Thursday, 31 March 2011

Fatbag of Science

APOD have a sweet pic of the Kepler finds.

Waxahachie, could have been the location for a particle accelerator much bigger than the LHC and some nerds have been rooting around the abandoned remains of the project. Reddit.

Really nice job time lapsing some Aurora. Again from the APOD.

Weird vid of Earth geoid, the "shape" of our gravitational field. BoingBoing

Putting out fires with electricity? Guadinar

Ruskies make a space comeback with some lovely pics of the planet and our moon. Gizmodo.

Shitting Spider Trees! Pakistani spiders fleeing the flood are creating unforeseen consequences. Impactlab.

I can't really profess to understanding the whole dark matter oeuvre but apparently some brain circle jerking boffins reckon that dark matter reactions could make planets habitable from within. Knock yourself out at the New Scientist.

Awesome x-ray of some new stingray that someone's just discovered. Neatorama

Space-Time is an illusion - duh. DailyGalaxy

Mmmm Mercury orbital snap from Messenger.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Movie Mumblings

Neil Gaiman's fun, pulpy American Gods is heading for the big screen. Digitalspy.

Bryan Cranston from Breaking Bad is signed up as a villain in the Total Recall remake. Reddit.

World War Z might yet rise from the dead according to AintitCool.

Hollywood's clearly still sniffing the strong stuff with the news Jennifer Garner is going to play Miss Marple in a new version.

Batman will live beyond Nolan's 3rd adventure according to Warner Bros. Den of Geek.

Depp is reprising his impersonation of Hunter S in The Rum Diary.

Howard Stern's remake of 80's classic Porky's hits a legal snag. Moviefone.

Neil Marshall is penning a WW2/Alien invasion flick. Quiet Earth.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Two Tales of My City

Sylvan Chomet's The Illusionist is based on a undeveloped Tati project about an out of fashion magician who bumbles around on a search for gigs that takes him from London to the Western Isles and finally settling into Auld Reekie of the 1950's. The stunning watercoloured animations are peppered with little dialogue, mostly burblings, slapsticky humour and a big bucket of whimsy. Chomet's insistence on old school animation is admirable (though by account a quite frustrating experience for those involved) but regardless the overall look is lovely with a familliar wispy/misty light infusing our country and he expends plenty of effort making Edinburgh look rather splendid, with tonnes of archictercural detail and even the Crags get an appearance. Sadly it's gossamer thin and somehow I found some of it's charm gets worn away by the insistence on old fashioned laughs. A beautiful ode to the city but there's barely enough plot to fill it's 72 mins.

John Landis' take on the Burke and Hare story stars a bevy of familiars as well as a couple of half decent leads from Andy Serkis and Simon Pegg and with all the comedy chops involved it's surprising it just isn't that funny. Sure there's some nice comedic murderings and a few good lines along the way but it's laboured with a romantic subplot that sucks up way too much screen time and you need something with such a hackneyed tale as this. Landis focuses on the dark closes and dangerous steps that litter Edinburgh and I guess those are suitable spots for the homicidal bumblings but he lumped for all the most obvious locations. Anyways it's not a terrible film just a really average one.

Entrances & Exits

Enter the Void is a remarkable, deranged hallucination of a film by controversial director Gaspar Noe. The plot centers on a drug dealing 20 something who lives and dies in Tokyo and his post mortem wanderings around the lives of his friends. Gaspar has suffused the film with lurid neon colouring, strobes, demented transition's, CGi drugscapes and disorienting music that will literally blast your noggin in half and the POV meanderings, flashbacks and attempts at re-embodiment by Oscar's consciousness create a bizarrely spiritual atmosphere amid the filth and depravity of the Japanese underbelly. I wasn't a fan of Noe's previous films Irreversible & Seul Contre Tous mainly as the shocking content appeared to have such limited ambition but the darkness, sex, drug taking and violence here seem to be somehow warranted given the film's nature. Anyways it's a dazzling film I'll watch again - next time hopefully in the cinema.

