Friday, 30 April 2010

3 tiresome punchable windbags

Couldn't stomach the full 90 mins of debating last night - think I've heard enough half-answers and evasive soundbites to last me a ruddy lifetime.

At least 'Morican's have been enjoying our election - thanks to Gawker/Getty for the weird pic.

Sullivan's Dish linked to an interesting but depressing article about the ropeyness of uniform swing projections, it's detailed but the upshot is it's likely that Camo & his Bullingdon boys are heading for No. 10. Though, according to, punters still fancy a hung parliament

This cheered me up a bit.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Foutering bout Fiction

China Mieville's won his 3rd Arthur C. Clarke award for his recent novel The City, The City - it's a entertaining crime fantasy set in two overlapping cities but isn't quite up to the Perdido Street Station standard. Ta io9

Just finished Gene Wolfe's latest novel The Sorcerer's House. It's a much better read than his previous An Evil Guest. It's a contemporary urban fantasy closer I'd say to his Castleview or There Are Doors than anything else. I won't spoil the plot but it starts when a recently released ex-con called Baxter Dunn inherits a strange, rundown old house with plenty of secrets.

If you're not a fan of Wolfe already here's a nice little guide to reading his works from Neil Gaiman coincidentally whom Wolfe dedicates The Sorcerer's House too.

His book, The Book of The New Sun, gets a highly favourable review from The Guardian, asking if it's scifi's equivalent of Ulysses? Yes is my answer.

Want a moook? I think you do and I think you want the one called The City of the Godbrain.

Sunday, 25 April 2010


Repo Men is a scifi actioner - starring Jude Law & Forest Whitaker - about artificial organ repossessions in a murky corporate future. Despite the interesting premise the film turned out to be a heap of steaming faeces with terrible by-the-numbers dialogue and some mediocre action scenes performed by a couple of half hearted actors. With a little more intelligence and wit this could have been a nice Robocop-esque satire instead of this instantly forgettable trash.

I'm kinda glad I didn't rush out to see Kick Ass as I thought it was a little disappointing. It is good don't get me wrong, it's got oodles of action and a breakneck pace, there's also plenty of decent lines and nerd references throughout but the ending was fudgy nonsense and it soured the experience for me. A jetpack ffsake

bleurghhh, cough cough, stuff

Interesting little graphic from the excellent Information is Beautiful bout colour associations across the world.

Hubble is 20 years old, crikey am feeling old today. Wired have a rather nice top twenty if you're looking for new wallpapers though.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Howlin Mad Murdoch invades Indy

It seems it's not just the Tories spooked by the rise of the Clegg - according to the Guradani both James Murdoch and Rebekah Ginger stormed the offices of The Independent yesterday upset at some amusing ad the Indy had been running which stated - Rupert Murdoch will not decide the outcome of the election. You will.
Aww the poor bungholes don't like to see their well groomed puppet Cameron lose ground to Clegg and thought a hissy fit might solve the problem.

They should take heed of David Yelland, former Sun editor, who wrote in yesterdays Gaudrina that the Murdoch press' "investment" in Cameron may seriously backfire on them.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Election Dysfunction

Nick Clegg's performance on last week's leaders debate has lifted his party's standing so high he's pushed Gordon into 3rd place ho-ho-ho bet Cameron's ruing the day he agreed Nick should be on board. Anyways rather than accept this has anything to do with his policies or his fresh, honestish approach both Reds & Blues were super keen to paint the rise as just a blip, a freak result from the TV debate or an anti-politics vote blah blah excuses excuses. They should be careful though as UK Polling Report has them, 6 days after the 1st debate, still on 31%, just two behind the Tories and 4% ahead of Brown. Rolling on the floor would barely describe my amusement at this turn of events and it's been great watching both Conservatives & Labour squirm around trying to figure out whats happening.

Clegg is even attracting a bit of international attention with the headline on Huffpo at one point today, a gazillion pieces on DailyDish and there's even been some Russki paper claiming he's descended from Russian aristos. He does seem a bit more normal than the other two to be honest and he's certainly got a interesting multicultural view plus he's got a celeb-connect with old uni pal Sam Mendes and even drove across the States with Marcel and Louis Theroux as a young man. Certainly an improvement than a son of the manse and an Eton posho.

