VSX, A shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a man who does not exist: Starbuck Powersurge - a young loner on a crusade to champion the cause of Viper Squad Ten, a long-disbanded group of stranded timetravelling troubadours, formed to help finance repairs to their time-machine. Now very much stuck in C21...
All text is copyright the Viper Squad Ten blog team 2003-2006 unless otherwise quoted or credited. If we've not credited you properly, please let me know. Throw us a link if you're desperate enough to use this guff...
A tribute to my Grandad
As regular readers will know, I don't tend to use this page as an outlet for my emotions; however, I feel duty-bound to write something just now.
My grandad died today.
Frank Powersurge was a brilliant man - the most brilliant man I have known - and he will be immensely missed by many people. By his wife Edna, by the rest of our family, by everyone who's known him. By me.
I will miss his humanity, his humour, his ceaseless optimism. He was so very down-to-earth, so unpretentious, so proud. He has always been such an inspiration to me as a person.
He has always been there for me - whenever I've had my own troubles, troubles that I've hidden from all around me, he was the one who could see through my facade, he was the one to offer the reassurance that I could go to him any time that I needed to in confidence. Even though I never needed to do this, the support this provided was essential in getting me through the tougher times.
Sitting here now, I am remembering many things. I am remembering his enthusiasm for life. His stories that he would tell when I was a child ("It was a dark and stormy night..."). His "ballroom-dancing" to rubbishy modern pop records with my Nan and my cousins at our Christmas parties, and his attempts at air-guitar with an antique bronze bed-pan. His stories about being asked for a request by Hospital Radio, woozy from some hospital drug or other - and the embarrasment when the drugs had worn off, and "How Much Is That Doggy In The Window" started blasting out, attributed to him...
His stories about the Second World War. Defending Coventry from the Nazis with my Uncle Doug, who also sadly passed away this year. How he met my wonderful Nan; the pain of having to say goodbye to her whenever he had to return to the army, and the troubles he got himself into when he "extended" his leave to be with her. The time he spent in Germany during the War, and the friendships that have lasted to this day - people from the country that his own was at war with, people who had helped him whilst in their own land, their mutual respect and understanding.
I am remembering the holidays spent with him all throughout my lifetime. I am remembering the sheer lust for life, which allowed him and my Nan to continue to drive independently around Europe for months at a time, all the way up until this very summer.
I am remembering how much in love him and my Nan were - how they were still in love like a couple of teenagers. How much he loved his family. And it is for my Nan and our family that I mourn, because they will miss my Grandad like they have missed nothing else in their lives before. I know that I will.
My Grandad has always said to me - "It just doesn't matter what's going on in your life, as long as you are happy." I have in recent years tried to live by these principles, and will continue to do so. The world is a worse place for his passing, but I will strive my best for his legacy to live on, in optimism, in joy, in life.
And this is what I will remember. A man who gave joy by being who he was, and who cared for others selflessly.
Rest in peace, Grandad.
Now, going by his maxim, please go and enjoy the rest of the site. I hear that the links are very tasty this time of year. And I promise some very nourishing web-based morsels for the New Year...
I wish you all well.
Puzzle Bubble in Winter clothing
To continue today's festive dose of blogging "goodness" on New Year's Eve, may I encourage you to follow this link to Frozen Bubble, a java-version of a linux-version of Taito's Super Bust-a-Move series (itself a version of Puzzle Bobble).
Hours of bubble-popping fun to be had for all the family! I know that the web is probably clogged to its filthy gills with browser-based Puzzle Bobble clones, but this is the first one that I've come across. I think thst its rather lovely, and deserves a place in my (short and, to be frank, not very complete) directory of the Best Web Games And Toys On The Internet that's sitting over there, unloved, in the right-hand column (should you want to do something more worthwhile than reading my witterings. See ya!)
Unpronouncable web toy site
There's some sleekly-minimalist web-toys and games sitting on the ambigously-named ertdfgcvb website. As always with these things, Internet Explorer users might want to go into full-screen mode via their F11 button.
I rather like the little car one. You just drive around in 3D, drawing a line behind you - and that's it. I like it because it reminds me of Micro Machines V3, where myself and Unit Two used to end up just idly driving around like idiots rather than racing. Others may get their kicks elsewhere...
Andy's bastid challenge - complete ALL of Psychopong (which I've written about before), or stack up a bunch of bricks on Black Mirror. Heh! I'm a cruel man...
Before my computer just crashed, I'd got an incredibly-boring essay planned for you lucky reader(s). Over the last week or so, the Google search results for Viper Squad Ten have not been offering up a cache of the page, even though an old cache from mid-December could be revealed by typing cache:http://fatcityarizona.blogspot.com/, recorded when Google had performed the previous deep-crawl. I've not had the freshbot around for a bit, and I figured that something must've gone wrong for my site when it was scanned last; that, or one of Google's data-centres must've been knocked out. I was going to investigate further for you, my lovely oh-so-interested readers, on the Google newsgroups, as well as within the hallowed walls of the Google Forum, where those from the house of Webmaster World worship. Incidentally, did you know that "thesaurus" means "treasure house" in Latin? I didn't, until now - thank you Lord Google, for enriching my knowledge.
