Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Originally uploaded by Hot Grill.
Fantastic dreamlike video forwarded by jonty

Rosanna the gabbling

Rosanna, the gabbling middle-aged lady behind me:

"You know once a dwarf came for an interview at PC Zone. The receptionist sat him down, rang up to them and said 'we've got a thalidomide for you here.' With it sitting there! How insensitive! What a mong!"

Monday, February 27, 2006

L:FE update

Didn't have time for a shower this morning, so feeling all claggy. Got pestered by a credit reference person who said they couldn't establish my existence, anywhere, ever. (We've got a new flat still in Ealing, slightly near the broadway, a stepped white building like a ship's bridge.) I'm having to dig through all my old papers to try and establish it. Apparently, the credit-checking agency can't find any of my addresses (including the one I'm living in at the moment), so I'm going to fail my credit check unless I send them all my money, dress up like a drag queen and run around the streets of London whooping like a dog. I'm getting massively offended at the amount of my time they're wasting. I'm not going to move into anywhere that does credit checks again, though I get a feeling that everywhere will do them soon enough.

Had a good weekend though, wandering over to Tombadillo's to play Guitar Hero (which rawks!), sleeping saturday away and then spending sunday seeing my old PPE group from Magdalen, playing suqash and doing freelance. Must ring my family (unless they're reading in which case 'hello mum!')

Sunday, February 26, 2006

8th Grade Math

You Passed 8th Grade Math

Congratulations, you got 10/10 correct!

And my website common word list, slightly skewed by what's on the page at the moment...

Via Harry's Place & Crooked Timber.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

we make money not art: The Cat Piano

we make money not art: The Cat Piano: "Athanasius Kircher, a 17th century German Jesuit scholar, described the cat piano in the Musurgia Universalis (1650.)

In order to raise the spirits of an Italian prince burdened by the cares of his position, a musician created for him a cat piano. The musician selected cats whose natural voices were at different pitches and arranged them in cages side by side, so that when a key on the piano was depressed, a mechanism drove a sharp spike into the appropriate cat’s tail. The result was a melody of meows that became more vigorous as the cats became more desperate. Who could not help but laugh at such music? Thus was the prince raised from his melancholy."

I've written a lot about Kirchner over the past year, as he was one of the founders of modern science and one of the last renaissance men, along with Da Vinci and Ben Franklin, professional amateurs at a time when amateur was the best anyone was... He was an egyptologist (pioneering the decoding of the hieroglpyhs), a geologist (getting lowered into Vesuvius on the brink of eruption, just to see what was happening), was a biologist (inventing the first modern hygenic methods and using a microscope in 1646 to study the blood). Most importantly for the technobabble I write, he's believed to have invented the magic lantern, the first moving picture show,

People like Kirchner and Franklin seem to be back in fashion now, possibly because of their weird combinations of ideas and their flexibility in altering them with fixed religion, which our pick-n'-mix modern ethics (especially religons) seem to be moving back towards, possibly because they were just amazing inventors who are worth remembering, possibly because (our) people's experiences with the internet are showing them that there are thousands of aspiring authors, artists and acolytes out there, all of whom want to be good at everything; we're all photographers, writers, artists now with the software computers provide, all of us amazingly-equipped amateurs, raised technologically up to be renaissance men. I'd love to ahve seen what the originals would have done with what we have nowadays. (Probably burn it for heresy, or dissect it yes, but the reaction would be worth observing.)

BLDGBLOG: Unrecognized for what they are

BLDGBLOG: Unrecognized for what they are: "Even better is 'the intriguing idea' – mentioned above – 'that alien organisms may lurk all around us, unrecognised for what they are because they fail to respond to standard biochemical analysis' – or they're very bad at conversation. 'For example, there could be microbes that use RNA instead of DNA, or employ a different genetic code.'
There is even a chance 'that some viruses could be relics of ancient alternative forms of life.' Which blows me away it's so interesting! In other words, what we call an infection is actually an encounter with ancient life.
Living fossils inside wounds.
But my enthusiasm here is ultimately more inspired by the possibilities for landscape design, say, using gardens as a form of astrobiological research. It's not a garden, it's a laboratory; it's not your backyard, it's a kind of skin graft from an alien planet. Patches from elsewhere. J.G. Ballard's 'nightmare world of competing organic forms,' an 'insane Eden.'
One could even imagine a series of classified landscapes, grown by infrared in a cave beneath Los Alamos National Laboratory, incomprehensible genetic lines cultivated into a kind of aterrestrial Versailles. Fountains of amino acids washing slowly over alien flowers.
Weird topiary mazes made of symmetrical creeper vines from space. "

Are human beings equipped to recognise other forms of intelligence? I don't honestly believe so. With the difficulties in persuading mankind over the centuries that other forms of mammal life weren't mere "automata", as Descartes and his contemporaries had it, I have no faith in our ability to recognise more abstruse forms of intelligence. What of forms of life that simply aren't recognisable? Patterns that breed in radio waves, interferences of all sorts, whether they correspond to predictable rules or not, could be communications or the form of life themself. At what point do we (we not being children in science class who live by hard and fast arbitary rules established by those same scientists who believed non-human creatures were automata powered by "animal spirits"), at what point do we call a self-replicating, communicating thing alive? Except for our vague, indefinable claim of consciousness, how could we convince an outsider, an alien, that we behaved according to "intelligent action" and not simply a conbination of random factors and deterministic principles from our genes? What would qualify as convincing evidence of another race/individual's intelligence? I've a feeling that, for us, the latter would be along very narrow anthropic lines indeed...

