Saturday, December 27, 2003

Kev, we were wrong...

Just a quickie, as we're off to New York for New Year tomorrow, but I would just like to report that this
That which does not become part of me, shall become one with the great void...and by the way, your planet is f****ed!
is an absolutely superb toy, and aside from one minor design fault, is definitely not the shoddy heap of plastic many of us Transfans thought it'd be.

I also got a cricket bat.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Ho Ho Ho! Now I Have A Machine-Gun!

Right, barring any interesting incidents, this is it until after Christmas. I hope that whatever it is you celebrate at this time of year, you have a good one. See you in a few...

The true face of Santa revealed!

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Kings and Things

Hello to Rad and Postman Alan. They've got almost-Christmas birthdays, which are famously an opportunity for stingy relatives to prove just how stingy they can be. I hope that skinflints aside, Rad and Alan have a good birthday today. Technically, their birthday is tomorrow, but factoring in the time difference, it already is tomorrow where they are.

Well, we finally saw The Return Of The King today, and it's rubbish.
Actually I'm lying, it's bloomin' amazing. The perfect end to an almost perfect trilogy (I didn't much like the second one, probably because it's my favourite of the books, and they didn't get it quite right). All involved have done a wonderful job, and they really don't need the approval of the Oscar people come next year, but it'd be nice. Great film. Well done to all.

Monday, December 22, 2003

Happy Hanu-Car

We just went out to pick up some last minute Christmas-type stuff, and we saw something very odd driving along on the other side of the street. Sadly, we don't have a camera (long story, not very good) so here's a quick sketch:

I really have no idea...

Yes, the candles really did have lights on them. What an interesting place America is...

Friday, December 19, 2003

From The Cold Northern Wastelands He Came...

They say that internet surfers have short memories, and that if you don't update your blog frequently enough, people will forget it's there. Probably a myth, but I hope someone's still reading. Besides bilLy and my wife, that is.

So what have I been doing? Nothing exciting. Mostly drawing and redesigning my website (and finding out that CSS is/are easy, while JavaScript looks easy but doesn't want to work). The new look isn't actually ready yet, but it'll probably be up in time for 2004. Since there's a very real chance that I will be selling my artistic wares pretty soon, I thought it best to redesign my website around my artistic talents (or lack thereof).
Today, though, I did neither of those things, and instead spent the day reading proper books, you know, the ones without pictures (well, one of them did have pictures actually...).
I enjoyed The Gunslinger, but I wasn't motivated enough to read on. But both Alan and Rad claimed that the story got better with the second volume, The Drawing of the Three, and I have to agree. Actually, to be fair, King himself even says in the introduction to the first book that it used to be rubbish before he revised it for these new editions. Perhaps he didn't revise it enough? Not a lot happens in the second book, but it's much much better than the first, mainly because Roland is no longer the main focus, and interesting as he is, I just don't find him to be a compelling central figure. The only real problem is that the story is so relaxed and open that in terms of plot, nothing happens. All they did in this book was walk from one end of the beach (a long beach, yeah, but still...) to the other. Admittedly, this wouldn't be a problem if I was getting the cheap-as-chips mass market paperbacks, but I do so adore the lovely Plume trade paperback editions. My own fault, I suppose.
Also read The Amulet of Samarkand (I see that yet again the US cover pales in comparison to the stylish UK cover), on Rob's recommendation. It's another kids' book about magicians in an alternate Britain, but it's at once more enjoyably cynical and truthful than the Harry Potter monstrosities and more entertaining than Pullman's metaphysical jiggerypokery. It's one of those books that's so light on description and so heavy on dialogue that it could be written in script format and still make sense, which is not a style I generally like, but I enjoyed it mainly because of the humour in the writing (even though it's ripped off from Pratchett, footnotes and all), and the unpredictable plotting. The story didn't go the way I expected, nor did the ending, and I suspect that the trilogy as a whole will be similarly unpredictable. Recommended.

Oh, and I've got insomnia again, which is probably the only reason I'm writing (we need a new techno-savvy verb for this kind of composition-"typing" doesn't cut it) this instead of sitting in the bedroom/literal-drawing-room sketching away while listening to Kosheen or something. Not sure if that explains why I'm so laughably behind with the Spooky's Dungeon comic or not...

Friday, December 12, 2003


I'm right this minute listening to The Decline Of British Sea Power, which I really shouldn't like. This is the sort of thing Lamacq(say it with venom kids!) used to fill The Evening Session with, in the years before he decided he'd rather fill it with whiney bland crud like Starsailor. And yet, I really like it. There's a bit of The Cure to them, and as I've recently realised that The Cure are/were really rather good, this is a good thing. There's also a bit of Bowie in there, which is almost never a bad thing. And even thought they're from my neck of the woods (Brighton), they've got a great deal of SFA/Gorky's Zygotic Mynci to them (at least to my ears), which is a very good thing indeed.
This is a very good album indeed. I am pleasantly surprised, and quite thankful to Mr Dan Black, who made it all possible.
Right. We've got a Meg's-work-related Christmas party to go to. Joy.

The Perils Of Modernity

Technically, the PS2 is for both me and Meg, as it was a wedding present. But the truth of the matter is that it was a consolation gift given to me by our friends, because they knew that nice as the other wedding gifts would be, I would have no interest in them at all, and that they would be "for" Meg, rather than me. Yeah, the silver cutlery is lovely, but I could get plain steel cutlery for a fraction of the price and spend what's left on something more fun. See the psychology at work here?
Anyway, even though the PS2 is "mine", I've felt bad that Meg never plays it. We occasionally have a two-player bash at Timesplitters 2, and we've played FIFA 2003 together a couple of times, but Meg doesn't have a game of her own. So tonight she bought Final Fantasy X for herself (ironically, I was just about to buy Alundra for her off eBay, since she'd really enjoy that). She'd heard wonderful things about the storyline, and decided she just had to have it. For my part, I went off the Final Fantasy games after the badly flawed Final Fantasy XIII, but this one looks quite good. Unfortunately, I'm not allowed to start playing it myself until Meg's got a decent way through it!
Still, never mind. I've dusted off the Mega Drive emulator now that we've got a decent PC, and I'm currently working my way through Shining Force, a game I never got around to playing back when it first came out.
Beware Dark Dwarf! Beware the Elven archery of...Hans?
We saw Tom Cruise's latest tonight. The Last Samurai is okay. It reminded me of Saving Private Ryan in that it seemed to want to be a number of different films all at once, but didn't mesh as a whole. Like Spielberg's film, it worked as an action movie, and it worked as a moral-social-political drama, but it didn't work as both combined. It did a good job on the historical accuracy, and it portrayed the samurai heroes as legends, but these are inherently incompatible ideas (as an aside, there was a trailer for the upcoming Troy, and I wonder how they're going to meld these two ideas in that film-is Brad Pitt's Achilles going to be literally indestructible, or will he be just bloomin' tough?). There were many good elements (it has ninjas!), but they were ruined by the film's disjointed style, as well as heavy-handed symbolism and a number of very trite moments, particularly towards the end. Cruise was fine, as he always is, and this really isn't the "Oscar-always-denied-to-him" movie that people think it is. Ken Watanabe is excellent as the rebellious samurai leader Katsumoto, and he either carries or steals the film. I'm not sure which, as it's quite unclear whether he or Cruise is supposed to be the lead. It was nice, but strange, to see Billy Connolly and Tim Spall turn up too.
The worst thing about it, apart from the disjointedness, is that it's very conventional. If you were to knock out a random movie about an American learning the ways of the samurai while simultaneously learning about his true self, it would probably be exactly like this. The only unexpected move in the entire film was the decision to have it be 75% in Japanese.
For a better samurai movie, just pick up any Kurosawa movie(although I'd recommend The Seven Samurai(of course!) or my personal favourite Throne of Blood). For a better film about the struggles between tradition and modernity, that also features samurai, watch the excellent Princess Mononoke. The Last Samurai was alright. It'd be a good DVD for your dad.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Don't Worry About The Back Room

Go and see this. Go on. Good.
Spent most of today drawing. Prompted by yesterday's disaster, I plunged headlong into a day of sketching in order to try and get comfortable with a pencil again. It was a lot of fun, truth be told. Productive, too. I've got another page for the Spooky's Dungeon comic laid out, scripted and mostly sketched. It ends with an awfully cheesy melodramatic Stan Lee/Jack Kirby moment which I'm quite proud of. Just a few details need ironing out, but I expect to have it done by the end of tomorrow. I've got the following pages largely sorted out too, but I've been reluctant to work on them until this one's out of the way, and it's proven to be a bit tricky. It features the first appearance of a character who is basically a walking theme/metaphor, and it was tough going introducing them in a way that visually suggested what they're about. I've gone for something considerably more subtle than the idea I first came up with, and it should still get the idea across, at least to the astute reader.