But I digress. I was going to search all the different data-centres using the Google Dancetool to try to get to the bottom of it. I was going to hack my blog template to pieces in case I was being penalised by Google for unknowingly doing something untoward. I was going to ramble on about GRI Technologies' Poodle Predictor, which you can use to view any website (and its linked pages) through the eyes of a search-engine spider.
And then... crash... the machine freezes, I reboot, and slip away to my blog via Google... what's that listed there... cache?
So thankfully for your sake, dear reader, I won't have to subject you to a long and boring essay about it. Oh, wait a minute....
I'm your caring sharing Blog Donkey
Sometimes I worry about the mindsets of my friends.
Whilst sifting through some of the old text messages on my mobile in order to free up some room (I have an ancient Nokia nk402 with a mere 10 SMS slots, y'see), two messages shook me to my very core. (Note: exaggeration)
One from Yaz (our old manager from the Dieticians Featuring Fat days) called me an "old saggy scrotummed gimmer" (sic?). That's an image that you don't want your friends to be visualising.
There was also the following SMS from Sub-Ed Stu - "Bless you my lovely blog donkey of lust". BLOG DONKEY OF LUST? Well I never... Who would've thought my dear Sub-editor felt so passionately about his tyrannical Blog Overlord.
#Through the Panavision sunset of my heart#
I'm glowing. Not like a woman "glows" (i.e. sweating buckets). Instead, I'm enjoying the afterglow of a night of beautifully visual dreams, influenced by the LotR series, with bonus scenery and lighting effects coming from Cast Away (on the telly last night, and a lot more enjoyable than I was expecting. Though Hanks didn't suffer nearly enough.)
Thinking of Return of the King, THAT battle at Pelennor Fields - I can't get it out of my tiny mind. Stunning. It's got to be the modern-day equivalent of the battle against the AT-AT's on the ice planet of Hoth in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back...
But back to my dreams (safe in the knowledge that my girlfriend suffer from the habit of reading this thing). I've been having a hell of a lot of dreams of late about getting married (last night in a Middle Earth environment). Maybe they're trying to tell me something...
I finally saw The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King today, and it was so good it merits a lack of abbreviation whatsoever of its overly-long title.
It adrenalised me so much, it got the blood vessels in my neck throbbing - something that's only started to happen over the last few years whilst movie-watching (and then only the two or three times - it's a feeling not disimilar to some of the early symptoms of heatstroke), and something I hope is due to the extraordinarily amazing audio-visual extravaganzas we are now occasionally treated to, as opposed to the onset of any medical complaint that I am as yet unaware of.
Pure cinematic bliss.
I must disagree with DJ Tim's early prognosis (of the film, not my neck) - in my humble opinion, it beat the other two (also brilliant) prequels hands down. Truly wonderful - that's all I need to say.
But then, anyone who's gonna be watching it will be watching it anyway, so who cares what I think - I'll just shuddupamy face (and not just because Eastenders is on the box in the other room, and I'd rather like to be catching up on that right now.)
One thing, though. I didn't spot the Peter Jackson cameo in this one (with or without red cod-piece). Come to think of it, I didn't see it in The Two Towers either. But I did see one of the aliens from the director's classic Bad Taste appearing as the Orc General Gothmog...
After two classic series of the so-painful-it-hurts spoof documentary, Ricky Jervais and Stephen Merchant brought The Office to a close last night in the second of two Christmas specials.
Those who saw it won't need me to bang on about it. And those who didn't see it but wished that they had won't want me to bang on about it before they've seen it themselves. Those who know the series but don't like it are perhaps a little too dim to be reading this website (Yes, you! Get back to that Last Of The Summer Wine website. (Confession: I shouldn't diss LotSW fans - I've got a guilty liking of the Clegg-meister and Co myself)) And those who've never heard of The Office won't be interested anyway.
BUT ANYWAY, as I swiftly insert a small SPOILER ALERT into the text for those of the second disposition...
... it was good to see David Brent finally finding what his life has been missing all these years, despicable as the man has been. And it was heartening to see him giving a soundbite to the camera that was actually as full of insight and wisdom as he himself thought it was. And as for Tim and Dawn... I'm not ashamed to admit that I had a little cry. Without shedding any proper tears, of course. I'm no soft lad! (Note: falsehood.)
And on the seventh day He rested
Hello chums, Starbuck here, with a brief post-christmas entry. (I wish fewer of my "entries" were "brief". Ahem. I obviously didn't receive a sense of humour for Christmas.)