Essential Killing stars Vincent Gallo and sees Polish director Jerzy Skolimowski reunited with Brit producer Jeremy Thomas (their first effort together the enigmatic The Shout is a classic 70's oddity, go see). Anyways Gallo plays an Taliban fighter who escapes during his rendition and attempts to evade recapture while trekking through the Russian countryside. While Gallo's performance is strong and it's filmed beautifully, the paper thin plot and spartan dialogue left me a little bored and the nods towards metaphysics and something deeper fall pretty flat. It shares a particularly odd scene with O Lucky Man, a much richer film odyssey which on reflection makes this seem little more than an experiment in chin stroking.

Paperback Perusalings

A Maggot by John Fowles is a stunning mystery novel set in the 17th century concerning the travails of a wayward son and his companions while on a peculiar Exmoor journey. The story is told through a series of Q & A's, real time narratives and newspaper clippings and for the first half of the novel the plot doesn't really develop much as the events are retold by each richly drawn traveller, it's beautifully written though it did take me a while to get used to the period vernacular. Around the halfway mark Fowles teasingly reveals a much greater ambition however and what appeared to be a simple historical mystery becomes an interesting examination of religiosity and our ever changing social mores spun from a superbly crafted reminiscence of an ambiguous, fortean, experience. It surpasses The Magus to become my new favourite Fowles novel I think but I won't say anymore in case I spoil someone else's pleasure as it's baffling central events are best discovered as the author intended. A fine example of literary speculative fiction.

Banvard's Folly is a nicely written collection of brief biographies of some unusual, failed geniuses that have slipped from history's focus. It's a nice selection of fascinating oddbods, fraudsters and barmy thinkers including Symmes and his search for his Hollow Earth entrance, Rene Blondlot's imaginary N-Rays, Ephraim Bull's Concord grape variety and of course John Banvard himself, a painter of truly ginormous canvasses. Paul Collins' sympathetic portraits of these 13 characters gives each tale an added poignancy and it's a lovely read for anyone interested in the forgotten and the foolish. If you do read n enjoy it you should give Mike Jay's Air Loom Gang or Foden's Mimi and Toutou Go Forth a go.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

All Things Must Pass

Season Two of V closes and apparently it's all but dead now, not a huge loss but it's ironic that the show plodded along wasting loads of episodes and only finally picks up the pace as they try to tie up loose ends by packing in the action. Anyways it was always too glossy and pristine for me and fleshing out the original seemed to stretch their plotting and scripting ability. You never know but another network might give it a final season and I'd probably watch to see if they can build on the momentum.

Star Wars: Clone Wars closed on another double ep adventure with Ashoka Tano, Anakin's student, kidnapped from the battlefield and thrown into a game reserve for reptilian hunters. It's not a strong finale with a derivative plot and some tiresome moralising and there's an over reliance on fanboy gasms to perk up the second half with the appearance of Chewbacca. This series has been a bit hit & miss and the 5-ep arc mid season where Anakin sees his terrible future and then has it wiped from memory was more than a bit naff, in fact that whole balance-planet bit was guff. Not sure why I keep watching to be honest; not as if I'm a big Star Wars fan, but it's occasionally amusing and the animation is top shelf I just wish they'd concentrate more on Anakin's slow corruption.

I seriously doubt I'll be watching anymore No Ordinary Family now it's almost limped to the finish line of season one. If you haven't seen it, it's a Heroes meets The Incredibles type thing with Mackie from The Shield heading a super powered family in an awkward mix of action and soap with the kids abusing their powers at school while their parents drift into crime fighting and primary level investigations. It's cheesy and not funny though there's glimmers of a better show occasionally, maybe if the kids had been older, college age or the plot more thoroughly developed it could have been great. I'll watch the finale but that's it.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Moreish Danish

Forbrydelsen aka The Killing is an accomplished Danish TV show doing the rounds on BBC4/iplayer at the moment and it's really entertaining stuff. A blend of Prime Suspect and State of Play as politics and murder intertwine around the brutal murder of a pretty school girl. Well acted throughout and with a fine central performance from Sofia Grabol as the strung out but determined detective tasked with leading an investigation that soon points towards the office of a high rising politician vying for election. I'm sure some of the subtitling fumbled over a few nuances and it's nothing particularly original but overall it reeks of quality, an adult, complex thriller that manages it's twists without the corn and is highly addictive stuff. The US un-make is about to air across the pond.

