Viper Squad Ten
We're from the future. And we're stuck....
......VSX......                                                                                                              ......Been a little bit quiet lately......                                                                                                                                                                    

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...

Sometimes guest editors: Mr Stu and DJ Tim.

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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...

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[ Saturday, January 31, 2004 ]

I believe in the BBC
Starbuck [17:47] Comments: 0 []
What with all the excitement and "niceness" of the last few days, my spleen has not been filling up with as much blood dust as it should. The build-up of news-related anger on a week like this would normally have caused a good proportion of my erythrocytes to disintegrate, meriting much venting of spleen. But I'm just too mellow.

So without getting too involved, here's a token my solidarity with the BBC, and click-through to show yours...
Click here to find out why.

(From Bloggerheads, link seen at CyberSatan.)

[ Friday, January 30, 2004 ]

Stuart [14:36] Comments: 0 []
Wow, this blog has become a One-like statistical anomoly! Rather than being written by emotionally illiterate wierdos, all three contributors are in a state of hitched or semi-hitchedness! Ain't it the most wonderful feeling? You'll remember that face for the rest of your born days (he says, with less than a year's worth of memories himself) I won't go over my proposal scenario, but it was not dissimilar to yours, minus the snow.

Just don't get married on 18th Spetember, okay?

Perhaps you could celebrate by going to this to celebrate?

You're a lovely, romantic, beautiful person and i wish you both every happiness, in a rare display of sincerity.

[ Thursday, January 29, 2004 ]

An answer to the big question...
Starbuck [20:12] Comments: 0 []
Recap: HERE.

Result: She said yes!

I kept a strong head. My usual stream of nonsense splurged out of my mouth for a few hours in Pizza Express, which seemed to keep the lady amused. For the record, by the end of the meal my belly contained tonne e fagioli, a Prince Carlo pizza, some Frascati Fontana Candida wine, and a chocolate bombe thingey.

I decided not to cause a stir in the restaurant by asking her there and then, as I couldn't handle the thought of it either turning out like in a cliched rom-com - other patrons cheering & clapping - or the exact opposite - total silence coupled with some funny looks.

So I suggested that we went for a walk in the snow. We played around in the old band-stand for what seemed an age, skidding in circles across the ice. We hugged on the bridge over the river to keep warm. We marvelled at the beauty of the snow-caked trees.

We talked about how happy we were, how perfect this all was. And I told her that there was just one thing that would make it more perfect... if she would agree to marry me. She looked excited, then concerned, and told me to say so right away if this was just a joke. I said, fumbling in my coat pocket, that I was deadly serious. BUT I COULDN'T FIND THE RING! Possibilities flashed through my mind... either it was left in Pizza Express or it was back at home, and how it wasn't meant to be like this, and what if I'd lost it - this was special, this was a family heirloom. But then, buried under a glove, I found it.

Down on one knee, not noticing the cold, I asked her if she would be my wife, and presented the box. She opened it, a beautiful look of joy and happiness etched across her face. A look that I will never forget. Beautiful and peaceful. She said yes, tears in her eyes.

And I knew that I had done the right thing...

[ Wednesday, January 28, 2004 ]

Starbuck's marry-time adventure
Starbuck [19:21] Comments: 0 []
Well, my years of Sega Rally 2 addiction have paid off, as I powerslide across glassy roads of ice, and plow through drifts of crunchy snow. My aim - to get home as fast as my little Peugeot could take me.

The reason for such reckless motoring abandon?

I have something very special to give to my girlfriend. (No, not that!)

Something I've been wanting to ask her for a long time.

Something that'll bring us even closer. Something exciting.

A clue for anyone who knows the one whom DJ Tim monickered "LL" ("Little/lovely L")... next time you see her, look at her ring. (No, not that ring! What's wrong with you people?)

If on the very off-chance anyone who knows her reads this beforehand, please keep schtum until I give the word. Its still a secret...

My visceral nervous system is feeling that extreme-excitement-nervousness-sensation. Butterflies in the tummy and that. But lovely, big, beautiful, joyous butterflies, rather than crappy dust-enshrouded moths.

So in a few minutes we're off to Pizza Express, that least romantic of places in which to ask someone to marry you. (Y'see, it was a Pizza Express where we both realised that we couldn't keep our feelings for each other from showing, where we both saw that we were more than just friends...)

So I type as I wait for her to come downstairs. C'mon, woman, how longs it take to get ready? (Pah - I'm getting that most-married bad attitude all ready!)

Wish me luck...

[ Tuesday, January 27, 2004 ]

Second-hand links
Starbuck [19:37] Comments: 0 []
A cut above the usual What Blah-Blah Character Are You web quiz meme is What Pre 1985 Video Game Character Am I?. Very accurate....

What Video Game Character Are You? I am a Thrust-ship.I am a Thrust-ship.

I am small and tricky - where you think I am, I probably am not. I can work very fast, but I tend to go about things in a round about way, which often leaves me effectively standing still. I hate rocks. Bloody rocks.

Thanks to Billy for the link.

Top-Up Fees
Starbuck [19:28] Comments: 0 []
I have a vague opinion on this oh-so-important matter, but its just too complicated for me to coalesce into a stream of thoughts. So go and read what Astolath has to say, as he can always put these things better than me.

I must say that I'm pleased that the Tories haven't been blessed with this issue as ammunition. But I'm sad that Blair will use the vote as further endorsement for his style of "socialism".

[ Monday, January 26, 2004 ]

I'm a celebrity lookalike get me out of here
Starbuck [23:42] Comments: 0 []
So I guess you want me to write something insightful about the new series of I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, knowing that its just the sort of crud-fritter that I dip myself into and leave to gently fondue for a fortnight.

