But, wasn't he born in July or something?
Happy Christmas everybody. Be good, be safe, be happy.
So, the challenge is this: name another classic film which really could do with more machinegun-wielding blokes on motorbikes. My vote is for The Wizard Of Oz. Now that's a movie desperately in need of some Mad Max type action! Vroom!
It is three thousand light years to the Vatican. Once, I believed that space could have no power over faith, just as I believed that the heavens declared the glory of God's handiwork. Now I have seen that handiwork, and my faith is sorely troubled. I stare at the crucifix that hangs on the cabin wall above the Mark VI Computer, and for the first time in my life I wonder if it is no more than an empty symbol.
I have told no one yet, but the truth cannot be concealed. The facts are there for all to read, recorded on the countless miles of magnetic tape and the thousands of photographs we are carrying back to Earth. Other scientists can interpret them as easily as I can, and I am not one who would condone that tampering with the truth which often gave my order a bad name in the olden days.
The picture on the left is of Susanna Clarke, author of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, and is from the American edition of the book. The picture on the right is also of Susanna Clarke, author of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, and is from the British edition. I don't know what, if anything, this says about America and Americans, or indeed the British, but I'm sure it says something.
The British edition of the book is a good inch thicker than its cousin, although the page count is the same, and the exact same text appears on all pages. We have dubbed this puzzling phenomena "fat pages". The British edition was also cheaper than the US edition, even taking shipping into account, and is blissfully devoid of the inane and all-too-common "A Novel" subtitle on the cover.
Oh, and it's quite a good read too...
Except Meg, who got motion sickness playing it.
He-Man and all related characters are probably © and ® Mattel. This is a work of satire, so don't sue me!
The last quarter involves an audacious plot twist that changes the tone and the very concept of the book. This in itself, I don't have a problem with, and it is handled very well here, with the breakneck pace and sense of fun from earlier on left intact. It is the details that led to my frustration, with many questions left unanswered. Sadly these weren't questions of the "ooh, isn't this intriguing, I wonder what it means?" sort, but of the "why did this happen?", "what was the point of doing that?" and "how does that serve the story?" sort. The most frustrating thing about these problems is that a more careful proofreading could have caught them and led to them being sorted out.
This editorial blindness also perhaps accounts for the problem that distracts from the otherwise excellent first, pre-twist, part of the book. The heroes are occasionally sent messages by a mysterious ally who warns them about the perils that surround the party. Of course, as is the tradition of these things, the messages are written in code, and whenever the heroes receive one, we're treated to delicious passages of them sitting around with pencils and paper, trying to work out the key to unlocking the codes. The problem with this ongoing plot thread is that it's quite clear from the beginning who the mysterious benefactor is. It's certainly arguable that Lindskold is making no atempt to hide this person's identity, and that it's supposed to be obvious, but all evidence points to the contrary, especially the climax of the novel in which the revelation is treated as being one last, quite important, loose end that needs tying up. Adding to the frustration is the fact that editorial laxness leads to one character correctly working out the identity of the message writer both at the climax and earlier on, around the point at which the plot takes its interesting turn. I've read and re-read the bit in question, thinking perhaps I've missed or mininterpreted something, but it's quite clear that the hero discovers the identity of her ally 117 pages before she, er, discovers the identity of her ally...Surely that's something an editor should pick up?
All that said, The Buried Pyramid is a good fun read. I think it's perfect for the younger reader, who'd be sophisticated enough to follow the subtleties, but perhaps not so on-the-ball that they'd pick up on the klunky bits that led to me not enjoying it as much as I could have. Still, well worth a read, especially if your literary diet has been devoid of fun of late.
Rare bit of video game commentary here. Apparently, just as there was a streamlined version of the original Playstation released some years after the original, so too will there be a mini PS2! It puts the X-Brick's exaggerated vastness to shame, doesn't it?
Of course, the downside is that this most likely means that it's about time to start saving up for the PS3...
There's a link in the menu to the right there, or you could just click here.
Brainsplurge! is not responsible for time lost through, or marriages ruined by, excessive Lemmings Online play. You have been warned...
