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...
I know that there is a wealth of knowledge and goodwill floating around the interweb, a veritable global University of Intelligentsia, stuffed to the rafters with e-Genies just waiting for a problem for them to help out on. So this one's for you.
My Dad's recently got ADSL broadband installed, and blimey, it moves like a whippet with a hungry cheetah tied to its tail. And then. A few minutes later. It stops. Pages not found all around.
I've noticed that the two green arrows in the system tray turn yellow, and hovering over them with the cursor advises "DSL Modem: State - Training" (or worse, "no signal").
However, if I perform a Health Check (from the desktop icon for BT Broadband Help) it indicates that "BT Broadband Help has tested your connection and established that you are successfully connected to BT Broadband." And its true - from that moment, you are connected again. Until the next time, that is...
Now the world and his wife knows that "training" the line comes from the days of analog modem connections. Remember the long sequence of hisses, beeps, and just some other plain weird sounds after the dialing of the modem? Training the line means to negotiate the best possible speed on the line. Sometimes, line noise can interfere with normal DSL line traffic, so, the modem must negotiate the best possible speed despite the noise. With the noise, the best speed can't be offered, so, it throttles the speed back through a negotiation sequence so that you can get the best speed and connection stablility despite the noise. Or so I read somewhere.
My parents dial-up line was famed (amongst sad circles) for its noise. Perhaps its not getting "something" back through the firewall when it trains?
If you're bothered, its a BT Voyager 105 USB ADSL Modem, and they're using Windows 98, IE 6.0 and Zonealarm 5.5 (for which a clean reinstall predictably didn't help). Google has failed me, BUT I DEMAND ANSWERS!
# Then we crashed the wedding #
My old University friend Sarah R was wed to Alex W on Saturday, and we were fortunate to be invited along for the celebrations at Browns Courtroom (82?84 St Martins Lane, London WC2N 4AA, address-fans). Sarah's internet vessel has been known to drift by these pages, so I would just like to publicly thank her and Alex for a wonderful night's fun and frolics. I hope that my own wedding can live up to the standard they've set.
The evening wasn't just celebrational, it was educational too. Alex is not English as presumed but is in fact so Dutch that he should be passed from the left-hand-side. The same goes for Santa (and his friend Black Pete). My life is now upside-down.
Suprise of the weekend was my first "dry" night in months on the Friday, the suprise being that we were staying with the original newts-out-of-water, DJ Tim & Mrs DJ Tim. And neither of them are pregnant! We more than made up for it the following day, mind. Excuse me, now - I've got to go and excrete some of my dissolute kidneys...
Separated at birth?
Watching Joe Pasquale on I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here night in night out, the realisation has slowly dawned on me - the "squeeky-voiced "comic"" must surely share a fair few codons of genetic ancestry with Mollie "Mrs Slocombe" Sugden...
"Does exactly what it says on the tin"
Those that know me will be aware that I love the feeling of a dripping piece of meat in my mouth as much as the next man (as long as the next man isn't Julian Clary).
However, being of a liberal atheistic bent myself, I'd like to disseminate this link to Vegblog, or to give it it's full title, "A liberal's atheistic Vegblog"; authored by Brit ex-pat in the US "Veggiedude", also known as Tony Martin, though hopeful not THIS one.
It's at this point that I was going to make some comment comparing the election theft of Ukrainian "Prime Minister" Viktor Yanukovych with Bush Junior in 2000, highlighting the inspirational response currently being carried out by opposition supporters in Ukraine. However, my dinner's ready...
Truth and lies
I met this man down the pub who knew a man who had it on good authority that blogging has only been encouraged to allow the furtherment of the American goverment's global database project to gain complete information awareness on every detail of our lives.
But then the barman butted in to put him right - he'd read somewhere on the web that a bloke in prison had overhead on the bus whilst on day-release that organisations providing blogging facilities are in fact funded by organised criminal masterminds. The Yakuza (Blogger), the Triads (Movable Type) and the Italian Mafia (Typepad). They're using our casually thrown-away data to feed their password-crunching software. They want our identities and our bank accounts.
Personally, I've got bigger concerns. It snowed in Britain today, and everyone knows that "Islamist" terrorists will use the year's first snowfall as a signal to release dirty bombs across the nation's city centres; the Gritters loads will be seeded with radiation. Despite it being known that dirty bombs don't actually cause any signigicantly detrimental effects on a victim's health, I don't want to get caught in the resultant gridlock...
