Thursday, December 22, 2005

Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned

So, the TAG presentation. Standing in a room full of people who knew more about archaeological theory than me, and talking about something that involved the Bronze Age and 1950s Japanese gangsters. It seemed to go off quite well: no-one threw anything at me, or stood up and denounced me as a charlatan.

One disappointing thing was that there was no question and answer session after my paper, due to almost everyone else overrunning by 10 minutes. On the one hand, this was a relief, but it also made it hard to gauge how my paper had gone down. Two people did, however, come up to me afterwards and tell me they’d enjoyed it, which was good. Even better was the mooted possibility of publishing the session, or at least making it available on the internet.

And I do love TAG: papers about Crowleyite occultism in a disused airbase in Surrey, the Minaret of Jam in Afghanistan, and archaeology on the moon. Plus meeting up with lots of people I hadn’t seen in a year.

Have a good Christmas! Hopefully it won’t be too long before I see you all.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Apply Some Pressure

The nerves about my presentation next Wednesday are starting to kick in. At least the presentation is 20 minutes long now. My only worry is that it's rubbish and people will think I'm an idiot.

Also problematic is the Q&A session which follows each paper. What do I do if someone asks me a question I don't understand? Which is to say: "Any question involving a word ending in -ism, or referencing a French philosopher."

Thursday, December 08, 2005

On The Web

The other day I was watching the second Harry Potter film, and I noticed that it featured yet another Giant Spider Who Is Up To No Good.

It made me think that there should be a film about the prejudices faced by a giant spider in the world today. The protagonist would be a giant spider who wants to live a normal life, but because people have been told by storis that Giant Spiders Are Up To No Good, he can't. When he goes to the shops, people run screaming into the road. He can't visit a pub without people trying to trap him under an enormous glass, and so on.

The spider would, of course, have the voice of Eddie Izzard.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Never One To Ignore A Bandwagon


My blog is worth $2,822.70.
How much is your blog worth?



It appears that this blog is worth more than either Emily's or Jen's. Go me.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Not A Complete Idiot

Yesterday I had my upgrade meeting at the Uni. For those who don't know, the process of doing a PhD is an arcane one. When you register, you register as an MPhil student. After a certain period of time, you can try and upgrade to full-on PhD student. You do not, however, get the MPhil qualification.

Clear? No? Well, neither is anyone else.

The actual upgrade consists of a mini-viva, being questioned on my research by a panel of three experts. So yeah, Intimidating. I appear to have done all right, though, becuase they upgraded me with no real problems. Which is nice.

I also met up with Nick Gladden of the North West Film Archive, who was there to evaluate the film I found inthe BFU's basement room. Turns out it was some of the missing stuiff he was looking for.

All in all, a busy day.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Flicker

I don't think I mentioned it here, but I was asked a while back to locate some of the Basement Film Unit's films by the North-West film Archive and the Liverpool University Library. Most of the BFU film holdings went into the library archive a few years ago, but four reels, last seen in 1982, remain unaccounted for.

Tody I finally got round to doing it. In the Basement which gicves the BFU its name, I came across three reels. Two appear to be sound, and one colour film. I have no way of knowing what they are.

Also in the Basement is a locked door. It appears to lead into what used to be the projection room. I looked through the projection window by the light of my mobile-phone-torch, but couldn't see much. Then I had to stop doing that, because it was so creepy.

Damn horror films. Still, I left the basement without a zombie eating my face.

Monday, October 31, 2005

I'm Worth A Million In Prizes

I now have a pension.

So I think it's fair to say that my youth is officially dead.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Inside Stephen

Last night I had a dream. It was a long and complex dream, but today I can remember only one fragment: me saying the words "Well, that's what happens when you throw a grenade in someone's face."

Hmmmmmm.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Decisions, Decisions...

I've finally been assigned my student to work with. A Radiology student. And I haven't touched science since I was at school. He tells me I should probably gen up on physiology before I have to take notes on it. Looking at the library catalogue, I can't decide between:

Physiology at a glance
by Jeremy Ward, Roger Linden, Rob Clarke.
Oxford: Blackwell Pub., 2005.

or

The physiology coloring book
by Wynn Kapitt.
Cambridge: Harper-Collins., 1987.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Only Hats Can Save Us Now



From a 1950s leaflet on surviving nuclear attack. Seriously.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

"So...You Pretend To Run Around Killing Goblins?"

