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...
Whilst sitting enjoying an UBU in a sunny beer garden after work on Friday the one thing that I've been dreading for decades finally happened.
I got stung by a wasp.
And it only went and got me on my flippin' neck.
My life passed before my eyes as I felt the poison starting to spread, the dull throb of the newly-stimulated impulses mingling with the sensory afferent cocktail filtering through from the Lake Placid Pub & Brewery Company's finest.
But the main element of the flashback was... WHAT THE FRACK HAVE I BEEN SCARED OF ALL THIS TIME? Wasp sting? Piece of piss, matey. There'll be no more of THIS...
Free (some of) our data
I was reading Technology Guardian this morning. Apart from chuckling (as I do on a weekly basis) at Jack Schofield's pipe-chewing pose and losing interest half way through the more overly techy articles, I found myself becoming bemused and exasperated at the inherent conflict between two articles.
The first, written in a Guardian-style one would expect from such an article, bemoaned the latest attempted legal intrusion into a new technology not previously legislated for; internet telephony. The cops apparently wnat to find out who sends and receives data over the various "free" broadband phone lines as they think (probably quite rightly) that this form of communication would be attractive to all manner of ne'er do wells.
The second, under the banner of the Guardian's "Free our data" campaign, bemoaned the fact that the UK government was not allowing the rest of European countries access to geographical data which data is apparently essential to... er... something. There is some geographical-data-sharing iniative going on at the moment (you'd be forgiven for not having heard about it) and us in Blighty are refusing to play ball.
My problem with the first article is that it made clear that the information the police want access to (the identity of people making the calls) just isn't available. To cut a long story short (and to also run what I read through my mental simplification processor unit) the personal information the police want to get hold of simply doesn't exist - "calls" can be made anonymously.
I had a number of problems with the second article. First, its example of the type of geographical detail that "needs" to be shared was the height of low tide - because it's "essential for flood prevention". Essential in the country concerned for sure. Essential for another country with a different tide level? I can't see it. Second, it complained that the UK was holding out because the Ordnance Survey want to use the information it owns (maps etc) to make a "profit" (their parantheses). Quite what a "profit" (in brackets) is as distinguished from a profit (without brackets) I am not sure. Maybe there is some objection to an organisation collecting data in such a way as to accrue copyright in it and then seeking to make a return on that endeavour. Whatever the objection, however, we return to the example. Do the OS own the data relating to tide levels? Nope. And is data relating to tide levels freely available elsewhere? Presumably yep. And do the OS own ALL data relating to geographical data and maps? Nope.
Someone is quoted as saying the UK's attitude is typical of its island mentality. Er but surely by definition the fact that we ARE an island makes our geographical data less useful to, say, Switzerland than that of one of the countries that borders it. if it's less useful, why should we share it? Like, maybe, why should Skype users have to share details of who they call?
Right. So to sum up; article 1 objects to one government body trying to obtain data that does not exist anyway and article 2 objects to another government body refusing to give up data which is (at least in part) freely available elsewhere.
Glad that's sorted out. I know the state has greater potential access to data than Joe Public does. I also know Joe Public doesn't care about half the data it could have in the same way as it is simply not cost-effective, expedient or practical for the state to use all it has access to (which is why not every 16 - 25 year old has not been arrested at least once for drunk and disorderly recorded on CCTV). Just because data exists, it does not mean anyone should have access to it; whether the person resisting access is state or individual.
How Far Can Scramble Invade My System
Proof that I've played too many old computer and arcade games in my life: I don't seem to be able to walk along a corridor without tracing my knuckles along the wall next to me, soaring up or swooping down to avoid fixtures and fittings etc. That's when I'm not approaching the corridor using my Doom tactics, of course.
Too much of Konami's Scramble (and its clones, including the pink Rocket Raid on the BBC Micro and Beam Software's Penetrator on the Speccieet al) methinks.
Ah, Penetrator, that was a great early Spectrum game, despite its ultradodgy name; played it to death - rock hard later on in the tunnels. Thankfully it had a good DIY level designer so that you could save some of your own slightly more forgiving levels... loved the silky smooth fashion in which the satellite dishes rotated... I was less demanding then...
Wish I had more time on my hands so I could solder the contacts beneath the all-important LOAD button on my ZX Spectrum... emulation's too easy - I liked the satisfaction of finally finding the correct volume for a dodgy hyperload C60 tape recording after having spent all afternoon trying to get the damn game to load...
