Thursday, October 14, 2010

Hands up for the Lord

Thursday, October 14, 2010 0
It seems I may have misjudged the gravitas of this curious ritual. Ever since my breaking revelation others have been harnessing its power for all manner of purposes.

Here we see last night's The Apprentice ejectee, Joy, summoning the strength to have her voice heard over the melee of squabbling toddlers at the 'design a beach accessory' conference.

Was she communicating with god, or a more potent deity? Lord Sugar perhaps? We may never know. If only she'd had a spare 12 years to dedicate to the gesture she may not have been fired.

Being buried underground in a Chilean mine for 69 days wasn't going to stop Yonni Barrios following our surface-dwelling zeitgeists either.

He was finally rescued yesterday, but may well wish he hadn't been seeing as the affair he'd been having with his mistress for several years came to light during his captivity.

If anyone needs some help of the ethereal variety it will be Yonni when his wife gets hold of him.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I said you could go to the bathroom 12 years ago

Wednesday, October 13, 2010 1
This just goes to prove that spiritualism isn't big or clever just because it doesn't make sense to you. Funny how this is becoming a running theme.

The guy to your left was featured on episode 2 of 'An Idiot Abroad', Karl Pilkington's Wonders of the World travelogue of sorts now showing on Sky 1.

That's not a deformed arm he appears to be making some kind of freedom fighter gesture with. I expect it was perfectly normally when he decided to hold it aloft, and KEEP IT THERE FOR TWELVE YEARS!!! TWELVE!!!

I'm sure my arm would begin to look a bit withered and frail too if the blood had failed to circulate around it properly for so long.

What's the point???

Oh yes, nearly forgot. When Karl asked the translator, "Can you explain the reason why he's decided to do this?", he replied on Deranged Loon's behalf, "He has chosen this as a part of his way of communicating, and his way of reaching to the god".

Never has the old metaphor of religion as mental illness been more apt.

I'm sure Ganesha, Shiva, Vishnu - or whoever floats this guy's boat - will be delighted with his achievements.

On reflection, it's not exactly the Sistine Chapel though is it?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Something for all the family

Tuesday, October 12, 2010 0
If you've ever been sitting at home at a loose end wishing there was still one last bastion of animal cruelty sport left to enjoy in America, and cursing the foundation of PETA and all those pesky laws relating to humanitarian standards of basic decency, this one's for you.

There's no need to traipse all the way over to Spain to witness a camp clown in a silly hat winding up a bull; it turns out you can get your fix in Yellville, Arkansas. The town's entertainment pièce de résistance is its annual 'Turkey Trot' which involves flying live turkeys 1000 feet into the sky and ejecting them over a throng of baying festival goers.

Seeing as turkeys aren't the most aerially adept birds to begin with - and having had their wings clipped won't help - unsurprisingly many of them splatter on the ground, dying instantly. The unlucky ones survive to endure a fate worse than death; being harangued by a bunch of slaw-jawed hillbillies who get their jollies from stamping the living daylights out of their broken bodies.

According to the wholesome, clinically sanitised web site Arkansas Kids nothing remotely like this goes on any more *nudge, nudge, wink, wink* and the official Yellville community page fails to mention it at all. Such a relief to know the authorities clamped down on that barbaric, third-world practice.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Amiga remakes database turns 1000!

Thursday, September 30, 2010 0
Yes, because that's how it works in database years; one entry for every anniversary. I'm not sure if this is a testament to the dedication of all the die-hard Amigans out there who wouldn't let it lie, or how disturbed I must be to have obsessively recorded their progeny to this extent.

In any case, the proud (I'm sure) winner of the frenzied scramble to secure this coveted footing in Amiga remake history goes to ClockworkBytes for his remake of Gloom, XGloom.

Gloom - developed by Mark Sibly and released in 1995 - was the first commercial Amiga clone of the first person shooter Doom. According to the author, the revamp will be a cross-platform reimplementation of Gloom's engine, initially using the original Amiga data files, though will in time be fully moddable in 3D.

You can follow the game's development over on the Amiga World forum.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I Can't Believe It's Not Custard

Wednesday, September 29, 2010 0
In case you missed the pick of the day, the latest series of Harry and Paul started last night on BBC 2. While most of it merely plundered and rehashed their back catalogue of old ideas and characters, I thought the Dragons' Den sketch alone was worth tuning in for.

The scene opens with a couple of quivering entrepreneurs attempting to pitch their brainchild; a pudding supplement called 'I Can't Believe It's Not Custard'. The idea is trounced and they're unceremoniously ejected from the Den, only to return dressed as Rastafarians to hawk the same idea (clearly a thinly veiled reference to Levi Roots and his Reggae Reggae Sauce). This time the Dragons can't wait to throw money at 'Me Kwan Believe It Nat Custard', their motivation being to 'out PC' each other by backing a pair of ethnic minority candidates. The deal goes pear-shaped when they're exposed as blacked-up impostors, but that's not the point.