And in the past, I was always able to say "no". But not anymore: as of Wednesday, I'm now running a Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay campaign at the Uni of Liverpool Gamesoc. So I'm probably slightly geekier than before, but what can I say? I really enjoy roleplaying, despite the social stigma and occasional sociopaths that inhabit the hobby.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Stephen Vs. Student Society Economics

There is, it turns out, nothing like Fresher's Fair to dispel those start-of-autumn blues. As President of the Basement Film Unit (which I don't think I've mentioned here before) I was manning our stall. And we had a very good day, signing up 16 paying memebers and making £51. That would be loads better if we hadn't started out £75 in debt, but at least we're within sight of paying it off.

Also present at Fresher's Fair were the RPG society, complete with one member in a long black trenchcoat and mirrored sunglasses. I'm not sure what's funnier: that he he thought he looked cool dressed like that, or that his sense of cool is stuck in 1985.

Friday, September 23, 2005

They Do It With Mirrors

In many ways Blow Up (which I saw last night at the FACT), is my perfect film, given that it's:

  1. An investegative mystery
  2. An Italian art film
  3. Very, very pretentious

I enjoyed it greatly. It's tough to talk about the plot without spoiling it for those who haven't seen it, but I'll give the basics. David Hemmings is a photographer in 1960s London. Do his photographs show what he thinks they do? This fairly thin plot is padded out with often-hilarious "swinging London" interludes, and sequences of Hemmings driving around. The latter are particularly interesting, as the London that we know was at that time just being built.

Blow Up also gets extra points for confirming one of my long-held suspicions: women are prepared to get naked and wrestle for you, if only you'll provide them with an enormous roll of purple paper.

The film comes recommended to anyone who's read this far.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Students, Students, Everywhere...

The summer has ended, and I'm no longer the only person in the library. There are 18 year-olds all over the place. Coming at the start of Autumn, this can only herald the start of S.A.D. by reminding me of my own Fresher's Week, all of six years ago now. This has not been helped by the fact that I'm trying to put together a compilation of my favourite 1990s band at the moment.

Fresher's Week insanity does help liven things up though. Just now I was cornered in the library by an Indian Professor, who got me to help him out by pronouncing the English alphabet, and then insisted on exchanging addresses with me. What he wants to correspond with me about is anyone's guess.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

To Hell With Poverty! We'll Get Drunk On Cheap Wine!

On Thursday morning, I woke up holding an imaginary phone. I'd just dreamed that I'd got a call from the Uni, telling me that I'd got the job I applied for. At the interview, they told me that if I was successful, I'd hear from them "early in the week". My subconscious was not happy.

On Friday I phoned up the Student Support Services to conform that I hadn't got it. They told me that I had, and that by "early in the week" they'd meant "The letters will be posted Thursday".

I was so relieved that I wasn't really happy. I am happy, though. At £10 an hour I can start making a real contribution to the funding of my degree. I'm a parasite that my parents love, but a parasite nonetheless.

We Can Build You

On Friday, my parents were in Liverpool, because my dad was giving a talk on Gabriel D'Annuzio to the Western Front Association. Beforehand, though, we paid a visit to Port Sunlight.

Port Sunlight is a model community constructed in the 1890s by Lord Leverhulme. There are wide, leafy streets, broad greens, red telephone boxes, and small boys playing with model boats on the pond.

It's as creepy as fuck.

Port Sunlight was built by Lord Leverhulme to house the workers for his soap factory. The corporation employed you and owned your house. Your leisure time was spent in the pub which Lord Leverhulme had had constructed, or in the art gallery which housed Lord Leverhulme's art collection. You worshipped at the church where Lord and Lady Leverhulme still take pride of place in thair massive neo-medieval stone tombs. When you got sent off to die in the First World War, your name was added to the Leverhulme corporation's war memorial.

It's also creepy becuase it's built as a model of an England which didn't exist then, doesn't exist now, and probably never existed at all. This is that England you see in Richard Curtis films, where everyone is middle class and no-one has the poor taste to be black or in favour of higher taxes.

