Posts from 1st November 2004

Nov 04

On the subject of resurrecting the dead (see return of YS below)

Do You SeePost a comment • 976 views

On the subject of resurrecting the dead (see return of YS below) Only Fools and Horses spin-off series

God damn you all to hell!

A spectrum from the Past

Do You See1 comment • 922 views

A spectrum from the Past
Go out now and get your copy of Retro Gamer 9. (Available at CEX last time I looked, and on that first link). And for why? Because it comes with a free 32-page extra magazine: Issue 94 of Your Sinclair (nee Spectrum). Reviewed here in full.

Jesus Saves but he Doesn’t Invest.

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 294 views

Jesus Saves but he Doesn’t Invest.

W. all respect to Mr Sinker, i think that while trying to point out a peice of xian kitsch, he missed the most important point–by just saying haha look at the incongrus matching of jesus and commerce he missed a v. good metnomy of larger christian themes. (kitsch is always more authentic and more real when it comes to the emotions of viewers, its power can only be disputed by those decadents with a good working sense of artifice and irony.)

In the linked painting below, is the encapsulation of health and wealth theology that has been washing over the evangelical world of late. Disregarding completely the basic anti capital message of Christs gospel (late 19th/20th century word, i cant find a Roman equivlent)…it reflects two ideas, that god wants you to be happy in the only way middle class suburban (esp. female–i know the print is aimed at men, but women buy them in much larger numbers) North Americans know how, ie money and god requires no hard work no hard work, no 40 days in the desert, no isolation or prayer or fasting or satan for this money. The other idea being that god is everywhere, that everything you do is xian–this doesnt mean molding your life to be a proper servant, it means basically make sure that you can drop and pop culture, from secular to religous.

Look at the 9.2m copies that the Prayer of Jabez sold–a buddyjesus version of think and grow rich (that had to go all the way back to Jeremiah to find something that vaguely talked about new wealth), or how Bush conflates suppy slide economics w. the life of a born again (trickle down baptism) or a recent coloumn in LifeBeat, a magazine for xian teens (i have a subscription if anyone wants to borrow copies)–which gave permission for a young teen to work on sundays, cause every day is sabbath if you have jesus in your heart.

Jesus would never appear in a board room, he didnt like those who made money very much, and the dialouge that surrounds this is actually not only dangerous but a lie. By making quick and ironic jokes dilutes the power of this movement with out the thinking of the implications of it.

This disappoints.

I railed a wee bit about originality

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 293 views

I railed a wee bit about originality being a quality that fades over time last week, especially after you have been mercilessly copied by all and sundry. The issue occurred to me again when we popped into The Eagle on Farringdon Road on Saturday. The Eagle is considered to have been the first gastropub, and is still going strong now. But as the first surely other of its ilk have improved on its basic innovation.

Honestly? The Eagle struck me as one of the best gastropubs I have been to. Not just because of the top notch food, but partially due to the rough and ready feel of the place. Other gastropubs may have taken the template and toyed with the surroundings, The Eagle still feels firmly like a pub. Albeit a pub where huge gashes of flame are as common on the back bar as bottles of whiskey (hmm, dangerous combination that). Other gastropubs have gone for stripped pine, nicely order table, matching furniture. The Eagle has a maze of tables which are pretty tricky for the waiters to negotiate (and considering he won’t get a tip the effort is appreciated). Not too many fancy beers, and the drink prices are reasonable. The food prices are not super cheap, but the food is good. And actually I would be a bit suspicious if I was paying less than a tenner for a sirloin steak anyway.

The Eagle prides itself on simple, gutsy food. ie Food best paired with a pint. Like its sister the Anchor & Hope (but slightly less poncey) it doles out quality food in a nice open kitchen than you enjoy the smells from (the pot roast chicken which replaced the steak that the ladies on our table had all eaten up smelled lovely). The secret I suppose is that later gastropubs have tried to maximize profit by giving people what they think they want. What they think they want is not a pub at all, rather a British kind of brasserie. But the pub bit of the gastropub is the key to the Eagle’s success.

Titan – a profound mystery wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a significant nitrogen atmosphere

Proven By SciencePost a comment • 210 views

Titan – a profound mystery wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a significant nitrogen atmosphere
NASA Cassini-Huygens home page, Press Releases
On Christmas Day, a small probe (Huygens) will separate from the Cassini spacecraft and head towards Saturn’s moon Titan. It will hit the atmosphere on 21st Jan and drop down taking photos and other science-stuff all the way down.

I was tickled by the story (related in a BBC doc on this a few weeks back) that after launching this MASSIVE craft and spending years developing it, it was discovered that the small probe and the Cassini craft were not able to communicate. A major problem because the probe is not able to send its info directly back to Earth, but has to use Cassini as a relay. The probe signal and the Cassini aerial would only work at incompatible frequencies. (No doubt the real story was more complex, but this was how it was reduced for us on the BBC doc.) OH CALAMITY. Not to worry, the wonderful, and simple workround, was that while the probe would send its info, the Cassini craft would SPEED towards the probe, and the dopler effect would shift the radio-waves into the right frequency for it to pick up!

So fortunately, we can look forward to a detailed view of the surface and lots of stuff about the atmosphere’s chemistry. And because Titan is one of only a handful of bodies in the Solar System with a surface AND a significant atmosphere it should make it all VERY VERY EXCITING.

And it is. But while the chance of finding ALIUMS FROM ANOTHER WORLD is all very well and good, it is doubly important because it is the scene of much Sci-Fi fun. It’s where Dr Who picks up K9, courtesy of Grange Hill’s Mr Bronson in Invisible Enemy, and where Judge Dredd’s clone brother Rico was imprisoned.

I have no idea why the Wikipedia entry for Titan mentions Dredd (and Red Dwarf) but not K9. Some mysteries are not for us to comprehend.