Urm, okay. Fair enough. Erm... John Lydon looks... just... like... Paul "former Dennis Pennis" Kaye. OK, its late. Forgive me for my lack of poetic expression. Or imagination. I think the sight of Kerry "too-neurotic-for-Atomic-Kitten" McFadden and Peter "vanker" Andre breathing the same airtime has burnt all the goodness out of my brain. Big-chested oxygen thieves, the both of them. Burn Australia Burn and all that. But only the bit of rainforest with them in it.

Talking about piss-poor lookalikes, did I ever mention the incredible similarity of Gollum to Albert Steptoe? Quite remarkable. Especially when they smile. Peter Jackson did well to overcome that misfortune of genetic conincidence.
Sam and Gollum

Some people have said that I look like Dan Ackroyd or Tom Hanks. They were wrong. They now regret it. They no longer express such falsehoods. They no longer express full stop. Good night to them. And to you, my precious.

[ Sunday, January 25, 2004 ]

Slightly queezy...
Starbuck [20:32] Comments: 0 []
Well, yesterday was my cousin Claire's wedding, and the family made the trip up north for the occasion. A very nice wedding in East Markham (click HERE for all your wedding needs) was followed by the reception at Ye Olde Bell Hotel, "near the legendary Sherwood forest", where I became closely acquainted with a number of bottles of wine...

I don't know what's worse. The (informed) knowledge that I was frantically shaking my rump around the dance floor to the sounds of S Club Seven, or the stinking hangover that has blighted today...

Still, not the worst hangover of my life. Any vomiting was safely confined to the porcelain altar. Not like the time I woke up after my girlfriend's 30th birthday, to find we were sharing the bed with a third entity, one that was purple and acidic, one that had refused to be held captive within the confines of my stomach. THAT was a hangover from hell. Good job the future mother-in-law had already known me for years... vommed-in bed = not nice.

And the time that I woke up on the floor of DJ Tim & J's Thameside Central London pad, midway through the afternoon, unable to talk or move, and convinced I'd damaged myself irreparably. That was scary. I must be more careful. As I get older, I don't feel the "need" to push these things as far, but they do knock me about more afterwards.

Still, a fine day yesterday. And according to my elderly grandma, we were quite fortunate to be in the right place. "Did you know Claire & Paul would be getting married when we got here?" Bless her.

[ Friday, January 23, 2004 ]

Site news
Starbuck [18:05] Comments: 0 []
We are still suffering from the double-banner ad problem. Many thanks to Tam for emailing me her suggestions on how to resolve it ("table{display: none} in the style tags"). It certainly gets rid of the ads... as well as the rest of the page's contents. So an improvement for the readers then, but one that I'm not willing to make.

Where's my web design guru DJ Tim when I need him? He's not been seen around these parts for a while. He's in bleedin' LA, that's where, no doubt sunning his lilly-white hide. The get! If I'm not careful, I'm going to have to integrate myself with the modern era and learn some html...

Still, no time to blog right now... I've got family matters to attend to. Birthdays, weddings etc.

But just one last thing. A message to Psychological Illusionist Derren Brown. Stop stalking me! I've been watching your arrivals at this site from Google's Backward Links to your site. I still intend to reveal all, so its no use trying to freak me out. I am no longer under your control. Master.

[ Wednesday, January 21, 2004 ]

Beadle, Kelly, Kelly, Kennedy & Lee - Lords of Darkness
Starbuck [22:24] Comments: 0 []
Any MTV-watching Brit readers old enough to remember Eighties TV Monstrosity Game For A Laugh may be suffering from the same hellish malapropism (wrong word) as myself...

Whenever I hear The Darkness sing "Touching you touching me, touching you god you're touching me", that evil entity within my mind that likes to torment the rest of me dubs over the lyrics, in the style of small-hand prankster Jeremy Beadle, creepily stating his intent to be "Watching you watching us, watching us watching you"...

I hope to God you don't empathise, for your sanity's sake.

Not to be used whilst driving or operating heavy machinery
Starbuck [22:02] Comments: 0 []
Slotted into my car's CD player at the moment - DJ Shadow's Endtroducing. My God its good. Perfect driving music. Perfect headphone music. Perfect dinner-party music. Perfect party-party music. Perfect for all situations when you want some, erm, perfect music. (Sod it, I haven't got enough mental strength tonight to wax lyrical about this wonderful collage of wax - it deserves more justice than I can provide; there's a good chance you've got it anyway if you're a music lover, but if not, go and read some of the reviews on Amazon...)

Anyway, I take back my "perfect driving music" comment - its too immersive for that. If you're a "air-instrument" prat like me, at least. I was all over the flicking road tonight, doing my "air decks" with the steering wheel. Not good.

For something that was so built out of the layers of other artists' work (it was listed in the 2001 Guinness World Records book for First Completely Sampled Album - there's apparently more than 1000 of them!), its interesting to hear the influence its had on later stuff from David Holmes, Dust Brothers, Oil Experts, etc.

Talking of samples, I was wanting to link to a site at this point with a complete list of Endtroducing samples. But I can't. There apparently is/has been one on the net maintained by Michael "DOP" Lane, but he kept changing the URL for legal reasons, and to prevent people like me linking to it. I'm giving up, as I need to get off this machine to visit the urination station tout suite.

And, talking of Oil Experts, you probably won't have heard of them, but at one point they were the best band in Bristol (a city well-renowned for harbouring Massive Attack, Tricky, Portishead and the like). But I would say that, 'cos they were mates of mine at a place where I was working at the time. Favourite (if a little shambolic) OE moment - Pete (decks) storming off due to problems with his monitors, closely followed by Alex (vocals/samplers), leaving Ger (bass) & Nat (drums) jamming alone together for several long minutes in the desperate hope that their fellow musicians would return to save them...
Not wanting to mince my words, they were fantabulous. Fricking fantabulous.

Just remember, kids. Music is the human animal's expression of it's self-awareness. So burn those Gareth Gates CD's.