After 7 days of heightened emotional tomfoolery, it feels nice to be taking it easy today. As Craig David would no doubt put it,
"Birthday jubilations on Monday
Taken for a Chinese on Tuesday,
Varsity piss-up on Wednesday,
And on Thursday & Friday & Saturday too much of everything"
It was quite a different Christmas from our usual. We are a very close family, and one of us is very ill - something my family kept from me so as not to spoil my night out on Tuesday, bless them. But this blog isn't the place to reflect on all of this right now. I've got havens within myself for efficiently processing emotional oscillations, however tortuous or balmy the troughs and the peaks. All in all, I feel we still managed to make it a very special time. And should Britain be hit by a famine, or should I foolhardedly get myself into a David-Blaine-In-A-Box situation, I've converted enough food and drink into blubber to last me a good few months.
So its been very nice this morning, back in our own home, taking it very easy indeed. Lieing in bed, staring up through the skylight, drifting into the crisp blue sky, intricate shards of AFX washing over the pebbles of my brain (Aphex Twin - "26 Mixes For Cash" in the Walkman - vive la Braindance!)
Merry Chrimbo, you salty sea dogs
(i'm still not convinced about that handcuff thing)
Anyways, last day in the office, and therefore no access to a computer til 5th January - hmmm except my mum has one...
So, Merry Christmas, please have these games by way of a present - the Planet Prostrate one is probably one of the wierdest games I've seen - it's an edutainment type thing, and very odd. the best one is the egg one - very addictive (once you work out how to play it with the scant instructions - I'm not going to tell you - you work it out)
But my favourite item of celebration was a birthday card from Zippy off Rainbow, where the poor tortured creature sings "Happy Birthday" in that manically cackling voice of his. Little things please little minds...
Talking of Zippy, fans of web-games based around zip-mouthed felt puppets can play Zip-Up Zippy from the rather wonderful Rainbow.web.com. My God, its like something out of my worst nightmares. And as for this Zippy wav download - that will stay with me til the end of my days...
HEY - HAPPY BIRTHDAY BACKATCHA, AND ASSORTED OTHER RAMBLINGS
Firstly, thanks for the birthday wishes, Illustrious Leader. I had a lovely birthday and the best present I got was a Hulk Hand. It was meant to be a bath mit but it was instead employed to hold pints in the pub, hold my mobile phone, hold a fag, and generally hold anything funny, which was quite a lot of things, in a way that only a big puffy green hand can do.
Secondly, and more importantly, is to get reciprocal on yo’ ass, Starbuck, and wish you a happy birthday too, for today! I hope you get a hulk hand.
Thirdly, let us rejoice, forsooth, as indeed it came to pass that the erstwhile rank-outsider and Most Miserable Christmas Number One Song Ever did come to be the Christmas Number One, and the Lord heard it on the chart run down, and he heard it was good.
We did it, boys and girls! Never before has the chart been such a barometer for the mood of a nation. For, it is indeed, no messing, a mad world. He says rather obviously. You have to take a certain amount of perverse pleasure in knowing that the Chrimbo (AARAGGGHHH) Number One’s chorus goes “the dreams I have of dying are the best I ever had”. Who’d have thought it?
Fourthly, I finally saw Pirates of the Caribbean last night and I was distinctly underwhelmed. Like, Johnny Depp isn’t THAT good. Action films that girls love usually have something wrong with them, and so it is here. And it has two of the most annoying “that wouldn’t really happen” bits in it of any film ever! One: Johnny Depp sliding down a rope on hand cuffs – HOW HOW HOW? And secondly, him and Orlando (swoon) walking on the ocean floor with the air bubble inside the upturned boat. I KNOW it shouldn’t be taken that seriously, but they really made me go – “wait a minute” and then break my suspension of disbelief.
Fifthly, we then watched the Actors, a little little Irish film with Dylan Moran and Michael Caine. Instantly forgettable, but quite nice, and made me want to petition C4 to release the second series of Black Books on DVD.
The return of Elvis
DJ Tim [22:33]
Went to see Lord of the Rings yesterday and this is what I think (no spoilers - like you all don't know the story anyway) - be prepared not all good news though.
Firstly let me say where I am coming from I thought fellowship was fantastic. The extended version was even better. Two towers was even better and the extended version was out of this world.
Secondly, the cinema that I saw it at had sound problems - for some parts of the film we seemed to lose the surround sound other parts we had a few odd noises.
Thirdly, I was a bit hungover and the cinema was not that comfy.
So with that in mind, this is what I thought.
I thought that unlike the other two films it seemed rushed. It was trying to fit in too much and not really doing the epic scenes justice. Don't get me wrong - I still loved it - but I was just expecting more. I think that in an extended version this will be sorted out. I personally would have cut out 20 mins from the first hour and the final 20 mins and then used them to make the middle bit longer.
Having said this, I'm going to go and see it again with proper sound and this might give me a better impression. Afterall, the battle of Helm's deep in the two towers - which I thought was out of this world was very dependant on the sound. Anyone that has watched all the extras on the 2 towers dvd will know.