If it ever catches fire, I think they should let it burn down.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

An Argument Of No Importance

It occurs to me that when I posted the link to my contribution to RPG.net's "Classic Tangnecy: The Cliffs Notes", none of you could read it because you aren't registered on RPG.net. So I have put it up over at N.A.O.W.F.I.T.:

Unhelig & The Nazi Playwrite

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Tatterdemalion



If you get *any* of the elements of that joke, then I will love you forever.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

We Live As We Dream, Alone

I phoned my new landlord yesterday, to find out when I was getting my keys. I should be getting them next week. Unfortunately, I'm currently the only person who'll be living there, as the other three students have decided to move somewhere else, one of them having dropped out and gotten a job.

So at the moment it seems I'll be living on my own, yet again. Is the universe trying to tell me something? And if so, why can't it e-mail me like everyone else?

Better news is provided by the fact that my TAG paper has been accepted. Commence rejoicing.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Because There Aren't Enough Nick Cave References In Professional Archaeology...

As you may know, I'm trying to submit my first paper, one for the Theroetical Archaeology Group 2005 conference in Sheffield. Below is the abstract for my paper, which is intended for the session "The fall from grace: archaeological approaches to human inhumanity". Enjoy.

Red Right Hand: The Benefits of Inhumanity

Inhumanity is, for obvious reasons, seen in negative terms. However, this should not blind us to the fact that inhuman behaviour can be to the advantage of those willing to utilise it. Any attempt to understand inhumanity must take this into account. Following the old police maxim “who profits from the crime?”, this paper seeks to provide a comparative analysis of the use of one particular kind of inhumanity – armed violence – and the purposes which it serves. With reference to the elites of the early Mycenaean period, and to more recent groups such as those participating in organised crime, the use of armed violence as a tool for the accumulation of wealth, power and status will be demonstrated.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

A Gentleman Of Negotiable Honour

So, I have a job interview for the post of Study Assistant with the University's Disability Support Service.

I put this down to the fact that on the application form, where it asked "Why do you wish to apply for this post?" I said "Because I want to help my fellow man", and not "Because it pays £10 an hour".

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

8:15

First we got the bomb, and that was good,
'Cause we love peace and motherhood.
Then Russia got the bomb, but that's okay,
'Cause the balance of power's maintained that way.
Who's next?

France got the bomb, but don't you grieve,
'Cause they're on our side (I believe).
China got the bomb, but have no fears,
They can't wipe us out for at least five years.
Who's next?

Then Indonesia claimed that they
Were gonna get one any day.
South Africa wants two, that's right:
One for the black and one for the white.
Who's next?

Egypt's gonna get one too,
Just to use on you know who.
So Israel's getting tense.
Wants one in self defense.
"The Lord's our shepherd," says the psalm,
But just in case, we better get a bomb.
Who's next?

Luxembourg is next to go,
And (who knows?) maybe Monaco.
We'll try to stay serene and calm
When Alabama gets the bomb.
Who's next?
Who's next?
Who's next?
Who's next?
- Tom Lehrer, "Who's Next" (1965)

Monday, August 01, 2005

Friday, July 29, 2005

Very Remiss of Me

It occurs that I haven't plugged my new photogrpahy website on here yet. Let's rectify that now:

All This Useless Beauty

Monday, July 25, 2005

#6

Hard Disk Trash 6

Well, if Jen isn't going to be cheap or glib, then someone has to be.

In other news, Daily Telegraph music journalist Neil McCormick has written a "protest song" about the July 7th bombings, titled (hilariously) "People I Don't Know Are Trying To Kill Me". Sadly, it is not a spoof.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Shadows & Fog

Those who are interested might want to go over to RPG.net, where my review of Cthulhu By Gaslight is now up.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Reflections

So, here we are. Yesterday provided a test of beliefs, now that I think about it. For the past four years of the “War On Terror”, there’s always been that thing at the back of my mind when I’ve expressed an opinion. The thing that says “Yes, but how would you feel if you’d been attacked?”

And now I know. And my opinions are no different. I’m not going to call for us to start dropping fuel-air bombs on, say, Algeria, because I still don’t think that would be a positive move. I still think that holding people indefinitely without trial, or detaining people because of what we think they might do is not a good idea.

