Friday, August 24, 2007

World Exclusive Bioshock Review.

Review: Bioshock - Official Xbox 360 Magazine
Amazingly-written and beautifully constructed, it's a complete emotional-rollercoaster that we can't draw any parallels with, not because it defies comparison but because any such comparison would give away some of the plot and it would be a tremendous moral crime for us to spoil this gem in any way. If you want to avoid ruining this game for yourself and others, would you kindly not talk to anyone about it until you know they've completed it too?

My review's gone online, about 40 days after I wrote it. World Exclusive means Jack Shit a month later. Magazine lead times are shit, y'know?

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The French Maid

Tuesday 23 August 1664 (Pepys' Diary)
Lay long talking with my wife, and angry awhile about her desiring to have a French mayde all of a sudden, which I took to arise from yesterday’s being with her mother. But that went over and friends again, and so she be well qualitied, I care not much whether she be French or no, so a Protestant.

Fascinating quote from Pepys' diary. In Pepys' time, a maidservant from France was seen as a sign that your lady wife might be converting to Catholicism and for a government servant like Pepys this was a dangerous sign, as Catholics were still seen as a fifth column in the country, obeying the Pope over King & Country. Nowadays, the husband is keen on the French maid; it's the wife who's concerned.

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redandjonny: young stormtroopers in love

What a great shot!

My Average Friend

You’re my average friend (on Facebook, at least). You like music above all, with a slight fondness for writing, technology and poker. You went to Oxford, where you did English and Law, you’re liberal, and your first name is James (it would be James, Ben, Martin, Mark or Adam but only James is the average length). You live in London, England.

Your top ten movies
“ ”
Fight club
Donnie Darko
Star Wars
Shaun of the Dead
Hot Fuzz
Pulp Fiction
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Requiem for a Dream

Apparently you are a NIHILIST who likes nothing above all (incidentally, isn't Walter's line in The Big Lebowski, in response to Donny's shout of "Nazis" "No, Donny, these men are nihilists, there's nothing to be afraid of" an excellent summary of nihilism?) Nothing, that is, except semi-fantastical action with a dark edge of humour.

Your top TV:

Peep show
Family guy
Brass eye
The Simpsons
Battlestar Galactica
Curb your enthusiasm

So you’re an escapist then – Coronation St and Eastenders don’t make your top ten, but the kooky soap opera that is Lost is easily your favourite show. You’re also deeply sardonic/sick/wrong and take more of your culture from the USA than the UK.

Your top music:

Arcade fire
The smiths
Foo fighters
Jeff Buckley
The killers
White stripes

I’ve never listened to the Arcade Fire. How can you be a friend of mine? Assuming they’re like the rest of your tastes, you like droney depressed white men singing about how weird life/relationships are.

Your top books:

Catch 22
His dark materials
Slaughterhouse Five
V for vendetta
Fight club

Notably, you don’t read that much; you’ve only entered half as many books as you have movies and a quarter as many as TV. Again it’s all escapist stuff, with an edge of depression and mental illness. Nice.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

USB Stone

That is is so sweet. I need to get me some resin to turn all my USB sticks into needlessly heavy stones.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Automatic Stalinism

Rossignol. I like the way you can automatically erase people from pictures. Imagine if we'd had this in the 30s and 40s, Stalin could have liquidated all those photo-erasing types with ease. Instant image manipulation is ripe for - imagine if this were in-camera and you could just point to the bit you wanted gone, the inadvertent element that didn't agree with your story and upload it instantly. There would be no truth in photography any more, no belief in the world as it is. Awesome.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Stolen from the Stoa

Philip Oltermann confers with some great brains about their guilty pleasures | Weekend | Guardian Unlimited
Although I argue vehemently against modern pop music, on grounds of its musical incompetence, verbal impoverishment and general morbidity, narcissism and salaciousness; although I fiercely object to disco dancing as a sacrilege against the human form and a collective rejection of civilised courtship; although I defend reels, minuets, galliards, sarabands and (as limiting cases) waltzes and polkas as the only ways in which ordinary humanity should dare to put its sexual nature on festive display, and although I regard the 12-bar blues and the flattened subdominant seventh as the lowest forms of vulgarity in music, I find rock'n'roll in general, and Elvis in particular, irresistible, and would happily dance away the night to it. I cannot explain the thrill of delight with which I hear the first bars of Jailhouse Rock or the eagerness with which I at once search the vicinity for a partner: but there it is, appalling proof that, despite all my efforts, I am human.

Excellent Roger Scruton quote from the Grauniad (stolen from Chris).

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BBC Blog Ban

I appear to have been banned from posting comments on the Newsnight pages - though I've never posted one before AFAIK! Very odd. It just tells me "Your comment has not been allowed" which isn't very helpful at all. Ho-hum. Well, i'll just post it here then.