Anyway Peter still deserves Best Director and Best Film because the only failure of this film, in my view, was that it was not quite as good as the others. But K2 is still a bloody big mountain even when compared to Everest. (I would have used a mount Cook comparison there - but as we all know now that mountain does not exist)
If you haven't seen it yet go at once - (Starbuck beware - you might be scared of Shelob (sp?))
Pacman for MS Excel - wacka wacka wacka!
Thanks to the inventive genius of Japanese geekozoid Nobuya Chikada, you can now play a fully functional version of Pacman - YES, PACMAN! - on Microsoft Excel (versions '97 & 2000 were namechecked). CLICK HERE for the download page.
Unfortunately, I don't use Excel at home, and the rather less wonderful Microsoft Works refuses to convert the .xls file into anything other than a big unplayable black screen, but as far as I can make it he's programmed each individual cell to behave as a tiny (by definition) pixel, and by changing the background colour of each cell on the fly, the full interactive Pacman experience is realised.
I don't hold out much hopes for myself getting it up and running in Works-o-vision, but any of you spangly Excel users could give his Space Invaders interpretation Cellvader a try as well.
(Footnote: My Japanese isn't quite up to it, but it looks like there's LOADS of home-brew spreadsheet-versions of classic arcade games out there in web-land. Curse my lack of Office software.)
I've been sitting here, putting off sleep by clicking on my random Blogspot & Blogging Brits links. Its been quite interesting - you just never know what you're going to be getting, in terms of quality and style. And its a very handy way of learning to speak new languages badly.
Most recently its led me to Sensitive Light, a photoblog including some powerful evocative photography. I especially liked the entry for The Field - I love to breathe this sort of landscape into myself so deeply whilst walking in the countryside. I'm so lucky to be a part of this green and pleasant mid-land. (Sigh!)
(Happy Birthday To Stu) x 2, HB Dear Stuart (1st line repeat)
May I wish my dear Sub-Editor Stu some Big Birthday Felicitations. I can't remember if the big day was today or tomorrow, but considering that he doesn't have internet access away from work, and for all I know he may be on holiday until the new year anyway, and even if by any remote chance he's discovered a net-ready computer hidden under the sink he's probably going to be too busy galavanting in his inimitably hedonistic styley to notice this sorry excuse of a birthday-card-replacement...
Oh, and Happy Birthday to J, spouse of DJ Tim, the day before my Auntie Lil's birthday (also some religious festival of some sort), and two days after my very own annual acknowledgment of ageing. Raise your glasses... repeatedly...
Just thinking 'bout lurve. (Feeling calm and collected now, in a tipsy kind of way.)
In the old days when I was young, when the internet was web-less and full of gophers, people'd actually write letters. Draw pictures. Write poems. Inscribe their affections in all sorts of embarrassing ways.
Nowadays we do it with email. We throw out our emotions by text.
Its not quite the same. Whilst out "forefathers" would have created permanent little literary works of art to be boxed away and treasured, special things to be sifted through every now and then, today we might shove a bunch of files on a CD-ROM if we're lucky. Or print it off, leaving our love-letters looking like works of work.
Now I don't wanna diss the digital age, but maybe we should get back to basics a bit in this area. (By "we I mean "I").
Maybe the digital age just hasn't evolved enough for dim-wits like me to easily cast our feelings in silicon.
Nothing can stop me now...
... cos I don't care anymore.
Not strictly true.
(Current titled Playlist: live stuff from Nine Inch Nails on "And All That Could Have Been" - a big improvement on the last few days purely internal mix of tunes from the popular Lemmings computer game, "Rock Me Amadeus" by the popular dead Austrian gentleman Falco, and "Be Faithful" by popular fat man Fatman Scoop feat Crooklyn Clan.)
I sat down tonight to vent some anger on this blog. I hardly ever write here as a cathartic experience - I kind of keep this blog quarantined away from a lot of me - but tonight was going to be your chance, loyal reader(s), to see the placid Starbuck blow a gasket (whatever one of those may be).
The pain of people close to me, mixed in with the impotence I feel when faced with the frustratingly messed-up wider world just out of my immediate reach, and shaken up with a bottle of Bowmore Scotch - aaargh! - I was practically going to puke angst all over your monitor.
But alas, dandys and wenches, being connected to you in electronic-spirit has eased my would-be-soul, and you will hopefully have a long wait before this blog strays from its mission (promoting the band Viper Squad Ten) into purely self-indulgent territory. Whaddya mean its already happened...
I used to write god-awful poems as a cathartic experience. Glad none of that's in cyberspace.
I also used to spend hours drawing my emotions. But now I've found a better way - let Google picture it for you - with Google Images definition of "anger". Thanks, Google.
Testosterolympics (anyone disgusted by bodily emissions - passing Victorians etc - should just skip to the next item)
As the Winter break gets closer and closer, my excitement is building up like anything.
Though my excitement's obviously not building up to levels nearly as dangerous as those of the students in the University Library where I'm working...
I've noticed some shocking residues in the gents toilets.
