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...
This is hardcore
Visiting my local tip (non UK readers: my local Civic Amenity & Recycling Centre) today I was amazed to see just how specialised the refuse categories were nowadays.
They even have a skip for people to dump their most explicit articles of "gentlemen's literature", "art pamphlets" and "specialist movies"...
Back to school!
One week into the kids' Summer school holidays, and the shops have started their big "Back To School" sales, the poor sods - big prominent posters reminding them of how little free time they have remaining...
I'm not very good at all that serious stuff. Well, I am, but prefer to save my views for close friends in pubs after 6 or 7 pints, rather than inflict cyberspace (note use of word CYBER, follwoing conversation on Sunday) with them.
So instead I am going to say that I saw the Descent last night and it was, if you like such things, an almost perfect example of the 6 or 7 people being picked off by beasties horror genre. It had some very unexpected shocks, which the director (he of the good but not as good as this Dog Soldiers) worked very well by messing with the pace of the film - often teh shcoks in horror films can almost be measured by metranome (I'm beginning to lose any idea of what I'm talking about here) - you have nice bit, build up, build up, scare, cathartic laughter post-scare, on repeat. The other way to do it is nice bit, build up, build up, expected scare moment, no scare, audience relaxes, THEN scare, then even more cathartic laughter post-scare.
Anyway, he obviously does all that, but kinda more sustainedly when you don't expect it, or less when you do (right I really have no idea now).
We're not talking horror that stays with you for days, but we are talking a serious amount of raised heart rates.
Look, suffice to say: 6 adventure-minded women go caving. The caves are dark and narrow and scary in themselves. BUT they are not alone down there... What's not to like? Add to that a seriously 18-certificate amount of gruesomeness, brutality and gore, and anyone who likes this sort of thing should be down to their local cinema like a shot.
It was ALMOST as scary as sizing up the various other people in the audience, in the middle of Leicester Square, with a plethora of different shaped and sized enormous bags and rucksacks.
The ugly truth
My wife was telling me last night about a Daily Hell-reading colleague, who was convinced that all Muslims should be forced to leave the country, and that we should never allow people people to have asylum in this country. She refused to accept any arguments to the contrary.
Words fail me, but they certainly wouldn't had I been a part of that particular "discussion".
How can people be so selfish, so stupid, so ignorant of pretty much every facet of an issue, so hateful?
When I saw yesterday the front pages of the Daily Mail and the Daily Express - those rascist bastions of middle-England - equating the London bombers'with asylum (two of them being the sons of asylum seekers) I wasn't at all suprised, but I still felt that sickness in my gut that I get EVERY time I see the front-page xenophobic rage of these two asylum-obsessed rags.
"Ashamed to be British?" Ashamed to be human, more like.
I know its hardly topical, but I am so incredibly disappointed by the movie version of Alex Garland's The Beach. The bastards.
I was writing the other day about how excited I was about being about to see it, after a honeymoon that took in the locale, as well as reading the book and getting the soundtrack.
And for the first 20 minutes I thought, great. It's pretty much recreated the scenes from my imagination, its done as much as a film adaptation can really do.
Christ I was disappointed from then on.
How the hell you can just go and disregard the source material - Jeez, Rich & Francoise's love affair for a start, let alone that with Sal - I don't know. It was characters with the same names and the same background fills not only acting utterly unlike what readers of the book will know, but doing what THE OTHER characters were doing when it more "suited" the movie screenplay. Getting rid of Jed and getting Sal and Etienne to take over his scenes was not only pointless but destructive.
I read the book, excited about being about to see this recreated on film. And lets face it, the book's a hell of a lot better crafted than the film cinematically. I was looking forward to the Ko Phangan couple, one dead, the other coked up and mosquito-covered. I was so looking forward to lots of Mr Duck, the most important part of the book. And the climax to the story, would they have had the guts to do it.
Disappointment on top of disappointment over and over again, from the petty differences - the disregard for secrecy on their marine park hideaway (rather than hiding their fires, lets shove some flame-lit balloons into the heavens) - to the aforementioned disregard for anyone who has ever read the book, the people they have really pissed on big-time here.
I'd have got used to Leo in the title roll, despite his differences from Richard, no problem. But use and abuse your actual character templates and you're really poisoning something good. A real shame.
The best bit, aside from the first 20 minutes, and the scenery (the main personal reason to get with it)?
The absolutely fracking ridiculous "Leo-in-third-person-computer-game" scene. One of the most (inadvertently) funniest things ever. Worth watching for that pieceashit scene alone.
I guess the whole thing would've been a lot better if I'd not read the book, and lets face it, it wouldn't have fucking gave away what happened in the book...
Yesterday wasn't proving to be the best of evenings, so I was most grateful to the BBC for 90 minutes of wonderful comedy to really turn around my mood.