"The BBC's already lost the young generation - they prefer to download all their media - and though the Beeb's commercial arm is getting closer with its deal with the Bitorrent firm Azureus, it's sad to see the main corporation not following. Why doesn't the beeb simply put everything for free online? I'm sure it wouldn't undermine the sales of their DVDs that much, as the two markets are fairly distinct, and it might even boost them the way iTunes sales and internet radio has boosted the sales for CD sales. At the moment, the BBC has a reputation as a well-meaning but dusty organisation that's technologically crippled and confused about it's purpose, as well as being overwhelmed by bureaucracy. It must move online and use free content to drive people to its commercial wing, not cripple its public service side for the benefit of the commercial side."

Bioshock - the most Jewish game since the Shivah?

So when I was sat reviewing Bioshock a month or more back, Ken Levine walked up behind me (it was just after that moment, so I understandably feeling charitable to this god in human form) and I asked him who he'd named Sander Cohen after, as the character was obviously Jewish (Cohen is about the most Jewish name out, for the ethnically-uninformed). Levine looked a little puzzled and said "it's my wife's maiden name, why?" Sez I, "you're Jewish?! That's funny, you don't look Jewish." He didn't get the joke, making me think he's gone all secular, so I explain the joke at tedious length to him. I'm nice like that.

I also observe to him that there's a substantial proportion of Jewish people in the game, more than any other game in fact, what with the concentration camp survivor Tenenbaum, Cohen and others whose audio logs you encounter. He says "he hadn't really thought about it" and mentions how something about how it would be hard to build a futopia of the creative and talented without Jews. Odd how the Jews in rapture are the doctors and artists, the Americans and English are the rulers, while the Irish are the workers and detectives - everyone falls into their stereotype, perhaps because it's set in the 50s when this implicit caste system was the Western norm, perhaps because the game doesn't quite escape the clutches of pulp fiction.

Anyway, this game has the highest kosher content of any game going, AFAIK and, like real life, that's both associated with high levels of violence and intelligence. The concentration camp references put the game in a nice historical context, even if the accent they're delivered in is rubbish.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

experiment 029

experiment 029, originally uploaded by Hot Grill.

Possibly the most disturbing shot I've ever taken.

Secret First Sequence of Postal - The Movie by Uwe Boll

Oh, my. That's supremely tasteless and slightly funny. I apologise for saying this, but I may have to see another Uwe Bolle movie.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Bye Bye Mr Magic

Kieron points to Tony Wilson's death. And then blathers on about context and contextualisation like he's swallered a sociolinguistics handbook, as is his wont.

The weird thing is, he was someone I grew up with, on the peripherary of my childhood. He was a friend of my parents when I was a kid (they said he was an absolute bastard, but a nice guy) and I remember going Christmas Tree shopping with him when I was really little. He was really excited about it and was bounding all over the place, and ended up buying the biggest tree I ever saw. And then I heard stories about him, like the one about a friend of my mum, who ran the Hacienda for him, getting in the lift there with him and trapping him in so she could have a good shout at him without him running away. Exploitative, generous, lying, mellifluous, money-grabbing, egocentric, friendly, untrustworthy - a true Mancunian.

And I’ve never seen that movie, but I’m sure it portrayed Steve Coogan perfectly. Most things he’s in do.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Tasty Green Meat

My pound of flesh is sizzling away on the hob, producing murderous juices, and on the radio I'm happy to hear my supply of tasty corpses is being maintained. Yes, the Foot & Mouth quarantine has been lifted (a bit prematurely in my case, as my mouth is still foul and my feet are no better) so tomorrow all over the country doe-eyed calves, calf-eyed lambs and possibly even lamb-eyed does will be taken off to the abbatoirs and boltgunned for our delectation. Mmm & indeed Hmm!
But what's this? A butcher stands up (metaphorically; he was on the radio and it's hard to stand up on something so small, though I've listened to plenty of MPs stand down on it, which must be easier or something) and says that us carniphages are in trouble. Apparently, there's a great meat shortage across the country at the moment and all of the national suppliers are sold out! Not a kidney to be had for love nor money! It sounds like for the next two weeks we're reduced to greens & beiges rather than tasty reds. (Not that my colourblind eyes can tell, save for the implied screams bound up with every tasty chunk.) Again! This cannot continue, this cannot be allowed to continue.
That's why I've developed a plan, and it doesn't involve mandatory stabilisers for all radio appearances of potential stand-up types. (comedians or otherwise, which reminds me ((via the Comedian)) that the cast line-up for Zack "300" Snyder's movie of The Watchmen has been finalised - look ee here and marvel at the lack of name recognition. Back on topic!) As far as I can see it we have three options; stop eating meat (not an option); stockpile meat, living & dead (which the tube trains seem an excellent prototype for); or we stop other people eating meat, which leaves more for us (and shut up you damn economists with your concept of reduced demand leading to a systemic adjustment downwards in the meat supply). So I'm going to start preaching vegetarianism to everyone else and painting all my meat green as a disguise.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Bloody English