There was a letter in the newspaper today claiming that the reason that the world (especially Europe) hates America right now is because everyone else is jealous of America's unique political achievements. I can't speak for the rest of Europe, but since the position of British head of state is an unelected and hereditary one held by an inbred individual, why would we jealous of America doing the same thing?
I've been reading a lot on various blogs and so on about how oppressively hot is back in Blighty right now. Well, at least it hasn't suddenly dropped into sub-zero temperatures like it has here! Of course, this is an exaggeration, and it makes me wonder if I've become acclimatised to the...er...climate here. My American friends, despite coming from regions where it literally gets into sub-zero temperatures in winter, often complained about how "cold" Britain was. I wonder if I'd feel that too, after being here for a while? I hope not. It's only after living here through the extreme differences in the seasons that I appreciate how comfortably mild my home climate is.
On a probably unrelated note, I see that the American music industry has decided to raid 90's British music for inspiration. I'm no Oasis fan (more of a Blur man myself), but even I found Ryan Adams' cover of "Wonderwall" to be execrable, and I hoped that it was just a one-off. Sadly not.
Again, I'm no big Robbie Williams supporter, but I can't help but feel offended by Jessica Simpson's rather vicious violation of "Angels".
What next? Nickleback attempting "Country House"? Maroon 5 ripping off Jamiroquai? (oh wait...)
But it was. Just not in the direction we'd expected.
Minnesota were all over the Californians in the first half, and held them to a stalemate in the second. It was in that first half that Minnesota scored the only goal of the game, but the one that gave them their first victory ever over a Major League (euch) team, and that puts them through to the next round. Minnesota were firmly in control, much to the obvious frustration of the Californians, as they began a series of dirty fouls, even punching the Minnesotan goalie in the throat at one point. It didn't help that the referee was completely incompetent, veering from oversensitivity to apparent blindness at random. But at the end of the day, Minnesota were the better team and they deserved to win.I could certainly do without the music played throughout the game, however. It may be necessary during the suicidal tedium that is baseball, but it's a bit intrusive when there's actually stuff going on. Less of the music thanks. And drop that national anthem rubbish too. For international games, it's fine, but it's getting in the way here.
The strangest part of the evening came when I glanced through the match programme, looking at the player profiles, only to find this image. Allegedly, this is Minnesota Thunder player Brent Jacquette, but it looks more to me like a certain Mr Patrick Booth of the city of London. I'd been told that he'd moved to Liverpool to study archaeology, but on the basis of this evidence, I'm not so sure that that's the truth after all...
They're taking at least two days off of work in order to get an $80 chair.
The minimum hourly wage in the US is $5.15.
You work it out.
"What people often forget, of course, is that Magneto, unlike the lovely Sir Ian McKellen, is a mad old terrorist twat. No matter how he justifies his stupid, brutal behaviour, or how anyone else tries to justify it, in the end he's just an old bastard with daft, old ideas based on violence and coercion. I really wanted to make that clear at this time."
And, to be perfectly honest, I'm terrified.
I've had work published before. I drew a story for the first issue of The Girly Comic, which was well-received, but wasn't my best work. I've also contributed pieces to the odd fanzine here and there. So it's not the act of publishing that's got me all nervous. I think it's more to do with the fact that The O Men is a popular and relatively well-known title, and there are popular and relatively well-known people working on the other stories. The Girly Comic was new and untested, and had little to prove. If it had failed, no one would have batted an eyelid. That's not the case now, of course, as it's become a popular part of the British small press scene. Just like The O Men, in fact. Were I to return to the pages of The Girly Comic now, I might be similarly nervous.
So I'll try my best, and see what happens. Hopefully I won't embarrass myself.
Oh, and I've added syndication to the blog, because Rob moaned at me to do so. Never let it be said that Brainsplurge! does not heed its readers' requests. Unless you start demanding that I post nude pictures of myself or something. Then all you get is abuse. Anyway, I'm not sure how it all works, but it has something to do with that Atom link you should see on the right there.