Truthful and non-conspiratorial aside: Its true about the ineffectiveness of dirty bombs. And whilst on that subject, Vaara from the Silt blog has provided transcripts of the Power Of Nightmares documentary that I mentioned a few weeks back. You should click HERE for the link index, Torrent files also available. Its your duty as a free citizen of the world.)
Like Doves We Rise
Last night I experienced a performance of Amajuba: Like Doves We Rise, part of The Oxford Playhouse's 2004 tour. Quite amazing - beautiful, soulful and honest theatre, a piece that scrubs clean the tarnished genre that is the "musical". Very powerful, very moving, and truly life-affirming in an age when braveness and dignity has been so often displaced by cynicism and fear. "So good that I bought the soundtrack".
Oh sod it, just read the press release, wouldja:
Celebrating 10 years of freedom in South Africa.
In the cosseted West, childhood is a place of nostalgia; in South Africa, it is a land haunted by demons. Powerful, truthful, funny and moving, Amajuba is an intimate portrayal of growing up in the townships of apartheid South Africa during the 1980s.
In a brilliant tapestry of personal testimony, breathtaking spiritual harmonies and inspiring drama, this production is more about personal rites of passage than the political struggle. Created from the real life experiences of the young South African cast, this compelling production is a celebration of the extraordinary ability of the human spirit to rise above adversity.
Taking us through the momentous years leading up to the fall of apartheid, the cast of five reveal memories and tell stories. A famished, lonely childhood; the misery of being a 'coloured' boy in a black neighbourhood; watching your family fall apart after compulsory relocation; living under the shadow of gang violence; and the exhilaration and terror of life as a teenage activist.
"Marvellous singing... the harmonies are startling and glorious; and overall, this is a gripping and moving experience." ***** The Independent
"A powerful examination of the 'emotional shrapnel' of apartheid... A poetic tribute to the freedoms of the future." ***** The Guardian
There's a slight story currently doing the newsround about an advert for Viagra being taken off air for failing to adequately mention side-effects and for suggesting that it delivers better sex.
The story may be wafer-thin, but what an excuse for some puntastic headlines.
Cyber-Satan blog RIP
Thanks to The Saturnyne for alerting me to the death of one of the best blogs on my blogroll, Cyber-Satan. I'm keeping the links open on the slight chance that it becomes resurrected, but my hopes aren't high - blog owner Astolath has oft wondered about its future. It was a very well written, very unique British blog, sourced from a mind far more intellectual than the blogger's norm. And please note, reverse-snobbery-shitheads, that "intellectual" is not an insult but more something to aspire to. And I aspired that VSX could be half as good as CS, or half as funny.
Cyber-Satan.com's tagline was "Culture, Alienation, Boredom and Despair", and ironically I'm going to be feeling a lot more of that now.
Its a strange feeling. I wish that I'd had more time recently to keep up-to-date with my regular blog-reads. People's lives have been passing me by. I wish I could've seen the last post before the site was killed. According to S, in his last post he "said he didn't have anything else to write anymore... *sigh* Good blog. Great guy". Very true. One really does feel like these people - you people - are true friends.
I don't want to seem melodramatic, but it almost feels as if a friend has died, or something, and that you're going to miss their company. But that would be melodramatic, so in fact I'll just say "so long, and thanks for all the fish."
There's been a whole lot going on in Mr Starbuck's life of late, and not a lot of time to catch up on my favourite blogs (over there in the right sidebar) let alone keep the world enlightened about my progress through the Twentyfirst Century. So there now follows a series of four short sharp updates for all you e-celeb ("yeah, right") obsessives. I apologise for the non-blog-standard order of this posting above the subsequent four postings. However I am a timetraveller after all. I thank you.
Christmas time, mistletoe and wine
Finally the weather has taken a frostier turn towards Winterval. Which is good, because the conversion of our town centres from centres of commerce into the hives of Santa's worshippers doesn't seem so unnatural when you're no longer enjoying the last gasps of Summer. So what if every shop in the land may be decked out in holly and tinsle as they blast out Slade's Greatest Christmas hits - its cold!
Anyway, I can't be judgemental about the earlification of the Chrismas period - we've had some of our own Christmas decorations up for ages. In fact, we've not actually taken them down since last year. Luckily its only a pot of painted silver twigs and a 15-centimetres tall Christmas tree (it was once alive and sitting under a frosting of fake snow - now, its only the fake snow that's maintaining its structural integrity.)
# Well it happened years ago when you lived on Stanhope Road #
Ah, children - aren't they marvellous? Especially if you don't have to have all the responsilibity of looking after them and bringing them up.
