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...
Freshly minted blogs
Rejoice! The Lord has decreed that additions be made to my blogroll, and lo the changes were good.
I was overjoyed the other day to see a familiar name freshly splashed across the web, that of Ron Lyre. Old VSX-hands may recall Ron from round 7 of the Clutterbuck Computer Clutter Challenge Cup.
Those that give a flying flip will know how devastated I was when Mr Lyre's friend Lawn Greengrass shuffled off his mortal coil, so it was filled with gaiety when I discovered Ron to be taking stewardship of Lawn's literary legacy in his role as Editor of the The Stratford upon Avon Strumpet.
A cracking read for all citizens of Stratford and The World.
And, it might currently be just two posts long, but I can't go without formally mentioning Antipasta, an epic crafted out of 773 beautifully-set words, detailing the beginnings of someone known as Vex... Or Cai...
Now I may or may not know this individual, we may or may not have shared interlinked lives back when Viper Squad X was the codename for an undercover Timeshift Unit as opposed to the name of a blog, but to be honest none of that really matters... we are all just blog identities now.
Sometimes you just can't help yourself whilst mandatorily rooting through the bargains at your local record store - most weekends I end up with more consumer products than I can possibly keep up with.
It happened again today. I'm still playing post-wedding blog-catchup, so I doubt I'll get round to listening to my latest purchases, let alone reviewing them (reviewment being one of the principle raison d'être of blog existence), so if anyone passing through could just pass their comments on the following items then I would very much appreciate it. Thank you.
Dizzee Rascal - Showtime
Jesu - S/T
Marilyn Manson - Lest We Forget
Moby - 18
Squarepusher - Ultravisitor
Oh, and any pre-reviews that might bear influence on watching one the following live acts would also be useful:
20:00 UPDATE Which brings me neatly to this quiz, as seen round Billy's. I'm the annoying one with the flute.
You are the Second Doctor: Affable, impish, and fond of simple pleasures as well as simple pranks. Your mischievous exterior camouflages a powerful mind and a great deal of courage. Although you care nothing for appearances, you place a high value on the bonds of true and lasting friendship.
This blog supports the use of animal testing in medical research. The misguided beasts that use fear and violence as the other side of the argument are just militant bullies who should be treated like all other criminals.
Now I don't much like the thought of public speaking, so it was fascinating watching myself as I built up from nervous beginnings to a state of heightened confidence, bolstered by the reaction of the adoring crowd! My whole manner changed, my body straightened, my voice found a firm level... though watching the video it looks like my main orational influence has been fracking Tony Blair!
Apparently I looked mightily confident to our guests from the start, or so I have been told, but I tell thee I was twisted up with stress at the start.
But anyway, enough of the blowing of mine own trumpet. I just wanted to share the following:
During DJ Tim's Best Man speech my write-blocked co-editor had described my "artistic" heritage (amongst other amusing anecdotes), highlighting (whithout explicitly naming) everyone's favourite time-travelling troubadores Viper Squad X amongst other formative outfits (Dieticians Featuring Fat, Lesbian Love Triangle Featuring The Leather Lads, etc).
But I had quite forgotten one thing until I re-viewed Tim's speech free from the overloading haze of wedding-day adrenaline...
Now one of the (few) notable things about Viper Squad Ten (aside from our grog-given talent and our ability to plumb the depths of juvenile innuendo) was our band-famous "X" logo.
And at this crucial part of Tim's speech, I jumped up from my seat and dashed across the floor towards a figure sitting in the corner, proudly crossing my forearms in the age-old salute of Viper Squad X in deference to Commander Aardvark/Armadillo - illustrious leader of our troupe of timetravelling troops...
Who said that this blog's shifted away from its original remit?
I wish I was hallucinating
Before I disapear under the fug of wine tonight I must quickly chronicle one today's events, one of the weirder moments of recent times.
Picture the scene. Lunchtime. Powersurge standing in the focus of a modern amphitheatre, an architectural feature of the complex where he works.
All around him, people in weird costumes, some good, some not so good... computer game characters, movie characters, lots of spikey-haired anime characters, male and female. Rubber swords, face-plates, ski uniforms(?) the lot.