There was also a feeling of togetherness I don’t think I’ve felt for a while. I was so relieved when all the London posters to RPG.net posted in to say that they were safe, when I got texts and e-mails from my friends to say they were OK, if scared. The advice to “have a cup of tea” was being freely bandied about. I did it myself. A half-joking reference to a dead idea of Britishness, brought up only in times of stress.

Sitting on the sofa, or in a computer-chair, letting the information wash over me. That statement on the Fundamentalist website was wrong: there wasn’t panic, either in London or elsewhere. We’re too used to things like that happening for panic. One RPG.net poster cycled 15 miles to work today, just so that things would continue as normal. Don’t mistake all this for a “stiff upper lip” or other clichés. This is a grim determination to go on living as normal.

And that’s victory. Nothing else.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Business As Usual

Everyone I know seems to be OK - still a couple I'd like to get in contact with.

And for some reason, all I can think of is " 'A' Bomb In Wardour Street".

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Digital Burn

There's always been that gap in my life that I thought was for a woman, but I think it might actually be for one of these:


I now have one. It's small and blue and curvy. If the law and a suitable socket allowed, I would take it as my wife.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Revolution Rock

After a suggestion by me, Tom's band will be playing their next gig in Beijing under the name "The Privileged Few" (or "享有特权" in Chinese. Apparently.) So that's my place in rock history taken care of.

I just hope Tom remembers me whan he enters the cocaine-and-hookers stage of rock-stardom.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Batman Begins! And Takes A While Doing It!

Batman Begins would be a great film if it wasn't so bloody long. It's got everything that a good Batman film should have, taking the character back to his 1930s pulp-hero roots. This is "Batman is a detective" rather than "Batman is a superhero".

Actually, the first half of the film is "Batman is a Ninja", which is tedious. Just because The Matrix had cod-Eastern philosophy and The Last Samurai had endless scenes of people being hit with sticks doesn't mean we needed them here.

After the Ninja wet-dream we get the technophile wet-dream. Look: no-one needs to know precisely what the origins of Batman's car are. All that we need to know is that Bruce Wayne is really rich, and can afford really cool gadgets. Even cooler than that pen with a clock in it that you want.

One the film manages to wade past all this, though, and Batman starts doing Batman-type things in Gotham (mostly standing of the edges of buildings looking all brooding and cool), then it becomes much more exciting and fun. Best of all though, is the mood and the (for once) deliberately muddled morality. Like a lot of 1930s pulp-heroes, Batman has a worryingly fascistic approach to the world. This slightly noirish Gotham is the only thing that can make you root for Batman: he's not good, he's just the least-bad force in the city.

The over-long running time is a consequence of a great cast, including Michael Caine (who seemed to be having tremendous fun), Gary Oldman, Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman, and Rutger Hauer. All it needed was Elliot Gould and Michael Madsen, and I'd have been ecstatic. Christian Bale is a perfectly serviceable Bruce Wayne/Batman, although I'm not sure he was as good as Michael Keaton. At least he realised that Batman should probably have a different voice to Bruce Wayne, if he was going to be a secret identity.

So I'm saying go and see it, if superheroes are your thing. You might want to doze through the first half though.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Not So Much "Forgotten" As "Insignificant" History

As many of you will have realised, I'm a frequent visitor to the forums over at RPG.net. In the "Tangency" (genral discussion) area, there was recently a thread called "Classic Tangency: The Cliffs Notes", in which people wrote brief histories of particularly memorable arguments and events. The following was my own contribution:

Unhelig & The Nazi Playwrite

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Liberty And Justice For All

I Should Send You Away
Where You Can't Kill Or Maim Us
But This Is L.A.
And You're Rich And Famous
- The Simpsons, "Checkin' In"

Friday, June 10, 2005

*Clenches Fist* NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

For six years, Lenton Lodge, Nottingham has been my dream home. Now it's on the market, and I am separated from it only by my lack of £750, 000.

Look upon it and weep.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Smart-Alec Kill

Sin City is probably the best-looking film that will be released this year. It’s also the most hard-boiled film to come out of Hollywood in quite a while.

Given those facts, I should love it, and be telling you to see it. Instead, I’m calling it an interesting failure. Why? A whole host of reasons.

Part of Sin City’s problem is that it’s too attached to its graphic novel roots. While the resulting stylisation can often be excellent, it can also be jarring and spoils the audience’s suspension of disbelief. The script lacks real finesse, too, with a lot of very stagy dialogue.