[ Tuesday, January 20, 2004 ]

Shameless on Channel 4...
Starbuck [23:13] Comments: 0 []
... mad for it!

"Wildlife is wonderful. We don’t need any other excuse to protect it."
Starbuck [21:53] Comments: 0 []
As I my fingertips play across my keyboard tonight, I'm still very much riding the crest of pure loved-up adrenaline.

So there's no time to enrich your lives with my musings, and unfortunately there's no time to harvest the encoded thoughts and feelings of my contemporaries in electronic communication. 'Cos I want to go and cuddle my girlfriend.

Instead I just want to guide you in the direction of THIS ARTICLE by George Monbiot that I dug out over the weekend from my sub-bed pile of Guardian newspapers ("Natural aesthetes")

Here's a chunk of it's wisdom for you all, which I would have written myself had I been eloquent (or erudite, to use a word I've never used before). I wish we could all understand the world a little better. The reverse-entropy thing has always made so much sense to me. I guess its forged me into the strong humane individual that I arrogantly insist I am (and I am always right etc etc etc). If more people understood the true meaning life, then perhaps we wouldn't be in such a messed-up place. Anyway, enough of me.

"It is surely sufficient to say that wildlife should be preserved because it is wonderful.

But, somehow, most conservationists can't quite bring themselves to do so. Even those who admit that they want to protect it because they love it can't leave it at that, but insist on seeking some higher justification. It used to be God; now they claim to be acting for "the sake of the planet" or "the ecosystem" or "the future".

As far as the planet is concerned, it is not concerned. It is a lump of rock. It is inhabited by clumps of self-replicating molecules we call lifeforms, whose purpose is to reverse entropy for as long as possible, by capturing energy from the sun or other lifeforms. The ecosystem is simply the flow of captured energy between these lifeforms. It has no values, no wishes, no demands. It neither offers nor recognises cruelty and kindness.

Like other lifeforms, we exist only to replicate ourselves. We have become so complex only because that enables us to steal more energy. One day, natural selection will shake us off the planet. Our works won't even be forgotten. There will be nothing capable of remembering.

But a curious component of our complexity is that, in common with other complex forms, we have evolved a capacity for suffering. We suffer when the world becomes a less pleasant and fascinating place. We suffer because we perceive the suffering of others.

It appears to me that the only higher purpose we could possibly possess is to seek to relieve suffering: our own and that of other people and other animals. This is surely sufficient cause for any project we might attempt. It is sufficient cause for the protection of fine art or rare books. It is sufficient cause for the protection of rare wildlife.

Biodiversity, in other words, matters because it matters. If we are to protect wildlife, we must do it for ourselves. We need not pretend that anything else is bidding us to do so. We need not pretend that anyone depends upon the king protea or the golden toad or the silky sifaka for their survival. But we can say that, as far as we are concerned, the world would be a poorer place without them."

[ Monday, January 19, 2004 ]

# We saw shadows of the morning light, the shadows of the evening sun, til the shadows and the light were one #
Starbuck [21:38] Comments: 0 []
Everything seems so beautiful at the moment.

Last night I found myself sitting entranced in front of a large candle in the flickering near-darkness of our bedroom. I must've been squatting there, entranced, unmoving, for a good quarter of an hour. Mesmerised by that flame, filling every corner of my conciousness, I could've been a moth, hypnotised by the totality of the light source. Gazing into the crater of wax, I was lost in the surface of the sun; specks of the carbonised wick - lost fragments trapped in the perpetual cycle of convection currents - were being thrown out from the centre across the surface of the molten pool from the flame, before being pulled down and dragged back to the centre. Then extinguishing the flame, and staring, prone, up at the vaults of the heavens above.

"I prepared the room tonight with christmas lights
a city of candles
fresh sheets
we are all full of dense clouds that have a soul."

On a walk some hours earlier we took a lane that was new to us, just five minutes from the house. Without warning, we had entered another world, an expanse of unspoilt countryside, an unexpected valley protected from the town by hillside and golf course. A world dotted with pretty farm-houses and woodland spinneys, a world without proper roads, where horse-back and shanks's pony were still the main modus operandi for travellers. Time-travel is possible.

And later, the finest sunset I have ever seen, from a perfect hill-top vantage point. Deeply purple against the dark silhouette of the town, the clouds rippled above like glaciers.

As I say, everything seems so beautiful at the moment. I'd even say that I'm beautiful myself!

But nothing's beautiful compared to my girl.

Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit, Hutch
Stuart [11:00] Comments: 0 []
Welcome back to comments! However, what I have to say, in response to, or by way of comment on, the last few posts may take a while, and as I have The Power to post on my own account, I thought that I should use it.

In no particular order – I have cut out the middle man, and chosen to go back to the Source as regards old games. There is a story behind this of sorts, as my betrothed, Kathryn (by way of soap-like updating for casual readers) is having an operation on her foot in a few weeks time and will have to not move from the sofa for three weeks. After much joking between ourselves about me being able to easily fill my time if I found myself in the same predicament, we hit upon the chief reason why (beyond the obvious, but too naughty to mention, activity) – that reason obviously being Playstation.

The problem is that K is not very good at games that operate within the 3 dimensional sphere. She always liked Sonic as it was 2D. While Sega have sold their souls to Nintendo and re-released all the classic Sonics for the Gamecube, they haven’t done that for PS2. So, the question was thus: do I buy K a Gamecube (rrp £70), a Gameboy Advance (rrp more) or hit Ebay and buy a megadrive II, with Sonic 2, for fifteen quid? The choice was a simple one. We now have some more black plastic under the television. If only I could now pick up a copy of (Starbuck – insert here – Galactic Troopers? Or any number of permutations on galactic, space, etc and soldier, trooper, commander, etc etc) – officially the first game I ever finished. In Starbuck’s bedroom in Bristol, ahhhh…

ANYWAY, as to the comment about teh dearth of new ideas and the question about original games; I give you Rez. Completely derivative of the old wire frame fellas, but original insofar as no one else has done it, with the attendant musicy bit. And what about Herdy Gerdy? Name some other herding games. And Britney’s Dance Beat. I rest my case.