Courtney (and her Dad) will have a laugh with this:

You are a Sovereign-class Explorer, Starfleet's
biggest, badest, playboy posterchild. You
exceed everyone's expectations in every
department. You're the best, and you know it.

Which Class of Federation Starship are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Thanks to Blue Witch's new blog for that!
And just to put the chills into you, here's a fascinating article about the various Starfleet ship designations...

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Marvel-ous! Or, in fact, not.

The (Extended) Marvel Family Well, this didn't turn out nearly as well as I'd hoped. I think I was trying to be too clever, and it didn't really work out. The penmanship is very immature and lacks confidence in my opinion. It seems very strained, and really isn't a good example of my work.
I think the problem is that I'm trying too hard here, just as I did with The Girly Comic. I have a really quite good cartoony style, but it only seems to come through if I don't try. If I let myself draw "on automatic", I seem to do much better. I did a doodle on a scrap of paper last night that was better than this entire picture, and the Spider-Man picture you can see here was done without me even looking at the page! I'm obviously channelling some inner talent here, but I keep getting in the way...
Anyway, this picture was done as part of a challenge with Nige Lowrey. Nige is a good sport, and will more often than not have a go at drawing your requests, so I set out to challenge him by asking for a picture of comics' Marvel Family. Not just the Marvel Family though, but every character who's ever been called Marvel (like Ms Marvel), or has been associated with the Marvels (like Miracleman). He agreed, and encouraged me to do the same. Here's my first attempt...
If anyone wants help with identifying the characters, then let me know.

Monday, December 08, 2003

Local Boy Makes Good

Following Neil Gaiman's assertion a few weeks ago that no one from my home town of Uckfield can be trusted, here's a story about one of our finest citizens, that's sure to prove Gaiman wrong...
His defence team argued that "Mr van Hoogstraten could not have foreseen that the attack on Mr Raja - carried out by henchmen Robert Knapp and David Croke - would inevitably end in death..." Quite how one would not expect someone to die after being stabbed five times then shot in the face, I don't know.

There's this guy called Jack Chick who used to (and perhaps still does) do these little comics attacking the roleplaying hobby on the grounds that Dungeons and Dragons and its competitors were actually Satanic guidebooks. Really. They're superbly unintentionally funny. Here's what would happen if Chick was a worshipper, not of Christ, but of HP Lovecraft's Cthulhu.
(As an aside, I've always thought that it was ironic that Chick attacked one hobby that people think is at best geeky and at worst damaging through the use of a medium which has pretty much the same reputation.)

Who's that then?Feeling rough today, by the way. I've been feeling faint and dizzy all day, and have tried to sleep it off, which hasn't really worked. Probably a side-effect of the injections I had the other day. Still, I'm coherent enough to do this. Essential to my well-being, and my artistic productivity have been the musical delights provided to me by Kev and the Space Monkeys, the latter of which is actually better than the album it remixes. Similarly, Kev sent me a CD to educate me in the ways of hip hop, plus a bonus CD of random gubbins, and I enjoyed the random gubbins more. Beth Orton and Soul Coughing? Yes please!

Friday, December 05, 2003

Official Business

Liam has overcome the it's-a-bit-like-going-to-the-bank-and-nothing-like-how-you'd-expect-a-Visa-interview-at-an-Embassy-to-go thing, and is now ready to join me in the Land Of The Free (terms and conditions apply). Well, not actually join me in some kind of homosexual elopement situation (not that there's anything wrong with that, of course), but to join me in the situation of being an Englishman in a strange land. Unlike me, however, he will be an Englishman In New York, which may qualify him for a free copy of Sting's greatest hits. Perhaps. Although I don't think Sting was talking about Upstate New York. In fact, he wasn't talking at all. He was singing. And isn't that song supposed to be a tribute to Quentin Crisp? Hm.
Anyway, I shall be in New York myself just after Christmas, and shall be there when he arrives, which will be nice. I believe he plans to get me drunk.

As for me, I spent the early hours of this morning being poked and prodded by doctors. My arms look like they've burst their seams, with bits of cotton wool poking out all over the place. I've also been referred to both a sleep study and a sports physician, all because Meg is paranoid about my health. Oh well. At least my ego was massaged considerably by the numerous nurses who started hitting on me just because I'm English. The nurse who took my X-Rays today giggled and blushed and asked me to "say anything, just anything, I just want to hear your voice", and then promptly asked if I wanted to be introduced to her priest...

America's a funny place. I wonder if Liam is truly prepared?

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Sorta Like Mr Ed

Well, blow me, this is brilliant. Wait for it to load up. Turn the sound on your computer on. Then click on the horses. I'm still smiling. Thanks to Phil Hall (who doesn't have a blog, but is perhaps working on it) for that.

Another Day In Fortress Amerikkka

The Fourth Reich has been keeping busy, I see. They've put some new educational reforms into action, and here's a story about what they're really using that $87 Billion of "Iraq reconstruction" money for.
On a less revolutionary note, here's a bizarre, geeky, but somehow quite cool attempt to map the internet. Thanks to Rob for bringing my attention to it.

"I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti..."

I shouldn't laugh. I really shouldn't. But this is what's going to happen when you don't pass a law against cannibalism. Silly Germans.

Monday, December 01, 2003

Best. Online. Strip. Ever.

Actually, probably not, but if you're after some pure, surreal (and sometimes crude) visual humour go here. Enjoy.

Sadly, I have no interesting Thanksgiving stories. It was all very sedate and conventional, so let's all keep our fingers crossed that Christmas will be a little more exciting...
I've been doing an awful lot of drawing in the past few days, which is why I've not been updating the blog. Lots of good (well, you know, it's okay) stuff, which I'll tell you about when I can. Oh, okay. Go here, and go to #281 to see a little something that I did a couple of nights ago. More to follow.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

PCs go PC

Oh dear god. Do I really live in a world, a country even, where people are this petty? Yeah, slavery was an awful thing, and there's nothing that Western civilisation can do to make up for enslaving millions of Africans. But come on people, I don't think the computer industry had any particular political statement in mind when it made up its technical terminology. Jeez...what's next? A demand that the Italians apologise for the Roman Empire enslaving most of Europe? How a guy can get this worked up about hard drives when his President is plunging the world into hell, I don't know.

In other news, Dan and Rad will be pleased to know that Yoda is real and lives in Dorset.

We're off on a whirlwind Thanksgiving trip tomorrow. The big meal is at Meg's parent's house in Rochester, but Meg works the next day, so we're going down there, doing the family ritual thing, then coming back up all in one day. I'm sure I'll have at least one story to tell about the day. See you in a few.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Class War

Personally, I think university education should be free, if not for every student, then for those studying medicine or teaching. If necessary, the rest can get the same system of loans (rather than grants) that I got. Since, in theory, these people are going to be turning around and benefitting society in some way, then they should be supported by society (especially the teachers, nurses and doctors). An unpopular view, perhaps, but it's one I strongly believe in.
The British government have decided to further screw over the students of that country. This is not entirely unexpected, to be honest, as the UK university/college system is in a state of funding crisis, and something has to be done, or one of the best educational systems in the world will collapse. But I don't think forcing half the student population either into debt, or out of university altogether, is really the most sensible idea.
This article on the crisis enraged me, or rather one part of it did:
"...the key reason for the under-representation of working class students in higher education, particularly in prestigious institutions, is that few obtain the qualifications needed to apply..."