It was great to see the return of John Birdand Stephen Fry in Absolute Power - nice to have something satirical to sink your intellect into.
And having finally seen my first episode of the Catherine Tate Show, I can now see why my old Barbers' keep on banging on about it. Very fresh and laugh-out-loud-funny character-based comedy.
But it was the return of Ricky Gervais in Extras that really got me squirming with joy and embarrassment.
Ben Stiller: "Who are you?" Andy: "Nobody" Ben Stiller: "That's right. And who am I?" Andy: "It's either Starsky or Hutch, I can never remember?" Ben Stiller: "Was that supposed to be funny?" Andy: "You tell me, you were in it."
It laughed me up bad.
Most icky moment - Ricky's character Andy Millman, the Bosnian refugee, and the photo of his slaughtered wife "sunbathing"...
No compromise for the American audience, but no compromise is needed on HBO. Gervais is a true British Larry David (the God of Awkward from "Curb Your Enthususiasm", the best American comedy around).
And its always good to see the same dodgily-humoured-but-ever-endearing Ricky that offended us all on those 2 minutes "11 O'clock Show" slots and "Meet Ricky Gervais"...
Dirty bomb - don't panic
I don't want to panic you, but it won't be long before someone explodes a "dirty bomb".
I really mean that I don't want to panic you unduly, because a Radiological Dispersal Device isn't actually significantly any more dangerous than conventional explosives (which admittedly are not exactly "safe".)
An RDD wouldn't cause radiation sickness. The threat would be more long-term. If the area was not decontaminated, the risk of contracting fatal cancer due to long-term exposure would range from the utterly insignificant upwards, depending on the nature of the radioactive material. This would be a major economic problem.
For those not caught in the explosion itself, the personal physical risk in the short-term would come from the havoc caused by mass panic.
So, should the day come when a dirty bomb is used, there's no need to panic unduly. The "unconventional" factors can be dealt with after the attack.
Be angry but be clear
Anger is only to be expected after today's second series of terrorist bombings in London.
Be angry, but don't let it blind you.
Be angry at the bastards that did this, but also be angry at our political leaders, those who flagrantly lied to us for their own ends, those who have got away with their unashamed deceipts, whose policy inflames the susceptible.
"You're just appeasing the terrorists" some people would say, blinded by their own anger, or by the shamefully negligent media who have let Blair off the hook.
I'm no appeaser, I'm just seeing clearly. I may be feeling anger in a lot of different directions right now, but my vision isn't clouded by red mist.
Here we go again?
 Alerts around London... its still early days, but fingers crossed how this all pans out... there's a lot of lunatics out there... for some reason I'm recalling Soho Nailbomber David Copeland right now... I wonder how many such incidents are going to be prompted by these "other" incidents...
A fine weekend for weddings
This long weekend myself and Mrs Powersurge travelled up to Matlock for the wedding of our friends Helen and Ryan. It was a lovely do, best described by a couple of photos (click to zoom)...
We stayed up in Derbyshire afterwards for a lovely stay in The Old Schoolhouse in Bonsall, a very picturesque village threaded throughout a valley high about the surrounding country. The B&B proprietor, Lydia Fryer, is an accomplished artist, and as such their wonderfully-decorated home is furnished with a good number of her works.
Best of all, though, the Barley Mow public house in Bonsall has been designated as The Space Centre of the UK. By the landlord. Yup, its become famous as the world's number one spot for UFO's, or so it says HERE, and after a few pints of Abbot I was seeing all sorts of things...
There's some great walking country in the area, but to save a few words, here's a photo of the village, oh, and Peveril Castle, Castleton, as well. But not much of it.
Twas lovely. I may be struggling with my words here in the sauna of our house, but the main reason I wanted to write is that the time is finally upon me. Writing about a friends wedding has made me realise that, aside from the speech and song list, there's very little I've written about our wedding as yet, let alone picciepoos. I'll have to pull my finger out (though you don't want to know about that. Cue constipated mathematician joke.)
And having today finished reading Alex Garland's The Beach, and listened to the movie soundtrack for the first time in the car today, and being just about to watch the DVD as well, I'm feeling motivated to spew forth a bunch of stuff about the honeymoon as well.
I think I'm being stalked by the crew of the USS Enterprise...
Yesterday whilst enjoying my lunch by the lake at work I heard the distinct sound of a Star Trek communicator. No sign of any ageing space travellers, so I figured it might've been someone out of view with a fancy mobile ringtone, perhaps beyond that grass mound behind where I was sat.
But then, today, I heard that distinct bird-like sound again, and the theoretical probability of it actually being Kirk and co is increasing.