Powersurge not knowing what the frack is going on, only later discovering that they were part of a local cosplay conference.
Powersurge bouncing around on his mobile phone to Mrs Powersurge, suddenly oblivious to his unusual neighbours, having realised that the institution's webcam is directed at this exact spot. Excitedly blabbering about his surrounding delights, overly animated by the need to attract the wife's attention through the fuzzy chaos of the net connection.
I'm not sure who looked the biggest berk in that amphitheatre today...
Prepare For The Greatest Joke Ever.
A little brown paper bag goes to the doctor and complains of feeling really ill. The doctor cannot immediately find anything wrong with him. He takes a blood test and tells the paper bag to come back the following week for the results.
The following week the paper bag is extremely distressed to be told by his doctor that he is HIV positive.
"But how can this be?" he cries, "I'm only a little brown paper bag!"
"Well have you had unprotected sex in the last year?" asks the doctor.
"No, how can I??" he shouts "I'm only a little brown paper bag!"
"How about sharing needles, anything like that?"
"I've said to you before" the little brown paper bag sobs "how can I, I'm only a little brown paper bag!"
"Have you been abroad, to an area where you may have been at risk?"
"I have told you already, doctor! I cannot get a passport, because I am only a little brown paper bag!"
"Ahhhh" says the doctor shaking his head sadly "In that case the only explanation can be that your mother must have been a carrier."
One thing that I've learnt today
Is that the distorted collection of numbers and letters that one is often asked for after forgetting your webmail password a few times is called a CAPTCHA ("completely automated public Turing test to tell computers and humans apart"), a kind of reverse-Turing test to prove that you're a human rather than some scumbot trying to dictionary-search your password. Good for preventing automated creation of free email accounts, or blog comment spam for that matter.
But as this fellow proves with his captcha decoder PWNtcha ("Pretend We?re Not a Turing Computer but a Human Antagonist"), there's still a lot of breaking going on for the alphanumeric varieties...
Personally, I'm so paranoid online that I sometimes hide bits and pieces of logins and passwords in amongst various junk-type in a Notepad window before ligating them in the form fields via highlight/copy/pasting...
Which is one reason why I wish I could be shot of my now-redundant BG (before-Gmail) Hotmail accounts. I can't shut them down as - very occasionally - something useful still comes through. But the damn thing doesn't even allow my preferred password (I try to prefix all of my different passwords with a regular 9 character block of alphanumerals).
So there you go. That's what I've learnt today. But I didn't say it was going to be interesting.
27 AUGUST UPDATE: And I now see that Blogger now allows blog-owners to use captcha's for their Comments...
Life's been a bit stressful recently for reasons that I can't go into here (hey, respect a blogger's privacy, wouldja? I don't feel the need to bleed painfully all across the net, and even if I did I'd set up an anonymous site far away from this very public portal into my life. Anyway, I'm more tempted to set up a HAPPY FRIENDLY anonymous site with a prize at the end of the neon rainbow for any VSX regulars who'd decided to unearth it via their impressive net-nous and web-wizardry.)
But after a tiring computer-free weekend its been nice to get back to work and see a treasure-trove of auto-forwarded comments sitting in my inbox. I felt incredibly touched in a strange sort-of way (not THAT strange sort of way!)
I've found it difficult devoting the free time that I've needed to these pages over the last few weeks. I've got a wealth of ideas but a paucity of energy - there's the wedding chronicles to come, and the Clutterbuck Closing Ceremony, plus, erm, those rude-looking trees. Ahem.
But worst of all, it's been difficult finding the capacity to absorb myself in the the lives of those valued blogging chums represented with pride upon my blogroll (to help the imaination of those vision-impaired readers whose screen access software can't cope with my Template From Hell, they are over in a righthand sidebar of my frontpage. And following that trajectory of thought, all you other website owners should head on over to the Colorblind Web Page Filter to see how your site looks to sufferers of various types of colourblindness. You might want to optimise it out of the goodness of your hearts, but knowing you lot you're more likely to just want to do strange things to your pride and joy. Most of the filters improve my personal snot-green monstrosity, anyway!)