Now, to be fair, the author of the article does point out that if a working class background student does achieve the desired grades, they are "highly likely to go to university", and moreover that they will not be punished financially for going. But there's an age-old (in Britain, at least) class assumption being shown here, and that is that working-class people are thick. My Dad's a plumber, and my Mum is so unhinged that when she had a job, all she could hold down was cleaning. My uncle has done best for himself by getting into the funeral trade (and, it's whispered, the Masons), but he's the only one who could be considered non-working class. We're a working class family. We didn't have a bath for the first few years of my life, so we were allowed to go to the neighbours' house to use their bathroom. But at no point was it ever suggested that I couldn't go to university if I wanted to.
Since schooling is free in Britain, there's nothing stopping anyone from any background from getting good grades at school. Yes, schools in working class areas may have less money to spend on facilities and teachers, but that's no obstacle. My first school was still using slate and chalk when I got there.
I got decent grades (they could have been better, but sloppy marking ruined a lot of hopes for a lot of people that year), and put myself through university. I've ended up with a fine education, a great deal of pride in myself, but sadly a huge debt. Now those coming after me will be saddled with even larger debts, but I digress.
Working class people aren't stupid. They aren't lazy. Now perhaps that's not what the author of this article intended to suggest, but if so, make it clearer for Pete's sake.

I apologise for that. I try not to rant on here, but sometimes it can't be helped. I'm also annoyed that I've got one of those stupid colds that refuses to either go away, or develop into a proper runny-nose-and-sneezing cold that I can do something about.

Monday, November 24, 2003

Popular Actor Rapes My Childhood

He was inspired to take up acting because of three characters that he wanted to play. One was Thomas Magnum, one was Hannibal Smith, and the last was Danny Ocean. In 2001, he achieved his dream of playing that third character. Now George Clooney has set his sights on two of the most popular television characters from the Eighties.
Unfortunately, he's set himself a difficult task. Magnum is Tom Selleck, and Clooney is going to be hard-pressed to make the role his. If he gets into the spirit of things however and grows a bushy moustache, then he may pull it off.
The A Team will be the most difficult to pull off, however. In that case, you have four actors who made the characters their own, to varying degrees. I can imagine Clooney pulling off a decent Hannibal, since George Peppard always did seem to be the one out of the lot of them who was only there for the money. But even so, can you recast icons like the A Team? Here at Brainsplurge, we had a go!
Assuming we already have Clooney as Hannibal actually makes things a bit easier. Mad Murdock was the easiest to cast as we slotted a loopy Brad Pitt in there. These three films show that Murdock-style lunacy is well within his range. If Pitt is busy, a suitably crazy Michael Keaton would do the job nicely.
Face is a bit trickier to pull off. We want to cast someone younger than the others, but also someone who can pull off smooth and suave. Given the Clooney Connection, it's tempting to cast Mark Wahlberg or Matt Damon, but neither are really suave as such. So we're struggling here. One thing that may aid the casting is that there's no reason that the new team has to be all American. Obviously they can't be Vietnam vets anymore, and the most likely conflict that they took part in is Gulf War I, so we can conceivably cast a British actor in the role. In the end, a desperate search leads us to Matthew Perry, because we're having far too much difficulty.
Hardest of all is BA Baracus, because that was the role that required least acting the first time around. It seems pretty obvious that Mr T just turned up as he was, walked on set and Pitied The Fool. Clearly, no one plays Mr T like Mr T, so the solution is to cast someone who has a similarly strong screen persona. It may not be similar to Mr T's persona, but we're after a strong personality here, rather than an exact match. I'd love to cast Samuel L Jackson here, but even if we are changing the character to suit the actor, the difference between original and new is too different. So, we go for Ving Rhames. A completely different kind of big mean black guy, but he's still a big mean black guy.
As for supporting characters, we can safely dump Mexican Bloke and Robert Vaughn's Man-In-Plane (although if we did keep him, we'd cast Robert Vaughn or Gary Oldman if Vaughn was busy), as they were from the nonsensical end of the show. But we have to cast Female Fith Member Amy, and Hannibal's rival and nemesis Colonel Decker.
Amy is tricky, as most Hollywood women clearly aren't suited to gunplay and building tanks out of spare parts. So, we're going to be unimaginative and cast Salma Hayek or Eva Mendes in the role. Decker has to be seen as very similar to Hannibal, the kind of guy Hannibal would be if he followed the rules. Tommy Lee Jones is probably too old, and Bruce Willis probably wouldn't play a villain, especially one who is largely there for comedy relief. Give Tim Roth an American accent, or get Willem DeFoe in, is what we reckon.

In other news, my brother wants someone to get him one of these, and Neil Gaiman has insulted my home town (at the bottom of Sunday's entry).

Finally for today, Snowball has contributed my favourite name so far for the robot-man down there. Alphonse seems to me to be rather fitting.

Saturday, November 22, 2003

What's In A Name?

I drew this little chap yesterday, since he's been rattling around in my head for a number of days now (click on the image to see a larger version in a new browser window):

Problem is, he doesn't have a name, so I'm opening it up to you lot. Be imaginative!

Friday, November 21, 2003


So our Tone takes the world's most dangerous alcoholic to a pub for lunch? Brilliant plan Tony.
Talking, as it were, of lunch and Emperor Bush, here's the most bizarre article I've seen so far of the visit: a review of the menus served at the various state dinners during the visit.
Finally for now, here's a site all about those crazy Japanese superhero TV shows that unfortunately led inevitably to the dreaded Power Rangers. Sadly, there's no info here on the...interesting Japanese versions of Spider-Man (Supaidaman), or Captain America. Ikkuzoo!

"Working with a baby had its problems, but then I tried directing chickens..."

Their president is being booed off the streets of London, an effigy of the man is being torn down in a pastiche of what the Americans did to Saddam Hussein's statue, terrorists hold their own, far less peaceful protest, and what does CNN have as its top story? Michael Jackson being arrested on child molestation charges. Sheesh...

Watched Labyrinth today, for the first time in years. I'd forgotten how good a film it really is. David Bowie's performance as the Goblin King was a lot better, and nowhere near as camp and kitsch, as I'd been led to believe, and I wouldn't be surprised if Neil Gaiman got a lot of his Sandman character from Bowie. That would certainly be fittingly ironic considering that Gaiman wrote the upcoming "sequel".
There was a pretty good "making of" feature on the DVD, but it was from the year of the film's release. I would have liked to have seen a more recent feature on there too, perhaps spliced in with the older footage. Jennifer Connelly, for instance, was a pretty useless interviewee as she was just a kid back then and as such was annoyingly polite and restrained. I'd have liked to have seen her speak about what the film means to her now, and an interview with the Henson people on how Labyrinth affected cinema, and so on. As I was watching the behind the scenes stuff, I spotted someone who looked just like Beverley Crusher. A quick check on the IMDB showed that before she flew to fame on the Enterprise, Gates McFadden was a choreographer for Jim Henson's production company. It's just a little strange to see her before she was famous, but still very active in the public eye.

My memories of the other non-Muppet Henson extravaganza, The Dark Crystal, are more favourable than my memories of Labyrinth were, so I shall pick that one up next, I think.

And finally:
Discworld: Which Ankh-Morpork City Watch Character are YOU?

brought to you by Quizilla

Which is handy, as I hadn't heard of 70% of the alternatives. Last Pratchett book I read was probably Soul Music. Actually, a quick check reveals that it was in fact Interesting Times I read most recently, if you discount The Last Hero. Anyway, I don't recognise most of these characters. So there.
Incidentally, I spotted this test on a blog I read regularly, but a quick search for that blog turned up nothing, so I Googled the test. I'd love to give you credit, whoever you are, for pointing me towards this, but I can't, sorry.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

How About Some Politics? Some Satire Perhaps? No? How About Some Lovely Jam?