Whilst sitting there today, dropping the kids off at the pool, laying a cable, etc, I was boredly studying my surroundings.
A few feet from the top of the cubicle door, someone had scrawled some grafiti, embellished with a spot of tippex for effect. I strained to read it (urr, strained my eyes - not, urm, my bowels. heh! hmm. sorry.)
It read "Now that's magic", an obvious but oblique reference to no-hair TV Magic Yorkshireman and Wizbit-creator, Paul Daniels. That's strange, I thought. Strange but strangely amusing.
I then noticed that there was a faint arrow drawn pointing from the writing to a seemingly blank bit of the door.
Seemingly blank. Because, as I looked closer, I noticed the faint dried snail-trail of what I could only imagine to be "gentleman's DNA" streaking down from the tip of the arrow.
It could've been worse. It didn't elicit revulsion in me as it might in a lot of people - I've got a strong aversion to the disgust reflex. I just thought - "Oh; its not as bad as a dirty-protest", and my overactive imagination started working on what that'd look like instead. Nice.
And then I realised, looking around, that, all around me, the walls were daubed with endless tell-tale DNA fingerprints. I was in the temple of man goo, but I was worshipping the wrong god. Thankfully no fresh offerings were apparent.
This, my friends, is the down-side of working in a building which is the focus of boredom for testosterone-drenched students. Not nice.
But still, it was mightily impressive - the "magic" shot's splashdown must've been a good 6 foot in height. (Cue some downmarket comment about Paul Daniels being in the cubicle with the Lovely Debbie McGee which would frankly be beyond this blogs pristine standards of taste and decency. CUT!)
The end of canned chopped and pressed pork products in my diet?
I've noticed that over the last few days my many Hotmail accounts have been receiving much less junk mail, so I thought I'd head over to the webmail site to see if there's been any massive breakthroughs in the fight against spam. I normally use Outlook Express to read my hotmail, so I hadn't noticed the latest changes to the Hotmail website. I must say there's a few progressions that have impressed me. (This is probably ancient news to anyone out there who cares, and boring with it, but please humour me. I care about this stuff. Sadly. In fact, scrub that - go and make a cup of tea, and press Page-Down a few times. Still reading? OK, you deserve this. Try not to fall asleep at the keyboard.)
Mostly, the fact that, further than just blocking addresses or domains which rain down a torrent of the unwanted meaty stuff onto you, is the fact that you can now specifically report junk mail at the same time as you block the buggers.
Being able to import my bulging Windows address book into Hotmail itself is a bonus, in junk-mail prevention terms at least. However the greenback-hungry powers-that-be at Micro$oft will surely act to remove OE-compatability before too long as they phase it out - maybe that's why they're ensuring we import our contacts in readiness (to be cynical). If they do, then gadzooks! The swines! I will finally have the motive to switch to a more secure free email client instead.
Incidentally, as well as receiving less junk mail, I've been receiving a helluvalot less "normal" emails. I hope this is just due to some unthinking slight to my friends that I may have committed, rather than Hotmail zapping all their emails at emergence...
Isn't the problem with the world, and this very much includes his aggressive sabre-rattling brand of conservatism, the problem of being people being ruled by their emotions rather than actually bothering to think about the matters in hand. These people who are controlled by their selfishness, their self-regard, their beliefs, their anger - these BARBARIANS - the world doesn't need them as politicians. Unfortunately, the inhabitants of this selfish, scared, jealous, brainwashed world think they need them, they think they WANT them as their politicans. Christ, the developed world makes me despair. And that's nothing compared to the poor sods living in the DEVELOPING world.
Anyway, why I started this rant, was just to say this - isn't the death penalty an easy way out? End it all in an instant - pull the plug on the mind, end all suffering the way we end a sick dog's life? Surely that'd be doing him a favour? Or keep him locked up for evermore, take away his freedom, and make him suffer within the confines of his own mind until he takes his naturally-final breath?
Please take a few minutes to read this. It’s VERY important.
There are five contenders for Christmas number one. They are:
Darkness (who along with me had not spotted that the title is a crap joke on “bell end” – doh!
Ozzy and Kelly Osbourne
Mad World from Donnie Darko
It’s obvious who’ll win right? WRONG. As of yesterday, the single is FIFTH place was POP IDOL! Now, this goes to show that we can stop this happening. If they get it, it will be a travesty, particularly after the vote on Saturday – YOU PEOPLE DESERVE TO HAVE YOUR FINGERS CUT OFF – THAT WILL STOP YOU INTERACTIVELY VOTING FROM YOUR COUNCIL HOUSE SOFAS!
Anyway, I digress. The leader was the darkness, but Mad World was up there (2nd or 3rd I think).
So, I implore you – get out there and buy something NOT Idol. If you can’t bear irony free unreconstructed metal arse, buy Mad World. Beautiful song. This isn’t a dream; this could really happen. But it will need YOU to do so.
And one other thing – never, ever, refer to Christmas as “Chrimbo”. It drives me bloody mad.
