses because the other conclusion is far more chilling. It could well be that these learned, innovative and ‘free thinkers’ actually like and elevate J.J Abrams’ works with their own.

A friend of mine once wrote about coming up with clever ideas in advertising as, “lets not take ourselves too seriously we’re not curing cancer.” Or something to that effect but that’s just what the assembled mass at that TED lecture did. It’s like grouping the invention of the big Mac to that of the electronic microscope. Different league, no, galaxy.

Which leads on nicely to one of Mr. Abrams crimes against, everything, yep that’s not overstating it in the slightest. Now it’s important to mention that for the purposes of this spleen clearance I’m discussing Abrams written works:

Armageddon: so painful is the memory of seeing this in the cinema my mind, as a self defence mechanism, only allows me to remember the scene where the triumphant (only U.S) astronauts return and do the slow motion walk thing with the stars and stripes flapping in the background. Then someone says (I think it’s Billy Bob Thornton) to Bruce Willis’ daughter, “Permission to shake the hand of the bravest man on earth.” Or something equally anti-genius.

Regarding Henry: meh

Forever Young - with Mel (Jews are no friends of mine) Gibson: Fell asleep

Gone Fishin’: utter tripe

Alias: I missed most of Alias but did catch up by about series five and I admit the dialogue is pretty snappy despite the overall and overused spy cliché storyline.

Lost: Like many I was taken in by Lost and as I’m not a complete ‘playa hater’ I can congratulate Mr Abrams on a well deserved Emmy for Outstanding Directing for A Drama Series for the first series of Lost, which I assume, was actually won on the strength of the opening episode. Who doesn’t like jets engines on a beach. However, Lost soon became Lost in it’s own pseudo- well everything.

Mission Impossible 3: spew

Cloverfield: the trailer looks interesting but how many times has that been misleading

Star Trek 11: really? Why?

In light of all this Abrams bashing, take heart for if ‘award winning’ writing can be distilled from: emotion, character development and mystery, you should all get writing right now and you too can have a gold statue.

Friday, 11 January 2008

Excerpts from the ‘Gentleman’s Encyclopaedia Chile’ by Mr. Reginald Greenleaf

(The) Mullet

It’ll be of some comfort to the citizens of Alabama, that the Mullet, a distinct and somewhat uncouth hair fashion, which can best be described as, to quote a devotee of the style, “business in the front, party in the back” has been embraced whole-heartedly in the more urbanized areas of Chile. Sported by youths and bucks, I have no doubts that it is an attempt to keep up with the dandys' of local fashion than any public statement on the political origin, to wit, the United (Revolutionary) States.

One cannot expect far-flung countries to keep up with the latest European fashions so do not be too judgemental.

Pisco (Sour)

Considered Chile’s national drink next to the newly established trade in wines, Pisco is made by fermenting grapes. Depending on the quality and strength, Pisco can taste like anything from Whisky to Tequila, horse piss to ambrosia.

In a sly move, worthy of Bonaparte, the Chilean government named a particular region, ‘Pisco Elqui’ in order to ensure the naming rights as the drink originated in neighbouring Peru.

The ‘Pisco valley’ if you will, is a strange place where man has staked his claim firmly against nature: lush green valleys where rows upon rows of grape vines can be made to look, if one has the imagination, like meadows in England.

On either side stark, otherworldly mountains of crimson red stand imposingly over the delicate frameworks below. To be constantly aware of one’s own frailty and mortality must in part be an explanation to the very reasonable price of Pisco (in the region) and if I were one of the denizens I would partake in a glass or three.


By the end of my stay in Chile I had almost tuned out the near constant backdrop of whistling. It is astounding. Despite the ever present crashing of the sea, cawing of seagulls and barking of stray dogs, a steady stream of whistles can be heard throughout the day. As far as I could determine, Chilean’s use whistling for three things:

1. To whistle at attractive ladies (a mating ritual perhaps?)
2. To whistle to attract a friend’s attention (imagine wolves howling)
3. To remind themselves they exist (a useful philosophical tool)

Join us again tomorrow as we publish more excerpts from Mr Reginald Greenleaf’s, Magnum Opus.

Thursday, 10 January 2008


As someone who has read WANTED, and who enjoyed it immensely, I can’t help but feel violated for the nth time as Hollywood is releasing a motion picture based on the cult comic. The comic written by citizen pen, Mark Millar, is about a down trodden, youngish man, who is spat at by the local yoot, emasculated by his boss and cheated on by his girlfriend. He is Edward Norton in Fight Club. Our protagonist has however, the decidedly more advantageous luck of being the heir to the world’s greatest assassin’s fortune and skills. This deux ex machina is communicated to him by a femme fatale (played by Angelina Jolie in the film.) Cue the montage of training and awakening of said devastating killing efficiency.

What made the comic a more interesting proposition than the weak and clichéd synopsis might thus far entail, is that all this assassination business takes place in a world where super villains have taken over the world, the catch, no one realises. The world was divided between five arch-super villains in a mafia family type structure, after every super hero on the planet was done away with and the populace was made to forget that superheroes ever existed outside of fiction. This idea of humanity being lorded over by sinister forces that they themselves don’t realise exist sounds very similar to the plot of the Matrix Trilogy and so it’s no wonder that the wakowski brothers are directing. Lets hope it’s more Matrix than Matrix Relamented and Matrix Revulsions.

After watching the trailer for WANTED, I can make an assertion that the film will probably make the ‘Fraternity’ (the name describing the alliance of super badies) appear as a necessary evil a bit like the CIA and not as the insidious crime organization it’s made out to be in the comic. Expecting a Hollywood blockbuster to be green lit when the premise involves an ‘average jo’ who upon learning that he has both vast wealth and power (the American dream) becomes increasingly amoral with no redemption in sight might have been a bit iffy.