And now for some current affairs. This one came to me via Courtney and Liam. As Liam points out, it is "cheap, but amusing", but I'm all for a bit of

When George Bush was meeting with The Queen he said to her:
"As I'm the President, I'm thinking of changing how my country is referred to, and I'm thinking that it should be a Kingdom".
To which the Queen replied , "I'm sorry Mr Bush, but to be a Kingdom, you have to have a King in charge - and you're not a King."
George Bush thought a while and then said: "How about a Principality then?", to which the Queen replied "Again, to be a Principality you have to be a Prince - and you're not a Prince, Mr Bush".
Bush thought long and hard and came up with "How about an Empire then?" The Queen, getting a little T'ed off by now, replied " Sorry again, Mr Bush, but to be an Empire you must have an Emperor in charge - and you are not an Emperor."
Before George Bush could utter another word, The Queen said: "I think you're doing quite nicely as a Country".

Disclaimer 1: I know, Bush would never be able to say "principality", but you have to allow it for the sake of the joke. Nor is he capable of as much thinking as this makes out, but you've got to let it go, dammit!

Disclaimer 2: If anyone would make the US presidency a hereditary position, it'd be Bush.

The Beauty Of Language

Normally, I try to keep this page all-ages-friendly, but I couldn't pass this one up, especially since that bear-thing is so cute:


What swear word are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Thanks to the splendiferous Snowball for that one. I think. I wonder what word Rad will get...

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

children black fingernails chop off their hands

Years ago, I remember that the Eurovision Song Contest was on the telly. I was too young to go out, and there was nothing else to do, so somehow I found myself watching it. God knows why. Anyway, one year, sometime in the early-to-mid eighties, they put on a film afterwards. Since Eurovision usually finishes at about one in the morning, I'm quite surprised I stayed up for this one. I remember an American school bus driving into a cloud of fog, and I remember children with black fingernails getting their hands chopped off. For years, I thought this was Children Of The Corn, until I saw it fairly recently and found it utterly devoid of black-fingernailed-killer-children. So I decided to enter children black fingernails chop off their hands into Google, and it took me to this wonderful site. I now know that the film is called The Children (close enough), and another part of my swiss cheese memory is filled in.
Now, if I could only place the horror movie set in a summer camp in which someone is killed on the toilet after the killer drops a hornet's nest into the cubicle, as well as the film in which a teenage girl is terrorised by a spectral black samurai, I'd be happy as a clam.

Bush and Becks

Here's a fun piece. The Guardian asked a number of people to write a letter to Bush, in honour of his visit to Britain. Letters to Santa, if Santa was a power hungry monkey man. They make entertaining reading, for a number of reasons. The bizarre denial exhibited by the right-leaning writers is fun to read, and the newspaper chose poets, comedians and writers to speak for the lefties, making their contributions entertaining reading.
Changing tack somewhat, I'm a fan of toys. I have toys all over the place, but even I'm having trouble getting my head around this one. Very, very odd.
I (finally) received issue 21 of the excellent the O men yesterday, and have still not quite recovered. This is consistently one of the best comics around, and this latest issue raised the bar even further. A superb issue full of shocking revelations and one shocking word that Rad is fond of using. Collected editions are available now from the website, and I heartily recommend picking them up.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Stripmining The Past

There's a young bride, mid twenties, looking gorgeous in her wedding dress, but visibly upset.
"It's too soon, isn't it?" she asks in an English accent. She's flustered and jittery. "It's too soon. I'm too young to get married. It's not the right time."
She sits down hard on a chair. Actually, it's more the kind of "flump" that an annoyed little girl might do. She looks up.
"I don't know what to do," she says, "What do you think Dad?"

Cut to Tom Selleck, Ted Danson and Steve Guttenberg sitting side-by-side, each dressed as you would if you were a father giving away your daughter at her wedding. Each one of them gives some non-commital hand gesture and mumbles some non-commital answer, as a father who's not sure what to say might do.
Three Men and a Young Lady. Since this is the era of unnecessary remakes and sequels, why not? And it's not as if Messrs Guttenberg, Danson and Selleck have anything else to do...

Friday, November 14, 2003

"...a twist in the fabric of space, where time becomes a loop..."

Weird feeling this. I'm listening to British radio over the 'net, and it's getting on for half five over there, but it's only 11:20 in the morning here. So I'm listening to Britain winding down after the last working day of the week, getting ready for the weekend, but it's not even lunchtime yet. Makes you feel displaced, it does.

I Hate It Here

Right now, I'm listening to British radio (Xfm at the mo) over the internet because (a) internet access is free and unlimited over here, and (b) American radio is worse than rubbish.
I've got to the point where I've been here almost a year, and I'm not settled. I'm still homesick, and all the little things (like, no matter how bad British pop is, it's not a patch on the mire of bland inanity that passes for pop over here) start to add up.

On the other hand, The Non-Ironic Spinal Tap Tribute Band have just come on. They haven't made it here yet. Perhaps all is not lost.

Perhaps I really am Spider Jerusalem.

(I notice that this melancholy seems to be everywhere in the Blogtrix today. Dan certainly seems to be affected, and Kev is firing off myriad downbeat posts, clearly trying to get to grips with something only he knows. Friday Feeling my arse.)

Thursday, November 13, 2003


As I went through my daily rounds of Other People's Blogs, I noticed that some people order their links alphabetically, and as such, my blog is often at or near the top. Which is nice, in an accidental-ego-massage kind of way.


You are Spider Jerusalem.
Spider is THE journalist of the future. He smokes, he does drugs, and he kicks ass. The drugs are going to eventually kill him but not before he gets his way. And his way is the demise of the failed American dream. Although full of hate, he cares about his city. All he wants to bring the world is truth. Spider Jerusalem, conscience of the City. Frightening thought, but he's the only one we've got.

What Gritty No Nonsense Comic Book Character are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Hmm. Not sure how I got that from the answers I gave, but what the hey. I've only ever read one issue of Transmetropolitan. I liked the idea behind it (and gosh darn it, isn't it relevant today?), but I was never moved to get any more. Maybe one day.

Here's the best headline of the day. I feel sorry for the Welsh potato farmers, but come on, should it really be the second headline at the Guardian site? Slow news day then?
On the other hand, it may be a breeding ground for that particularly sedate, and particularly British, form of right wing extremism, but the Torygraph gives us a pretty good article on comics and their future.

Monday, November 10, 2003


A trip to the local Half-Price Books (a national chain that does exactly what it says on the tin) led to a spiffing Hellboy calendar for 2004, with lots of lovely Mignola art. Yum. I also finally picked up a battered old copy of Dune, acting on the orders of Rad. Actually, I'm looking forward to reading it, as I enjoyed both the TV series and the 1984 film (of which Rad disapproves). Also, since sound quality on the dvd of the series was so bad, I'll be able to find out finally what this "Pspssmss" thing they kept mentioning is (it's a "pre-spice-mass" apparently).
Also on my to-read list, in no particular order:

  • Scion: Conflict Of Conscience. I'm rereading this, as I rattled through it rather too quickly first time.

  • Batman: The Long Halloween. Ditto. This is a murder mystery story that I was a little unimpressed by, so a second reading may reveal more.

  • Grant Morrison's Marvel Boy. Bought very cheaply on eBay and greatly enjoyed, I'm going to have another crack at it, just for fun.

  • Vital Lies, Simple Truths? Meg's mum let me borrow this book about the psychology of denial. I often wonder how people can sometimes believe things that are patently untrue (a lot of that happens over here), and this book sets out to examine the phenomenon.

  • The Tale Of Despereaux. Another one from the mother-in-law. I suspect this one is her surreptitiously giving me research material for my on-off plans to get into children's book illustration. It's something to do with a mouse and a silver spoon.

  • JRR Tolkien: Author Of The Century. I'm rereading bits of it, as author Shippey says some interesting things about Tolkien's views on destiny and free will, and I'm musing on those subjects at the moment, for some reason.

  • RA Salvatore's The Lone Drow. Shameless D&D-related pap, but I love it.