Our Bristolian friends Jon & Fi have moved up to the Midlands in search of a better accent, which means we've got a couple more proxy-children of our own (one severaly months the other several years) to play with and hand back at the end of an evening.
I know for a fact that I haven't (and won't) grow up. "Growing up" is purely something people are conditioned to pretend to do in this artifical construct of a society of ours. So its always a joy to have the excuse of kids to just let go of all pretence and regress back to your childhood. I could never get bored pretending to be space ships or trains or cowboys or Silicon Invaders From Mars.
Its great - a lot of my friends are either in the process of gestation or have recently spawned, but its even better having some local playmates!
Being a big fan, I, like many others, rushed out to buy the new Eminem album on Friday. And I must admit to being quite disappointed. Despite some outstanding standout tracks, there's a whole lot of weedy stale raps drifting atop some uninspired music. It would've been incredibly difficult maintaining the slick oral brilliance of The Eminem Show, but I would've been pleased as punch if Em had returned to the raw witticism of The Slim Shady LP. The music could've gone anywhere (or just gone full stop) with his usual skills of lyrical dexterity. But alot of the time he just seems intent on annoying the listener. A bit of a downer, all in all - starting well, but floundering. And it says a lot about the quality of the previous few tracks when slightly whiffy single "Just Lose It" starts to sound up there with "Without Me".
Still, I'm only a few listens in, and what do I know. He's sold a lot more albums than Viper Squad Ten, Dieticians Featuring Fat and the Leather Lads Featuring The Lesbian Love Triangle put together.
"Isn't awfully great to have a penis,
Isn't it divine to have a dong...
You can tie it up in ribbons
you can slip it in your sock,
but don't take it out in public
or they'll throw you in the dock
and you won't, acome.. aback.. Thankyou very much"
Monty Python's The Meaning of Life
I'm afraid that today's essay is about men's bits and toilet etiquette.
I've been having some general toilet anxiety the last few days. I seem to keep on walking into the Gents toilets at work just a few moments after one of my colleages must've gone in, and its getting embarrassing. It seems that every time I head into the Urination Station the same bloke is standing there at one of the two urinals. Maybe its coincedence, or maybe he actually lives there, but I'm getting a bit self-conscious of it. It's stopping me from performing comfortable micturation - my doodah is becoming a don't-dah!
He's got a lovely old chap (I hope that strikethrough shows up OK!), and he always says "hello" as we sprinkle our boots, but still, it's beginning to make me look a bit suspect - he's going to start thinking that I'm a stalker. As it were.
And as for people who try to hold a conversation at the urinals - whether business or social... I just can't cope. I end up squeeking one word sentences, trapped but desperate to escape. I don't know why - its not as if I've got anything to be embarrassed about. (Wahey!)
And whilst I'm talking todgers, another bugbear of mine raised its ugly head (though not that head) in Spain earlier in the month - naturists. In particular nudist males. Why oh why do they insist on parading their sorry bodies back and forth across the shore like some caged hairless polar bear? Gentlemen in trunks don't seem to feel compelled to perpetually stretch their legs on the seafront like this. And when they start stretching other things, as men tend to do (they might give it a scratch to get the sand encrustations off, or a little tug to work the brine out of the wrinkles) - its enough to put you off your hotdog!
Hold me to account
I was vaguely interested to see that one of my free Hotmail accounts has now been upgraded to 250 Megabyte capacity. Only vaguely, as I never use the damn thing nowadays, but I still feel compelled to check it now and then, just in case anything slips through from anyone not au fait with my newer email addresses.
Clinging onto old email addresses isn't a good thing - I wish I could just dump them - but I can't trust some long-lost acquaintance not to want to contact to tell me that they have won the lottery and that they'd like to share the winnings with me for having told that brilliant Chris Rea joke one drunken evening travelling, or something.
It's made me think, though. I have EIGHT email addresses at the moment. Three Hotmail addresses, two Gmail ones, one ISP address, and two work addresses. Sometimes I feel that I am fragmenting. Mostly I feel that I am wasting my time maintaining the partition of my electronic cyberself into all these different compartments. And I am sure that eight is a fairly conservative amount of addresses to have nowadays.
Here's hoping that I can find a free solution for automatically forwarding mail from these differing extraneous accounts whilst maintaining their validity. Maybe I'll get spammed the answer...
Dear Friends, and you, being fellow humans, are friends by virtue of reading these very words.