Where was I? Oh yeah, I'm miss reading as much as writing these so-called worldwideweblogs.
The weird thing about blogging, the "special" thing, is that sense of involvement and association, of friendship, with what was formerly a "stranger's" life. And whilst I don't keep track of what my "real life" friends are up to apart from when we meet up so very occasionally, it can really feel like I'm missing out when I can't check up on my blogfriends.
Whatever, I'm out of time once more. I'd only intended on logging in today to post up a smiley face to everyone who'd made my morning in writing...
Music to move you
People are always coming up to me in the street and asking "Mr Powersurge, out of all the albums that you've heard this year, which two stand head and shoulders above the rest".
Well, the first would have to be Funeral by Arcade Fire.
A gorgeously beautiful, raw and honest album, expertly crafted and passionately played, it is the album that has been missing from my life all these years. Those who don't already own this should grab a copy now, no matter if they've not heard anything by the band before and no matter what sort of music they're into. It's that good. Something intensely human to oil your internal jukeboxes with.
And secondly, you need to buy the eponymously-titled debut from Kasabian. Marvelously energising indie rock and dance that's so full of breadth there's no room for breath. The sort of thing that makes you wonder how people can still listen to Quo-rock like Oasis.
Its a pity that they've not shared the same meteoric rise as the Kaiser Chiefs (whose self-titled album admittedly had its moments but was overall pretty uninspiring) - surely Kasabian's trajectory should be taking them much further?
So many albums that I've been looking forward to over the past year have turned out to be fairly lackluster, so its heartening when two "blind purchases" turn out to be so impressive.
Now please stop coming up to me in the street and asking me stupid questions...
Do you use a web browser (the recommended application-type for appreciating VSX at its fullest potential)? Got Macromedia Flash "plugged-in"? (Digression for Firefox users - essential extension: Flashblock)?
Search engine secrets
Blog authors: Do you feel the desperate need to net casual surfers drifting on the seas of the search engines to your badly-written polemics?
The solution is simple: Make a habit of mistyping the names of the focus of your essays. You'll guarantee visitors badly let down by the more accurate news sources. As evidenced on VSX by a surge of Googlers looking for information on Mo Mowleam's illness.
Robin Cook RIP
 Now I admit that I did once describe Robin Cook as looking like the sexual organs of an alien akin to those depicted in the Predator series of movies.
However, I'm no oil painting myself.
So I feel bad to lead from that tacky reference onto the news of his tragic death. This was a man who I very much respected, a selfless politician of principle rather than the hypocritical opportunist type that we've become more used to.
I shall never forget him resigning from the cabinet to an ovation from his peers over the misguided decision to go to war in Iraq, and that seeming rare moment of clarity, of epiphany, amongst the other parliamentarians, fermented by their respect for the man for saying what needed to be said rather than what would save their skins.
Since then he's been an essential high-visibility voice of reason from within the Labour party.
I haven't got the energy or the time to waste on this one, and I would hope that the reader is intelligent enough not to require me to.
However, the sensible thinking is that you should never trust any educated individual who believes in creationism. That way of thinking's an evolutionary dead-end.
And talking of not trusting Bush (and don't get m estarted about the forcing through Senate of John Bolton as his new UN envoy...), commentators sometimes wonder why the Downing Street Memo (that proved beyond doubt that we were lied to and purposely misled in order to ignite the Iraq war) has received scant coverage in the British media, whilst the normally-dud US media has followed this one through.
I guess the answer is that most of us already KNEW we were being lied to and misled. We looked at the run-up to the war, we knew what they were trying to do, we saw the shortsighted stupidity and self-serving nature of it, we protested, we were not so much as acknowledged by Blair. Its no wonder there's so much apathy in this country about our politicians. We're poisoned.
Which brings me to sad news about the wonderful Mo Mowlem, critically ill in hospital. She was someone who did demand respect from the public but was shamefully treated by the architects of "New" Labour.
She thought with her head, not with her spleen or her wallet.
A great loss, to politics and to those that she inspired.