  • A Clockwork Orange. Liam wants me to read it and do a visual treatment, tying into our graphic novel project in some way, I think.

  • The Gormenghast Trilogy. I've been meaning to read this for ages. It's the other big fantasy trilogy, and apparently stands up to Tolkien's epic quite well.

  • The Count Of Monte Cristo. A classic, but I picked it up because it's a big chunky book that'll last me a while, and I've never read it.

  • The Sword of Shannara. Tom Shippey, author of the Tolkien book above, says this is shameless plagiarism, and I'm interested in seeing how similar to Tolkien this really is.

And I'm going to rattle through The Lord Of The Rings again sometime this month, in preparation for the adaptation of the third book. I haven't read the trilogy (one of my favourite books ever) since before the films were even announced, and I kick myself every Christmas for not keeping up.

We went to see love actually last weekend. I'm not normally a fan of Richard Curtis' smug middle-class film-making, but I enjoyed this a great deal. It's a bit uneven in places, and the "happy" plotlines are rather conventional, but it's all done with such genuine good humour, and the performances are so good, that you can overlook any small flaws. The American press has given it a rough time, mainly because of the rather obvious anti-Bush sentiment at various places in the script, and have largely ingored the film itself, which is on the whole, very successful. It's very much like Magnolia, but without the overbearing pretentiousness and cynicism so popular with film students.

The World's All Curvy...

One of the things I don't like about this new PC is that it has a monitor. After using a laptop for years, I've grown quite used to the crisp, non-distorted images produced by the laptop's flat screen. I'm really not enjoying all this curved-at-the-edges stuff. I enjoy even less the futile prodding of the buttons on the front of the monitor, which seems only to make things worse.
Meg's Dad bought himself a spanking new high-end desktop PC recently, complete with a flat-screen display. He's already been inundated with Christmas present requests from his children for similar screens. He may get one more...

Saturday, November 08, 2003

The Matrix Revisionist

The nature of freedom fascinates me. I wrote my dissertation at university on it. Specifically, I'm very interested in the apparent tensions between freedom and a good life. Is it better to be free than to live a good life, or is a good life worth trading in one's freedom? Plato/Socrates thought the latter, and all societies are based upon a partial trade-off of freedoms for benefits, so it's not such a contentious idea. It's common in western societies, especially American-influenced societies, to see freedom as an intrinsic good, and possibly the most important thing in life, even more so than happiness or health or safety. I never managed to find a coherent argument for freedom's special status in all my time studying the problem. It seems to be a given, and that immediately made me suspicious.

All of which brings me to the Matrix trilogy. I've not seen Matrix 3 yet, but I probably will soon, and that got me thinking about the story so far. What I've realised is that, philosophically, I find myself pretty much on the side of the machines.
Think of it from their perspective. They were created as slaves by humanity. Later, humanity gave them life and intelligence. Later still, humanity tried to take this away from the machines again by destroying them. The machines, betrayed by their creators, fought a battle of self-preservation, which they won. Desperate, the humans destroyed their own environment in attempt to defeat the machines, going as far as blacking out the sun. The machines, victorious but without their primary power source, enslave the slavemasters and turn them into batteries. In order to preserve/protect the humans' minds, the machines create a virtual reality for the humans to live in. This reality is a blessed utopia, but the humans reject it. The machines try again, and by this point you really can't ascribe any malicious intent to them (and besides, if there is malice, it was programmed in by humans anyway...). They create an imperfect reality, hoping this will be more acceptable to the nihilistic human condition. This too is not good enough for humanity, which appears to want the moon on a stick, and some individuals escape the Matrix and create Zion, a dirty dark hole in the ground. The Zionites (to differentiate them from Zionists) decide that all of humanity would be better living in a dirty hole in the ground eating sloppy porridge as opposed to in a shiny city eating juicy steak, and begin a guerilla/terrorist campaign against the machines and their reality. The machines keep a lid on it all, until the Zionites find for themselves a messiah figure, which really upsets the boat. The machines decide that enough is enough and finally go after the Zionites.

So, the message of the Matrix films seems to be that a free but hellish existence is better than a utopian, but unfree life even if one doesn't know that one is unfree. And that's not a message I'm sure I agree with.

Friday, November 07, 2003

Contradictions In E Minor

So, if I'm in such a good mood, why has today's playlist so far been this and this? Good albums, both, but hardly cheery. Perhaps I'll put this on next, to liven things up a bit.
Still, I was inspired enough to knock this out for one of Meg's friends (click on the pic to see it in a new browser window because I haven't even begun to look at Javascript yet):

The Republican Party of Minnesota called earlier. I was half-inclined to pick up and chat to them for a laugh, but in the end I chickened out and let the machine take it. I don't want to get convicted of (and subsequently deported for) un-patriotic behaviour, which is most likely exactly what they would have got if I'd answered...

Melek Stonecutter: Casts Fireball
Beholder takes 41 damage

In what is apparently a common problem for those computers with Athlon processors, the random shutdown problem appears to be caused by an overheating motherboard. It's what I suspected, but I hoped against, because it means I either have to sit here with the windows open all the time (and that'll do no good in the summer), or we're going to have to get inside the beast and stick another fan in there...

"...I had what alcoholics refer to as a moment of clarity..."

Yesterday, Kev reported that he'd achieved a state of transcendental calmness, completely unintentionally. Accidental Zen, if you will.
Today, I feel something similar. I've had the first uninterrupted, sort-of-full length night of sleep I've had in weeks, and I feel great. 7:45am is usually an alien time for me, but today I'm in a slightly creepy "hello world!" kind of mood. Bizarre.
Also bizarre is our PC's recent behaviour. It is randomly turning itself off. Not shutting down, not warning us in any way. It just switches off. The monitor LED goes from green to standby orange, but the NumLock light on the keyboard, and the laser on the mouse stay on. CtrlAltDel does nothing. Pushing the PC power switch does nothing. Pressing the reset switch restarts everything, but then we get the "Improper Shutdown Detected" sequence. Baffling. Still, I'm in far too good a mood to worry about it now. But if anyone has any idea what's up, I'd love to know!
(As far as comments go, I'd prefer it if you used the comments on the left. I'll leave the others up in case of further comment system breakdowns, though.)

Thursday, November 06, 2003

"e ne em ma ni a gi a gi ni mu ma ma dam e ne em am an ki ga a gi a gi..."

Dear God, now my right eye has stopped working. What is working, however, is the comments system. Enjoy.

(Twenty-minutes-later-update: And it seems that BlogExtra is working again, mere minutes after I get a new comments system. Sheesh...Well, I can't be arsed to sort it out right now. I'm off to do something more useful.)

Fear Is The Mind-killer...Well, Lack Of Sleep Will Do It Too

I am somewhat dazed at the moment. I'm not sure whether it's because of my recent lack of sleep, or whether it's because I just watched all sixish hours of Dune. I was warned by Rad not to watch this until I'd read the book, but I'm a complete git and I never listen to anyone. I think I'll still have a go at the novel soon, though I'll tackle it after a full night's sleep methinks.
Six hours of trippy scifi about religion and drug trafficking after a mere three hours' sleep. Yikes.
Could I have used the word "sleep" any more frequently up there? Sleep. Sleep. Sleep.
I enjoyed Dune, by the way, but then again, I enjoyed the much-derided 1984 version too, although I haven't seen it in years.

Things To Do In Denver (or Minnesota) When You're Dead (Tired)

Hmm. Well, BlogExtra say that the comments problem will be sorted out within a day or two, although I'm a little worried that the problem they think is plaguing the comments system is different to the one that's plaguing this here blogger. Oh well.
I'm writing this at 4:40am, my time (not really MY time, I mean I'm not that arrogant) because I'm having another insomniac night. Still, I've got things done. I've had a very interesting chat with this man about a fascinating new small press project which should be fun. I've put together some material for the soon to be new and improved Borderline magazine, which will probably all get rejected due to a change in the magazine's format, but hey, I tried. I've done final sketches for commissioned pictures I'm to do for a couple of people, and I should have at least one of them done by the end of the day. And now I'm going to try and do something with the mess that is my website's links page.