The Brown WedgePost a comment • 350 views


The Grebtest Painting Evah Sold… except maybe (as b’rub’ notes) the possibly BETTER one on the wall IN the painting!!

i heart fictional art!!


Do You SeePost a comment • 1,017 views


“You could just like it becaue its a good movie,” my flatmate said when I mentioned the next film on the list that had taken me well over a week to get back to was 10 Things I Hate About You. She was right of course. I have always felt slightly embarressed about this being my favourite film of 1999, which is odd in as much as if I was truely embarressed I would not tell people. I suppose I have always dressed up a pseudo-intellectual reason why I think this movie is great.

THE PSUEDO-INTELLECTUAL REASON: It is better than Shakespeare’s The Taming Of The Shrew. This is not all that hard because
a) The Taming of The Shrew is pretty rubbish
b) They had a good four hundred years to work on the ending.
The problem with the Taming Of The Shrew is that Katherine, the titular shrew, is a much more interesting character than anyone else in play so it is a tragedy that she gets “tamed”. Not to mention the obvious gender politics involved in “taming” anyway. A slight that had been partially balanced by John Fletcher’s “The Tamer Tamed”, you were not going to se ea high school version where Heath Ledger slings Julia Stiles over his shoulder and takes her back for his rights. Instead it plays the problems of the play as strengths, making the male always weak and craven and in finding out that he likes the spiky Kat, much more interesting. Rather than being Tamed, she is accomodated. She no longer needs to be so spiky becuase she trusts someone, but she trusts someone who actually likes her spikiness. Job done.

THE REAL REASON: The unstoppable mixture of a snappy script, Julia Stiles and that incredible crane shot at the end of the film the reveals a band playing on the roof of the School. What a shot. Not only doe sthe film have a scene to challenge the Ferris Bueller “Twist And Shout” sequence in cutesy singalong fun, but it knows its own happy ending when it sees it, and celebrates it madly. A wonderful little thing, even if there is never a point in the film where someone lists 10 Things That They Hate About Someone Else in it.

There shall be a Scottish Parliament

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 149 views

There shall be a Scottish Parliament

I went to the Scottish Parliament recently – a friend works there and offered to give me a tour. As a resident of England, I didn’t feel particularly strongly about the building, or the process of devolution, aside from thinking it was generally speaking, a good thing, and empathising as a Northerner with the problem of voting Labour in gteat numbers but still getting a Tory government.

The Parliament has been dogged by controversy since it was commissioned. An enquiry into cost overruns said that it wasn’t anyone’s fault, but hinted that if blame were to be laid anywhere, the people concerned were now dead, which was handy. Every aspect of the building has been fair game in an unstinting assault that found new and interesting ways to say ‘it’s a waste of money’.

Watching with slight interest from afar, it seemed to be nothing more than a usual everyday story of public sector procurement problems, added to by some traditional tardiness on the part of the Great British Builder, throw in some residual peevishness for the political process that created the need for the building and a lingering ideological hangover for ‘small government’. This crusty old pie of controversy was topped by some cod-architectural criticism: ‘but it looks dead weird and is kind of conceptual’, and had a helpful sprinkling of anti-Europeanism by virtue of the architect being Catalan.

But what was it like? In a word – magnificent. And here’s why:

1) It’s a modern publicly commissioned building where despite the controversy, they haven’t skimped anywhere. The original vision has been maintained, and the finishings are as impressive as the overall structure itself. The care and attention to detail is a joy to behold, from the wood panelled floors that match the lines of structural weight-bearing walls, to stairwells that accept that people meet on stairs and want to chat, and so provide ‘islands’ for such chats to not interfere with flows on the stairs. It’s also not scheduled to need a refurbishment for 100 years, which seems positively grandiose in an age of build liftetimes of about 25 years.

2) It’s a superb mingling of glass, granite, concrete and wood, and all materials feel right when used. There’s no sense of artifice in the usage at all – granite becomes glass becomes wood, or glass is fronted by concrete and it all feels just so. You can’t imagine another way to do it.

3) The symbolism is superb – the mace is reassuringly modern yet traditional. The debating chamber itself has wooden beams in a roof that takes its inspiration from the old Scottish Parliament. That Parliament was signed away by the second Marquis of Queensbury, whose house is now the staff entrance to the building, as a big ‘up yours’ down the generations. The chamber itself has glass panels to diffuse light and heat around the room, and the public gallery is accessible and unlike Westminster, you’re very close to the action.

4) The overall project has a committment to a way of doing democracy. The technology used – electronic voting, automatic closed captioning are not unnecessary wheezes to say ‘look at us’ but enhancements that make the disparity with crusty old Westminster all the more apparent. It’s often pointed out that there simply isn’t time in the UK Parliament to pass more than 17 or 18 Acts in a single session, but with voting done through walking through doors and ringing a school-like bell to summon the kids for lessons, they waste hours and hours each week on the simple process of counting.

5) The food was superb, with a starter coming in at 98p – the surest sign of subsidised food you’ll ever see.

All in all, it was a building that had been craefully thought out, and faithfully executed, combining vision, an confidence in the likely continued relevance of the institution it was built to house and a reassuring sign that this generation can make fine public buildings. We’re a country that has reified the past so much, and been so crap at the future that this bears noting.

It’s also quietly tragic. Pledges to to reform institutions that were quietly dropped (making the Commons Chamber at Westminster semi-circular) or watered down (House of Lords reform) made it through in Scotland; the building is as much a monument to the radicalism-by-proxy of new Labour in Scotland’s governance. Look at us, the building screams, we didn’t wimp out there; a pleasing reverse of a the Tories, with a better policy being enacted there than the rest of the country. Pity we can’t get this one year later.