Someone at ConHQ decided that they better shove creepy George Osbourne out into the sunlight today as it's been quite a while since the campaign mismanager showed face. Sitting next to charmer Ken Clarke was a bad idea though as it just highlighted his failings and general ickyness. Marina Hyde has a nice bit from the Guradina about his day out.

Cameron & crew do seem to be a little gaff prone of late and hot on the heels of Grayling's slip up suggesting it's cool to allow discrimination against homosexuals in B&B's & Camo's own cringing interview comes another Tory doofus who's not a fan of The Gays. This time it's a no-one called Julian Lewis who compared a gay lifestyle to be as dangerous as fighting on the front line. I'm sure Pickles is dragging him over coals as we speak.

Poor old Cameron was egged today at some event - bet he didn't respond in Prescott style.

High Life

Fascinating article on BoingBoing via Mindhacks about a study of the effects of the little understood drug Salvia Divinorum on the human noggin. In true 21st style the San Diego State Uni psychologists analysed videos of the effects that had been uploaded by psychonauts onto Youtube, mmm real science that, not dumbing down at all, no. Anyways some of the vids are quite funny - have a look here - and it's certainly an interesting substance worth investigating like Ibogaine which also effects our kappa opioid receptors. I've tried Salvia Divinorum once but it either wasn't very strong or I was already too "distracted" by other substances to notice much effect and I can't say I'm in a hurry to try again.

While on a psychedelic note I should mention that John Lennon's lost stash of LSD has been unearthed at his former home in Surrey according to Meztger's Dangerous Minds blog .
lennpn stash found

Sightings from the couch

Date Night, starring Tina Fey & Steve Carell was ok suppose, kinda funny I guess but too hollywood cheesy for me. The usually excellent leads made a decent enough stab at it and they worked well together but the mistaken identity plot is overused, it was stuffed with lazy cliches and it was really poorly paced. It had some laughs but I bet the funniest ad-libbed stuff hit the cutting room floor. I'd say it's on a par with Blake Edwards' film Blind Date so make of that what you will.

Following in the footsteps of supposed-to-be-real horror flicks Paranormal Activity & The Fourth Kind comes this little low budget Australian effort called Lake Mungo, no sniggering at the back please. The family home is haunted by their drowned daughter, appearing in photos and on video tapes & as the sightings build they hire a psychic to help them out. What a shame that all the efforts they made in generating the creepy atmosphere is squandered by a very weak final third. With a little editing and rearranging this could have been a much better film. After looking on IMDB it appears it's already scheduled for a remake, which might not be the terrible thing it usually is.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Disengage brain now

The remake of Clash of the Titans was as dumb as the original film and the acting was wooden at the best of times, particulary by Worthington but, strangely, I still quite enjoyed it. It's romps along with plenty of action and the FX and design of the monsters was pretty good so I dunno maybe as I'd just expected a bit of popcorny blockbuster nonsense and that's just what you get I was quite satisfied. I didn't bother with the 3D version as it's taken such a drubbing in the reviews but a 2D Kraken was fine by me.

John Cusack stars in Hot Tub Time Machine a funny, banal, scifi comedy about a bunch of friends spirited back to 1986 via a faulty hot tub. There's a barrage of gags from the get-go and they spin in plenty of amusing 80's references without it getting tedious but I think it was the excellent cast of Cusack, Corddry & Robinson that really made it. If you want a dumb comedy in the vein of The Hangover this should suffice.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

PS3 Pish

Demon's Souls has been the only game in my PS3 since the turn of 2010 and now it's finally getting a European launch in June. I'm not sad I spent 50 notes importing my copy as it's a fantastic game but I could really have done with the Strat guide as this is one of the most challenging RPG games I've played in a decade. I imagine there's plenty of people who've never got past the first couple of hours, especially those who're used to the hand holding offered in contemporary games like say Uncharted 2. For examples of it's teeth grinding toughness consider that there's no pause button, no mid level checkpoints, an obtuse and unexplained upgrading system and those first couple of hours, blimey, I think I did 15-20 times at least.