But in the meantime, look what I've just found... PLAY SCRAMBLE IN YOUR WEB BROWSER HERE... www.1980-games.com/us/old-games/java-games/scramble.php ... ah, that takes me back 25 years... childhood excitement at brand NEW technology... and distant thoughts about the potential for the future that it heralded...
50 Films To See Before You Diet
Now World+Wife is going to be blogging about this, but what the hell, my wife doesn't blog.
To celebrate the relaunch of Film4 as a free-to-air channel, Movie Experts (including Lord David Puttnam, Uwe Boll and Paul W.S. Anderson, though not sure about those last two...) have named the 50 films that they think everybody should see before they die. I hope that the accompanying show wasn't broadcast in the world's troublespots or famine-struck areas...
And so that you can "enjoy the list", and nothing at all to do with showing just how clued-up I am (or not), I'm going to self-importantly annotate it according to those films I've seen (labelled S), possess (labelled P, whether bought or those on dodgy VCR recordings off of the telly), or those that I possess but haven't got round to watching yet (PSX). And if you don't like it you can Psx off.
From the top, ladies and gentleman:
1. Apocalypse Now (PSX) 2. The Apartment 3. City of God (S) 4. Chinatown 5. Sexy Beast (P) 6. 2001: A Space Odyssey (S) 7. North by Northwest 8. A Bout de Souffle 9. Donnie Darko (P) 10. Manhattan (S) 11. Alien (P) 12. Lost in Translation (S) 13. The Shawshank Redemption (S) 14. Lagaan: Once Upon A Time in India 15. Pulp Fiction (P) 16. Touch of Evil 17. Walkabout 18. Black Narcissus 19. Boyz n the Hood (S) 20. The Player (S) 21. Come and See 22. Heavenly Creatures (P) 23. A Night at the Opera 24. Erin Brockovich 25. Trainspotting (P) 26. The Breakfast Club (S) 27. Hero (S) 28. Fanny and Alexander 29. Pink Flamingos 30. All About Eve 31. Scarface 32. Terminator 2 (P) 33. Three Colours: Blue (S) 34. The Royal Tenenbaums (S) 35. The Ladykillers 36. Fight Club (P) 37. The Searchers 38. Mulholland Drive (PSX) 39. The Ipcress File 40. The King of Comedy (PSX) 41. Manhunter (S) 42. Dawn of the Dead (P) 43. Princess Mononoke 44. Raising Arizona (PSX) 45. Cabaret (S) 46. This Sporting Life 47. Brazil (S) 48. Aguirre: The Wrath of God 49. Secrets and Lies (PSX) 50. Badlands
Phew, I'm so knackered after that I can't really be bothered to put any editorial or opinion in. I'm worse than Paul Ross!
Nintesco Customer Services Lite
I'm a sucker for an impulse buy from Tesco; I've got scores (nearly) of cheap but essential DVDs just waiting for me to find the viewing time.
And I'm a sucker for small things; so's my wife - that's why she married me! (Only joking - I'm HUGE. Ahem.)
And I'm theoretically a sucker for console games - a bit too much, which is why I've been steering myself clear in recent years. I've not brought a computer game since Rollcage Stage II for the first Playstation back in 2000.
However today, upon seeing the Nintendo DS Lite in the supermarket, I just could not resist. Well I did - I came home, thought about it, and went back for it!
Ninetysomething Pounds for the Lite bundled with one game, or another four quid with Mario Kart DS thrown in, "excellent" I thought out loud. "But I'd better check at Customer Services whether the Mario Kart budle is the lovely new Lite version or the slightly less lovely old DS machine since it doesn't mention Lite on the display case".
What a palaver - the biddies on the desk didn't have a flipping clue! "You'll have to go down to a computer shop to buy a Nintendog, otherwise you can't use it" one said, seemingly trying to put me off the purchase, before admitting it was all "gobbledygook", perhaps meaning the whole concept of these new-fangled picture boxes rather than the gibberish she was spouting.
Getting nowhere when I tried to explain I made a run for it, and spent 5 minutes trying to find someone who could help. Spotted a young employee in a bright red t-shirt proclaiming "HERE TO HELP" and thought that he'd do. All sorted (Mario bundle was with the old DS, so I sadly went without), paid at the check-out, and was told I'd have to go to Customer Services to pick it up. Avoided the CS biddies and asked at the tobacconists, who proceeded to spend 5 minutes looking for the "game" that was the DS Lite, then a further 10 minutes whilst a more clued-up employee went to replenish their stocks from the warehouse.
Finally home with the machine plus Dr Kawashima's Brain Training. I'd managed to pique Mrs Powersurge's interest by telling her "it'll be good for us". Shame about Mario. Now to stiffen my resolve for the future...