Next subject – films. Seen two recently that have really disappointed, and not lived up to (in my mind at least) the hype heaped upon them – Igby Goes Down, and Buffalo Soldiers. Both just okay, not nearly as good as everyone said. So there.

And then watched a film that got a small release, and sunk without much of a trace, which was great – Bandits, starring Bruce Willis (I know, but he’s good) Cate Blanchett and Billy Bob Thornton, who plays a very good hypochondriac bank robber. Well worth a watch.

As to the Faculty – I was amazed (well not amazed, surprised) to see that it was directed by Robert Rodriguez. I think the man is brilliant. Anyone who thinks the Spy Kids films are for kids, watch them and see the error of your ways. Famke Janssen – mmmm – even with a tentacley head.

Lastly, I have to share with the world the very funny poster for what promises to be the greatest film ever made -

[ Image removed ] - the Starsky & Hutch movie poster image link at has now died, goddamnit.

[ Saturday, January 17, 2004 ]

American Ring Files. Or something.
Starbuck [23:49] Comments: 0 []
I am currently watching The Faculty as I type.

Maybe I'm a tad tipsy as I sit here alone, getting more unnecessarily wined-up in front of the telly than I would otherwise, my girlfriend being away visiting friends for the night...

... however, I just can't appreciate the film in its own hermetically-sealed self-enclosed vacuum. Y'see, its got Frodo Baggins in it, and Stifler from American Pie, and Agent Doggett from the X-Files, amongst others... too many iconoclastic TV and movie characters, blurring their individual realities in my mind... its leaving a fantastic mish-mash of confusion in my head. And thats without even trying to watch the damn film...

Don't Panic!
Starbuck [19:51] Comments: 0 []
Now this is even more like it, you bunch of download-timid brainiacs. A Java version of Infocom's 1985 text adventure (or more aptly, their work of "interactive fiction"), Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, for playing directly within your web-browser. Sadly you can't save the bugger mid-game. But it still made me chuckle. And it's made me feel like I've forced the creation of some new neural pathways, as these old text adventures always used to do. I so clever.

Snestrum - videogame cross-fertilisation
Starbuck [19:17] Comments: 0 []
After my previous post, I am now going to further alienate (or should that be Alien 8?) anyone scraping across this web-page who happens to hold absolutely no interest in the downloading of homebrew remakes of computer games that originally appeared on now-obsolete games machines. So that'll be most of you youngsters, then.

But this one has its own special place in gaming nostalgia. Its Super Mario Pac - the bastard progeny of Ultimate and Nintendo. Using the gaming architecture and basic mechanics of the Spectrum classic Jet Pac, it replaces the sterile moon setting of the original with the characters, locations and audio effects from the SNES' Super Mario World. Mario uses "Fludd" (Super Mario Sunshine) as his jet-pac and laser replacement, and pipe pieces and plant poison replace Jet Pac's rocket sections and fuel pods.

I say that its really rather joyous, and you should all download it now (unless you don't use Windows). And remember, kids - its what I say that counts. If I say its a wonderfully playable but m?lange of 8 and sixteen bit nostalgia, then it is. Know your place, muddyfunsters.

Please Sir, I cannot tell a lie...
Starbuck [17:55] Comments: 0 []
Big thanks to Maff from Planet: Maffydoo for reminding me about Klass of 99, the home-brew remake/reinterpretation of the Spectrum classics Skool Daze / Back To Skool, available for download for Windows (& GBA!) from Skoolweb (a part of RetroSpec). I'd had troubles with getting this to work in the past - maybe it was an incomplete version, or maybe I'm just rubbish - but everything's perfect now. I'm awash with nostalgia.

Fantastic - Skool Daze. In colour. With all the joys and pain that that entails. Now if only you could change the character names like in the original... (UPDATE: You can, from the gametext.txt file - though as it turned out that my teachers included paedophiles and wife-killers amongst their numbers, I'm wary of the trauma this might cause me...)

(I never played it at the time, but next on the Download list is the legendary Head Over Heels on the good advice of Maff. (UPDATE: Woah, it is good. Very professionally done. Well done to all concerned - you're giving me premature alopecia.)

#Frigging in the rigging#
Starbuck [16:53] Comments: 0 []
I went to see Master And Commander: The Far Side Of The World on Thursday - I'd been suffocating within my head a bit, and needed some escapism. It paid back in droves - a very good film indeed. Once again Russell Crowe managed to overcome the extreme personal dislike I hold for the man, and put in another spell-binding performance.

Though pretty much all of the film's action centred on the one boat, the whole film felt majestic and expansive. The visuals, and especially the sound, put the audience right there amongst the crew on that ship, the worries of the 21st Century very much replaced by the fear and exhileration of life on a naval vessel. You ended up knowing this ship.

It was educational, too, sort of. The film swelled with interesting little details (I now know why speed is measured in "knots" - something that I've always wondered but never bothered to find out.)

But most of all, it had a parrot, some top boat-on-boat carnage, plus a Hobbit looking like Rod Hull - what more could you ask for?

Comments are back!
Starbuck [15:16] Comments: 0 []
Thanks to the wonderful people at HaloScan, despite BlogSpeak's demise, any Comments left by readers of this site have been restored, and I've got a natty new Commenting tool...

I'll very much miss the way BlogSpeak emailed me a copy of any Comments received - maybe that was their downfall, offering such a resource-draining service for free. I don't know if I'll be able to resist the temptation to upgrade my HaloScan to get the same service...

You'll be sorely missed, Harry BlogSpeak.