This is a great little site, which I found while looking for a copy of the BBC's "Rush Hour" ident. And why was I looking for that? Firstly, because it's brilliant, and secondly because I've just got hold of (and read) all twelve issues of Global Frequency, which is handy, because it's going to be a television show soon. I hope they adapt issue six at some point, because it would look amazing (even if they don't set it in London, which is likely). A lot like that BBC spot actually...
Saw Dodgeball today, and I haven't laughed so much in ages, even though I saw it in one of those cinemas that thinks it's a jolly good idea to make people's ears bleed. There's some great jokes in there, and there's a surprising amount of subtlety to the film. Is it a good film? Probably not. Is it funny? Too bloody right it is.
Oh, and you can read the first two pages of my hijacking of Brad The Vampire right now. They're numbered as #316 and #317. They don't make much sense if you haven't read the first 315 pages, and probably don't make much sense even if you have, but the latter is sort of the point...
Anyone who knows me well knows that I can't stand Harry Potter in either print form or on the cinema screen. So I've obviously not been to see the new film, even if it's all dark and gritty. Normally, I respond to the Potterites by telling them to go and read Roald Dahl and then come back and tell me that the Potter books are good kids' books. But that's a bit like comparing oranges and apples. Dahl's books are much, much better, but they're not the same kind of thing. Rob introduced me to The Bartimaeus Trilogy, the first book of which is a much better attempt at a Harry Potter style kids' book than any of the Potters themselves. I love Northern Lights/The Golden Compass and it's sequel, although I'm not as fond of the third book. But the one I'd forgotten about, because I hadn't read it for years, is Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising. A great little story, with lots of depth, my only real criticism is that its setting is rather restrictive, being based around a couple of small locations. That said, since it features time travel quite heavily, it really has more than two or three locations. It's a wonderfully atmospheric book with some great ideas, mostly drawn from "British" mythology.
* This site has some excellent historical information on Memorial Day, then goes a bit loony and right-wing towards the end. Oh well.
I'm not sure whether thanking Jeremy for this is appropriate, as it creeps the heck out of me, but behold The Subservient Chicken. Now I'm going to have to have a very long shower and possibly lobotomise myself to recover...
I'm also a little creeped out by that Blogger button at the bottom of the page. Since when did it go from "Powered by Blogger" to "I Power Blogger", and do I really want to be powering Blogger? Do I have any choice? Should I just return to my bath of pink jelly and pretend nothing's changed?
Sorry for all the recent posts about America's Atrocities Abroad, by the way. I haven't really felt like commenting on anything else. I've been busy behind the scenes here at Brainsplurge, but not doing anything of public interest as yet. I should have a couple of interesting things to report pretty soon, but we'll see.
One thing worth mentioning, sad as it is, is that a number of hours have been wasted this week blasting away at (mostly French) terrorists in Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain. It's one of those "special forces" games that seem to be everywhere nowadays, and that I normally don't have much time for, but I've really been enjoying this one. Well worth a rental at least. And not just for the Frenchie-blasting, either. :)
The lentil burgers were pretty successful. I learned some tricks during the making that I'll use next time to make them even better (for instance, leaving the shaped mixture to stand for ten minutes makes it much easier to cook the burgers). I'll also try flavouring them next time, to see how well I can fake a beef or chicken burger.
Talking of burgers, I had an absolutely scrumptious curried turkey burger at this restaurant yesterday. If you're ever in the Minneapolis-St Paul area, give me a shout, and I'll take you out to dinner there. That's a genuine, no expiration, Brainsplurge offer!
Now, let's see what's in the mailbag. A Patrick Booth of Liverpool writes in to Brainsplurge to ask "have you been to see 13 Going On 30 yet?" Well Patrick, we haven't. We're trying to restrict ourselves to one cinema visit a week during these busy summer months (which is going to be tricky), and it's become a bit of a tradition for us to go and see something on a Monday night. Tonight though, it's The Punisher. 13 Going On 30 will have to wait until next week. I hope that answers your question.