Joe Pasquale, QuizShowHost Parasite
Whilst I'm ranting about the important issues of the day, might I just add that I had the misfortune to catch Joe Pasquale hosting the revamped "The Price is Right" late last week.
Now the squeaky-voiced TV funny-man is no Leslie Crowther, or even a Brucie, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. However:
He kept calling the contestants (male or female), almost absent-mindedly, as "Lovely". "Come here Lovely. Well done, Lovely. Now then, Lovely, your guess has to be within a thousand pounds of the showcase's correct retail price, and not a penny over. Now stand there, Lovely."
He can't do that. This is what I call my wife - Pasquale's just devaluing the term!
The contestant caliber seems to have gone downhill. Example: The chap who'd won through to the "Pasquale Finale" (only to have his hopes of winning anything dashed at the show's climax) had not got himself a new outfit for the outing; he looked like he'd came straight off a painting job, his jeans being covered in paint - that, or he'd had a bad toothpaste experience, or worse...
Joe Pasquale is famous in the comedy circuit for the wholesale theft of jokes from former They Think Its All Over presenter Lee Mack. Looking at Pasquale's hair nowadays, it looks like he's also stolen the haircut of former They Think Its All Over presenter Nick Hancock!
"This bill would support the taking of innocent human life in the hope of finding medical benefits for others. It crosses a moral boundary that our decent society needs to respect."
Obviously, considering American foreign policy and its support of it's "friends", the moral boundary concerning the taking of innocent human life only applies to Americans and, due to the related political influences within America, the Israelis.
And the world looks on and watches as they sow the seed for our society's destruction.
How can we be so shortsighted, so blinded, so selfish and stupid?
Just 'cos I've been on holiday doesn't mean I've not kept up with my obsession with quality TV (big thanks cable -on-demand). And so, I would just like to take the time to "big-up" the following:
Dr Who(BBC1 / BBC3) - the All New Doctor Who squeezed a few more tears from my eye with the final Series 2 episode Doomsday. Shameless manipulation of the audience's emotions, a few gaping plot holes, coupled with enough "stuff" going on that they could have drawn it out from 45 to 90 minutes and still left it feeling breathlessly densely-packed, it was nonetheless flipping marvellous. And that last scene on "Dårlig Ulv Stranden" (Bad Wolf Bay)... with that music... sob! Nice work, Russell T Davies - not bad for a former Chucklevision-scribe.
Saxondale(BBC2) - maybe its because I've got a shameful history of bad rock music, but I'm loving Steve Coogan as ex-roadie Pest Controller Tommy Saxondale. I'm still to catch up on the last few episodes, but co-editor Stu informs me that there's a choice Dumpy's Rusty Nuts reference in store for me...
Rob Brydon's Annually Retentive(BBC3) - close Brydon-friend Steve Coogan may be able to walk the walk, but only Rob Brydon can talk the talk. Or something. Behind the scenes and in front of the cameras for Rob Brydon's disasterously bad TV panel game show.
Over the years Brydon has been crafting for himself the character of the "real Rob Brydon", in interviews and in films (Cock & Bull Story), and this builds on the foundations in a wonderfully cringeful manner. Across between The Larry Sanders Show, The Show / The Bob Mills Show(the British equivalent of Shandling's masterpiece, and perhaps that show's superior, given a dangerous edge by the very nature of the reality of its fly-on-the-wall backroom scenes - repeats, please!), 29 Minutes of Fame with Bob Mortimer (a very bad panel show made real!), and, oh, let's be lazy and just say "Have I Got News For You", it's probably the best thing on British telly at the moment. Unless you can't stand Rob Brydon, or unless you're stupid.
Charlie Brooker's Screen Wipe - new series starting this week on BBC4. Don't miss it - it'll be flipping graaaaate!
Postcard from Spain
A few notes that I'd jotted down in "old format" whilst on my recent Spanish sojourn (craftily coupled with hiding out from the Van Dammes):
Ahh, the satisfaction that you experience as the holiday progresses, as you lighten the weight of your baggage by using up your stocks of sun lotion, your painkillers, your batteries, etc. Order from chaos. Etc.