Its reassuring to know that news broadcasters have got their fingers fully on the anatomical pulse - I glean from THIS NEWS STORY from WhioTV.com that men are more likely to suffer from prostate cancer than women. I suspect this may have something to do with the fact that mens' bodies are more likely to house the prostate gland than womens' bodies...
UPDATE - as pointed out by Stuart Bridgett Jones in the post's Comments, they've only gone and changed the bleedin' headline to something more sensible. I hate the web's malleability at times.
#Bits and pieces, bits and pieces#
I'm just catching up on some valuable reading-time for my old favourite blogs that are sitting in the links list over there on the right, something I don't get nearly enough time to do. And as a generous service for you, my humble reader, here's a few tasty blog morsels that I've been enjoying suckling on recently.
And then there's Psychopong v1.0, which has left me in no end of trouble with the previously simple task of negotiating my computer screen. In the words of The Prodigy - "My brain is glowing. Waaaaah.". Now I know how disorientated Neo&Co must've felt post brain-retrain. Brilliantly simple (just like Keanu). Yet another link stolen from The One Known As Tam - thanks. But no thanks as well, as I've had to rewrite this fracking piece three times now, due to the necessary installation of a newer version of the Shockwave Player plugin callously steering my browser away from the Blogger website. Again. ANGER! And FRUSTRATION! DESPAIR!
So there you go. The whole gamut of emotions, the full human experience, covered in a few blog links. Don't say this website doesn't fulfil your every requirement for emotional sustenance.
Viper Squad confusion
 (still rambling on about Kill Bill...)
Please don't get us confused with the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad - I've got no beef with anyone (apart from Burger King), and I don't really want to be eliminated. And as far as I know, they're not going to be revealed to be a time-travelling musical combo in Volume 2 (though after From Dusk Til Dawn's big twist, I wouldn't put it past Tarantino).
And likewise, don't confuse me with Lieutenant Starbuck, the best damn Viper pilot in the Galactica fleet.
I'm also not a DJ (tried it, shite at it), or part of an online Quake (or something) clan - my one attempt at playing Quake 3 Team Arena online involved my character Bait standing motionless in the corner, handicapped by a woeful connection, being fragged and taunted in equal measures.
All these other Viper Squad chancers, littering the web with their data - give it up, it's over. THERE IS ONLY ONE TRUE VIPER SQUAD!
But if you can't be bothered to read that, here's a load of my own rambling bollox on the subject:
Achingly evocative imagery at times, both visually and aurally, the film succesfully blends together the disparate ingredients of the spaghetti western and asian martial arts genres with a healthy dose of the modern, creating an extremely satisfying and unique piece of unique film-making. And the beautiful single-frame camera shot sweeping throughout the House Of Blue Leaves, pumping up the tension before the climactic burlier-than-burly brawl, frankly made me whimper. And that was before the severed limbs started flying.
The third chapter, The Origin of O-Ren Ishii, was Starbuck's favourite - a searingly brutal piece of Japanese anime that had me hiding my eyes from the screen. Quite upsetting! I'd been expecting it to be a case of Tarantino putting in an animated sequence just for the sake of it, but it slotted in perfectly - the circumstances of the oration of O-Ren's transformation into the killer Cottonmouth fully justified it's inclusion cinematically. In fact, all films should be made this way. Especially ones with Jim Carey's oh-so-punchable face in them.
One thought which kept reoccurring watching the film - it was so much like a contemporary video game. The scene above Hattori Hanzo's shop in Chapter 4 ("The Man From Okinawa", fact-fans), felt straight out of Final Fantasy VII! Which wasn't a problem - I found it quite beautiful. Likewise the occasionally-corny dialogue, which sometimes felt like a poor translation from Japanese - it felt totally appropriate. (Somehow, Tarrantino's normal sharp witty dialogue would've looked out of place here.) And you couldn't get more video-game in structure than the concept of one individual facing up to a procession of Boss enemy battles. I look forward to The Bride's final encounter with Sephiroth next year...
(Review breaks down as a pointless and stupid metaphor gets out of hand)
Further to my premature reports earlier in the month of its demise, Blogshares, "the fantasy stock market for weblogs", is once again up and running and under new management. So any no-life geeks out there who wanna make my line-graph curve upwards, get trading.
Haircut 100 Peaks Bomb-track
Phew! Just returned intact from another stressful trip to the Barbers. I didn't look in the mirror once whilst the bloke was hacking away at my hair, and I've still not checked it out, having returned home - I seem to have a slight haircut neurosis going on.
Sitting in The Chair, watching the flecks of grey and black fall onto the blanket wrapped around my neck, I came to the realisation that I am a lot less grey than I was whilst living in London. I'm sure that my head used to be the epicentre of a blizzard of white when the Discount Barbers on Greater Russell Street set their clippers on it.
Maybe its that the (admittedly low-level) tensile strains running through the bedrock of my life have been well-lubricated by me having settled down to become a domestic god.