Maybe the biggest, problem, though, is the queasy mixture of cartoonishness and extremely graphic violence. They don’t sit well together, and one detracts from the other quite frequently. There’s also the question of the female characters: at what point does referencing the misogyny of classic film noir turn into just being really misogynistic? Don’t even get me started on the “Oriental Ninja/Whore” archetype.

But for all that, there is a lot still to like about Sin City. There are places where the script is suitably Chandleresque, and there isn’t a bad performance in the film: Clive Owen, Bruce Willis and Mickey Rourke are superb, especially Rourke. The visuals are good, and the film’s cynical attitude is very refreshing after endless clean-cut action films.

So I can’t unequivocally recommend this one. Don’t go and see it if you aren’t OK with film violence, but do see it if you’re a fan of hard-boiled crime drama, or just want to see an interesting experiment in bringing graphic novels to the screen.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Friday, May 27, 2005

Empty Magazine

I notice that Nuts is running with the cover feature "Real Girls Boobs!" Is is too harsh of me to deduce that the target audience doesn't know any real girls?

Thursday, May 26, 2005

I Am Not Damo Suzuki

I notice with disapointment that Damo Suzuki is plying a gig in Liverpool tomorrow night, but I won't be able to go, 'co I'm off to Stockport for the weekend. Now, I've never heard any of Mr. Suzuki's work, even from his time as singer with legendary Krautrock band Can. This means that my desire to see him is based entirely upon the song "I Am Damo Suzuki" by The Fall. Very strange.

Last night, I was jubilant that Liverpool won the European Cup. Mostly because I was afraid that, if they lost, enraged scallies would burn the city to the ground. Mind you, there were still a tremendous number of Police/Ambulance sirens in the early hours of this morning.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Finally.

For a long time in Star Wars conversations, I’ve been outlining the following theory: Episode I was rubbish, but Episode II was an improvement, and if that trend continued, Episode III might actually be good.

Well, I now get to be smug and say that I was right. Having seen the film courtesy of the BBFC on Thursday evening, I can say that Revenge Of The Sith is as good as any of the original Star Wars trilogy. It’s got the action, excitement, operatic sweep, and a sense of humour that doesn’t rely on wacky space Rastafarians.

Of course, not everything in the garden is rosy. Lucas still can’t write romantic dialogue to save his life, and makes some odd decisions (R2-D2 is suddenly a close-combat badass? Of course he is.) I’m also not sure why he feels the need to shoe-horn in characters from the original trilogy (Here’s Chewbacca! For no reason!).

Those flaws are minor. Where Lucas really lets himself down is in the two moments which are intended to be the dramatic high-points of the film, but are both sabotaged. One is wrecked by the casting of a kid who appears to have been drafted in from a school play. The other is destroyed by a piece of script-writing so cheesily hackneyed that it couldn’t be much worse if the line was “And I would have gotten away with it, too, if it wasn’t for those pesky Jedi!”. Honestly, I wanted to eat my own face in embarrassment.

But even with all that in mind, this film is great, and the Star Wars magic is finally back. Still not convinced? Think about this: Obi-Wan Kenobi chasing a cyborg on a giant lizard. There’s nothing not to like about that.

So go and see it.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

The Greatest Tool For The Rapid Dissemination Of Utter Nonsense

You have to love internet forums. Where else could I have uttered this?:

"Because maths is a universal language, of course, so the Middle East is just a really, really big equation which we have to solve. And maybe we will, a century from now, when we're all post-human cyborg killing machines from the future."

Friday, May 13, 2005

Monkey See, Monkey Do.

Me indulging in web-comicery was bound to happen eventually. Who knows, if I stick at it it may eventually become funny, or insightful, or something.

Hard Disk Trash 1

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Victory And Defeat

Don't rejoice in his defeat, you men.
For though the world stood up and stopped the bastard,
The bitch that bore him is in heat again.
- Bertolt Brecht

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Oh, The Humanity!

