Thursday, March 29, 2007

Static, Smoking & Stench

I left my MP3 player on top of Toby’s speakers whilst he was playing Death Metal Grindcore and some of the horror crept inside and killed my folk MP3s. Now it just crashes when I try and play anything. So on the way to work I listen to the Radio, when I remember, which is rarely. Most of the time I remember just in time to get into the Underground, so I have a brief Hallelujah of Melvyn Bragg’s voice, before it segues into blessed white noise. On the underground, nothing but static pouring into your ears, rather the grunts and sweaty silence of the angry commuters, it’s a blessing.

I’m currently nursing something that Jamie from Zone described as “pleurisy” so I’m having trouble walking, standing or breathing without trying to turn my bronchi into high-pressure chambers. Hence, and otherwise, I can’t wait for the smoking ban to come in. Seth keeps saying pubs are going to stink of stale beer and sweat when the smoke vanishes, but as my sense of smell has been killed by the endless colds I get because of my lungs’ weakness due to all the shit in the air, I couldn’t really care less. I’m sure it’ll just be another thing we’ll all get acclimatised to in our pursuit of the demon drink – hey, we might even get a Pavlovian reaction and start liking it! Roll on the 1st of July, woof!

Friday, March 23, 2007

It's in his face.

Does he love you so? Maybe it really is in his face…

Men with highly masculine faces were judged more likely to get into physical fights, challenge their bosses, sleep with many women, cheat on their partners and knowingly hit on someone else's girlfriend. Those with more feminine faces were judged to be more likely to be good husbands, be great with children, work hard at their jobs even though they didn't like them, and be emotionally supportive in long-term relationships.

So this has established that men who look manly will be more bastardly. Awesome use of the chicken and the egg there - if people have these assumptions, they will treat masculine men accordingly; do men treated this way behave this way? If someone looks at your face and decides from it that you're going to be "trouble", they're going to treat you cautiously, probably not nicely, which'll make you more likely to be trouble. Excess testosterone does cause growth of the cheek and jaw bones, but it also weakens the immune system, so only "healthy individuals with high quality immune systems can afford to produce the hormones required to produce masculine characteristics." Handsome individual combine the characteristics of both feminity and masculinity - full lips and full jaws, big eyes and high cheekbones. Women tend to select masculine men at their peak fertility and feminine men at other times - so we should expect masculine men to be single as the years run on.

Actually, shit, why am I writing this? It's bollocksing 7.30 on Friday night. Gah. Home!

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Metal Brains

Heavy metal 'a comfort for the bright child

The results of a study of more than 1,000 of the brightest five per cent of young people will come as relief to parents whose offspring, usually long-haired, are devotees of Iron Maiden, AC/DC and their musical descendants.

Researchers found that, far from being a sign of delinquency and poor academic ability, many adolescent "metalheads" are extremely bright and often use the music to help them deal with the stresses and strains of being gifted social outsiders.

Um, "rock on" chaps!

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Ego Blogging

A few more of my 360 reviews and previews have popped up online:

Def Jam: Icon
Brian Lara Cricket
Superman Returns
Battlestations: Midway
Shivering Isles (preview)

Paper Angels

The delightfully simple Paperboy (available on Live Arcade since 14/02/07) has reminded me that there simply aren’t enough pacifist games, still less non-competitive ones. Being a conscientious objector myself, I would never handle a firearm (I’ve always turned down trips that promised this as a feature), I don’t believe in glorying in violence and I appreciate developers that bravely stay away from the easy visceral thrills provided by guts, gore and sex. Some bloody games manage to surpass their violent content, either by providing a more strategic air which moves away from the warlike nature of the game; others, like Call of Duty, claim there are historical lessons to be learned from shooting other people in the face. I take this with a large pinch of salt but at least it’s a move in the right direction.

Few games, save puzzle games, can manage what Paperboy does, to produce a game that involves slapstick humour (which, yes, can have an element of violence but always with humour and never designed to gratify by itself) and a compelling, difficult game mechanic without ever resorting to anything crude, nasty, violent. You have three tasks in Paperboy: to keep your paperboy pedalling despite the hazards of the course; to deliver your papers; and to get to the end of the street on time. There’s an optional fourth task, to maximise your score by smashing non-subscribers’ windows, dealing with burglars and stopping fights; essentially anything that can be construed as antisocial behaviour from the viewpoint of the paperboy. It’s a game about doing the right thing that disguises itself as rebelliousness and that’s why I think it’s great.
Sad to say, but the reported 'lost at sea' status of Battlestations: Midway sometime after its announcement in 2004 wasn't greeted with the usual sorrow and rending of hair, but more with the irritated 'tch' noises people make when the cat's pissed on your second-favourite rug. Considering the lukewarm emotion attached to it, the game's return, steaming at full speed back from the horizon, isn't likely to be greeted by cheering crowds on the dockside. Rather, there's more likely to be a mild interest as to where the f*** it's been. Not all escapees of development hell get the welcome of Prey.