[ Friday, January 16, 2004 ]

Skool Daze 2000
Starbuck [19:40] Comments: 0 []
Remember Eighties Spectrum classic Skool Daze? Then, if you CLICK HERE, you might glean a smidgeon of nostalgic entertainment about how they might pitch it in these violent video-gaming times...

(From the otherwise-fantastic weekly and chucklesome games-mag, UncleClive.)

William Gibson's revised first draft Alien 3 screenplay
Starbuck [18:36] Comments: 0 []
Talking about reading, as I was in my previous post, I read this donkeys years ago, but I reckon that William Gibson's (aborted) take on the Alien movies should be worth a re-read. And you should too, if you like both Aliens and cyberpunkery.

The long weekend starts here...
Starbuck [18:17] Comments: 0 []
Friday early evening... just back from work. What a relief.

Although work-wise its not been a tough week, its still felt like the longest week of my life. Time seems to have slowed right down since my birthday in December. It feels like its grinding to a painful halt. I guess that this sort of thing is only to be expected what with the difficult events of the of the last few weeks. It seems like weeks since my grandad's funeral; it feels like months since he died... like years since that horrible morning after my birthday, when I was told what was wrong with him.

Still, now that time's slowed down, I might as well enjoy it. Its friday night. If the local space-time continuum has in fact been stretched in relation to the t-axis (something that is entirely feasible, as demonstrated by my own existence within this century - I wouldn't have been marooned here in the first place if that cursed mutually-perpendicular fourth dimension wasn't as fricking elastic as the first three), then there's twice as much beering-time to enjoy!

A bit of time-mutability would certainly help my reading habits as well. Currently awaiting reading: Half of John O'Farrell's This Is Your Life, Chuck Palahniuk's Diary, Survivor & Invisible Monsters, Tony Hawks' One Hit Wonderland, Stephen Baxter's Phase Space, Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time, Iain Banks' Dead Air, J.G. Ballard's Millennium People, John Simpson's News From No Man's Land, Michael Moore's Dude Where's My Country, Thomas Harris' Hannibal, various Office & Phoenix Nights script books, and no doubt many more trees-worth that I've forgotten about right now, plus 4 months' worth of the Guardian's G2 section (4-month old broadsheet section would perhaps be superfluous to requirements...)

Number of books I've read in the last year: 2 (including one very small one.)

[ Wednesday, January 14, 2004 ]

Blogbling gangstas
Starbuck [20:10] Comments: 0 []
I was just thinking to myself, the peer-structure of the blogging community seems to be very much analagous to that of the hip hop world.

We're always bigging each other up and showing respect to one another... we just can't help it. It makes us feel a part of something. Its our duty. It gives us the chance to showcase the skills of our "homies" (that doesn't sound quite right coming out of my white middle-class Midland-accented virtual-mouth, but frack it). It keeps the blood fresh.

Then you look at Dré, Em, 50, Obie, and assorted Doggs such as Snoop and Nate, and you see - they're doing exactly the same thing.

Albeit in a slightly classier fashion.

Time to backtrack on this one.
Maybe I shouldn't "think" so much. Or, looking back over the last 4 paragraphs of absolute drivel, maybe I should think before I allow my passing thoughts to seep into the googlenet. Gah! Let this be an example to all of you fellow bloggers. Never write for the sake of writing, just because you've got a keyboard and a half-considered notion.

[ Tuesday, January 13, 2004 ]

Starbuck [19:20] Comments: 0 []
Grumble. I boot up my blog this evening, looking forward to some hassle-free electronic escapism, and I find that BlogSpeak, my beloved Commenting tool, is up the creek sans paddle. Again.

According to Blogspeak, this is "because the bastards that host it decided to suspend my account". Its a pity, as I reckoned it to be the best of the (admitedly few) blog commenting tools I looked at when setting one up for the first time, all those months ago - no registration required, code directly generated from a single page, free forwarding of Comments to your own email address, no commenter's email address required in the field on the Comment box, and best of all, nice and nifty. Twas a pity when us Blogspeakers got infected by rogue browser-highjack scripts being spammed across the service, but hey, free web-tool construction's a learning experience, yeah?, and it did force some improvements to the service, and we're all wiser (and more cynical) about the bad apples in the cyberspace orchard, right guys?

So it pains me that it comes down to yet more desperate pleas from Harry (Blogspeak creator) for donations (of cash, bandwidth, or sanity in taking over the whole flicking service) to get the site up and running again... I totally feel for this guy, his creativity being crushed in the cogs of the corporate machine. (Unless, that is, he's actually a machiavellian web mastermind, minting it in from us gullible suckers...)

I've come to regard a blog without comments as a wholly different entity whatsoever. Inferior. Immutable. Unaccountable. And some other cold and nasty words beginning with I/U-n/m.

In Harry's words, "Thanks for your patience during this time, and I apologize for this bullshit." And you can always stick yellow Post-It notes to your monitor in the meantime, ready to hit me with a torrent of feedback when normal service is restored... or not.

14 Jan UPDATE: The Comments should be back again by the weekend, hopefully, possibly still via BlogSpeak, though possibly transferred over to Haloscan. Twould be a shame to lose BlogSpeak, but as long as I don't have to paste everything in off my original emails myself, I'm happy.

[ Monday, January 12, 2004 ]

Miss Me - But Let Me Go
Starbuck [22:18] Comments: 0 []
My Grandad's funeral service was today. If you could possibly judge a funeral or the wake to be a good experience, then I would have to say that things went as well as they possibly could. A wonderful close family experience - the "family" of more-than a hundred-strong that turned out to celebrate his life giving strength to the close-knit core o fthe family. I've spoken about my grandad before, and I don't feel I should say much more right now. But I just wanted to share with you the reading that I gave, as, whatever your own situation - whether someone you love has passed away recently, whether you or your loved ones are currently ailing, or whether you and your family are happy and strong - I feel that there's alot to be gained from these words.