I ask for your help. Myself and Mrs P-to-be are still in the honeymoon-planning doldrums. Now the last time I put out a desperate plea about this, fellow blogger Lawn Greengrass stepped into the breach to recommend Kephalonia Kefalonia as a lovely Greek island. Our sights have now moved somewhat, sensing greater heat elsewhere, but we're still stuck fast on where would be the most idylic place to honeymoon at the start of May. We so bad! Essential factors to take into consideration - sunshine, sea, and picturesque panoramas.
Current contenders include -
Crete (perhaps with an Athens launchpad) for Minoan adventures aplenty; I'm already working on some "hilarious" Knossos jokes...
Cyprus - more nice Mediterranean weather, coupled with the opportunity for singing "Insane in the membrane" whilst standing atop well-defined elevations of land.
Koh Samui - "a beautiful island lying 35 kilometers off the coast of Surat Thani (one of the major cities in southern Thailand), and about 700 kilometers south of Bangkok. It is covered by coconut plantations and circled by palm fringed beaches". So says the interweb. Much less wet in May than the rest of Thailand by the looks of it. Please, worldly readers, would it be nice enough at that time of year, and is it still pretty heavenly, even considering the lack of obvious puns in its name? Phuket would rate incredibly highly in the joke-name classification, however it looks like it'd be a bit wet. Ho hum.
Mexico - according to my good friend Callas Obrigadon, a good beach resort would be "Playa del Carmen (near Cancun in the Yucatan peninsular but far more quiet, pleasant etc) which has golden beaches, lovely sea, nice air con suites in hotels for which you can buy a decent package including flight from mexico city (or abroad, presumably): also has lots of excursions - to Mayan pyramids, waterholes where you can swim, aquatic parks, etc. and it is hot!" His missus "also swears by Huatusco" apparently. However, I'm a little scared of vampires myself, and Starbucketta thinks the weather might not be tip-top (is she scared to cross water?)
Jamaica? No, she went on her own accord. (I don't want to go to Jamaica, despite it being puntastic).
I must not fear. Fear is the mindkiller. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past me I will turn to see fear's path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.
Love and Rockets
# Remember remember the fifth of November, gunpowder, treason, and plot #
Yes, the reason for my brief slip into traditional folksong is clear - today is British Fantavision Day, when the good people of the British Empire celebrate the foiling of the 1605 Gunpowder Plot to blow up shedloads of gunpowder under the Houses of Parliament, a celebration that is today commemorated by, erm, blowing up shedloads of gunpowder.
VSX would like to (rather lazily) contribute to the celebrations by redirecting you to Rocket Mania. For those who missed it the first time round, its a fantastic firework flash game for you to play within your web-browser whilst you should be working. Go on now, be away with you.
Oh, but before you go, one last thing. If you happen to see the resurrected corpse of Guy Fawkes during this time of year, please take your social responsibilities towards reanimated terrorists seriously, and burn that conspiratorial cadaver to the ground. Thank you.
And so I awake from the sweet dreams of Mediterranean sunshine, only to be thrust into the nightmare of a smirking demon, bullying a terrified populace lost within the darkness. And I feel sickened and saddened, as George W Bush's re-election campaign, lurching into action in the days following September 11 2001, snakes its way to its predictable conclusion. It looks like a sizeable lost population of my American cousins have strayed away from from their Land Of The Free, and I hope the others can show them the roadmap. And don't even start about the other roadmap...
Maybe that last Bin Laden video was the swing. Maybe it's a two-way thing. The Bush administration acts as a recruiting sergeant for terrorists, and its very much in Bin Laden's interest keeping Bush in power. I tell you, although tonight I'm glad I'm not American, I don't feel too hopeful for the human race. Our capability to spout nothing but barefaced lies and our incapacity to resist such poison don't mark us out too impressively on the sentient timeline.
I hope that enough of my British brethren have been watching the remarkable BBC documentary The Power Of Nightmares over the last few weeks. The final episode of this superior series is tonight, and I'd hate the Orwellian darkness of this Neo-Con way of thinking to find root over here. The previous two episodes have explained this too-confusing world to me in an enjoyable, watchable manner, and it should be made mandatory viewing, not only for us, but for the world at large. If you've missed it see if you should seek out copies on BitTorrent or something.
But who am I to pass comment on another country's "free" elections? Someone who cares about the world, and is utterly concerned for America's so-called freedom, that's who.
Still, only four more years to wait until Hilary. And in the meantime, here's some gallows humour from Billyworld: