Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Battle of the bands

Just a quick one tonight, as I need to cut my hair (not a euphemism). This video is a minor masterpiece: an animation featuring many famous album covers coming to life.

Via b3ta.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Music videos 29

42 Radiohead: “Karma Police”
Another excellent Radiohead video. Here creeping, claustrophobic fear is replaced by fiery revenge. Perfect Radiohead fodder that fits with the snarling tone of the song nicely. Directed by Jonathan Glazer.

41 Guns n’ Roses: “November Rain”
This is how rubbish-but-a-little-good rock music is done, dooods. Darkness, I'm looking at you. The main thing that I remember about this video is that you could watch the first few minutes, nip down to the shops, walk back, boil the kettle, and be sitting down with your cup of tea in time to catch the last couple of minutes. That and Slash's (Slashes? Shlashes'?) awesome swooping-shotted guitar solo outside the church.

We swoop into the top 40 with possibly the best video ever next time.

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I recorded the Oscars, so that I could watch it last night and fast forward through the interpretive dance, tributes to key grips, Best Song nominees, and Tom Cruise. The most important thing to mention is my relief that the woeful Babel missed out in all the major categories, making the far superior Pan's Labyrinth the most successful Mexican film of the night. It did, however, manage to win one for best original score. I either haven't seen or don't remember the music from the other contenders, but what I can say is that the score in Babel was one of the worst things in a genuinely horrible film. The irritating and incessant strumming of a middle-eastern stringed instrument (the highest selling song off the Babel soundtrack on iTunes!) over long, lingering scenery shots highlighted the self-congratulatory intellectual wankery of the film. There's a song on the soundtrack called "World Citizen (I Won't Be Disappointed/Looped Piano)", for goodness sake. Before everyone forgets about your film, Mr. Iñárritu, can I just emphasise one more time the truly awful word-of-mouth that your film has had from people that I have spoken to. Now piss off.

Anyway, the other thing that I noticed was the adulation with which Al Gore was treated at the ceremony. Seriously, they loved him. Loads of tributes, and an Oscar for An Inconvenient Truth (which caused Di Caprio to cry. He loves the environment that much.) made it Al's night as much as Scorsese's. And after I had stopped wondering how many pies Gore had eaten recently, I got to thinking how different the world might have been had he been allowed to become president in 2000. My thoughts were all bollocks, so luckily the New Yorker had the same idea, managing to put it in an interesting article.

I always wondered, after that election that Bush basically fixed in the courts in what was effectively a coup, what the reaction of the international community would have been if a country such as, hmm, Iraq, had invaded the USA to remove an unelected leader? Regime change goes both ways...

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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Music videos 28

44 Cat Power: “Cross-Bones Style”
This is little more than an attractive woman dancing to an average song, raised up by the attractive woman dancing. But what are the 5 dancers all about?

43 Sigur Ros: “Vidrar Vel Til Loftarasa”
If this is the first time that you've seen this video, I'll bet that you wont forget it for a while. Really nicely shot and the creepy slo-mo atmosphere goes well with the music. I can't think of another video, off the top of my head, that went down the schoolboys-kissing-with-tongues plot route.

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(Don't) get a Mac

I'm a fully paid-up member of the "cult of Mac", and the recent adverts have put Apple computers back in the minds of the general public. Charlie Brooker (of TV Go Home and Nathan Barley) doesn't have such a high opinion of them. He is a good ranter, and this one about Macs is one of his best. He makes quite a few good points, too. I suppose we are smug wankers, and I loved the line about Macs being like Fisher Price play centres for adults.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Friday Movie

Flash Gordon. This is the last of the pixel movies from barbelith.



Seeing as it's National Doodle Day, I thought that I would scan and post a doodle that I did when I was on the phone to a client at work yesterday. If any psychologists are reading, please feel free to enter the dark depths of my subconscious and let me know what it says about me. Am I striving to climb the stairs of success? Is the poor little man overwhelmed by the pressures of the big, bad, world? Or is it a random doodle of a man climbing some stairs?


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Music Videos 28

46 Yeah Yeah Yeahs: “Maps”
Hmm. Looks like they have spent a LOT of money to make a video look as cheap and "off the cuff" as possible.

45 The White Stripes: “Fell in Love with a Girl”
Michel Gondry pulls off another classic here. Whether you like the music or not, the video is absolutely awesome, considering that it is not CGI. Michel Gondry + Lego = nice one.

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Putin is a dick-tator

Coming from a country with so much freedom, particularly in the media, the obviously-state-censored press in countries like Malaysia and Thailand felt weird to me when I visited. That kind of stuff pales into insignificance when you take a look at Russia, one of the "leading" countries in the world. This fascinating and very in depth article exposes the almost-unbelievable state of affairs that Putin has created in the country, where the president is becoming ever-powerful and democracy seems to be slipping away. The article also deals with the recent spate of assassinations of "traitors", such as Alexander Litvinenko's recent horrible death in London. Scary stuff.

Via kottke.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Vorderman tells it like it is

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Music videos 27

48 Nirvana: “Heart-Shaped Box”
This is a perfect example of Nirvana completely passing me by. I just don't get them or this. I suppose the colours are quite nice...

47 Fatboy Slim – “Weapon of Choice”
Christopher Walken dances + Christopher Walken flies + Fatboy Slim + Spike Jonze. What's not to like? This is widely regarded as an all-time classic, with good reason. Good stuff.

There's a Michel Gondry video next time.

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Infrequent moderate boxing violence

This post is rated PG for moderate sarcasm.

The title above refers to the warning that accompanied Rocky Balboa. The poster that I saw at the cinema the other night, combined with a comment from Simon, set my mind a-thinking and my fingers a-googling. Here's an article describing how the warnings are composed, and warning that "mild peril" is in danger of being disused. And here is a blog that I will certainly be bookmarking, which collects all the excellent warnings. The author has similar thoughts to me regarding the Becoming Jane poster, declaring it the best since Twister offered "intense depiction of very bad weather". Nice.

Saturday, February 17, 2007


I was playing a little online poker today, and one of my opponents got a royal flush. They are certainly pretty rare, and it's the first time I have ever seen one, so I decided to capture it. By the way, just because you can see my hand, it doesn't mean that I played this hand to the showdown. I'm not that bad...


Monster mash

More Lost stuff. Remember the plane engine blowing up when a guy got sucked into it in the first episode? Well, some people think that the monster caused the engine to explode. Watch the blurry shape swoop into the engine on the slo-mo here:

By the way, the makers of Lost have confirmed that the character sucked into the engine was Gary Troup, author of Bad Twin, the manuscript that Sawyer was reading in one of the episodes in series 2. Are there more clues in the book, which was actually published?

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My friend Claire has started a blog, on which she is going to publish her photos. She has the daily ordeal of coping with Mark, so it's only right that you should go and view her photos: this will help her become a rich and famous photographer, allowing her to leave Mark behind with the little people*. There are 2 major drawbacks to Claire's site: firstly, it is outrageously pink and may cause seizures, and secondly, Claire is French. This means that the blog will be dripping with bad attitude and will call a strike at any given opportunity. Thank goodness the web does not transmit smells yet.

*Mark is not a little person, nor do I think that Claire has anything in particular against dwarves. I meant "mere mortals". The last thing Claire needs is the Dwarf Liberation Front after her for discrimination.

PS now directs here.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Scenes of boxing

I was at the cinema tonight, and saw the poster for the upcoming film "Becoming Jane". Surely it contains the best cinematic content warning ever (even without asking what "mild sex" is):
Scenes of boxing

"Step away from tbe bike"

I love the original Wicker Man: it's easily the best horror film that I have ever seen, and probably in my top 20 films. The brooding atmosphere and pagan imagery are wonderful, as is the cinematography of the iconic final scenes.

I disclose this information because it adds weight when I say that I loved the Nicholas Cage remake that was released last year. Not because it is a masterpiece, which it most certainly isn't, but because it features some of the best unintentional comedy that I have ever seen. Watch in amazement as Nicholas Cage (whose acting is dialed up to the unbearable 9/10 on the "Cage scale") chases down the "baddie" whilst wearing bear feet and trying to get a signal on his mobile! Feel your chin hit the ground as he repeatedly hits women (the director clearly has a massive, massive problem with females)! Giggle as he runs away from bees (yes, those flying insects that wear stripy jumpers) in sheer terror! Actually, you can, as a like-minded soul has made a "best of the Wicker Man" video for our viewing pleasure:

I swear that I am being serious when I say that I have not had many better experiences at the cinema. I laughed continuously for at least 10 minutes after he kicked the woman into the pictures. Crazy misogynistic director Neil LaBute, I salute you!

PS never direct again, please.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Music videos 26

50 Nine Inch Nails: “The Perfect Drug”
NIN certainly have a thing for gothic, and this is another video that fits its song beautifully. So Raznor thinks absinthe is the perfect drug, does he?

49 Nada Surf: “Popular”
A rubbish American "attitude-laden" version of that already-shite sunscreen crap. Trite bollocks. Literally anyone could write this sort of "meaningful" appeal-to-the-kids bullshit. Piss off.

There will be a good 'un next time.

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4 8 15 16 23 42

Talking of numbers, here's some food for though for those trying to work out Lost. Here is a screen-grab (from series 1) of a comic Hurley was reading on the plane immediately prior to the crash, showing an island surrounded by a forcefield. Remember that the polar bears appeared after Walt had seen them in a comic...


The numbers

Did you know that your credit card number conforms to an algorithm? Called the Luhn Algorithm, it explains whay you can't just make up any old number in a fraud attempt. ISBN codes for books are done with the same type of idea. Try out the maths with your card...

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Lost Seinfeld episode

Very nicely done.


Monday, February 12, 2007

Music videos 25

52 Hot Chip: “Boy from School”
This is cool. Art Attack on drugs. I didn't say Rolf Harris on drugs, because he clearly already is.

51 Pulp: “This Is Hardcore”
This is my favorite Pulp song, and the video fits it perfectly. The song is an amazing slow-burner: watch out for the strings at 3:46 (3:12 on the countdown timer) and the following chorus. Musical genius. There's not actually that much to say about the video. Dark and haunting, like the song.

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Amazing timing

Wow. Taken by forest camp and found on flickr.


Sunday, February 11, 2007

Music videos 24

54 Depeche Mode – “Enjoy the Silence”
Another video made more meaningful ny September 11th. Depeche Mode were quite good, weren't they? This video sees them at the height of their powers, literally towering over the musical world. Great song, too.

53 Jamiroquai – “Virtual Insanity”
Jay Kay might be an utter cock, and the quality of his music questionable at best, but this video is verging on masterpiece status. Directed by Jonathan Glazer, it's great even when you work out how they did it. I will also begrudgingly admit that he has some moves.

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So ronery

After Team America, Kim Jong-Il is surely the number one dictator in the world. Here's some interesting stuff:

His amazing world-record round of golf, which includes 11 holes-in-one. Good work, glorious leader!

Photos from inside North Korea are rare, and some of these are extraordinary. One of the photos is the most communist thing that I have ever seen. Can you guess which one? Use the arrows at the bottom to find the pics.

The story of an amazing hotel that was costing 2% of the GDP to build, before they abandoned it. They now deny that it exists, even though it can be seen from everywhere in the capital.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Music videos 23

56 Chris Isaak – “Wicked Game”
Those modern videos that are trying to be sexy should watch this one. Helena Chriatensen looks good, the video looks good, and it fits with the music well. Most importantly, it is "real" sexy, rather than the hideous, whoreish "fake" sexy that we are increasingly getting nowadays. I'm looking at you, Aguilera.

55 Talking Heads – “Wild Wild Life”
I'm not sure if this should work, but it does. This seems to be tied in with a film, hence the young-looking John Goodman. This is the good type of bad 80's music video.

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With the cold weather sweeping across the UK, it's interesting to see these pictures of Niagara falls frozen over almost a century ago. Amazing to imagine these falls stopped by cold weather, and puts our mini cold-snap into perspective. More information on the falls here.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Music videos 22

58 he Notorious B.I.G.: “The Sky’s the Limit”
A cute rap video? Eh? This is from Spike Jonze, and casting children as mini-me's of the rap stars really works. F.U.N.

57 Bjork: “Human Behaviour”
Bjork + Michel Gondry = impossible to fail.

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Where is Springfield?

This is the kind of thing that the internets were made for. An obsessive fan asks: where is Springfield? Attempting to answer the question, they have logged all the clues to its whereabouts in all the many episodes of the Simpsons. Nice work, fella.


Monday, February 05, 2007

Music videos 21

60 Ludacris: “Stand Up”
At last, a rap video with a genuine sense of humour. Love the big record decks, and the midget hanging off a chain on his neck is genius. Nicely subversive.

59 Judas Priest: “Breaking the Law”
80's shit + heavy metal = not so good. This video is ridiculous squared. It must have been chosen because it was on Beavis and Butthead. That's the only reason I can think of.

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Little people

It's actually better if I don't describe this one. Great concept, brilliantly executed.

Beautiful anger

This is one of the prettiest and scariest pictures that I've ever seen. Each of the lines is the trail of the re-entry vehicle of a Peacekeeper missile. The missile delivers 10 of these vehicles, each with a nuclear warhead 10 times as powerful as the Hiroshima bomb.

Via look at this.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Music videos 20

62 Duran Duran – “Girls on Film”
I slag off the 80's a lot, but this really is rock and roll. Naked models, mud wrestling and clearly lots of cocaine, this video clearly has something: they obviously made it because they could. Not safe for work, obviously.

61 Michael Jackson – “Billie Jean”
More good stuff. Watch Jackson immediately prior to his spiral into madness and infamy, when he clearly still had it. And what a killer bass-line. Try and track down the 2 many DJs mix of the music from this with the vocals from God Only Knows. Amazing.

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Think with your stomach

This is the time of year that many people try to watch what they eat, with the gyms seeing a surge in membership and "healthy" products selling well. Cutting through the crap is this excellent article by Michael Pollan from the NY Times. It's a long read, but really, really worthwhile.

Taking a stand against the "science" of nutritionism, it outlines how what we perceive as healthy food today is a result of political fudging in the USA in the late 1970's. He argues that the shift from eating food to eating nutrients has made us take our eye off the ball, ignoring the fact that foods can interact chemically with each other inside our bodies.

A fascinating read, he details a few rules of thumb for eating (read pages 1, 11, and 12 if you can't be bothered digesting the whole thing) which seem to make perfect sense. They have certainly inspired me, especially the first 3:
Eat food: he suggests only eating what your great-grandmother would have recognised as food. What I'm taking from this is that processed and "laboratory" food is to be avoided. Although we all eat things that would not have been known here 100 years ago, like bananas and chillies, our great-grandmothers would still recognise that we were using fresh fruit and veg. In other words, use raw ingredients or food with "real" ingredients wherever possible.
Avoid food making health claims: these foods are most likely processed and their benefits at best dubious. See "eat food".
To quote verbatim, "Especially avoid food products containing ingredients that are a) unfamiliar, b) unpronounceable c) more than five in number — or that contain high-fructose corn syrup.None of these characteristics are necessarily harmful in and of themselves, but all of them are reliable markers for foods that have been highly processed".

There we are then. A long post for a long article, but one that I genuinely think is worth making and reading. Sorry if this bored you, but food nowadays often seems to veer from what seems right: Sunny D contains oil, and less than 2% fruit juice...


Saturday, February 03, 2007

Oh my god...

Ouch. I knew that Richard Dawkins isn't keen on God, but he really doesn't pull any punches here. Those who are offended by blasphemous statements are advised to skip this post...

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Tables turned.

This is brilliant. Listen as a prankster records a telemarketing call and turns it completely around. There are some moments of genuine panic from the marketer.

Via b3ta.

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Thursday, February 01, 2007

Music videos 19

64 My Chemical Romance: “Helena”
Pure shit. The worst of American music, the inexplicably successful MCR are shockingly bad here.

63 2Pac: “California Love”
This must be the 25th of the 40-odd videos so far that feature Dr. Dre, and is actually pretty good. Hype Williams (meaning that the video was very, very expensive) imagines the LA of 2095 as a Mad Max-esque post-apocalyptic world with tuneful rapping.

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Plane sailing

Forget the fact that this comes from fascist's favorite the Daily Mail, as this story is amazing and really well written. Read about the airliner that lost all 4 engines, what the people inside felt, and how it changed the world of aviation forever.

Via look at this.