Still it's probably in my top 5 games for PS3 and here's why - the combat is visceral and combined with the difficulty level it forces you to fight carefully, thoughtfully, shield-up always, forever peeking round corners till you've memorised the entire level just in case some red eyed Knight takes your head off with one strike. Doesn't sound like fun but the feeling of achievement once you've killed the first boss makes all that pain worthwhile. Moreover this game has one of the most interesting, innovative online setups I've seen in a game: playing while connected to the net means you'll see real time wispy "ghosts" of other players that are playing the same level, there's blood splatters on the floor which will reveal the actions previous players have made shortly before dying and there's a smattering of messages across each level left by players that offer(mostly) good advice about how to proceed. Not only that but you can assist other players in their level by placing a stone on the floor ingame & there's also another stone you can place that allows you to forcibly invade another players game so you can school them proper and steal their accumulated souls.

Film critic Roger Ebert gets back into the debate about whether video games can be considered as art or not.

Sony are feeling the 3D fever apparently there's a 3D gaming patch coming soon and one for playback later in the year. Personally I'm not that fussed but Super Stardust HD in 3D is tempting.

Friday, 16 April 2010

The Great Antidote

We should all be celebrating Simon Singh's victory over the back benders and their nutty claims to be able to cure ear infections through spine manipulation. According to Goldacre's article now one in four Chiropractors are under investigation in the uk - haha - now can we please start cleaning out the rest of the shysters ?

Obama has outlined his ambitions for NASA for the next couple of decades and he's certainly thinking big, wanting a manned Mars orbiter by 2030. Personally I'd prefer a space elevator but you can't always get what you want.

On the space bent there's also been some unusual radio waves coming from something in the M82 galaxy and there's yet another bonkers Black Hole theory out positing that our universe maybe nested in the center of a black hole in another 'verse or something brain melting like that. Made me think of Wolfe's White Fountain though.

Meteorite hunters have descended on Wisconsin after this awesome fireball was witnessed this week. And some lucky kids have found the first chunk

Friday Foto Finish

Clegg wins 1st Leaders debate - Camo was nervy and Gordo the same ole clunking details man.

Pretty Icelandic ash cloud screws with flyers.

Pope has another bad week & Hitch wants him arrested during UK visit

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Big Screen Lem

I love the writings of Stanislaw Lem and I've been hunting some of the earlier adaptations for some time now so you can imagine my nerdgasms over glimpses of The Futurolgical Congress as seen through the eyes of Ari Folman, director of the very excellent Waltz with Bashir. Muchas Gracias to Quiet Earth.

There's another Lem based film on the horizon - based on One Human Minute (haven't read yet) it's called, simply, 1 and has been doing the festivals of late so fingers crossed it reaches Edinb.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Saturday, 10 April 2010

8 Bit Worship

Awesome vid - reminds me I must order 3D Dot Game Heroes

TVersity Times

Solaris, mm loads of punters seem to like this version so I thought I'd give it another go. Nope still didn't enjoy it. The acting is "cool", so typical of Soderbergh's work and though it's reasonably scripted it tries to hard to be art-house, which never really works without an intelligence behind it. It does look nice however while Tarkovsky's looks terribly dated now in terms of FX and set design it's just such a shame that both drift so far from the intentions of the author, in his own words.

"As Solaris' author I shall allow myself to repeat that I only wanted to create a vision of a human encounter with something that certainly exists, in a mighty manner perhaps, but cannot be reduced to human concepts, ideas or images. This is why the book was entitled Solaris and not Love in Outer Space." er Zing.

Jonathan Miller's Alice in Wonderland was not bad, not a complete success but probably way better than Burton's, though I still haven't seen it. Miller manages to create a nice daydreamy hallucinatory feel and there's plenty of quality on the actor front except, crucially, for the girl playing Alice whose strange zonked out performance leaves a big hole at the center of the very strange victorian styled proceedings.

Friday, 9 April 2010


Fascinating new discovery that'll shed further light into our evolutionary history. There's a possibility of a brain imprint from one of the skulls too.

Italian boffins have found the first animal that doesn't require oxygen, I'm sure this'll feed into the work of Martian life hunters soon enough. Pic via the Beeb.

Russians synthesised element 117 a superheavy isotope called Ununseptium for the first time. Pic and bit from Wired.

Indian Space nerds have big ambitions, yay, touting a plan to turn Moon tunnels into habitations. As NASA slips into retirement it's great other countries are stepping up to the plate.