Miss Me ? But Let Me Go (author: Unknown)

When I come to the end of the road
And the sun has set for me,
I want no rites in a gloom-filled room.
Why cry for a soul set free?

Miss me a little ~ but not too long
And not with your head bowed low.
Remember the love that we once shared.
Miss me ~ but let me go.

For this is a journey that we all must take
And each must go alone.
It?s all a part of the Master plan,
A step on the road to home.

When you are lonely and sick of heart,
Go to the friends we know
And bury your sorrows in doing good deeds.
Miss me ~ but let me go.

[ Sunday, January 11, 2004 ]

Hip-hop Hobbits
Starbuck [20:37] Comments: 0 []
Anyone with a passing interest in either Lord Of The Rings, popular music, or "humour", should toss their browsers in the direction of this video from Lords Of The Rhymes... top low-quality, and very fracking funny. Like a couple of humourous and hairy-footed Beastie Boys. Good work, Quickbeam and Bombadil.

Blogroll update
Starbuck [19:24] Comments: 0 []
Newly added to the "Other blogs" section is friendly male Brit NiceGuyUK, previously "shouted out" on these pages for his link to Frozen Bubble. Incidentally, web-game fans, he's also got copies of pixelInvaders and Crash Bandicoot Mini Golf on his site... yummy.

The need for speed
Starbuck [17:35] Comments: 0 []
Currently watching Speed 2 : Cruise Control, in the hope that it'd be "so bad its good".

Its not. Its so bad its appalling.

Ad-break over... back to the masochism...

POST-MOVIE UPDATE: It didn't get any better... I was at least hoping that UB40 (the House Band on the speeding cruise-ship) would feature heavily in saving the day (in the style of Tom Jones in Mars Attacks), but alas, no further sign of them after their dismal performance... probably thrown overboard or something...)

Starbuck's Atomic Sitcom Dustbin
Starbuck [13:13] Comments: 0 []
Well, I can't pick too many faults with the top 50 results of the Best British Sitcom survey (on the Beeb last night). Apart from Two Point Four Children or Birds Of A Feather, which can only have got in by block-voting by their writers. Shame about the lack of Citizen Smith too. Whilst I'm being overly critical, twas also a pity some of the good stuff was way down below some of the shiter examples of the sit-com art. And despite my best efforts, there was no sign of Chucklevision in the list.

I must admit that, at first, I was a bit disappointed at the end. I was looking forward to seeing the whole top 50 last night, not realising the Beeb would be eeking it out over the next few months with showcases of each of the Top 10 entries. Still, it gives sad-cases like me (and you!) a further chance to VOTE for their favourite, as well as to dwell in several more weeks of classic sitcom deconstruction...

[ Saturday, January 10, 2004 ]

...... Kill..... Your..... .......Television
Starbuck [21:05] Comments: 0 []
Damn! Missed Time Bandits, on the box this afternoon - of all of the films starring John Cleese, Ian Holm, David Rappaport and Kenny "R2 D2" Baker, this is probably my favourite. Buggeration.

And sob! Missed ET as well. A bit cheesy I know, but I do like my tyramine.

Well, I'm not going to cause myself any more trivial TV traumas tonight, so I'm ending this fleeting visit to Blog Land, in order to catch Britain's Best Sitcom. I do like lists. I do like sit-coms. And I love Jonathan Ross (platonically). So it should be soothing telly. (I don't like the fact I'm missing the final Shattered - TV TRAUMA! - however having missed the last coupla shows due to more important matters, I think I'll live. Or even set the video.)

[ Thursday, January 08, 2004 ]

Blog*spot advert banner
Starbuck [23:37] Comments: 0 []
Gurgh! I'm seeing double at the top of the page... Blogspot's ad bar seems to be forcing its duplicate onto my web-page - maybe they run some sort of scan to check if "free" Blogger users haven't wiped the ad script from their site template, and force it onto the site if they feel they have... EVEN IF IN FACT THEY'VE JUST ADAPTED THE SCRIPT SLIGHTLY TO FIT IT INTO THEIR PAGE DESIGN!

Or maybe not. Maybe its just a blip. Or maybe DJ Tim's been having a tinker. Fingers crossed I've not been overrun by advertising by the time I return to these pages...

Starbuck [23:10] Comments: 0 []
I've not had much free time to satiate my internexual desires of late, but I have been playing a fair bit of Andy Noble's superb PC remake of ZX Spectrum classic Lunar Jetman whenever I've got the chance (available for free download from Retrospec - newsters should check the Readme for the controls). A great bit of "arcade action", as they'd have naively put it back in the Speccy days...

Its a funny feeling when you've come back to a game after 20-odd years. It plays the same, of course. But back then I couldn't coordinate the control of 7 buttons at the same time quite as well as I can today. It was either the Spectrum's horrible rubber keyboard, or the fact that I hadn't yet irreversibly melded my very nervous system to the output of the visual display unit to the degree. Who says games are bad for you? No more frantic fumblings on the rubber for me...

Maybe its just nostalgia. Maybe people new to it would feel nothing for it. But Ultimate Play The Game (the trading name of Ashby Computer Graphics, later to be reborn as the company Rare that we know today) certainly conjured some atmospheric and enjoyable experiences out of the limited technological confines of the Spectrum. And I'd like to thank them for their part in forging me into the man I am. Thank you. For dressing me like Sabreman.

[ Wednesday, January 07, 2004 ]

Blogging by proxy
Starbuck [22:11] Comments: 0 []
Evening, all.

No time to write right now tonight (thats a rhyme that Eminem would murder seven words at a time).

Shattered's just starting on the telly, and I'm slightly obsessed with the aforementioned sleep-deprivation game-show. I like a bit of water-cooler-television, especially if consensual torture's involved. Though its not as entertainingly pointless or tacky as Dale Winton's classic Touch The Truck was.