Sofia Grabol reprises her role as the dogged Lund in the the second series of Forbrydelsen and I am glad, her performance dominated the first season and with good reason. Anyways in this second grisly tale of murder Lund puts herself through the wringer once again in a desperate search for the truth, hindered by the shenanigans of the powers-that-be while trying to investigate the murders of soldiers which appear to relate to events in Afghanistan. There's only 10 eps this time round and I think that was a good idea as the oh-so relevant plot began to grate a little as it crams down the war-issues with gay abandon and it the character arcs are not dissimilar to the first but who cares despite these faults this is high quality TV, a very rare thing indeed, I'm sure it'll appear soon enough so make an effort as it's another thrilling, capably acted drama that rocks along like crack. If you enjoy this sort of stuff you should maybe try King's Game, there's enough similarity between the two that I wondered if they shared the same behind the scenes peeps (they don't) and also Nightwatch. I still haven't started the 2nd series of Engrenages but it'll be tough to match the pacing and skills involved here. Anyone got some other Danish recommends?

This & That aka Easing back in the Saddle

Superb gallery of bizarre black n white photos. Hat tip to KS

A third of Briton's believe time travel tech already exists and a quarter think we can teleport stuff. Hopefully this demonstrates our love of Scifi and not the stupidity of peoples in Birmingham. Via Derren Brown.

Eggs boiled in the piss of schoolboys are considered a delicacy in Donyang, China.

Apparently religion will soon be "extinct" in 9 countries. Click here to see if you're in one of the enlightened locales.

The weird double Sun spotted in China explained on Forgetomori.

Stunning Pakistani actress decimates an idiot cleric live on TV, BoingBoing.

According to TVTropes the opposite of Jumping the Shark is Growing the Beard. Via Reddit.

They've found Atlantis, well maybes. Located of the coast of Spain apparently.

Huffpo have a nice selection of melty bridges, caused by quirk of Google Earth.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Alt-Verse Animations

Jackboots on Whitehall sounds so promising, a Nazi invasion of Britain played for laughs with a Team America-esque animation style but sadly it's a shuddering dud. The animation is really weak relying on stiff dolls with little, if any, change in expressions throughout (a quick glance of Robot Chicken would've revealed a low budget solution), the plot is seriously underdeveloped but worst of all it's got a really lame script with only a handful of laughs throughout. I wouldn't waste your time.

Grant Morrison writes some interesting comics so I was quite intrigued to see what he'd done with the Man of Steel (a character I've never been that keen on) now that his efforts have been animated. Anyways All-Star Superman turns out to be an unusually melancholic tale from Metropolis as Lex Luthor manages to poison Superman fatally and the cape wearer must put his affairs in order, and of course, save the planet a few times, before he finally pops his clogs. I haven't read the original graphic novel but this was nicely animated & quite entertaining, a strange melange of comedy, action and tragedy and the darker, philosophic tone balances nicely against the inevitable cheese. Another decent DC feature that's got some edge as well as a new spin on the mythos of the pants over tights boy scout.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Friday, 4 March 2011


Inside Job is a powerful, comprehensive documentary examining the financial clusterfuk/circle jerk/meltdown of 2008 from Charles Ferguson who also directed the excellent No End in Sight. Most people, I hope, are depressingly familiar with the narrative of deregulation, greed and idiocy that has led to our current piteous economic conditions but if you're not this film covers all the lowlights in a considered fashion and still has time to throw in some fresh titbits to stoke your outrage, for instance I was unaware quite how many well regarded academic economists had been selling themselves to the Mammonites as mouthpieces in their endless quest for More but then I've always been a bit naive. Anyways with a tonne of unrepentant interviews with bankers, regulators and morally bankrupt cnuts and an interviewer with a handful of balls this got me thinking about Roasting Pits, Judas Chairs and Spanish Ticklers and it's a film that should be broadcast nightly.