Ooh! My reviews seem to have started going online for PCZone. About time!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Just got a message from my newly ex-flatmate Jamie, saying that we’ve got away with moving out and that, having checked the inventory, they’re going to refund our deposits! It’s amazing what you can do to massive scrapes all over the plasterwork with a free tube of poster paint… apparently the flat flooded from the sink backing up while the landlord’s agent was looking it over, which must have won us a few plus points.

I’m SOOOOO glad to be out of that flat.

360 Hangovers

My face feels like it's stuck to the pillow, and there's a ringing in my ears that isn't just the alarm. I vaguely remember dreaming about fighting a knight in a train, then eating some chokeberries. I drag my head up and the instant headache and scummy mouth is so repugnant, I assume I must have been drinking. I check my pockets and am nicely surprised; a wodge of cash is still there, there's no outrageous taxi receipts, no ludicrously priced bills for London cocktails or ladies of the night (slightly cheaper than the cocktails, I hear). Thinking some PR must have been buying the drinks, I stumble into the living room, and the TV's on. A familiar theme tune bangs out, with Patrick Stewart intoning over the top. Everything clears up. Playing Oblivion 'til three again? On a work night? I wish I'd been out drinking…

I shouldn't be playing this game this much. I know off by heart the locations of every shop in every city, have run over the map for hours on end, just for kicks and yet, a couple of hundred hours in, I've still not completed half the quests, am nowhere near completing the main quest and have only just stopped being a vampire (thanks to the Vile Lair download pack). I've not only stopped doing the quests, I've started making up my own. Taking pictures of the flowers, seeing how high I can get my bounty, making the largest pile of naked dead people in a city square, and endlessly just exploring dungeons, just to see what's in there. Oh and lots of running away. I speak to the members of the Thieve's Guild more than I do my family (but, then, my family aren't so hot at laundering goods.) I've wondered about checking into that clinic in Amsterdam to see if I can cure my addiction.

I recognise now that unless I complete all the quests, I'm never going to be able to let this game go. So, thanks to suggestions from friends, I'm now rebuilding my life around getting the game finished. I now do sit-ups whilst watching the screen, nap at work in my lunch-hour to recoup those precious minutes for later play, and have set up a credits system, where an hour of cooking, cleaning or eating bags me an hour fighting gobbos. I'm even aiming to take up smoking when the quests end just so I've got a secondary addiction to take over. The only cloud on the horizon is Bethesda; they insist on realising new, addictive downloads every fricking fortnight, and won't promise me that they'll stop doing it because they're making a nice profit out of me.


I Want Candy (2007 film)

I have four exclusive free tickets to see the preview of I Want Candy on thursday night in Soho, London. Anyone want them? I can't make it... :(

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Down and Out in London.

I remember little of my dream from last night – something about being praised for my singing, which is pure madness. I’m now officially homeless, of “no fixed address” in the parlance of the time. It’s quite liberating, but also enormously panick-inducing. If anyone has a sofa within an hour’s commute of London that needs forming into the shape of a hairy GreekWelshJewish Mancunian for at least a week's period, I’m your man. I also do weddings, barmitzvahs, christenings, funerals… Anywhere there’s free food basically.

Good Ship Venus by Loudon Wainwright III is awesome filth, almost Tiger Lilies standards. All must listen!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Famous at last!

Xbox 360 - The Official Magazine - Shivering Isles priced and dated

The Shivering Isle in which this expansion pack is based also boasts a completely different design ethic to the rest of Tamriel, with our own OXM Grill describing it as a “distinctly Alice in Wonderland styling,” in our mammoth preview.

After playing it extensively, he’s sure Oblivion fans are getting value for money. “It’s worth every penny,” he shouted over to us as he ran away from a pursuing band of goblins. “It’s enormous; what you originally think is a fairly small area opens up to reveal towns, dungeons, massive bosses…”

Everyone seems to think I spend all my time in Oblivion running away from Goblins. I mean, that's true but not what I want people to know. I want them to think how cool I am for playing it, and how nicely arranged my library in Frostcrag Spire is.