There's a man stood behind me in the queue verbally abusing his wife. (What the fuck am I doing at Morrissons anyway?) I glance back. They're both in their sixties, broken-down. He's got a thicket of white hair, and looks he shaved with a lump of broken glass, she's got a sadsack face that's sucked right in from biting her lip too much. She's carrying the basket, he's carrying his stick. Then he's dropping his stick. Then he's abusing her for not picking it up. He says "I'm going to get rid of you, you're useless." Her face puckers up some more. He swears at her, then bites that they're going to the pub after anyway, like that's somehow connected. She makes a little choking noise, and I look around to see a dumpy old lady with a face like a dried-up pear and great round glasses about to cry. Then he growls that "she should stop that, don't even start that." And I can hear her trying to hold the tears in, blinking them back so they spatter on the glass.
After a bit, while I'm moving my shopping along, and placing the crappy Next Customer nameplate for them, she asks, hesitantly, if "we can go to get a cup of tea". He roars at her, a belly-roar, and says "No! We're going to Rosie's pub." Then she asks if he "wouldn't mind carrying some of the shopping" and he gets really nasty. He says No! I can't, I'm holding my stick, and if you don't stop that, you'll feel it around your neck soon." He shakes the stick for effect. "You're so damn lazy, I've got to get rid of you." At the neck comment, I've turned around, as it's obvious he really does use the stick on her and I want to intervene, want to stop him, and tell her to leave this filthy old monster, so she can be a lonely unabused old spinster but all I can come out with is "I think you should calm down mate." He laughs at me and says"You don't have to live with her, she's lazy, she's useless." Another growl, at her. I turn away and pack my bags, and don't look around again.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Hot Summer

What a way to spend a Saturday. My acrophobia agoraphobia caught up with me again this weekend, and I found it almost impossible to leave the house. I kind of reflect it when I dress, veering between completely black clothing and bright pink Hawaiian shirts twinned with green-grey combat shorts. The nearest I got to getting outside was climbing out of my window to sunbath on the scaffolding, which allows me to exit without having to see people. Even then, I get a hit of anthropomorphizing paranoia every time the curtains billow out of the window over my head, seeing a great muumuu-ed figure leaning over me... at least when you're mad, you're never alone.

Karma Chameleon

There are twenty million people in the old Imperial India currently displaced by floods. They're without food, shelter or water, in dire straits. Yet I feel no human impulse to donate money to them. Why should I? Out of empathy? The imperative simply isn't there, or I'd already be doing it. My brain occasionally says "karma", drags up that Christian "give & thou shalt receive", but without an overseeing God I don't believe in any such ordered universe, nor do I believe gratefulness transmits across such numbers or distances. Even if it were true that the people of India were grateful to the people of Britain and we one day needed their help, it's still easy to bandwagon. I could pour my paltry contribution into the million needy mouths of charity, without it making a dint, without hearing even the echo of it hitting the distant bottom. There is no end to man's need, and a simple end to my own. Perhaps I should just pour my excess to a particular sponsor, somewhere I can see the effect, somewhere I can be the recipient of justified gratefulness. This thinking is the way that patronage works, I think, the way the romans did charity - cynical, sceptical, greedy.

Hmm. Anyone need a patron?

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Dream of Sand

I remember my dream, for the first time in months. Now little is extant, but I remember a great chamber, so dark you can hardly see the walls, the floor strewn with rubble, half an ancient theatre or a great school hall, half a war zone, kipple everywhere. We're all children (I sense my mother is involved somehow) and we're running amidst the rubble against the opposition, trying to acquire something that's half typewriter, half bomb, half radio, but is very valuable. I hang back in the struggle for the macguffin, but eventually, too late, I join in and almost grasp it as the opposition take it, following the captor as he takes inside a doorway in the chamber's corner, on their side of the chamber and into a cluttered small room with a stairs blocked by a closed door, shelves beneath. I lie down beneath the stairs' shelving as he places it in front of the door, thinking it secure, and he passes by me. I think I can grab it and sneak it out, think I've not been spotted, but a gentle, resigned hand shakes my shoulder and the illusion of stealth evaporates.
Later, I am outside, in a great sandy desert enclosed by high smooth slopes, like arena seating with no seats. A sandstorm whips up and I sink into it, losing sight of everyone, if there is anyone. The sand doesn't hurt, doesn't abrade, just smothers. I can't breath through the whirling particles and am buried, managing, through flailing my hands, to keep my mouth of the sand as it settles. I am completely buried,save for my mouth and someone comes to help me out.