My God, what an exciting life...

Leave Me Behind, I'll Only Slow You Down

Well, the lack of comments would appear to be due to the disappearance of the BlogExtra server. Last time this happened, I added a second comments system which didn't work properly, and then enetation returned the next day anyway. It's been a couple of days now, but I'll wait it out.
Woke up this morning with a screaming pain in my right shoulder. It still twinges now, eight hours later. I literally couldn't move, and was flat on my back for seven hours. Then, magically, at five it went away. Weird.
Or maybe I'm a lazy beggar, and I just made it up to cover the fact that I slept in for no good reason. You decide...

(Except you can't, because I have no comments system! Hahahahaha...)

Kev's blog has apparently moved, no doubt in order to stop me visiting his blog, a plan which failed miserably. I've updated the link on the right (or down at the bottom if you're not reading this in a full-size window).

Tuesday, November 04, 2003


Well, my links are back, but now my comments are gone. Willikers.

Monday, November 03, 2003

Winter Wonderland

It's snowing. =D

And The Winner Is...

Hmm...a lot of people seemed to have a very vague idea of the answer to last weekend's Halloween competition question. Most people seemd to know that there was a connection between William Shatner's face and the first Halloween film. The correct answer is that John Carpenter, looking for a suitably scary mask for the killer, had to resort to using a rubber William Shatner mask, painted white for added spookiness.
The following people gave correct answers, and will receive their prizes in due course if I can be bothered to (a) come up with prizes, and (b) send them:
Rad, Paddy, Liam, and Mr James Leahy (BBC script bloke extraordinaire). BiLly was close enough, and no one else entered.

For some reason, my links keep disappearing. I blame Liam, as he seems to have just moved to blogger. Obviously his presence has messed everything up.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

William Shatner's Face II

It was bitterly cold tonight, as I found myself escorting a bunch of children I have no blood relation to around American Suburbia (which is exactly as weird as offbeat comedies make it look). I wasn't aware that I was going to be doing this, so I was rather underdressed as the temperature hovered around 2°C. I actually started to get flashbacks to rugby games at school, of being tackled onto hard frozen ground, of having hands so cold that you weren't properly able to get changed afterwards, let alone actually write anything in any subsequent lessons.
A number of people were doing drive-bys. They'd chug around in their Enormous American Vehicles, stopping outside each house to let thousands of kids out to collect sweets, collect the kids, then move on to the next house. At first, I scoffed and mocked these people for quite blatantly not entering into the spirit of things. As ice crystals began to form inside my internal organs, I began to see the advantages of the American Strategem.

Competition Update: Mr Patrick Booth, currently of the borough of Merseyside, formerly of the borough of Chelsea, has been the only one to enter thus far, but he did get the answer right. Come on people!

Friday, October 31, 2003

William Shatner's Face

Here's a reprint of The Guardian's report on the famous War of the Worlds hoax that Orson Welles pulled off sixty-five years ago today. Brilliant. And to prove that not much has changed, here's a more recent story along the same lines.
Yesterday, I jokingly called for a boycott of Google. If this goes ahead, I may indeed boycott the search engine.
On a happier note, those who can't get to a pumpkin and an obscenely sharp knife today may want to have a look at this virtual pumpkin carver. God bless Ben and Jerry. Or at least the Anglo-Dutch conglomerate that owns them. The company, that is, not the people, although nothing would surprise me in this crazy world.

Competition: Anyone who knows why this post has that particualr title should comment or email me with the answer by Monday. All correct answers may win a prize, but again, it's not likely.

Now I'm back off to bed, as last night's pizza did not agree with me. Oh the pain! The horror!

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Vampire Babies And Female Footballers

Somehow, it seems appropriate that this tale of toddler bloodsuckers comes from eastern Europe, where all the best vampire stories come from. Utterly bizarre, this seems like a scene from a horror story, but it actually happened, and the two lines devoted to it in this week's Newsweek were the best thing about the mediocre magazine.

Courtney will be pleased by this story about the first female player to join a professional "men's" football team, and I'm looking forward to seeing Tom's thoughts on it, as he's a bit of a footie guru. I think it's a very good sign that there have been no problems so far concerning the rules of the game - it seems that it's perfectly legal to field mixed teams, just that no one's done it before.

Talking of sport, it seems that Electronic Arts have released a Quidditch simulator, in the style of their other successful sport games. Quite baffling.

Finally, I must request that all my readers boycott Google. Why? Well, just look at how they get their results. Shocking.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Astonishing Indeed

On the recommendation of Mr Regie Rigby, I paid my money and this morning received a copy of Garen Ewing's The Rainbow Orchid. Yes, it looks and feels lot like Tintin, but if you really think about it, that's not a bad thing at all. It's a slow burner. Apparently unconnected plot elements come together by the end of this first chapter, cleverly setting up the adventure to follow, and giving a really effective sense of escalating excitement. Top stuff, and I'd recommend getting a copy. It's a little pricey if you live outside Britain, but well worth it.
The Icewind Dale Box Set we bought came with what seems like thousands of discs, including one soundtrack audio CD. Normally, I'm a little suspicious of these things, remembering all too well the hideous soundtrack that came bundled with the SNES' Killer Instinct (because the at-the-time-revolutionary graphics took up so much memory and processor power that there was no music in the game). Also, video game soundtracks are rarely good enough to warrant the ability to listen to them outside the game.
(That said, I have a sizable collection of Amiga game music files, but Amiga games always did have the best music.)
I'm pleasantly surprised to find that the Icewind Dale soundtrack (as composed by Jeremy Soule) is quite impressive indeed. There are some stirring themes on there, and the music as a whole is of excellent quality. There's a Jerry Goldsmith feel to it all, and it wouldn't be at all out of place in a film. Computer game music really has come a long way in such a short time.
So, what are your favourite computer game tunes? Anyone? Anyone?

Anyone Know What "Corset Training" Is?

My old school chum Helen has a website to show off her Goth modelling ways. Apparently, she's been "corset training for some time now" whatever that means.
In other news, I am extremely busy. There's nothing major or important needing to be done, but there's lots of little things that need attending to, and it's the number, not size, of the tasks that's overwhelming. Time to put the videogames away for a day or two, methinks.

The flat smells like beef, because there's a stew cooking in the crock-pot. It's all very off-putting.

Admitting Defeat

I finished Eyes Of The Dragon, only to read on the very last page that two of the book's characters met up with Flagg again after the events of this book, and "confronted him". I suspect I will be getting the other Dark Tower books after all then...
I realised a funny little thing about Stephen King's books as I finished this one. I wanted to know that Flagg wasn't going to return to this book's world to cause any more trouble. I wanted to know how Thomas and Dennis fared when they met Flagg again.
In the Dark Tower books, the hero seems to be on a quest to destroy that world's Flagg. What I realised was that by making Flagg a threat to the characters and setting of all these other books, King has made the reader care for these people and hope that Flagg is defeated. If he'd gone on describing people and places only loosely connected to the Dark Tower quest and how they were threatened within the Dark Tower books, he may have threatened the pace of the main quest. As it is he's created these people and places elsewhere, in other books, where they can't hold up the narrative of the main quest but where they still add to its importance. Whether he did this deliberately or not (and I'm sure he did), I'm impressed.

I'm not sure if any of that made any sense...

The problem is that, just as with Alias' good over-arcing plots but weak individual episodes, I'd much rather know how King's universe all ties together without reading each and every book. I enjoyed Eyes Of The Dragon because it was a fun read, and I know that not every King book is fun to read. I had a similar problem with CrossGen's comics. Unlike shared universes in other comics, CrossGen's universe had a plot all of its own. The Marvel Universe doesn't progress as such, but CrossGen's does. Unfortunately, only a handful of their titles are worth reading, and most of these have little to do with the universal plot. The universal plot is rather fascinating, but it wasn't worth trawling through all the faff CrossGen puts out. Oh well.
My nose just made a noise like South American pan pipes. Must be time for bed.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Sometimes The World Is Neat

Old news, but still worth a mention. Bill Murray is to provide the voice for the CGI cat in the upcoming Garfield movie. Why is this neat? Well the voice of Garfield in the only-good-thing-on-CITV-apart-from-Knightmare-animated show was provided by Lorenzo Music, who also voiced Peter Venkman in The Real Ghostbusters. Peter Venkman was portrayed by Bill Murray (ta-daa!) in the 1984 Ghostbusters film.
Well, I was impressed.