Anyway, I completed the Shivering Isles today. You end up with lots of cool shit for knocking it off, believe me!

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Mort Gauge

I’m getting so fucked off with this mortgage thing. The mortgage broker feller, who sounds increasingly sullen every time he rings me, has just told me for the second time that I don’t exist. Apparently, Abbey National, who I’ve been with for 14 years, can’t find any record of my existence at my previous addresses. I told them to check with HSBC. I know I’ve only been with them for 12 years or so, but I’ve kept them more up to date with my movements. Again I get a call saying I’m a non-entity, according to the Abbey Mortgage people. If this continues I will walk around to their office and, with my steel-toecapped boots, show them just how real my existence is by impinging on the physical reality of their testicles. Grr.

Abbey people, or prissy stalkers, if you’re reading; please, this is just frustration I’m sharing with my friends. I’m not about to hurt anyone, unless they really deserve it.

Friday, March 09, 2007

This is how educated PC Zone are.

This is how educated PC Zone are.

Suzie is shouting about Titan Quest, when Will wanders over to correct her as to the location of Agamemnon in the Elysian fields and the story behind his ending up there.

I just overheard Editor Jamie say, “No, we can’t pluralise demo on that page because it’s a homonym for the Greek demos.”

I walk over to ask Log about wine and cheese, only to find him idly browsing Wikipedia’s Mantophasmatodea. When I joked that he’d only gone there because he fancied Wolf off Gladiators (Mantophasmatodea being an order of carnivorous African insects known as gladiators), he bristled smilingly, saying “I’m saddened you think so little of me.”

PC Gamer, trump that!

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"Puppy-Dog Water"

Tuesday 8 March 1663/64 (Pepys' Diary)

Up with some little discontent with my wife upon her saying that she had got and used some puppy-dog water, being put upon it by a desire of my aunt Wight to get some for her, who hath a mind, unknown to her husband, to get some for her ugly face.

Pepys is a little screwy today.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Down In The Hollow

85 - Inside the Hollow Earth « strange maps

That's just plain beautiful. This is a summary map of the Hollow Earth, with all its different entry points and layers, including a small floating sun in the middle. So this is what people reverted to after the flat earth was discredited. Strange maps has the best stuff - including this wonderful image of the most generic country imaginable.

My Musical Preferences

Pandora Internet Radio - Find New Music, Listen to Free Web Radio

We’re playing this track because it features electronica influences, a subtle use of vocal harmony, major key tonality, prominent use of synth, acoustic sonority, folk roots, dynamic vocalists, acoustic instruments.

After months of listening to Pandora, it seems to have calmed down and gives me regularly music I love. Now when I check "why did you play this track" it gives me the some version of the above answer nine times out of ten. Apparently, that's me, which is awesome. Now to look up sonority...

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Friday, March 02, 2007

Cat Ladders

On 2 Mar '07, 8.08am GMT flyerjimmy said:


I wonder if i can use this picture (see link)

Cat Stair

On my cat-ladder site - a site about Cat-Ladders :)

Here's the address to the site:


Where is the picture taken? Which town/country.

Yours sincerely / Jimmy Robertson - Stockholm/Sweden

Uh, yeah. Sure. Cool site and all!

Buzan's Box

BF Skinner was a world famous psychologist who did experiments on conditioning, following Pavlov, where he showed you could get anyone to do anything with enough positive reinforcement (negative reinforcement isn't as effective, oddly). Humph. Lauren Slater has written a very personal book Opening Skinner's Box: Great Psychological Experiments of the Twentieth Century all about Skinner and several other famous psychologists. BF Skinner's daughter Deborah Skinner Buzan responds to Slater's book in the Guardian, claiming the writer failed to do her research, citing several allegations Slater . However, it feels like it's Buzan who's not done her research, as Slater is clear that Buzan didn't suffer from any of the things mentioned; she mentions them only to debunk them. She does say that Buzan slept in the "heir conditioner", a sealed cot designed to provide the perfect environment for a growing baby, but then so does Buzan. Buzan's big problem seems to be that Slater never got in touch with her; but Slater tried to, spoke to Buzan's sister and generally made the effort. That said, Buzan got to write an article for the Guardian and, knowing their page rate, she had to say something controversial...