The internet has just introduced me to the works of Andy Remic, an author so bad that he represents absolute zero on a scale of authordom. It is simply not possible to be any worse than him. Fans of language should look away now:
Glancing up, The Mongrel saw the office light go out and he smiled, a grim smile, the sort of smile which can only appear on the face of a man who’s had two fingers blown off by a grenade.
Ben had a look on his face, but it was not confusion. It was far from confusion. It lingered in the realms of terror and pelted apples at the windows of disgust.
And above the world as this deadly virus spread, Mankind suddenly realised that He was cursed, and that God was Laughing and it was a Long Laugh and the Humour was Black and there was No Cure and No Help and No Redemption and the Pit and the Void Welcomed Unwary Travellers with a cool pint of SNOT. In a straight glass.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

My Life In Film

On Friday, I unexpectedly made my film debut. While helping with the shooting of some scenes for the amateur film "Play Nice" I was twice press-ganged into acting. The first occasion saw my crotch being used to simulate a crowded bar. In the second, not only is my face on camera, but my character has a name! And delivers the line "What? But Evette's not been interested in anyone the whole time she's been here!". At some point, you'll doubtless get to see this. Hilarity will almost certainly ensue.

I spent Thursday evening (yes, all of it) in the FACT cinema, watching Downfall, the German film about the last days of Hitler's life. It is very interesting: while Bruno Gantz's performance as Hitler involved a lot more ranting than I'd been led to believe, he does a very good job of portraying Hitler as a rather sad middle-aged man. While there has (predictably) been controversy about this "human" Hitler, I find it a lot more disturbing to think that a man who couldn't watch his dog being poisoned was directly responsible for the deaths of over 50 million people.

Downfall is, inevitably, heavy going, as it consists of 2 hours and 45 minutes of footage of people committing suicide, so it won't be everyone's glass of schapps, but provided that you're sufficiently interested in the subject, I'd recommend seeing it.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Surprise Result

According to, The Geek Test I score only 12.03156%, and therefore only have Geekish Tendancies, rather than being a fully-fledged geek. Surprised me.

I have recieved the first complaint about the new colour scheme. And ignored it.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

New Adventures In Dial-Up

I've now returned to Liverpool, having spent the Easter holidays getting my parents online, and copying music for my sister, who now owns an iPod mini.

It's all change at the flat on Smithdown Road, as I now have a new housemate, Shaomya (I've guessed how to spell that, so it may contain none of the right letters). Anyone who owns a Spiderman mug is OK by me.

As far as the PhD goes, I'll find out how that rough first-draft chapter is, as Chris Mee has been reading it over Easter...

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Switchblade Romance

So at night when she’s sound asleep
I head out in the rain to meet
All the things she never gave
To me when I was down
All the things I had to find
With strangers in strange towns

- The Raveonettes, "Little Animal"

Thursday saw me at the Guild of Students again, this time to see Denmark’s premier exponents of neo-50s pulp-noir rock ‘n’ roll, The Raveonettes. It’s become my tradition to mock the support acts, so here we go. First up were The Boxer Rebellion, who blotted their copybook with me by not taking to the stage dressed as Kansu Tigermen. This failing was compounded by the fact that they were rubbish. Marginally better were The Dogs, who filled their slot by copying The Jam. If I wanted to hear that, I would’ve stayed at home and listened to The Jam. Decent version of "A-Bomb On Wardour Street", mind.

The Raveonettes provide an interesting counterpoint to The Dogs. It’s the difference between copying someone and remixing your influences: Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo somehow manage to channel the spirits of Buddy Holly, Marlon Brando, Phil Spector, and Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, turning them into something unique.

The Raveonettes have successfully identified what was always great about 1950s rock, and have revived it. It’s filled with the joy of being young and rich, 50s teenagers being the first generatrion to enjoy that. At the same time, it recognises the hollowness underneath it all. You can cruise down California’s sun-baked highways all you like, but we all know that eventually you’ll reach the sea, and then there’s nowhere else to go.

What I’m trying to say is this: you should like The Raveonettes, and if you don’t there’s something wrong with you.

It’s as simple as that.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Airwaves Dream

Watching TV advertising does teach you a lot about the world. Here are just a few things that I didn't know at the start of the week:


  1. Some women like to gather in groups, eat crisps, and make pseudo-risque comments about the crisps as they do so. They appear to be unaware that this makes them ther most boring people on Earth.


  2. Men should not have facial expressions, and I can now buy a cosmetic product with "anti-expression" ingredients. Blank Generation indeed.


