Monday, January 29, 2007

I Love The 70s

I've never seen the BBC series Life On Mars, although I'm reliably informed that I'd love it. Certainly, this promo video for the new series is brilliant in several ways.

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Secret Names Of Streets

Listening to Simon Mayo's show on Radio 5, there was some discussion of a new film called The Lives of the Saints, a "magical thriller" set in Green Lanes.

I'd suggest that the Duckett Road folk organise a reuninion where we go and see it, but it doesn't sound like it'll get much of a release.

Monday, January 15, 2007

"You’re terrified, but you feel for the characters, even though they are only sugar."

Sometimes what geeks are capable of surprises even me. Take this for example: a man who has re-created the battle of Helm's Deep from Lord of the Rings using confectionary. I suppose it counts as outsider art. Certainly it appeals to me, given that on one level it is quite brilliant, while on another, quite similar, level, it is a sure sign that its creator has Gone Wrong in a major way.

Sunday, January 14, 2007


Someone over at has created a randomiser for game settings. The favourite ones I have had so far are:

Premise: Demonic penguins try to find true love in a transparent ripoff of/respectful homage to Tolkien's Middle-Earth.
Genre: Romance

Premise: Transhuman ducks kidnap hapless livestock on the high seas.
Genre: Romance

Premise: Odious angels fight crime in the ruins of post-apocalyptic New York.
Genre: Noir/Action

Premise: Rock star androids evolve beyond human limitations in Tokugawa-era Japan.
Genre: Horror/Alternative History

Premise: Cynical vikings try to get laid in the world of competitive cooking.
Genre: Cyberpunk/Dungeon Crawl/Drama

If you want a go, the generator can be found here (if you get a result including the phrase "fish out of water", it was included at my suggestion).

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Mystery Archaeology Theater 3000

Well, it's been a while since I posted. This is because the normal post-Christmas depresion has been a bit compounded by the fact that I'll be moving house shortly. I don't really want to move, but one of my housemates is an arse and the landlord won't do anything about it, so I've not much choice.

But no-one comes here to hear about that stuff, so here's a film review of Apocalypto.

Apocalypto actually holds together very well on the level of an action film. As you might have guessed with a Mel Gibson film, however, once you get beyond that level things get quite problematic.

I'm fully aware that Apocalypto is in one sense not to be taken literally, as Gibson is using Mesoamerican history to offer a critique of contemporary western society. However, if you're going to use a historical allegory, you should do your best to get the history right, or your allegory will be pretty poor. This is actually the main problem with Apocalypto: it uses various features from over 1000 years of Maya society and throws them together into a pseudo-culture. The pyramid-building Classical Maya society was gone for a good 600 years prior to the arrival of Europeans in the area.

The portrayal of the pseudo-Maya is also a problem. To believe the film, the Maya were a society of bloodthirsty psychopaths who had no redeeming features. Is that a valid way to treat the ancestors of a group of people who are still very much with us (there are still 6 million Maya living in Mexico and Central America)? The Classic Maya did practice limited human sacrifice, but then so did the Romans, who tend to get a much more positive portrayal in film than the Maya do here.

The negativity of the human sacrifice in Apocalypto is ironic, given the manner in which Gibson's personal interpretation of Christianity seems to be all about the torture and sacrifice. The film is certainly heavily influenced by Gibson's beliefs, with the attempts to Christianise the beliefs of the hero's people also being somewhat jaring.

All in all, Apocalypto is interesting, possibly worth seeing, but ultimately badly flawed.