Monday, October 27, 2003

It's been a long time...

So...Intolerable Cruelty then. Well, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I thought it was the mildest, most accessible, and least offbeat film the Coens have done, and as such, there was a tiny feeling of blandness there, but not too much. The performances were superb, especially Clooney (who should play Reed Richards in the upcoming Fantastic Four movie. Really.), the Welsh Bird (not bad at all, and of course looks spectacular throughout), and Billy Bob Thornton (who is almost always excellent and will most likely be the only good thing about The Alamo). Clooney really was superb, perfectly capturing the quirky aspect needed in the performance, and showing hitherto-unseen skill in cartoonesque, rubberfaced, reactions. He really was very impressive, and this performance alone makes up for ER and all those awful early films of his.
Geoffrey Rush, however, was pretty bad, and I can't tell if it was the character or him, which is the only reason he gets away with it.
The script was also excellent, as was to be expected, and the film made use of that Fargo trick of having an epic orchestral soundtrack playing over rather mundane (albeit offbeat) events. Like Fargo, but unlike Pacino's Carlito's Way, it worked very well. The living-dead senior lawyer was a wonderful creation, and again Clooney was excellent in the scenes opposite him.
But the real joy, and the reason that my friend Courtney should see this film, is that it features a cameo by the greatest living American movie star.

I'm currently reading Stephen King's Eyes Of The Dragon. I'm enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would, although I'm not entirely sure that it really works as a kids' book, which was apparently the intention, as one of King's kids pointed out that he'd never written a book they could read. I gave up on further Dark Tower volumes as I really wasn't grabbed enough by the first book. Maybe another time.

Icewind Dale entertains. It's very much a stripped down Baldur's Gate II, and drops a lot of the successful elements of that game, like the fact that the playable characters are all created by yourself, so there are no character-specific plots or dialogues to access. As such, there is a very generic feel, and it feels more like a game than Baldur's Gate II did. That said, it plays in a more streamlined and less clunky way than the other game. But it's good fun, and the fact that I got Icewind Dale, Heart Of Winter and Icewind Dale II all in one pack means that I shall be busy for a while...

In terms of artistic achievement, I've done lots more in the way of sketches and designs and roughs, but no final pieces as yet, unfortunately.

Ye gods, it's Goth Week at the BBC. Don't encourage them, they'll only multiply...
(But on the other hand, look who's presenting the Goth documentary)

The most recent issue of Marvel's Avengers was rubbish. This was the issue that Marvel hyped up with promises of superhero sex and rape, and that it was going to get a "Mature Readers" tag. It's as pathetic, naive and stupid as I expected, although they wisely toned down the more tasteless elements before publishing it. This issue was characterised by terrible art, inconsistent characterisation, a frankly laughable plot and setting, and a really foolish attempt at creating interest in a title that's being run into the ground by a writer with the writing abilities of a spastic baboon. Bugger off back to DC you tit.


As a result, the best Avengers comic last week was the JLA/Avengers crossover. Even if Superman beat Thor, and that just doesn't happen...
The most recent Amazing Spider-Man, the double-sized special #500, was absolutely superb, however. Gave me tingles it did, but I grew up on Spidey, so maybe it's just me.

Finally, a complaint that ties in with the title of this post. Enterprise is pretty naff, but endearing in its own naffness. One of the things that saves it from being completely disregarded is the disasterous dad-rock theme tune. The sheer audacity of producing such an awful theme tune has to be applauded, and the song is legendary round our way. And of course, the Enterprise people have decided that the reason that no one watchs the show is because the theme tune is embarrassing (personally, the theme tune is the main reason to watch the show), so they've changed it.
A little more joy has gone out of the world.

Sorry to end on a downer there. Hey, Brighton are doing well!

Right, that'll do. There should be enough there to keep Courtney entertained at work, biLly entertained at home, and Meg entertained when she gets home from work. Now I'm off to make some ravioli. Yum!

Friday, October 24, 2003

"Go for the eyes Boo, go for the eyes!"

Finally, Baldur's Gate II is finished.
Right, Icewind Dale is next!
(As you can see, normal non-geeky service has yet to be resumed)
This might please Liam, as it means he can borrow the discs, but it might not please his other half, Courtney...
Incidentally, you should probably go to Liam's blog just to see the kind of thing his mum does with erotic fridge-magnet-poetry...
Not much else to report. I've been filling my sketchbook with stuff, all in preparation for a number of projects, but nothing is finalised yet. One of the projects sort-of-involves this fine figure of a gentleman.
We're off down to see the in-laws this weekend, with no obligation to babysit anyone's child, which is a refreshing and unique experience for us. Broadband internet and digital cable, combined with an array of new cartoons starting Saturday morning, means that I'll be cheery, at least!

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

" this end, they have relentlessly pursued them across the galaxy from planet Cybertron to planet Earth and back again..."

A bit of a geeky post this, as I've found a number of Transformers-related goodies. I'm sure normal, non-geeky, service will resume eventually.
You'll find a run down of the top fifty "pivotal" Transformers moments here and here, which is worth a look if you're into such things.
The best thing though is this. There's a live-action Transformers movie on its way, probably to be released in the ever-so-appropriate space year 2005. This isn't from that movie, but it's a wonderful example of how good it'll look if they do it properly.


Philip Pullman writes about Maus and comics in general here. Good publicity for the medium.

Fox and the WB Network are collaborating on a small-screen revival of Lost In Space, but they're not including Doctor Smith this time around! Foul! Foul, I say! He, and his bizarre fatherly/villainous interplay with young Will Robinson, was the best thing about the original series and the movie (which had excellent-to-this-day spaceship cgi, but the Doc Smith/Skeletor thing was awful), and it strikes me as a very risky move to write him out. It's like writing the serpent out of the Garden of Eden. Or something.
Incidentally, that's my bet for the next Indiana Jones movie: Indiana Jones and the Garden of Eden. Even if it's not the way things will turn out, I'm excited about it. My only fears about the film were that (1) Harrison Ford was too old, and (2) that George Lucas and/or Spielberg would ruin it by drenching it in bad cgi. Well, apparently the second fear has been laid to rest (but I still don't trust Lucas to not ruin it), and I saw Ford on the television promoting the new DVD set, dressed up in the Indy gear. The guy's 61, but whatever the make up people did to him, it worked. He looked like Indy again.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Dancing Sheep And Blood Cults...And A Quiz!

Many thanks to Kev, who pointed out the wonders of Annabelle the Sheep. If you have RealOne Player, put a CD in or load up an MP3, go to View>Choose Visualisation>Annabelle the Sheep, then sit back and enjoy. Lots of stuff happens, and it gets really crazy as night falls (you'll see what I mean). Annabelle seems to particularly enjoy Orbital's Funny Break (One is Enough), which shows excellent taste on her part.
Speaking, as it were, of Orbital, their new album/film score Octane was released this week. It's a pretty good release, full of classic-but-new Orbital sounds. Also, unlike the duo's previous score, Event Horizon, this is recognisably Orbital, with no watering down of their sound. There are some tracks available for download at the official site. Initiation is the track that will sound most familiar to Orbital fans, sounding like something from the Green Album crossbred with sounds from later albums. And there is to be a single release of this track, which is excellent news.
As for the film itself, the premise is quirky and strange, sort of Grant Morrison doing a road trip movie with vampires in it, while reading David Lynch For Dummies. Apparently it all falls apart a bit towards the end, but I like the ideas (the Jacob's Ladder effect-great ideas, but the film was a little "blah"). Out on the 14th of November in Blighty, and the transAtlantic success of 28 Days Later... may see Octane pop up over here outside the film festival circuit.
I'm sure there was a vampire/road trip movie a year or so ago, filled with generic teen TV "stars", that disappeared quietly without a trace, but I can't remember the name. Answers on a postcard, email, or in the Comments box, please. Winning entries may receive a prize, but frankly it's a bit unlikely.