Monday, February 20, 2006

Review - Day of Defeat: Source // PC /// Eurogamer

Review - Day of Defeat: Source // PC /// Eurogamer: "Speaking of lovely places where shootings happen, I was in Croydon on Saturday and found myself talking to a friend from one of those paper magazine things about this here review. 'Ah, you just need a couple of war stories for that,' he said, truthfully. But, I thought to myself, perhaps a little cynically?"

That was me, that was! Cor, I'm an inspiration to the creative I am. Like cheese before bed!


If Coleman is to be believed, then I suspect the single most important thing I've learned is that the chocolate business is full of lying bastards out to exploit the public and flog inferior crap. This is not how he put it, and it's not how he comes across (more of that in a minute), but over the course of the anecdotes about other chocolate makers, it's very hard not to see a picture emerging. Coleman has apparently heard other people in the chocolate business say things like "you don't have to like what you make", something I (and he) find incomprehensible. As far as I'm concerned, if a person can't stand behind their work, then they are a hideous shitehawk, and should be scourged with rusty barbed wire.

Fan-bloody-tastic. Alasdair (real-world name, crazy I know) went to L'Artisan Du Chocolat for a tasting (girls, cease your paroxysms. isms.) He reports on Chocolate and what it's meant to taste like with admirable aplomb. (Stolen via www.warrenellis.com and the endless BoingBoing.)

UPDATE: You can book these tastings for £35 apiece here.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

More babble

I'm the only person in London to write his or her nane on their oyster card? That seems unlikely but the guard seemed to think so. Doesn't the odd Big Brother style announcement awked from the speakers perturb anyone? How much of our movements do they/Can they track... ?

More dreams

Had a dream about being excluded from my dad's funeral, coming along after he was buried to find a small, square tombstone with room for more names. followed by another dr about a monstrous football game I was taking part in, with a great twisted ogre of a player, a sturdy piccasso thug, looming over me, gesticulating incomprehensibly. I just feel like curling up in horror now.

Lucy, DS compact

Lucy, DS compact
Originally uploaded by Hot Grill.
Before Will's birthday... lots more pictures, should you dare to go there.

Send Lilies

Jeez! I've go yet another cold - this one's bad. I shook so much in the night that i've managed to put my back out and can hardly leave the bed - i'm lying there now, writing this on my PDA. If it's bird flu, which it could be as I was dead near the regent's park herons on monday, I'd like the patio song by gorky's zygotuc mynci played at mu funeral. If it's not, I'd still like that played, as I can't reach the stereo...

From last week... I actually couldn't leave my bed to blog this.

Home, James.

On the treble-O one service of desperation, with the rest of the drunks and rapscallions, it stinks of cheap frozen chips, onions, and is filled with babble in a dozen languages. I'm only here because my depression has hit such a peak that I was able to leave the pub before I was properly drunk (though my camera bears evidence that I was able to do some russian dancing before I left.) Lips smack in one ear, a cough hits the other. I can't believe this train's still sitting here. All anyone is talking about is booze, how much they've drunk, what they're going to drink when they get home, how terrible it is that the english drink so much. I'm looking forward to next week, opine the couple behind me munching on fries, bean-burgers and rings, because then i'm going to sort my life out.

The train ekes out of the station as the couple in front of me, an elegant pock.marked black girl and a balding middle.aged gent go for the kiss. My glance at them diverts it into cuddles. The couple behind are extolling the virtues of the 1.99 treble cheesebushes, as their arteries clog with the booze that supplied the imperative to food, and that will eventually bring our lifespans down to the Russian levels, when our economies collapse in the face of China and India. The immigrants around me, admirable as they are, are rats joining a sinking ship. The English are surviving on the wealth of empire, and cramming themselves with its processed by-products while they can. Some of the people sitting on the floor leave, lowering the impression of the third-world. The couple behind me will make greasy love later.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive Project Blog: Media: Artzybasheff's Machinalia

ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive Project Blog: Media: Artzybasheff's Machinalia: "In his introduction to the section titled 'Machinalia' in his book As I See, Boris Artzybasheff says, 'I am thrilled by machinery's force, precision and willingness to work at any task, no matter how arduous or monotonous it may be. I would rather watch a thousand ton dredge dig a canal than see it done by a thousand spent slaves lashed into submission. I like machines.'"

Monday, February 13, 2006

Life Baton

Passed from Chiarina

Four jobs I've had:
Waiter/barman/kitchen porter, MP's dogsbody, wine vendor, games writer.

Four places I've lived:

Didsbury, Bath Spa, Oxford, London; in fact, that's your lot.