I did think at the time that Levi's sauce wouldn't have got off the starting blocks if he'd been a dull, middle class, white, corporate type with a neat hair cut. Let's face it, the product is no more special than any run-of-the-mill jerk/barbecue sauce; it's essentially Asda's own brand variety delivered by a Bob Marley clone with a large dollop of Caribbean 'soul' ...and a few creepy crawlies if the production line workers all wear dreads!

What's more, it doesn't "put some music in your food" at all. I've seen it slopped onto a pile of chicken and veg and it didn't make so much as a peep. So that's a fib. The claim that the 'secret' recipe for Reggae Reggae Sauce was passed down by Levi's late grandmother has also been disputed... and anyway, it's hardly an enigma when the ingredients are listed in black and white on the jar (as stipulated by Food Standards Agency labeling regulations).

It just goes to show how easily public perception can be swayed by presenting an everyday item as exotic; as a corollary it becomes more alluring, mystical, and ultimately superior to an equivalent home-grown product.

This is apparent in adverts we see in British newspapers for supposedly revolutionary new medical treatments. Emblazoned in bold letters they'll often vociferate, 'developed in the US!!!', as if that somehow lends the technique unmitigated credibility. For balance they should point out that 'My Therapy Buddy (TM)' and George Bush were also 'developed in the US!!!'.

Eastern philosophies are another example. By movies in particular we are led to believe that the more steeped in vague mysticism and spirituality a culture is, the wiser its protagonists must be. Strangely enough if a local nutter cross-leggedly gazes skyward, arms outstretched reciting gobbledygook mantras to summon inner strength and chi equilibrium, he's considered just that.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Kiss From a Doze

Tuesday, September 28, 2010 0

I don't know what you'd call the lyrical equivalent of an actor 'phoning in' a performance, but Seal's latest *cough* 'hit' *cough* 'Secret' has got to be the definition of it. Did he get a buy into the next round because he's already won a number of music awards?

I go to sleep listening to the radio. This morning I woke up singing 'Secret' and in my semi-comatosed stupor assumed I must have made up the lyrics myself during the night and dismissed them as gibberish that couldn't possibly constitute a real, commercial song because it's essentially one line repeated over and over again really, really slowly (I heard you the first time!), interspersed with a few "oooh whooa ooh"s and "oh yes you are"s. I swear my dog's nocturnal posterior emissions possess more creative integrity and credibility. Maybe I should get him an agent. "Yes I should, oh yeah" *burp, gurgle*.

Anyhow, this got me wondering, which (non-instrumental obviously) piece of music has the fewest lyrics? I came up with several ideas, but am open to more suggestions.

The instructions to repeat either the first or second chorus within the lyrics to R.E.M.'s 'The One I Love' are composed of almost as many characters as the choruses themselves! The Beatles' 'Why Don't We Do It In The Road' goes one step further by only featuring the words in the title (fifteen times!) plus the line "No one will be watching us" (twice). 'Mouldy Old Dough' by Lieutenant Pigeon really takes the biscuit though; it contains only the words "Mouldy Old Dough" and "Dirty Old Man".

Curse of Monkey Island demake demo-ed

'Jackpumpkinhead' has announced over on the International House of Mojo forums his intention to reassemble the third Secret of Monkey Island game in the series in glorious, old-school pixel art. Much like the first two games, this collaborative demake - or 'Old School Edition' - will be text-based, and feature a reimplementation of the original verb menu, albeit with an option to use keyboard shortcuts.

It's thought that dispensing with the imagination-trampling voice-overs will offer a more authentic, pre-CD-ROM days experience, while updating the sprites by way of a non-cartoony MI1-MI2 'mashup' will tie in nicely with the character tweaks introduced in Monkey Island 3 nevertheless keeping the graphics distinctly retro.

The reworked homage is to be constructed using the Adventure Game Studio, the graphics brought to life with a medley of tools including Deluxe Paint, GraphicsGale and Paint.NET, while the sound is likely to be swiped borrowed from the 'Curse of' original CD soundtrack, or re-imagined as MIDI tunes.

An early beta demo is available from the forum thread linked above. I'd urge you to grab it quick before LucasArts issue a cease and desist notice, relegating it to the history books as a doomed, collector's curiosity Maniac Mansion Deluxe style.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Don't adjust your sets

Thursday, September 23, 2010 0

Browsing the web on a Spectrum is a bit of a novelty, but you wouldn't want the wind to change and for it to stick like that. Only by foisting image compression on their mobile broadband customers, that's what T-Mobile expect you to live with.