Or maybe its the removal of that low-level anxiety generated by the prospect of being unknowingly dirty-bombed on the Tube.
Or maybe all of the grey hairs have fallen out due to old-age, damn them.
Although I'm not ruling out the possibility of a reversal of the Leland Palmer syndrome (lawyer in the town of Twin Peaks, Washington) - having moved away from a possibly haunted house in Stockwell (well, I certainly heard bumps in the night, didn't I Gill?!), my possession by murderous spirits has ceased, and my hair has changed from white to brown. Coincidence? I think not.
I've somewhat lost the joys of winter tonight. I've got cold feet and a runny nose. Not even The Darkness' Christmas single, whirring away on my internal Christmas jukebox, can extricate from my self that longing for those long, hot summers days.
Not helping tonight is that our house's radiators seem to need a good weeks notice of any particularly cold snap (note: exageration) - they're like some momentum-dragged oil tanker (sort of) - they take hours to get going in the first place, but once they're firing away full steam, you can't cool the buggers down for love nor money (not that I've tried love nor money on them). Maybe I shouldn't have turned them right down just as the country freezes-over.
I think a trip to the cinema would warm my cockles up. Yes. A trip to the Coventry Skydome to see a nice romantic chick-flick with my loved-one. Something cosy, I think. Something nice. Something like Kill Bill Volume 1.... I'm off.
'Tective man he say, say Daddy Me Snow me stab someone down the lane, A licky boom-boom down
I meant to link to this yesterday, but Blogger wasn't working. Bah humbug.
But, as the weather in Britain turns to the frostier side, I want to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas (and I don't mean the birth of Santa Claus, (c) Bart Simpson).
It's snow, man. It gives me that fluttery feeling in the stomach - a thousand carols and stories crystallised with wintery magic in my childhood, and still all it takes is a bit of frozen water and I drift off to a better place.
So it was with great excitement that I made my first few cyberspatial paper snowflakes over at Make-a-Flake, a flash recreation of those folded-paper-&-scissors snowflakes that they forced us to make at nursery school. Unexpectedly magical. For a bit. And then you can download your flake and cut around it on your own paper, if you want to defeat the whole object of the exercise.
You do something that they don't agree with - trying to print off a simple sheet of address labels, for example, and all hell breaks loose (last night's feast of frack-ups - for starters, the printer control program locks up, followed by a main course comprising of a nearly-endless cascade of blue screens of death, and for desserts, an insistent and urgent-sounding warning beep emanating from my mother board (a new error for the Viper Squad machine, and one that scaled new heights of PC-terror for me when it turned into a continuous tone - was this problem deeper than bleedin' windows? - you can replace broken windows, but its a hassle having to replace the wall - don't panic, don't panic! (sorry about all these nested parentheses (bad grammar, like))))
All seems OK now, several Megs worth of discarded file fragments down the line (several Megs! - what the hell has fragmented there?)
Then there's my machine at work, which decided to scrub my carefully-placed Favourites list in a hissy fit (mid crash), only to replace the links with a load of stuff (not mine) about aromatherapy (AROMATHERAPY? wtf?)
Not to mention Microsoft Word, which has been surreptitiously inserting horizontal lines into Word documents throughout my workplace which CAN'T BE REMOVED without a lucky ONE-IN-A-THOUSAND RIGHT-CLICK - not DELETE, not BACKSPACE, with or without a combination of other key-presses - no, keep on stabbing at it for 10 minutes and you might just zap it. (Eventual simple solution - Format_AutoFormat_Options_AutoFormat As You Type_UncheckThe Bastards)
But then, how can you trust a program whose spell-checker doesn't even know how to spell the word "liaise"?
Still, at least Blogger wor.K.sssssssss*^&>?^%%$$^%>$£!$\&}~@*(& ^\^%$ &:*( % ! *() (
More bleedin' web games
OK, so Samorost didn't prove to have that much longevity after all.
However, I've just discovered (via the Favourite Website Awards) the brain-hurting Whizzball!. Rather nice - put the building blocks together to get the ball from the funnel to the target. Simple in theory, but its making me pull so much of my (already-thinning) head hair out, I can hardly get to my keyboard.
Nice touch being able to design and submit yer own puzzles, too. Starbuck likes.
(Though I'd prefer to have found a web version of 80s classic Wizball, the game that made me want to wee with adolescent excitement!)
As if I wasn't currently spending enough time enriching my already rich life within the addictive and beautiful world of the Orisinal webgames (note to sub-ed Stu: you're right, the pig-stacking game is just TOO addictive for words), or obsessing at great length over the effect of minute changes to the physical laws that govern the lives of my wire-frame Sodaplay organisms....
... the last thing that I need is a new internet toy to soak up my precious time.
So its very annoying that I've now embarked on Samorost, a beautiful point-and-click flash game. It breathes out an atmosphere akin to the more organic Oddworld moments, heavily condensed with surrealism, and thick with the mulch of intrigue. As you can probably tell, its making my head hurt. Quite a lot. Because I'm not very clever.