Stephen Spielberg's War of the Worlds Review
I found it extremely exhilerating, perhaps suprisingly considering the events of last week. Perhaps its good to see that, however bad things can get, they're not going to get as bad as THAT.
My own criticism - Tom Cruise didn't get roughed-up enough. The git.
But Dakota Fanning was very good (despite being very annoying in real life, bless!) - I reckon she's got a good career ahead of her being chased by dinosaurs...
Londonistan versus Washingdon
There's a certain noisy element of the American status quo that thrives and survives by ramping up people's fears and anxieties. It just can't stand to see any sort of measured thinking, the war on terror being the war of terror, let's face it ("Shock and Awe"? 100,000 innocent Iraqi civilians killed by the original coalition of the willing even before they let Iraq become the breeding-ground for budding terrorists? Hello? Who funded Bin Laden anyway?)
So its no suprise that a section of the American newspaper responses to the London bombings has been so radically-different to our own.
I became increasingly angy reading this hyperlinked article chronicling how the American newspapers warn of the threat to America from "Londonistan" ('London has become a "feeding ground for hate" and a "crossroads for would-be terrorists" where Muslims exploit civil liberties to "openly preach jihad"').
This is not the London I know, this is very much London as seen through the American lens of paranoia.
Why do we allow ourselves to be manipulated so? It's bad enough with certain Newer elements of New Labour, but surely there's only so much America can take from the bullying right before it stands up to it.
The DJ has to speak
DJ Tim [00:30]
When I heard about 7/7 I was disgusted, however I watched the unfolding events like everyone else. But I would like to put my own point across. They should not be called Islamic extremists, they should be called cowards. I'm a religious person who has not quite found what he's looking for within his own faith, but as a result I have researched many other faiths. One thing that I can say is that they all believe in "loving thy neighbour". What these terrorist do is nothing to do with any faith and in fact they make the Islamic community in this country look bad. If they had any "balls" they would actually stand up and challenge us - but no they are scardy cats who resort to the lowest level of argumenents - strike that that - it's not even an argumenent - it a chicken shit cowardice - they resort to the easiest of arguments (i.e. one that you can't answer back too) If they actually had a political point they wanted to make, may be they could actually state it rather that "blow it".
I'm proud to be British because of the way that we dealt with the incident on Thursday, we will never give in to such cowardice. We will stand tall and say "We believe in what we do and you will never take that away from us". However we will not over react and blame every person who hasn't a pure white skin. We will bond together and embrace the multi-racial comunity that we have in London and grow stronger together - because that's what the cowards dread..... Ha Ha Ha F***K you.
A few years back I worked for a while on the bottom floor of BMA House on Tavistock Square, London. My office overlooked the road.
Having read that the blood from Thursday morning's bus explosion splashed across the windows of the building (indeed, across the frontage of much of this magnificent building), I find it hard to get the memory out of my mind. The memory of being there at an event that I did not see. It is so very detailed.
Following yesterday's terrible events, I'm glad to say that I've heard from most of my friends and family in London, and they are all safe and well.
One my friend's husband was on the underground and was just two minutes ahead of the explosion at Kings Cross, and her brother was trapped below ground on another tube train for two hours, however thankfully that was the closest that people I know seem to have come to harm.
That doesn't make it any easier thinking about those who have been less lucky.
Sitting in lakeside peace this lunchtime I was mulling over my time in London.
I remembered when goverment and media had ramped up our fears over imagined gas attacks, and I recalled how I would sometimes hold my breath on the Tube when I thought I detected an unusual smell. Ricin smelling of almonds, I would stem my breathing if I caught the odour of sweets... not that it would do any good.
So I sometimes started taking the bus home from Kings Cross. To my delight I found that sitting atop a double-decker got me home in a relaxing fashion - ignoring any paranoia, you had beautiful views of the city and a real sweep of contrasting but impressive scenes, as well as the heat, the crush, and the maddening sound of the friction between the wheels and the track. It felt like I was a tourist viewing a city and its inhabitants, it lacked the Tube's inhumanity, and the journey didn't really take that much longer.
Now of course that paranoia will also be poisoning the journeys of those riding the buses in London as well.
Still, as has now been repeated many times over, the goodness of the people shall never be defeated.
And just to end for now, I must add that you know things are bad when the Daily Sport runs a "serious" headline on the front page ("Blitz") as well as photos of the wounded.
It did, of course, take up just a third of the available space, the top two thirds bearing a massive picture of a scantily-clad "Emma Bell as you've never seen her before"...
11:56 UPDATE:Harriet's blog provides an on-the-spot description of the resulting travel chaos this morning. A well-written account of the unsettling confusion that spreads out from the epicentre of such a tragedy to the population at large.
Reading these words by people who I regard as friends - normal people like myself living normal lives - and how this tragedy has touched their world, it makes an impact that so many news-reports can't access by the very nature of reporting on their lives as opposed to the "breaking news".