  3. Women are allowed to use tampons as currency. The exact value of a tampon is not stated, but they seem to be quite valuable.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

A Lovely Day Tomorrow

When you torture somebody to death...everybody would acknowledge that’s torture. But placing a sterilized needle under somebody’s fingernails for fifteen minutes, causing excruciating pain but no permanent physical damage — is that torture?
- Alan Dershowitz, Professor of Criminal Law at Harvard Law School

Sunday, March 13, 2005

"We Should Be In The Cellar, Goddamit!"








You made it. Barely.
Congratulations! You scored 53!
Whether it was the fact that you could run faster, or were just plain lucky, you made it out alive. Even you aren't sure why. But you're sure as hell not going back, or risking your ass for anyone else from now on.







My test tracked 1 variable How you compared to other people your age and gender:










You scored higher than 11% on survivalpoints
Link: The Zombie Scenario Survivor Test written by ci8db4uok on Ok Cupid

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The Front Page

This morning I attended a preview screening of the film Constantine, free of charge (no, it's nothing to do with the first Christian emperor of Rome). It was free because I'm reviewing it for Liverpool University's "ICON Radio". I'll put up a link to the review when they've got it.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Last Man Standing

Today Susanne, the last of my German housemates, goes home. In about a month, though, I get a brand-new housemate. Exciting!

Given that I'm about to spend 3 weeks living on my own in a big flat, it may have been a mistake to watch The Evil Dead last night. It was, however, interesting. I'm a confirmed fan of Evil Dead II, which is really a remake of the first film, so seeing the differences between them was fascinating. The main difference is humour: The Evil Dead is a horror film. Evil Dead II is a comedy with some horror in it. I'm sure that there are people who don't find a man shouting "Who's laughing now?" while cutting off his own demonically-posessed hand with a chainsaw to be funny, but they're wrong.

On the other hand, I could certainly have lived without The Evil Dead's infamous "raped by a tree" scene, and it is interesting that that wasn't featured in Evil Dead II. There's another difference between the two films, here. The Evil Dead is pretty misogynistic. That's not unusual for a horror film, but the overt way in which it's featured is: it's as if it's a conscious theme. This was something else that seems to have been toned down for the second film.

So like I say, all very interesting.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

I Guess I'll Have To Tell 'em/That I Got No Cerebellum

I dare say that somewhere in the rules of criticism, there’s a paragraph on keeping an open mind and trying not to pre-empt the viewing experience.

Last night I broke that rule, when I saw End Of The Century: The Story of The Ramones. I knew that I would like this film just because of its subject matter: a band that I’m rather fond of. End Of The Century is the tragic-comic story of what happens when a geek, a junkie, a right-winger, and someone with technical skill form one of a century’s most influential bands. They make some music, it fails to get the success it deserves, and they then spend 25 years testing each other to the point of breaking.

All the Spinal Tap hallmarks are here: the endless merry-go-round of drummers, the footage from the tour-bus, the interview interrupted by someone’s wife, and the absurdly rock ‘n’ roll moments (Johnny Ramone pulling The Clash and The Sex Pistols through a window in 1976). What lifts End Of The Century above the level of standard fare is the genuine sense of tragedy that surrounds the band’s two deceased members, Joey and Dee Dee Ramone.

In a sense, a documentary like this isn’t that hard to make: there’s a story which naturally tells itself. It’s also hard to turn a Rockumentary into a meditation on the nature of truth like Capturing The Friedmans. End Of The Century succeeds by giving what feels like genuine insight into the lives of people who are heroes of yours because of what they did, not who they were. As such, it comes recommended.

Monday, February 21, 2005

End Of A Century

The Edge...There is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.
- Hunter S. Thompson, Hells Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga Of The Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (1966)

So, now Hunter S. Thompson joins the list of those sleeping the big one, along with John Peel, Douglas Adams, and various Ramones. It's like someone just said to me: we're seeing the 20th Century die off.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Digital Guerilla

So, the film project is, as of 3 PM today, finished. It's only two minutes long, but given that it had to be written, shot, and edited by me in six hours, I think that's enough.

Featuring footage snached from the top of Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral, quotes by Poet/Dramatist/Occultist/Nationalist/Twat W.B. Yeats, and a soundtrack of the most obscure Pulp track ever recorded, the film will see its premiere tomorrow morning.