Monday, October 20, 2003

Twisted Nerve

Why did everyone apparently underorder the Kill Bill soundtrack? I mean, Tarantino movies usually have stonking soundtracks (and this is the best one yet, I think), so any buyer who knows anything would have ordered a substantial number for their shop. But no. Can't find a copy anywhere.

Long Time No See...

So, I had something which probably wasn't the flu, but certainly did knock me out for three days, so maybe it was a >little< flu. Then we went down to Rochester to babysit Meg's sister's teething infant over the weekend, which was a vaguely horrifying experience for me, as parenting does not come naturally to me.
On the plus side, we came back with a stack of good books to read, a brand new (and much improved) PC, and some new bedroom furniture.
I spent last night setting up our new PC, and today's fun activity is putting together the new furniture!
Isn't it wonderful to have me back?

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

A Plague Upon Both Your Houses...Or Just Mine

I was a sickly child. I always seemed to have a cold, and I've pretty much always been a weed. That said, I shook off the fortnightly colds when I got into my teens, and I've never really had a proper illness. I think I've only had a fever three times. The first time was when I had tonsilitis on Sports Day at school, but the teachers thought I was faking it so made me sit outside the headmaster's office for hours, as my temperature skyrocketed. The second time was a year or so ago, and the third time was just yesterday, as I developed the flu' or something like it.
Which is why I've been absent from the electronic world in the past couple of days. In fact, just typing this has wore me out, but I thought I'd best make an appearance and explain myself.

Oh, and Dan, the Out Of The Pit companion book was called Titan. Lots of maps and stories about gods.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

This is a call...

I need your help, blog-fans! I'm after the book on the left, Out Of The Pit. It's a sort of companion piece to those choose-your-own-adventure books of the Eighties (and now rereleased), and eBay is being particularly unhelpful in tracking down an affordable copy.
So if any of you have an unwanted copy (hi Bill!), or know of one somewhere, please let me know. I'd also appreciate it if you can spread the word that I'm looking for it. Fell free to leave a comment, or to emal me. Thanks, weblings!

Sad news. The Incredible Hulk has shut down his diary. I suspect the involvement of Marvel lawyers with humour deficiencies. The world of blogging will mourn his absence.

I've been unusually productive in the past couple of days. No final pieces, but lots of sketchbook stuff. I'm toying with the idea of putting a "sketchbook" section on the website, but only proper artists do that, and I've noticed that their "sketchbooks" tend to be work they've not coloured in, rather than actual sketches. Still, it's a possibility. Anyway, lots of potential illustrations in there, I think.

On TV tonight: Alias is pretty much it. This season looks to have a very interesting story arc, but the individual episodes have been rather dull thus far. Which, now I think of it, has been true of the show all along.

Saturday, October 11, 2003

Aiee! My Bleeding Ears! (or Eliminate William)

One growing trend in cinema that I'm not enjoying is this idea that films need to be really, really loud. It started with xXx, a film so painfully dull that it needed to give its audiences brain haemorrages through sonic torture in order to make them think they saw something special. It also occurred in Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, apparently, but I avoided that one, with the excuse that I hadn't seen the first one, so didn't want to get the storyline muddled. I've always been a bit of a prude in this respect, as I've never full understood the eardrum-burstingly-loud=good, equation, even when it comes to music, but from the number of complaints we received at the cinema I worked at when xXx was shown, I'm not alone when it comes to films. It threatened to ruin Kill Bill.

But it didn't. I can't adequately explain why this film is good without describing every scene in detail, and I can't do that half as well as the film does. So go and see it. The worst that can happen is you don't like it.

Actually, you could go deaf.

A note about the violence. Over here at least, the outrage over this violent film has already begun, which considering it only came out today so half of these people complaining haven't even seen it yet, is quite surprising. If you've seen the Black Knight scene of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, you've already seen the worst Kill Bill can offer. For Pete's sake people, it's a live-action cartoon, nothing more.

Friday, October 10, 2003

New Arrivals And Missed Opportunities

A while ago, Cap'n Black asked me what it's like out here in Minnesota. I've not forgotten, Dan, but I need to think about it some more. I was going to write a bit tonight about how ladybirds have widely different reputations on either side of the Atlantic, but I suspect that's not really what Dan was asking about. I'll get to it, promise.

I've updated my blogger links over there on the right. Everyone over there is a jolly nice person, and is bound to make your day more interesting and/or cheerful.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

The Case Of The Missing Plot: Smallville and Angel

Okay, so that wasn't it.

Smallville angered me today. I'm growing quite fond of the show, even though it concerns Superman, quite possibly my least favourite comic character (closely followed by Captain America-see a pattern?). I thought the first season was pretty awful, but the second season was pretty strong. Still no replacement for Buffy at its best, but still pretty good.
Tonight, they dealt with last week's silly ending quite quickly, which is good, as it was quite silly. Meg points out that the reason they did it was so they could smash up lots of stuff this week, which they did. I still think if they'd done it the way I suggested (see this time last week for more), it would have been more dramatic, albeit less action-packed. Anyway, this is all beside the point. I was angered by this week's epsiode because they left out a whole chunk of the episode's plot. There are spoilers below. Only click and drag the mouse pointer if you're prepared.

Nasty gangsters have kidnapped Clark, and have tied up the lovely Kents. Lana turns up, notices these weird fellows with guns hanging about (very astute), then, quite audaciously, beats them up. These must be the worst gangsters ever. During the fight, Lana knocks one gangster onto a pitchfork, where he unsurprisingly dies. Ma Kent looks horrified. Lana bgins to cry. Cut to advertisements. We come back from advertisements. No Lana or Ma Kent or shish-kebabbed gangsters. Okay, they're teasing us with it. They'll come back to it later. Next time we see the Kents, they're having Happy Time with Clark (who has rescued himself) and Lex (who they've sort of adopted). No mention of the dead gangster in the barn. Next time we see Lana, she rides onto the farm on her horse, having left her car at the farm already when she killed the gangster. She and Clark have Sad Time. End. BUT WHAT ABOUT THE GANGSTER? Did they bury him on the farm somewhere? Did the police come along and let Lana and the Kents off because they're major characters, and it just wouldn't be the done thing to have them rot in jail? And what happened to the gangster's gangster mate, the one who wasn't killed by Lana? Now I realise that they may be saving this for a future episode, but if so, surely there should have been hints about it, rather than just dropping it altogether? Weird, and frustrating.

Meanwhile, Angel featured the reintroduction of a character thought to be dead. The spoilers are all out of the bag now, and you'd have to be really dedicated to avoiding them to not know who this character is, but I'll leave it unsaid just in case (and I know I mentioned their name here a week ago). Anyway, this character steals the show, as expected, and the episode is a lightweight one, obviously deisgned to get this character back into action with the minimum of fuss. Unlike Smallville, the plot for tonight's Angel was all there, but none of it made any sense. In an attempt to make it look as if Angel, the resurrected character and a third character were all conspiring against each other, we were treated to a plot where a lack of writing ability replaced any mystery, to the extent where Angel had to explain the plot of the episode to another character, and the audience, at the end. Shoddy. But it was good to see the once-dead character back in action, even if it cheapens their death somewhat. That said, there's a definite air of desperation in Angel. The show's not doing badly, otherwise it wouldn't have been renewed, so I can only assume that it's a case of the Angel creative team worrying too much about holding onto any audience that has jumped over since the end of Buffy. As a result of this, the cast of this show are starting to resemble the Buffy gang too closely (for instance, Fred's dialogue has gone from "scatterbrained" to "just like Willow's"), and almost every scene references Buffy in some way. It's not welcoming, rather it's, as I said above, clingy and desperate.