And suprisingly and strangely perhaps stupidly, after reading Astolath's writing, I wish I was there to help heal London's wounds. Although I'd only lived there for just a few years until I moved away to be with my wife, I still feel like a part of our great capital, I still feel like a true Londoner. And my heart bleeds for Tavistock Square, having spent many happy times there.
I would like to write about how I have potentially become a target of identity fraud as a result of the incredibly negligent lack of online security in place at a previous employer...
... however I don't want to make myself even more vulnerable than I already am...
... I'm paranoid enough about such stuff, knowing damn well what would be possible if I was some sort of malicious cracker... I've already rewritten several versions of this post, concerned that I was giving too much away...
... so I'd just like to say that it makes me angry, not that someone has access to [CENSORED], but that the [CENSORED] had basically left everything in an open window for the bastards to take in the first place...
... Stupidity makes me angry... negligence... laziness...
This morning I received in my inbox the following unusual missive from one Henry Bracher:
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! You're the only webpage with "carrot phallus" in your webpage! You're WEIRDOS! You?ve been GOOGAWACKED (sic)! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Sleep and sleepability
I've written about my problems with going to sleep before. In fact, having just looked at that last piece again I seem to have written everything there is to say about this already.
Everything, that is, that I am happy to have published right now on a page that I am aware is read by people who know me in the Physical Realm. As always there's probably stuff to be dug out from under the surface, but we don't like to admit such ugly stuff to ourselves let alone the world at large.
But I am happy to say that my wife is as wonderfully-understanding as she was as a girlfriend! I hope that I'd be as considerate if she was so noisily struggling with the transition from a state of consciousness at night.
Especially since its more of a "refusal" to shift into sleep at a reasonable time of night that I suffer from rather than being kept awake by any anxieties - from a tiny seed of a problem that I myself sowed some years ago, I have now reinforced this over and over until an immensely twisted weed has sprung forth, and it looms over to choke me the very last thing at night. I must break it down, I must reroute my habits of thinking, I need to break the circuits. I need some weedkiller.
But wait, I didn't want to write all this. This article was supposed to be more positive. REWIND.
The reason I am writing in the first place is that, at the end of my lunch break, I have just walked past a large bank of external outlets sticking out of the building's air-conditioning.
And, whoosh, I was swept away. Not in a "physically sucked away" fashion (if you pardon the expression), but in my head.
Certain sounds have always lulled me towards the deepest zen-like state of relaxation. If I hear a hairdryer my eyes grow heavy, the rolling waves of alpha slow and yield to the thetas, and the sensory curtain starts to cloud over the conscious world. This is a problem when I'm blow-drying my armpits in the morning!
Vacuum cleaners have virtually floored me since childhood. Since very early childhood, perhaps, considering this probably all stems from the all-enclosing sounds that my foetal pre-birth form would have been surrounded by in the lovely, comforting safety of the womb.
But it is when I am seeking sleep that I use this to my advantage.
When I was younger I used to misalign the tuner on my radio so that the room would be filled with a sea of static. Back then I wasn't as content as I am now, and I think I used to do this to try to drown out my anxieties. I had only limited success, as midway through the night the restlessness of the radiowaves would often jarr my sleep, creeping into bad terriroty with jagged cuts of buzzing interference.
When the white noise was working, sometimes I used to imagine that I was lieing in a shade of a cave on a tropical shore.
But nowadays I use the perfect aural sleep aid - the sound of an electric fan, turned on whatever the temperature of the room.
Whilst reading the novel Dune as a boy the words shaped my existence in a number of ways, one of which was with my sleeping.
I so wanted to be Paul Atreides on his long spaceship journey to the planet Arrakis. I wanted to look out of the window, to see the stars, to sleep, my life on hold before my new life starts. I firmly imagined myself there.
And now, whether I'm at home with the fan, or especially if I'm on a plane or train or a car for that matter, I shut my eyes and imagine that the constant noise is the deep hum of a spaceship's engines and the ambient sounds of its air-conditioning, with nothing to do but sleep until I reach my destination weeks later. And looking out of the skylight before I shut my eyes this so nearly feels true.
And sometimes at home, I imagine that I'm on a long-haul flight, a period of time with no expectations except the expectation to sleep, with a month-long break at the end of it.
And sometimes for me that flight is the cargo transporter that took Indiana Jones towards India and the Temple of Doom.
And nowadays, the fan takes me back to the airconditioning of the converted houseboat where we spent our idyllic honeymoon.
And when the axis of the fan has been set upon its perpetual rotation, creakingly swaying back and forth through its sixty degree window, our boat is now transported out to sea, slowly rocking from side to side.
Sometimes difficulty with sleep can give you a lot of space to relax...