Posts from 2nd August 2005

Aug 05

Worm Humus & Carrot Sandwiches

Proven By SciencePost a comment • 301 views

A standard Tuesday afternoon discussion of the correct spelling of humous (humus/hummus/houmous…) threw up this gastronomic delight. Worm Humus. Like standard, or even low-fat humus, worm humus is described as “grow media” and furthermore as “natures flavour enhancer”. Num num…

When Possibly Interesting Programmes Go “Meh”

Do You SeePost a comment • 183 views

The new aI-qa3da on bbc2, whilst “timely” and an interesting counterpoint to the power of nightmares from 6 months ago, is a dreadfully flawed programme on a number of levels:

1. the first programme on “j!had on the interweb” featured so much half@rsed ignorance about how the web works (eg. “so these websites are hosted on your messageboard?”) that it made me almost as annoyed at the presenter/writer bloke as at the people who were running the messageboards. You’d think someone with more than a year to come up with a programme might have taken at least a bit of time to understand how these things work.

2. the reconstructions are APPALLING and half the time I couldn’t tell whether the people being interviewed were actors replacing people in fear for their life, or real people (actors are not real people, thank you ;)), the interviews seemed so stilted and staged.

3. the decision to use GEEZAH COCKERNEES for the voiceovers of Moroccan gangsters/t3rr0rists, which turned most of last night’s programme into “eurotrash: the desparate sh!t and misery episode”, to the point where, about 15 minutes later, having switched over and seeing the Bloo Acticlean advert which features a rather stern, london-accented toilet (just go with me on this one, OK), Meg and I both thought “we shall not buy this product, as it is MADE BY T3RR0RISTS!!”

4. the presenter/writer bloke is so SMUG. His entire point in making the films seems to have been “haha, the power of nightmares was WRONG and you were all SAPS for believing it”, despite the fact that his arguments don’t really add up even within the polemic of the programme.

The Power of Nightmares was so persuasive because, at its heart, it was bloody well-made television and used the medium to its fullest, whereas this is basically a guardian weekend article looking into a camera…

Oh, So You Use A Pseudonym For Your Genre Fiction

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 309 views

Just finished reading Love And Peace With Melody Paradise by Martin Millar and wondered if he had written anything else worth reading recently. Millar is one of those writers I occasionally stumble across, whose ability to turn a deceptively simple sentence & paragraph meshes well with evocation of whimsy and paranoia. Whimsy and paranoia eh? Great bedfellows.

Anyway, having liked Milk, Sulphate & Alby Starvation a lot a bit back when, I though maybe post Melody Paradise I should search a few more out. Hello Google and Hello: Martin Scott. Millar has only written one book since Melody Paradise (his travelers masterpiece): Suzy, Led Zeppelin and Me. But Martin Scott has written eight. They are as follows:

Thraxas and the Warrior Monks
Thraxas At The Races
Thraxas and the Elvish Isles
Thraxas and the Sorcerers
Thraxas and the Dance Of Death
Thraxas at War
Thraxas Under Siege

Mr Scott seems rather prolific, whilst Mr Millar has not been. This is of course, as you have guessed, because they are the same person. And while Millar may not have sold all that many of his light musings on the British counter-culture and drug taking fairies, Mr Scott seems able to make a good living. He has even won an award natch (though who knows what winning the World Fantasy Award actually means). But the idea of some light, undemanding genre fiction about a hard-drinking sorcerer cum detective does not completely repel me. And I would almost buy them just for the pulpy covers.

The unexpected joys of a forthcoming Conference season

TMFDPost a comment • 350 views

Exeter City begin their 2005/6 campaign away at Gravesend and Northfleet, who play in Northfleet. It’s a not-especially promising kind of place on the Kentish bank of the Thames, but an easy first day trip for City fans based in London. How super. But we might be able to make the day even more exciting. I know that’s hard to believe, but look:

“To: Lafarge Cement

On a visit to Northfleet last year I noticed a sign to a Cement Industry Heritage Centre. Since I will be back in the area soon, I thought I might try to take a look around. I can?t find anything relevant on the Internet, except one reference to a Blue Circle Heritage Centre.

Do you know whether the Heritage Centre exists, or did once? If so, was it attached to Blue Circle, or am I looking in the wrong place?

Thanks very much for your help

Tim H”

Dear reader: a CEMENT INDUSTRY HERITAGE CENTRE. How I hope it’s still there.

I wonder if I’ll get a reply?

The GBBF and its Discontents

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 375 views

I was nearly rude to a man in the Wenlock Arms a few days back. I was sipping demurely on a series of diet cokes while all those around me tucked into delicious-smelling, fine-looking, well-kept real ales. At the bar, enviously buying my companions more pints of Pitfield Dark Star, I was quizzed by a nice fellow about the quality of the beer. I like knowing about this stuff and found my inability to help surprisingly frustrating.

Turns out he’s an American over for the Great British Beer Festival. He asked whether I would be going along. Under other circumstances I’d normally lie politely and be on my way. But I found myself saying “No, I wouldn’t dream of it. I like real ale but I hate beer festivals. I like the pub, me.” Crikey! Where did that come from?

Here’s the FT orthodoxy, as I understand it: we like our booze but our priority is the pub, in particular the pub as the ideal environment for The Soash*. A good pub with dodgy beer remains a good pub, while an awful pub with excellent booze is still rubbish. The root of the deep-seated mistrust of CAMRA on FT stems from this priorities, because CAMRA’s priorities are precisely the opposite of ours. There is also the small matter of those graphics which show people’s heads ickily turning into pints of real ale, but let’s set that aside for now.