I'm working on finding a way for all of you to see it.

Monday, February 14, 2005

"I'm A Self-Facilitating Media Node"

Well, today began my intensive week-long course in Postgraduate Training. Up until now I was an untrained postgraduate, fit only to be used as cannon-fodder in the culture wars.

The day began with an icebreaker. Based around a PhD-themed game of Snakes & Ladders. Next time I want to break some ice I'll use a sock full of snooker balls.

However, I did manage to turn the situation to my advantage. I volunteered to produce a 4-minute film for the presentation on Friday. So I'll be spending the next week getting some official training in what is essentailly my hobby.

Soon I'll be part of the hip 21st Centuryu techno-elite. Or the same loser I was before. Either way's good.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Jackass Monkeyfucker

So, the ebayer of my copy of Windows 98 SE has proven to be a Jackass Monkeyfucker (and I mean that in the classic sense of the term). A week has gone by since he bought it. I invoiced him theday after he made the purchase. Five days after he made the purchase, I sent him a friendly e-mail.

Looking at his ebay profile, I see that he has purchased (and completed the purchase) of another copy of Windows 98. One that cost a bit less.

Now it is possible that he did not realise that clicking on the "buy it now!" button constituted a legally. binding. contract. But I suspect not.

I'd feel a whole lot worse about this if it weren't for the fact that I will get £30 of credit to spend on ebay and a free relist for it. So his Jackass Monkeyfuckery has actually made me more money.

Over at N.A.O.W.F.I.T., I've written a little piece, just for fun. It's very...me.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

On Dealing With Footpads...

The two-part article Self-defence with a Walking-stick: The Different Methods of Defending Oneself with a Walking-Stick or Umbrella when Attacked under Unequal Conditions.

Part one is here.
Part two is here.

I so need to get myself a gentleman's walking stick!

Monday, January 31, 2005

This Is Uncool

Well, my review of the "Call of Cthulhu" supplement Dark Designs is up over at RPG.net. Those of you who fear bookshops run by fat, swaying men can read it here. Everyone else isn't necessarily missing much.

Someone on Ebay has just bought my copy of Windows 98 SE for £30! Joy! I've already gone out and bought a ticket to see The Raveonettes in March.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Genius.

Over at RPG.net, one poster has just applied to do some voluntary work with kids. He was provided with a list of indicators that an adult may be a perpetrator of child abuse. Here we go:

Men (18-38):

  • Low self-esteem.
  • May be involved in youth activities such as group leaders or coaches.
  • May be married or single.
  • May or may not be homosexual.
  • Tend not to have substance abuse problems.
  • Less of a team player.
  • Sensitive to children's needs and have a way of putting children at ease.

Let me run two of those by you again:

  • May be married or single.
  • May or may not be homosexual.

So the criteria for being a perpetrator include being a man who is alive. Nice work, guys.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Being Watched...

So, for the first time I'm trying to sell something on ebay. I check the "My Ebay" page this morning, and descover that the item is "being watched" by one person.

So I am excited. And slightly spooked, for some reason.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The Diceman Cometh

Proof that the best thing about the internet is it's sheer uselessness:

The World's Largest Collection of Dice

Contrary to what you might think, I haven't really posted this to mock. Dice are very easy to get quite fetishistic about, if you aren't careful...

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Invigilation Day

It's a new film, in which Denzel Washington plays me. Marvel as he turns up late to an exam, pissing off a student no end, and has to add half-an-hour on as a consequence.

Today's exam was better, thankfully. The main problem with invigilation is finding something to keep you occupied for three hours. I'm passing the time by reading Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke's The Occult Roots Of Nazism: Secret Aryan Cults and Their Influence on Nazi Ideology, The Ariosophists of Austria and Germany 1890-1935. And very interesting it is, too.

Christmas and New Year was no end of fun, especially watching my parents play Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas on the PS2 that my sister borrowed from the BBFC. At the risk of making my previous post somewhat hypocritical, if you don't feel some kind of thrill while orchestrating a drive-by shooting to the strains of "Welcome To The Jungle", you probably aren't alive.

New Year was similarly good fun. I can now recommend eating large amounts of Stilton while drinking as a method of avoiding a hangover the next day. Try it.

So, now it's back to Uni, and some hard work to make sure that I get upgraded to PhD this year.