So, instead, I'm going to send you to a couple of other places to read some blog entries I would have written myself if I was the site owners...

Firstly, there's Tam's linkage to the Top 20 Nude Scenes of 2003. No, wait, that's way too naughty for me - I wouldn't dream of doing such a thing. Heh!

Also, head off to The Final Broadcast, find the 03 January 2004 10:28:35 AM entry, and read Gary's post about Donnie Darko. Then read the Philosophy Of Time Travel, if you know what's good for you.
I feel enlightened. And I'm glad.
I first ventured onto the fantastically intriguing DD website some 5 months back, but a piss-poor net connection and not alot of time conspired to stop me getting to the roots of the film's secrets. Now it all makes sense. Possibly... must get hold of that DVD!

Incidentally, talking to my girlfriend earlier today, she was actually convinced that I got the DD DVD for Christmas. So who knows. Maybe its buried under a pile of socks somewhere, and one of these days, something wonderful is going to happen...

Whatever. I'm not meant to be posting my own thoughts right now. So go away. Let me watch the telly in peace. If you've read the rest of the VSX site, and all the Other Blogs linked over there on the right, then go and read a book over a cup of tea or something...

[ Tuesday, January 06, 2004 ]

Stuart [13:08] Comments: 0 []
Hello. I thought that I would tentatively stick my head out over the parapet to alert you to this article about IMAX in the Grauniad. Oh dear that doesn't look good does it?

It also made me self-indulgently think about what i've seen at the IMAX. The first thing I saw, I think, is Gladiator but importantly it was NOT full-IMAX size (although it had the sound). Next was Santa vs the Snowman, whcih was great, and then obviously Reloaded. Which backs up the point made in the article that no one wants to see educational arse biscuits no matter how large it is. All those films remind of those dreadful natural history programs that used to be on that you were fooled into thinking would be good because they were made by Disney.

Which brings me on to another IMAX-related point. I have had the oppurtunity, and turned down the oppurtunity, to see Revolutions at the IMAX. It just doesn't interest me. Although i still might force myself. But that just shows how disappointed I am with the franchise.

I saw Spirited Away instead and it is a bloody marvel. Nightmareish and spectacular and like nothing you've ever seen (unless you've grown up on Manga, probably, which I haven't). And it's a family film as they should be - engaging for the adults, fun for the children, and scary for both, at times. Don't get me wrong, it ain't a horror flick but K found it a bit disturbing in places. Spirited Away - you will quite literally be spirited away! ((C) Stuart Richards; quote available for use subject to negotiation of suitable fee)

Speaking of franchises (which i did the paragraph before last) - Battlestar Gallactica will be released on DVD in January! And the rumour is that Star Wars may come out in September (much salivating)!!!!

[ Sunday, January 04, 2004 ]

DIY Ascii'ifacation
Starbuck [19:38] Comments: 0 []
More web-based serotonin-enhancement for Starbuck...

Sifting through some ancient bookmarks in my Favourites list, I've rediscovered the joys of Pixelhugger.

"Great", I thought in inverted commas, "my chance to play the fabulous PixelInvaders again, their toptastic Space Invaders interpretation".

And then my browser wandered over to a section I hadn't seen before - pixel2ascii. Marvellous! Convert any image off the web into ASCII text. Endlessly and strangely compelling...

And here's a rare treat for those who've ever wondered what myself and Starbucketta look like

(See also: Starbuck's ASCII Movie Treats within the archives)

Video Computer System
Starbuck [18:54] Comments: 0 []
Since I've been kicking around the world of video games pretty much from their inception, I've just got to share my love for Video Computer System, a natty little video from Brazilian electronic duo Golden Shower. In their words, it's a tribute to all the classic Atari 2600 video games of the early '80s, and its dead good, as I would have said in the eighties. Lovely to hear all those crunchy sampled sound effects put to good use. Thought the Matrix-style Pitfall sequence was well wicked, too. Watch it HERE.

(I apologise if you've already seen it a squillion times, though - I never quite grasp hold of web memes until they've been floating around the internet for fracking years. ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO US! Quite.)

But I digress. It's always exciting for ageing nostalgic geeks such as I to hear a bit of classic video game bgm in a popular tune, daddio. Kernkraft 400's "Zombie Nation" makes me wet myself, its so full of C64 goodness, courtesy of 8-bit chipsmith David Whittaker...

[ Saturday, January 03, 2004 ]

Panting goldmine
Starbuck [23:55] Comments: 0 []
The Birmingham Rep's production of the Wizard Of Oz was rather good, in a singy-songy kind of way. And educational too - somehow I'd not absorbed the fact that "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" was a component of the aforementioned musical. Now the damn thing's stuck on my internal jukebox...

Best bit - The Wizard, whilst hiding off-stage & speaking through his megaphone to "big himself up", sounding just like Mr Garrison from South Park.

Worst bit - the flying monkey. Terrifying.

No famous people in this not-strictly-a-pantomine-style pantomine. Not like one of these "glitzy" (read: tacky but oh-so-good) modern productions. But it has led me on to ponder my Top Ten Celebrities Wot I've Seen In Pantomine:
1 - Bob Carolgees and Spit the Dog - the Master
2 - Gus from Drop The Dead Donkey - terrifying
3 - Matthew Kelly - dual-role (ac/dc?) Peter Pan professional
4 - The Chuckle Brothers - chu chuckle
5 - Frank Bruno - hurr hurr hurr
6 - Little & Large - cringeworthy
7 - The White Power Ranger - why oh why?
8 - Wayne Sleep - although I've since discovered it wasn't him, but was in fact...
9 - ... Robin Cousins - there solely to figure-skate for 2 minutes at the end
10 - Don McClean - "Nightie Nightie", "Pyjama pyjama", how I laughed.