I have taken the following albums with me (nothing new and exciting): Franz Ferdinand - You Could Have It So Much Better Bjork - Medulla Amajuba - Like Doves We Cry Arctic Monkeys - Whatever You Say I Am Thats What I'm Not System of a Down - Hypnotize Queens of the Stone Age - Lullabies to Paralyze Scissor Sisters Air - Talkie Walkie Sigur Rós - Takk Muse - Absolution The Chemical Brothers - Push The Button True Love Waits - Christopher O'Riley Plays Radiohead Sci-Fi Themes Nine Inch Nails - Further Down The Spiral Sons And Daughters - The Replusion Box The Go! Team - Thunder, Lightning, Strike Killers - Hot Fuss Gnarls Barkley - St. Elsewhere NIN - With Teeth The Flaming Lips - At War With The Mystics Arcade Fire - Funeral Faithless - Outrospective DJ Scruff - Keep It Unreal
In the entire holiday I have only listened to the following: Nine Inch Nails - Further Down The Spiral DJ Scruff - Keep It Unreal (two thirds thereof) Scissor Sisters
Lack of expression
Whilst I am away from electronic forms of self-expression, I find myself lost in endless hazy trains of thought... they usually don't actually coalesce into anything constructive, but they just hang trancelike in the air... I stare into space... I just don't creatively think... or connect... as I do at home...
One train of thought that did actually solidify...
... related to Conservative hysteria (both wilful and misguided), and disproportionate responses to happenings.
This latter was before the latest escalation of the Middle East crisis, and in fact related vaguely to ant powder and pest control... more important matters have now overtaken me...
Returning several times to the same region of the Costa Blanca over three years, its interesting watching the urbanisations sprawl across the countryside... like the Army of the Dead swarming across Pelennor Fields...
I have been buying loads of CDs. These reviews are less than 100 words each. Reviews up to 100 words each available elsewhere.
The long-awaited Mike Patton "as commercial as Faith No More" project. Lots of guest vocalists, knob twiddlers. Has been described as "dark trip hop" but not by me. It's very FNM, only with less guitars. It's bloody brilliant.
THOM YORKE - ERASER
Very hard work this one. Kind of like Kid A only more miserable and even more squelchy. Can't help thinking he should chill out a bit, and that I'd be better off listening to some of the people he's copying rather than this pale imitation. That way I would avoid his whining too.
Digression - I went to see the Head at Victoria Park years ago just after Kid A and they played there because they could put the shows on themselves and do it in as non-corporate way as possible (man). I always remember arriving to see hundreds of enormous Budweiser and Virgin lorries everywhere. And now they're playing V. Sure they have to play somewhere, but stop moaning about it already.
MUSE - BLACKHOLES AND REVELATIONS
Quite simply utterly (a) ridiculous and (b) superb. How a band can so shamelessly evoke one of my most hated bands (Queen) and yet I still love them, I don't know. Supermassive Blackhole (which doesn't sound like Queen) is single of the year hands down.
TV ON THE RADIO - RETURN TO COOKIE MOUNTAIN
On my first listen as we speak. Bowie loves them and that's not the only immediate similarity with Arcade Fire. Experimental without being rubbish... I hear saxophones... interesting song structures... could be more than vocalist... erm sounding good so far.
GET CAPE WEAR CAPE FLY
Best name ever. Sounds okay too.
SUMMER SINGLES REVIEWS
Lilly Allen - Smile
The sound of London in the summer (copyright everyone). It really is great though.
Simian (remix thing) - We Are Your Friends
The sound of everywhere else in the summer (copyright me). It's great too.
Christine Aguilera - Ain't No Other Man
I haven't heard it but someone told me it is "pop genius". Is it better than Lilly though? She's the sound of... oh I've done that one.
HMV SALE PURCHASE REVIEWS
The La's (£2.99)
Meant to be a bit of a classic innit? Sounds like a load of dated old sea shanties to me though. There She Goes must be the most unrepresentative single pulled from an album EVER.
Iggy and the Stooges - Raw Power (£3.99)
Greatest album cover of all time even though he hated it initially. Not as good as The Stooges or Fun House though.
Normal service will temporarily be replaced by the latest Hoff video
I'm going to be lieing low electronically over the next few weeks... the Van Damme's have been sniffing around... I need to hide out in sunnier climes... not that you could get much sunnier than Britain right now...
But in meantime here's something to keep you entertained until my return...
... its David Hasselhoff, and he seems to have got the joke. Top stuff.
Animal Rescue Aftermath
Back in April we were woken by the sound of a mother duck in distress, waddling franticly up and down the road outside our house, or perching herself sentinel-like on the nearby rooftops. Her babies were trapped in the pit of a nearby electricity substation where she had nested. The electricity company were called to see what they could do, and a very nice electrician spent hours trying to coax them into a box.
This is their story following the resuce of the ducklings...