The beer festival, it seem to me, is the distillation of What We Don’t Like About CAMRA, with some delicious drinks to compensate. And the booze is GREAT. But beer festivals are uncomfortable places to drink, never enough seating, nowhere nice to lean, every available surface covered in sticky, drying ale, there aren’t enough J-cloths in the world to soak it all up and there is therefore a foul stench of stale ale. Festivals have a bad habit of having live music. GET ONE JUKER. But, oh no, a juker would get all the beerheads complaining about the music and that would distract them from talking about the relative percentages of hop and barley, and the water sources, and what particular blend of imported yeast they use, and…

And you have to pay to get in.

The point is, in exactly the same way as my musical experience is certainly not “all about the music, man”, my drinking life is not all about the quality of the beer. There must be much more to it than that.

*The Soash (sl): socialising (abbr.)

Grand Theft Auto: Sex Andreas

TMFDPost a comment • 583 views

They ain’t called Rockstar Games for nothing baby. How to perfectly market your second wave of sales. Except in Australia. What I find amusing is that these sex scenes will clearly have been programmed in extra time, making them either unpaid overtime for some seriously dull coder, or been asked for in the first place by the company (who could well have anticipated this publicity).

(Computer games often come in Do You See but since this is also about sex, which is a contact sport, I decided to put it here for a change.)

Breezy with the truth…

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 431 views

CAMRA beer fest is upon us, which prompted me to look up the history of alcopops. And what did I find on the Bacardi Breezer website? A history of said drink in the FAQ’s which bore no time or content relation to my memory of it:

1. When was Bacardi Breezer born?

Bacardi Breezer was launched in the UK in 1993, having been a success in the US. In the US market, the “Bacardi Breezer catagory” was known as the “wine cooler” market, which did not exist in the UK. Initially US advertising was imported into the UK portraying sunny beaches, hot summers days, relaxing in hammocks, desert islands, real fruit, etc. with the consumer benefit being to “cool off”.

The UK drinks market at that time was increasingly focused around pints of lager for men, and white wine for women. The bottle drinks market had yet to be established and Bacardi Breezer was bringing an entirely new drinking format to the market. Bacardi Breezer decided that in order to enter this market it would need to position itself as a “credible alternative to beer”*. Being an entirely new catagory and concept to the UK, initial UK advertising had to dramatise who drank Bacardi Breezer, why, when, where, and exactly what the drink was. These executions formed the award winning “True Stories” campaign. The campaign consisted of 4 executions: “Henry 8th”, “Dick Tracy”, “Einstein” and “Romeo & Juliet”**.

Following a successful launch into the UK market, it was essential for Bacardi Breezer to establish its own “brand essence”. As such the “Latin Spirit in Everyone” was born…

Does anyone remember those adverts? Anyway, coming soon, a history of Hooch…

*Ha ha
**None of these actually drank BB’s as the site admits it did not exist before 1993. However, of them, only Romeo & Juliet fit the target demographic, being underage.

Crap At Games

Blog 7Post a comment • 355 views

I was officially crap at Games at school. It was always the low point in my school report. Small in stature, a year younger than everyone else in my class and no depth perception all added up to a poor team player: it was assumed. And it was true. Odd numbered gangs would offer their opponents the chance to pick first: the disadvantage of having one less player was seen to be less than that of having me on the pitch. Reason being, I was crap at games, but I was keen.

My report for Games at a youngish age was usually something akin to a 3A, where the number was for attainment, the letter was for effort. This would be coupled with words which usually explained my rubbishness couched in euphemistic terms of my physical fallibility. I wonder if they are still allowed to do that? The euphemisms drifted away when I hit puberty, and had a Games teacher who liked to speak his mind. It was part of his Professional Northernisms. So from him I got things like the following:

5A: You can’t expect someone his size to be any good at basketball.
5A: Peter’s intense effort at Rugby seems to belie his obvious intelligence as no-one should put that much trouble into something they are clearly not suited for.
And finally
3C: Attendance at Games classes seems to have slipped, though when he is here, he does a very good job at running around the field.

I was fifteen at this point, got the message and either bunked off to go record shopping in Soho, or did cross country to the chip shop.

Nevertheless I always resented being crap at Games, for a number of reasons. First it was patently untrue. Yes, I was crap at games which involved pitting my physicality against others, but I was a dab hand a scrabble, monopoly and chess. Secondly it always annoyed me that kids who were good at Games would get time off of their academic studies to represent the school, whilst I – who was good at school – got no such time off. And it just seemed a strange lesson. What was it teaching us? We already did Physical Education (which I was good at). The extra stuff you got out of Games, namely teamwork and competitive spirit, could have easily been conjured up in other ways.

Still I look back on those 5A’s with pride. To get an A for effort in anything these days…

The Consequences Of Love

Do You SeePost a comment • 531 views

In many ways the anti-Fantastic Four. Tremendous cinema, well thought out characters, bit of a chore to watch. And whilst I will not reveal exactly what the Consequences Of Love are I shall give you a few ideas:

a) Being in a car accident
b) Being kidnapped by the Mafia
c) Being slowly dipped into a lorryload of wet cement
d) You life suddenly being soundtracked by Mogwai.

SO one can only assume that the conclusions of this film is that love is over-rated.

Dear Sports Sub-Editors,

TMFDPost a comment • 159 views

you mayaswell not bother this season, the best headline award has already been won…

(i suppose this would also apply to architectual sub-editors…)