On the other hand, we've been frequenting our local Blockbuster a lot in recent days. My interest has been due to someone deciding to stock a wide range of Japanese films that I thought I'd not get to see over here. So on Sunday morning, while Meg went off to eat emaciated crow bits with her sister Amanda, I sat down to watch Ichi The Killer. And frankly I'm baffled. It had a very dull opening section, a brilliant half an hour in the middle then a bizarre final act. As such, I'm not sure whether I liked it or not. Very strange film, and I'm not sure exactly why it has such a good reputation. Blockbuster did not stock the full uncut edition, but I'd suspect that the cuts are due to violence than essential plot points. I'd be very happy to have the film explained to me, if any readers are so inclined.
Tonight, I'm being a tree-hugging hippie in the kitchen and I'll be making red lentil burgers. I've been looking for a lentil burger recipe for a while, so with any luck, this'll be what I'm after. Depending on the level of success/failure, this project's results will be reported here at some point.
Right, I'm off to find recipes for General Tso's Chicken. Yum!
13 Going On 30 isn't out yet ("Foul!" I don't hear you cry), so we went to see Kevin Smith's latest, Jersey Girl, instead. And a fine film it is too. There are a couple of clunky moments, which come as a surprise because they're clunky because of the dialogue and one thing Smith excels at is dialogue. Aside from that, it was a well-made, exceptionally well-written and surprisingly well-acted film. It was somewhat predictable, but it was so genuine that this really wasn't an issue. There was no sense of an artificially manipulated scenario. It was a good simple tale of a man bonding with his daughter, and worked wonderfully. Liv Tyler impresses me more and more each time I see her, and Ben Affleck did a great job. He gets a lot of criticism, which has always baffled me, as I've seen him in bad films but I don't think I've ever seen him give a bad performance, or at least no worse than more respected actors have given.
Which reminds me that I must find out when Paycheck comes out on dvd.
Sorry about the delay. We went down to Rochester to help out Meg's mum (who's not well), stayed for Easter, and stayed a bit longer still because the car broke down...
Meg's grandpa is doing okay, and my uncle seems to be doing quite well.
We got to see Hellboy down there, and we both loved it. It has its flaws, but none are significant. Good fun, and much better than I expected it to be.
Next up is 13 Going On 30 (I know...), then a double-bill (ha!) of ultraviolence with The Punisher and Kill Bill Vol 2. We're nothing if not eclectic...
Peter's getting better. He's conscious, and he's aware of what's going on. He can't talk because he's on a breathing machine, but he's been communicating with his hands, so there's a very good chance that if there is brain damage, it's quite minimal. Peter's mother, my grandmother, recently had a stroke and pnuemonia, and recovered seemingly through sheer willpower. Obviously such tenacity runs in the family.
After that disappointment I'm looking forward even more to Hellboy, which should offer a refreshing lack of pretentiousness as well as big monsters smashing stuff up.
(I take no credit for this observation. Meg is the one who pointed it out.)
So I have a green card, which is neither green nor a card, and a splitting headache due to a lack of sleep and a sudden and unexpected heatwave in these parts. It is so strange to walk around in the beating sun and see the lakes still frozen over.
*This is not a view held by Brainsplurge. Rather this is what Brainsplurge sees as the general message given out by Bush administration policies over the past few years.
And if you click on the Orbital link up there, you'll see that the boys have a new album coming out this year. More good news!
I'm reading Jack Staff right now. Well, actually, right now, I'm downloading Discworld from here and typing this, but once I've finished typing this, I'll go back to Jack Staff. Discworld will continue to download happily in the background for the next, ooh, five hours, two minutes and six seconds. That's the curse of dial-up.
And of course, what I'm doing right now, depends entirely on when you're reading this. I think. Einstein would know.
I'd heard wonderful things about Jack Staff over the past couple of years, not least that it kept edging The O Men, one of my favourite comics, out of awards. I started getting it with issue four of the second volume, published by Image. I'd also downloaded the first issues of both volumes from the Image site. Of course, this left me rather confused in terms of storyline, but I liked what I had read enough to get the (expensive but well worth it) collection of the first volume as well as the first three issues of the Image series.