Screen plays films

Tucked away late at night on More4 this week was Starsuckers - an expose of our current obsession with celebs and the media's manipulation of our obsession for maximum profit. With some natty animated sequences and some prestidigitation along the way it was a powerful swipe at moronic contemporary culture with some interesting points and a fascinating (unwitting?) contribution from Max Clifford. Directed by the guy who did Taking Liberties this played out like Adam Curtis-lite but that's no bad thing and is certainly worth watching if like me you're ticked off with celeb stories leaking into serious news broadcasts.

Panic in the Streets is a fantastic, frantic film by the director of On The Waterfront. A couple of hoods are carrying the plague around New Orleans while an army doctor is desperately trying to find them and stop the spread of the contagion with limited help from the authorities. The acting, particularly by Palance and Zero Mostel is superb, it's well paced and the whole thing has a lovely noirish feel to it.

General Meh Lection

Questioning my own sanity is one of my favourite pastimes so I was delighted to see I hadn't imagined Michael Caine's verbal mistakes during his endorsement of the Tory National Service policy shebang.

“I’ve actually seen a government who is interested. This government, I think, is doing a wonderful thing with the National Citizen service, so let’s give them a second chance.”

Well he's getting on a bit and these actors are hardly renowned for their brains are they?. Doesn't say much about the rich old thesp that he's prepared to emigrate if we tax him a single percentile point more on his millions. Quote taken from The Mirror's website.

Some dim wannabe Scottish Labour mp dude Mclennan has got the boot today for failing to understand Twitter. His expletive laden rants didn't go unread and after a quick think Labour HQ has decided he should go. Guido has some choice examples and points out he's a Rangers fan which frankly explains everything.

Gordo has been interviewed by and has repeated Mandy's appeal that peeps should vote Lib Dem wherever Labour can't win - he doesn't have much confidence in a Lab win then? Good advice though as I've love to see the Eton boys faces if they lost.

The brilliant B3TA has an interesting link in this weeks mailout - VoterPower shows exactly how much your vote counts by postcode - stupid old Labour should have done Electoral reform in their second term rather than try and chuck AV in at the last minute.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Ear Food - bought, foraged, ordered

Some dude has posted an awesome slice of Mayfield funk on BoingBoing today so I'll match that with two more vids and one from Ready Steady Go!

Further Chartage

Another great chart, courtesy of Io9, this time a handy guide for first contact with alien intelligence. BoingBoing has a rather amusing bingo game about those pernicious evo-psychologists

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Our time to chose between morons has arrived

Finally the election has been called - it's going to be an interesting one no matter what the result. I'd personally love a hung parliament just for the laughs but I reckon Davo will scrape a slim majority. Anyways we've got a month of inane political blustering, cringing photo ops and vapid 24/7 media coverage with the added bonus of 3 televised face-offs to look forward to. Enjoy.

Datablog has a nice little election primer for those who want some facts to base your decision on. And here's a nice graph of voter turnout from

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Tellybox Round Up

The Pacific is more of the same stunning WW2 action from Hanks & Spielberg this time following the brutal island to island war waged against the Japanese. If you saw Band of Bros you'll watch this regardless of what I say and it's well worth the effort. Ep 3 is a bit dull though as they're on leave in Melbourne so feel free to skip it.

The pilot episode for Lizzie And Sarah was brilliant, fantastically dark and beautifully played by Julia Davis & Jessica Hynes. Two frumpy housewives stuck in horrible relationships decide to change their lives, violently. It doesn't look like it's getting a full run though which is a crime given the preponderance of cack on the small screen.

Justified is a contemporary western/cop show starring Timothy Olyphant as a US Marshall sent back home after shooting too many criminals. Based on a novel by Elmore Leonard it's reasonably acted, occasionally funny but very light and tv-frothy. It could really do with a long running story arc rather than just capturing dimwit of the week but I'll watch a little longer

Back from the wilderness are Fringe ('tis ok but dreading the forthcoming musical ep), South Park (tedious Tiger Woods ep kicked it off but 2nd is better), V (still riddled with plotholes and shaky acting) and finally Dr Who is back with a new Dr with a very strangely shaped head but a decent enough season opener.