Four places I'd like to be right now:
Hmph; a boat on a lake, a snowed-in cottage with a roaring stove, an ancient library packed with bestiaries and lost tracts, a homeostatic ball of ice and steel tethered to the equator in a geocentric orbit staring down at the world.

Four things I've done to impress a member of the opposite sex:
Watched comedy, dressed up smart n' shaved n' stuff, licked their private wotsits even though the flavour's horrid, not run away immediately.

Four films I could watch again and again:
Groundhog Day, Fight Club, Animal Crackers, Grosse Pointe Blanke.

Four things I'm on the verge of learning:
Um, not sure how to answer this one; surely if I'm on the verge, I don't know them yet. That said, I'm always on the verge of learning how other people perceive me, how I'm a better writer when I'm depressed/tired/stressed, how to communicate with other people, how not to run away from girls when I think I might like them.

Four nationalities I've been mistaken for:
Irish, French, Italian, English.

Four Websites I visit daily:
http://www.warrenellis.com/, http://qwantz.com, http://drawn.ca/, flickr.com/photos/grill/

Four people I'd like to continue this meme:
the shouldn't-have-settled-for-Bath Jonty, the endlessly impressing and disappointing sibling Dov, the cerebral gamer Tom, the deliciously vitriolic JohnW

L:fe Update

Something seems to have happened. Either I'm going through a extreme-pheromone phase, the female population of the world has gone mad in the run-up to Valentine's day, or my waking dreams have become more vivid. I seem to have become popular with the extra-geners for a period of two weeks (I even pulled/was pulled using the Aeneid at the weekend). Of course, some of this is due to the intervention of friends supplying me with much-wanted opportunities to meet said ladies, but there's a statistically significant change I'm sure...

Also, weirdness: when I'm out with people, loads seem to assume I'm some sort of sexual beast who has sown his wild oats repeatedly into the quilt of mankind; everyone assumes I have tremendous sexual experience, like some roving-handed Grendelian beast. Do they not know me very well? I’m a computer games journalist for christ’s sake...

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Atomic Blast Photos

Atomic Blast Photos

"Edgerton built a special lens 10 feet long for his camera which was set up in a bunker 7 miles from the source of the blast - the bomb placed atop a steel gantry anchored to the desert floor by guide wires. The exposures are at 1/100,000,000ths of a second."

Monday, February 06, 2006

The Man Who Couldn't Blog: Bridge

The Man Who Couldn't Blog: Bridge: "And I told her it was cool, that all my friends, they had blogs, too. Everyone my age had a blog.

And she said that thing—you know what I mean. She said that thing moms are supposed to say. She said, 'Well, if everyone your age jumped off a...'

I don't even know if I can finish it. It's so...you know. It's just so...

Okay, so she said, 'Well, if everyone your age jumped off a bridge, would you?'

And I said maybe. Kind of to maybe freak her out.

And she, then, got sort of quiet."

A gently surreal blog that does exactly what it says on the tin. Worth reading again and again. On one of his other blogs, he also points to an excellent flash game all about Kafka's The Trial.

Recent Photos.

Recent Photos.
Originally uploaded by Hot Grill.
Ho-hum. Just some recent shots I'm reasonably happy with. Surely it will change...

Friday, February 03, 2006


meat.rtf: "'They're made out of meat.'


'Meat. They're made out of meat.'


'There's no doubt about it. We picked up several from different parts of the planet, took them aboard our recon vessels, and probed them all the way through. They're completely meat.'

'That's impossible. What about the radio signals? The messages to the stars?'

'They use the radio waves to talk, but the signals don't come from them. The signals come from machines.'

'So who made the machines? That's who we want to contact.'

'They made the machines. That's what I'm trying to tell you. Meat made the machines.'

'That's ridiculous. How can meat make a machine? You're asking me to believe in sentient meat.'"

A day of alternative viewpoints. The excellent prosthesis blog highlighted those people who oppose abortion, embryonic stem cell research, cloning, etc. but aren't the Christian right. These include the Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians, several libertarian groups, such as Libertarians for Life, the Godless Pro-Life League and Feminists for Life. It's a timely reminder that chains of reasoning and the evidence that supports them are often more flexible than our secular society allows for.

catapult magazine

catapult magazine: "Top Ten re: angels/transformers
by Henry Kammer

We know about angels. Those of us who know about Transformers, let us acknowledge one another.

Parallels exist between the imagined and semi-imagined worlds of Transformers and Angels. First, both parties have labeled hierarchies: choirs for angels, vocations for Transformers. Second, both wage war for the sake of humankind. Characters of varying power, claiming the ranks of either the good or evil, fight heartily, though evil’s defeat is imminent. Ultimately, truth is revealed, good triumphs and there’s enough jarring imagery to have any first-grader nightmaring about rapture trumps and planet-eating robots.

All my information is from Wikipedia, thus bolstering my credibility."

Misses the obvious Metatron = Megatron, otherwise excellent.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Brokeback to the Future

YouTube - Brokeback to the Future

Another trailer mash-up similar to The Shining as rom-com, which we saw last year and this year's Sleepless in Seattle as horror.

Via BoingBoing, of course.



Hai! Cutesy pictures of organs, aw...