The titular hero is a sort of alternate universe version of Marvel's Union Jack with a bit of Gambit thrown in. He operates in a world populated by versions of classic British comic characters, most of whom are not superheroes because Brits Don't Do Superheroes. It even features Steptoe and Son (American translation: Sanford and Son) as a vampire-slaying father and son team. The art's stripped down and simplistic, but in a good way. The writing is superb, mainly because writer/artist Paul Grist really knows how to structure a story. The narrative jumps forwards and backwards in time, and multiple story threads almost always start off in disarray before coming together in an elegant finish. This is most evident in the way that each issue is presented as a mock-anthology (again because in terms of comics, Brits Only Do Anthologies) with each of the characters appearing in their own "strips" which are nonetheless all part of the same plot. It's hard to describe, but it's very impressively done. So if you read comics and aren't getting Jack Staff, then you should go out and buy it.
And Martin will kill me if I don't also say "buy The O Men too!" but I was going to say that anyway, because if you like superhero comics at all, you really should. He's one man with a bunch of pens and a photocopier, but Martin frankly puts most of the professionals to shame.
On a related note, the upcoming American remake of The Office is apparently going to be called The Office: An American Workplace. I've never understood the tendency to tack one's nation's name onto everything it produces. I suspect that every nation does it, but I've only noticed it in the move over here. It's "American" this, and "American" that. The cynic in me says that it's the American tendency to think "American is better" that's at work here. The absurdist in me says that Americans often forget where they are and need reminding. It would explain all the flags...
Not much else to report, other than the fact that we went down to visit the in-laws over the weekend, and so I've completely failed to get page seventeen of the comic finished by the end of the week as I'd hoped. May I be thrice-damned to Heck for my crimes against productivity.
Finally, it looks like I might, for the first time ever, start getting an X-Men comic on a regular basis. Usually I'm of the opinion that X-Men comics are a bit...well...naff, but there's something special about this one. More on that exciting news story as it happens. Bet you can't wait!
And that's me done, because that's the longest post I've done in ages, and it's about nothing of importance. Goodnight all.
They're not even good trailers, or even bad trailers for good films. Bollocks.
On a completely unrelated note, my writer's block concerning page seventeen of the Spooky's Dungeon comic strip has disappeared, which is a great relief. Since the later pages are scripted and laid out, I should be able to get a page or two done by the end of the week. For some reason, I'm really enthused about the strip at the moment, and it's both an excellent way to keep practising my drawing and to showcase my skills, although the early pages are atrocious and I keep finding faults with the later ones!
And on a completely, completely unrelated note, I'd like to mention that Ogre Battle is a superb game, and I'm astonished that I missed it the first time around.
My arm is feeling a lot better now. The pain has gone, but now it just feels tired or strained or something. But I can use it again, which is the important thing, so it's literally back to the drawing board for me, to see if I can get a couple of Spooky's Dungeon pages done by the end of the week. Actually, it should be quite easy to do, as I've got the next few pages planned out and scripted, but page seventeen (the very next page) is proving problematic. I've drawn it all out in pencil, and I know how the plot moves through the page, but I'm having a real trouble in scripting it. It's been sat on the desk for a week, unfinished. Bah.
I received a package full of CDs from my brother yesterday, so perhaps the likes of Boards Of Canada and The Crystal Method will inspire me!
Talking, as it were, of my drawing, Spooky has uploaded the two new pages of the webcomic. The more I look at them, the less I like them. I don't think I can look at them any more, so you'll have to go instead... As soon as my arm stops doing whatever it's doing, I'll get some more pages up there. If Richard and Fred can get two or three pages up a week, then so can I. I may have to have a word with Spooky about changing it from an "e-comic" to a "webcomic". When I started the thing back in 1999 (16 pages in five years! Wow!), I was so pleased with the term "e-comic"...
Here's some bloke I've never heard of who claims to have a "reputation" asking Alan Moore, a man I have heard of, five questions. There are actually more than five questions, mainly because the bloke apparently worships Moore, and because Moore is an erudite fellow not accustomed to pithy answers, but that's no problem, because Moore is...er...an erudite fellow, and crikey my arm hurts.
Taking that into account, the sensible among you are no doubt questioning my decision to choose tonight of all nights to write my longest blog post in months. I am beginning to see your point of view...