Southland's 2nd & all too brief season has come to a close and I think I enjoyed it more than the first. Fingers crossed it gets picked up again as this beat cop drama set in LA had plenty of good acting and some decent writing.

I watched BSG through to the end and enjoyed it but it had it's share of duff episodes that were worth skipping. Caprica on the other hand seems to chug along at a consistently mediocre level - it's got some nice scifi ideas and that but it's too soapy for me and the cast, other than Stoltz, can't act for toffee.

Monday, 5 April 2010

"All Governments Are Lying Cocksuckers" Bill Hicks

Lord knows how fast Hicks must be spinning in his grave but I'm sure he'd be delighted by the efforts of Wikileaks this week who were given a classified gunsight tape and have managed to decrypt the video of an incident when 2 US helicopters killed civilians and two Reuters journos in Baghdad back in '07. Of course the military denied responsibility for deaths. Thanks to Wired

The US Military are also finally fessing up to the deaths of 3 women in Afghanistan in Feb. Two of the three were pregnant at the time so as you'd imagine they haven't quite got round to admitting that the corpses were then mutilated to retrieve the bullets and the scene cleaned of other evidence.

Interesting bit on the Daily Beast bout the Israeli government putting the squeeze on a couple of journos who've been investigating the IDF. Nice to see state censorship isn't confined to rogue states and dictatorships.

It's obvious that the rest of the print media avoided the NOTW phone bugging scandal cause they're probably equally as guilty but at least the good old Gruandia is still plugging away. They've got a nice bit on the front page today that'll probably put the heat back on the Yard and hopefully it's enough to warrant a proper investigation. I'm sure there must be someone out there who'd like to stick it to the wrinkly old Australian and his charmless offspring?

Finally Private Eye have an interesting take on the Byer's-ride-me-like-a-cab fiasco - seems like a Tory MP got a whiff of the sting and warned her grubby handed colleagues so that's why it was light on greedy Tories. Doh. Double doh as it looks like I missed a similar article from the Gruadina last month.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Screen Churn

Cronenberg's 2nd feature, Rabid, is a bit of a mess. Motorbike crash outside experimental hospital leads to some freaky parasite/pitprick foamy zombie nonsense in Canadia. It's badly acted and meanders about for ages as Chambers drains blood via her oxter cock. Wouldn't bother unless there's nowt else on.

Bill Hicks - Relentless - can't remember if I've seen this before but there wasn't much I hadn't heard before, that didn't stop it being a very entertaining 70mins and a benchmark in standup. Astute as always Hicks was excellent at parsing the bullshit from dogshit and he's probably laughing his tits off at us all right now.

The Quatermass Xperiment, urgh, Q played by an American with a thick accent in the manner of a NYPD cop ?! I guess they were right in casting the barking yank as it was moderately successful over the pond. It's a familiar tale of crashed Space Mission has a nastiness ridden survivor, it's very stilted almost documentary like, reeks of the 50's and the Yank-Q is a crap but it musters something up out of the ether and for vintage scifi it'll keep you entertained. And seems you can watch it for free on Veoh

Friday, 2 April 2010

Swiss Space & Toon Tie-in

Don't think I've ever seen a Swiss film before but I was more than impressed with the ambitious scifi flick Cargo. Set in a future where humanity lives in ginormous orbital platforms above a burnt out Earth our protagonist decides to sign up as ship doctor on a freighter so she can afford to move to Rhea the only other habitable planet we've found. The 8yr journey doesn't run smoothly however and as crew members turn up dead and suspicions boil they realise they need to search the ship's hold. It may tread familiar ground but this is a well acted, thoughtful scifi film and given the tiny budget ( a tenth of District 9's ) it's a resounding success.

Halo Legends was alright - an animated portmanteau of seven stories set in the Halo universe. There's some great & some bad segments but that's the norm for these type things like Animatrix and Gotham Knight before it. Animation was pretty sweet though so even the guff tales kept me entertained but I think you'll need to be somewhat aware of the games to appreciate it.

Space is the Place

My ears were well fed on Wednesday night by Jerry Dammer's Spatial AKA Orchestra and their blend of afro-jazz Sun Ra futuristic jam. I can heartily recommend the show - 2 hours of jazz followed by an impromptu street encore.