Just outside of the top 10 - Rod Hull (whilst alive), Emu & Grotbags. I brought my own emu along to that one. Also, Vicky Michelle from 'Allo 'Allo. Legs like tree-trunks.

I don't think we're in Cannock Chase anymore...
Starbuck [16:15] Comments: 0 []
Grrr... I bleedin' well hate computers at times.

After several years my PC had reached a fairly Zen-like state of calm and stability - no more stroppy crashing fits, no more Blue-Screens-Of-Death, no more freezing.

But, to paraphrase the wise words of Vic Reeves, "I wouldn't let it lie". And to paraphrase the equally wise words of Bob Mortimer, "No I wouldn't let it lie."

So I decided to update my NVidia TNT2 Model 64 graphics card drivers to v45.23 from the DVD of a PC magazine, in the misguided attempt at brightening the fairly dim output that I get when watching DVD's or playing Quake 3 Team Arena. (Not sure how I made that original leap of logic, but there you go.)

Now, if I'm not being ground down by "msgsrv32 caused an error in user.exe" error messages, then dibeng.dll takes its place to frack with my mind.... And EVERY time I set sail in the good-ship Internet, the things freezes over, just for 10 seconds or so, a few minutes after embarking... as the joke about the man who visits the doctors with a steering wheel down his trousers goes, its driving me nuts! (Thank you to my 5-year-old nephew for that)

Anyway, tonight I'm off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of Brum. I might heckle him, see if he can give me some technical advice. "DOWNLOAD VERSION 53.04", he will no doubt boom...

[ Friday, January 02, 2004 ]

Time to talk some Who
Starbuck [21:05] Comments: 0 []
Doctor Who, that is.

Having travelled back through time by three days tonight (something I've unfortunately not managed for a long time, apart from using the Video-Recorder time-machine), I've thoroughly enjoyed The Story Of Doctor Who on BBC1.

Christ, judging by the clips, I must've seen pretty much every episode from the Tom Baker days onwards... scary. And it WAS scary, watching the Cybermen, the Daleks, the Zygons, Peri's cleavage, and the like.

In these dark TV days where every show seems to be breaking under the weight of Paul Ross soundbites, it was good to see a documentary that actually cared about the subject, based around those who mattered, those who were involved, rather than some scum-sucking Z-list celebrity.

And it was educational, too.

Learned Fact One: The special sound effect that accompanied the dematerialization and materialization of the TARDIS was created by Brian Hodgson (of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop) running his set of keys along the bass string of a piano.

Learned Fact Two: PC Tony Stamp from popular real-life docusoap The Bill (who has also tried his hand playing the character actor Graham Cole in family favourites such as Noel's House Party) used to play a whole range of challenging roles in Doctor Who, all of which involved being encased in a tatty rubber monster suit. He used to be a real method actor, contorting his facial features into terrifying contortions, DESPITE THE FACT THAT THEY WERE HIDDEN BY HIS MONSTER OUTFIT! I would have suggested at this point that I thought that The Bill's Reg Hollis would have quite enjoyed any rubber suit / Cyberman-PVC shenanigans. However, the allegation, first made a decade ago in some tawdry downmarket rag, does not bear up to modern Google scrutiny, and hence I judge it to be a FALSEHOOD.

Learned Fact Three: Bugger, I've forgotten this one. The thought of Reg Hollis in a rubber gimp suit has kind-of destroyed my train of thought.

Correction to Learned Fact Two: My mistake. For "tatty rubber monster suit" please read "carefully-constructed triumph of textile". My good friend Unit Two's dad used to build / draw / create Doctor Who special effects. And he was artistically white-hot, as proved with his later work on Rolf's Cartoon Club and Newsnight. You can read Unit Two's contributions to the exact scattering theory for any straight reflectors in two dimensions HERE.

Life goes on...
Starbuck [19:54] Comments: 0 []
Hello again, dear reader(s).

Thank you for allowing me to share my feelings in my previous piece of writing. I'm not depressed or distraught or anything. Having seen how quickly his condition had deteriorated, having seen him the night before, I was pretty well prepared. I am just so glad that I went to the hospital that night. That I had the chance to say goodbye. It was just by chance that I spoke to mum as she and dad were about to leave their house to visit him...

Strangely, I feel mostly normal myself. Maybe its not sunk in; though I think that it has - maybe its easier when you know that someone has given their full life potential. I have cried though - I have cried for my family, for the love they will miss, from their husband, their father, their grandad, their great grandad, their friend.

Anyway, I started this piece by thanking you for allowing me to write my feelings. Thinking about it, you don't have much choice. But if you're still reading, thank you for your time.

This blog will now (hopefully) return to normal service. So if you're expecting poorly-written ramblings about the trivialities of life, you're in the right place.

[ Complete Viper Squad Ten blog archives ]

April 2003 / May 2003 / June 2003 / July 2003 / August 2003 / September 2003 / October 2003 / November 2003 / December 2003 / January 2004 / February 2004 / March 2004 / April 2004 / May 2004 / June 2004 / July 2004 / August 2004 / September 2004 / October 2004 / November 2004 / December 2004 / January 2005 / February 2005 / March 2005 / April 2005 / May 2005 / June 2005 / July 2005 / August 2005 / September 2005 / October 2005 / November 2005 / December 2005 / January 2006 / February 2006 / March 2006 / April 2006 / May 2006 / June 2006 / July 2006 / August 2006 / September 2006 / October 2006 / November 2006 / December 2006 / January 2007 / February 2007 / March 2007 / April 2007 / May 2007 / June 2007 / July 2007 / August 2007 / September 2007 / October 2007 / November 2007 / December 2007 / January 2008 / February 2008 / March 2008 / June 2008 / September 2008 / May 2010 / June 2010 / July 2010 / October 2010 / November 2010 /

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