Fair Game is a desperately earnest slice of Hollywood liberalism about that time when Scooter Libby outed one of Dubya's covert CIA agents in a petulant feud about Iraqi Mayhem 2 and then pardoned him of all the charges. Sean Penn and Naomi Watss star as Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame, the victims of a spin/war frenzied government on the defensive and though it's well made and has a healthy cast of familiar and talented faces it's dull and utterly toothless, wavering unsatisfactorily between limp thriller and family drama. It was an interesting sideshow to the terrible events but I think the story would have more impact told by the characters themselves, maybe in conjunction with other tales of Whitehouse pwnings, documentary style, rather than this hammy interpretation from a bunch of rich thesps.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Political Profanity

So unfookingsurprisingly the Tories continue to reveal their indelible twatishness, there's too many examples but at a local level there's some quality cold heartedness in Westminster Council's recent decision to stop soup runs for the homeless, total coincidence it's Westminster, obviously one can't have one day spoiled by a glimpse of the poor or how about one of their more openly dickish councillors who thinks protesters are "retards" . But let's not forget Camo's moronic dreams for the Big Society and unfortunately for the this long glass of warm newspeak effluence isn't particularly by the retiring leader of the country's biggest volunteer organisation.

Shock horror! Jeremy Hunt pulled apart his/our cheeks for the Murdoch sausage and has given the Australian dickbag the all clear for his buyout of BSkyB. No offense Rupe but you're first on my daydream pyre. Guardian have a nice infographic about his empire.

Looks like Titchy Bercow's days as Speaker are running out fast.

The local rag has a bit about the drubbing the Libdem should expect in Scotland. Hope Clegg enjoys his time fagging for Dave.

Bosses at the Beeb must be feeling the squeeze from the Government and are being told to refer to the astonishing cuts as "savings". LC

Tee hee Dave's grandstanding calls for a no-fly zone over Libya gets a public smackdown from the Yanks and it looks like Hague's inept handling of the Libya evac has caused some Cabinet friction - hopefully the shape of things to come. PoliticsHome.

Love Wikileaks but I'm beginning to think Assange might be a bit of a prick. Ian Hislop's written in the Eye (not online) about a phone conversation he had with Julian where, apparently, Assange pulls a classic fox paw by "blaming it on the Jews"?!. Did he think just 'cause he rolled up with the world's press following him we'd go easy on him? duh. Needless to say there's plenty of spin flying through the tubes.

And from the same august periodical comes an amusing swipe at Bliar's connection to Hosni and the interesting financial circumstances of our former Prime Minister.

Anyways that's just the tip of our own floating shitberg but at least take comfort in the fact we aren't Americans. Here's a charming clip of people throwing crucifixes at the feet of a Muslim man while he's praying and another of a large crowd in Orange County shouting abuse at Islamic charity workers. Our idiot cousins keeping it classy.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Another Dose of the Great Antidote

Lifehacker have a neat post about how to download the entire gallery of images from the excellent NASA APOD site.

Courtesy of Daily Galaxy comes the exciting news that Indian boffins have identified an underground chamber a mile long and 100m+ wide on the Moon.

Some psychologists literally piss away their education by faffing around investigating the correlates between decision making and having a full bladder. Impactlab.

American military tools want a Taser grenade and they want them now. Got to be bad news for Muslims. New Scientist

After an exhausting read of Mercurius I thought I'd be free of alchemy for a while but here's an interesting bit about alchemy's partial successes and it's influence on neuroscience. I'd quite like to see a docu series with some scientific recreations of some of the Great Work if you're listening BBC.

Baffling single cell organisms, Tetrahymena Thermophilia, have not just two sexes but seven. New Scientist.

The theory of Panspermia gets a boost with the finding of ammonia in a meteorite dug out of the ice in Antartica. BBC

Weird fricking critter found in a Chinese fossil - apparently it's a Lobopodian from the Cambrian period. Unfortunately you have to shell out for the full article on Nature. Via Reddit & NPR

The avalanche of data from the Kepler 'scope has revealed a strange pair of planets sharing one orbit round their Sun. New Scientist.