Take some time out of your life and give it a try. It's not full of frenetic action. But it makes me feel all funny inside (especially when you right-click-zoom your way deep in there - those little guys are so endearing!). And don't give up.
But don't blame me when you wake up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night, stuck in a mossy dream world of puzzles. It sinks its hooks deep, this one. Like a Cenobite.
UPDATE: Like most fun things in life, it ends just that bit too soon. But its still well worth your time.
What the hell's happening with the Bill and Eastenders at the moment. Its like some weird TV character exchange programme's going on. After the mass exodus of Eastenders to the Bill - Mark Fowler, Michael Rose, that one who was married to Terry wotsisface the Italian from 'Allo 'Allo - I was shocked to tonight see PC Dave Quinnan, infiltrating Albert Square for the Metropolitan Police undercover unit. Not very fracking undercover - doesn't the berk know that video feeds of this place are sent to BBC1 four-times weekly?
I'm not looking forward to the experience. Not one bit. (The shopping, not christmas, which will be stupendous, sort of.)
However, there is a glittery halo of hope sitting atop the hell of christmas shopping - I might get to do a bit of tourisme français whilst I'm out there
For those not wired into the latest news from the heart of England, we've only gone and bought a big carousel wheel - The Wheel Of Birmingham - from the French. Complete with commentary about its supposedly Parisienne surroundings. Which they can't turn off. Centenary Square will never seem the same again.
Monsieur Bricolage, With Zese Blogshares You Were Really Spoiling Us
 Blogshares - a fine example of do-it-yourself bedroom coding - has finished trading. Seyed Razavi has had to close it down to to time (and subsequent financial) constraints. A shame - it showed just how far hobbiest website designers could push a good original idea right into a culture's psyche, in this case the hive-mind of the denizens of the blogosphere.
Although for me, not having the time or intelligence to actually play the game, it was mostly an interesting way of watching a VSX-related line wiggle across a graph.
By way of recompensation, I'm going to submit myself to an intensive piece of interrogation that she's emailed at me. Its actually one of those annoying little quizes that bloggers seem to like. But rather than the Friday Five, this is going to be The Monday Mundanity. Or something equally witty.
Anyone not interested just click HERE to skip straight over to my LotR post. That's the lot of you, then.
EVER a.. Ever been so drunk you blacked out: Yes, too many times. I prefer to call it sleep.
b.. Put a body part on fire for amusement: I used to set fire to my hair at regular intervals. DJ Tim used to help.
c.. Kept a secret from everyone: Yes.
d.. Wanted to hook up with a friend : Yes, and I'm living with her now!
e.. Ever thought an animated character was hot?: What heterosexual male can't have fancied Jessica Rabbit?
f.. Had a New Kids on the Block tape: No NKOTB in my history. Mel and Kim in their place.
g.. Been on stage: Yup, was hypnotised by Derren Brown, and was a regular Gang Show-er with the Cub Scouts (not Gary Glitter).
FAVOURITES a.. Shampoo: Tesco's "Revitalize" Head & Shoulders rip-off
b.. Soap: Tesco's Value 4 for 22p
c.. Colour: Lilac
d.. Day/Night: Night and Day, the TV show
e.. Summer/Winter: What about flicking Autumn?
f.. Lace or satin: This is all a bit girly, innit?
g.. Fave TV series: East3nders, Robot Wars (heh!), Room 101
h.. Fave Food: Stir-fried beansprouts & potatoes with lashings of soy sauce
i.. Fave Advert: R Whites Lemonade
j.. Fave Movie : Fight Club
RIGHT NOW k.. Wearing: green shirt, blue tie, black trousers, blue badge
l.. Eating: Pizza (in 5 minutes)
m.. Hair is: Short in all the wrong places, too long in others at present
n.. Drinking: Water
o.. Thinking about: Why I started this stoopid quiz
p.. Listening to: Radiohead - Hail To The Thief
q.. Talking to : You
THE LAST 24 HRS This sections just too boring for words. Cut.
DO YOU BELIEVE IN a.. Yourself: Yes, like Mr C from the Shamen
b onwards.. Another rubbish section - I believe in science and the power of humanity to overcome it's weaknesses. One day. Not ghosts. Or angels.
One thing that I really miss nowadays at the end of the working day, living in the Midlands as opposed to London, is excitedly checking the Live Travel News for the Tube come home-time. It became a real ritual for me - at the end of the day, fire up the website, decide on which would likely be the least-disrupted underground route from Kings Cross to Stockwell, or whether the gods of commution have determined that I might as well just go down the pub for a few hours. I carried on with my travel-news ritual even when I'd progressed to my bus-journey-home-isn't-it-beautiful phase, just because of the excitement response it innervated. Hell, it still works - right now I'm heading out of the building filled with adrenaline, my route unhindered by security alerts. Just by congestion.