...and I did until I came across a neat little workaround; a Firefox extension known as Modify Headers and the instructions for hacking the T-Mobile web proxy.

Reminds me of buying Robocop way back in 1988 after being mesmerized by the groundbreaking graphics on the back of the box, and seeing this! when I loaded the game on my Spectrum 128k. At least then they had the decency to admit - albeit in micro-print - that the screenshots were taken from the arcade version.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

*nix Amiga emulation reboot

Wednesday, September 15, 2010 2

The Ubiquitous Amiga Emulator, aka WinUAE's neglected big brother, has been stagnant for over three years now, shutting Linux and Mac users out in the cold where new features, stability and compatibility advances are concerned.

Thankfully all that is about to change with the release of PUAE; GnoStiC's attempt to pick up the reigns from E-UAE, itself a UAE resuscitation.

With the original source code gathering dust, PUAE takes its inspiration from the lovingly nurtured Windows incarnation. While it's still in beta mode with plenty of bugs to iron out, it already sports a primitive, integrated GUI and is receiving a warm reception from the Amiga community.

The emulator can be configured manually by editing the default.uaerc file, or by tweaking it via the Hi-Toro frontend, before running the standalone application. Technical support and pre-compiled binaries are available from the English Amiga Board's 'other UAE' forum.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Standing in for Harry

Tuesday, April 20, 2010 0
While Harry Hill's TV Burp is off the air I thought it was only right that someone should pick up the batten.

With that in mind, has anyone else noticed the uncanny resemblance between the psychopathic, possessed, Good Guy doll Chucky from Child's Play and Molly Dobbs from Coronation Street? In fact I think I'd be more scared if I bumped into Molly down a dark alleyway.

...and to think some people use their blogs to promote good causes and discuss critical issues of the day. What's that all about? Pfft.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Derailing the gravy train

Monday, April 19, 2010 2

MSG sensitive people such as migraine sufferers are all too aware that gravy is dangerous territory because it nearly always contains E621, otherwise known as monosodium glutamate. Gravy and stock manufacturers know you know this and so have to conjure up new and inventive ways to force feed it to you without your knowledge.

Bisto may well be the "nation's favourite gravy" and I'm sure their dedication to "making your meal a success" is second to none, but this doesn't preclude it from being full of crap. Nevertheless, at least they admit to this on the packet. Other companies aren't so up front. They'll cheerily trumpet that their gravy is "free from artificial flavours and additives" despite containing MSG in one guise or another, and they can get away with it scot-free because, technically it's true. MSG is merely a crystalline salt - a chemical extraction if you like - of glutamic acid; a naturally occurring amino acid found in many untampered-with foods including certain cheeses, peas, tomatoes and corn. Natural or not, overdosing on the stuff isn't going to be a pleasant experience if it's one of your migraine triggers.

So how do you inform people that your product contains MSG without setting off any alarm bells? Call it something else, that's how. In effect you'll see super-wholesome ingredient lists "free of artificial additives" which feature 'natural flavouring', 'yeast extract' or 'hydrolysed/autolysed protein'. Yeast extract is free glutamic acid released from yeast cells through fermentation, while hydrolysed or autolysed protein is created by chemically breaking down cereals or legumes into their constituent amino acids, including free glutamic acid.

Strangely enough all these homely, warm and fuzzy techniques serve to artificially enhance the flavour of bland food by bombarding the brain's receptors with excitotoxins capable of damaging or destroying its neurones. Nothing like MSG then. Bottoms up!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Would you like a gastric band with that?

Thursday, April 15, 2010 0

I've often wondered why people continue to eat the chemical cocktails that pass for food these days when their contents are brazenly confessed on the packet. Having watched the first few episodes of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, I have my answer.

Jamie's goal is to take the hillbilly backwater that is Huntington, West Virginia - statistically the fattest state in the US - and squeeze it under a microcosmic magnifying glass to highlight the way in which parents and the government are colluding to kill their kids with junk food.

In one scene, a junior school dinner lady tries to justify the coronary-inducing slop she is preparing for lunch. She flips over a box of chicken patties, glances at the ingredients list and declares it perfectly acceptable because the first item listed is 'chicken'. Never mind the other three dozen unpronounceable fillers, additives, flavour enhancers and preservatives below this in the line up. I'm sure these could include excrement or cyanide and still get the all clear from these clueless poison peddlers.

Clearly wasting his breath on the adults, an exasperated Jamie turns his attention to the kids. In a last ditch attempt to convince them to change their eating habits he whips out the big guns; his what's-in-a-chicken-nugget demo. Apparently this silver bullet induces spontaneous convulsions in British kids so is sure to do the trick. Before their eyes he blends up the picked-clean carcass of a chicken along with its connective tissue and throws in some artificial flavour for good measure, coats the vile, pink sludge in bread crumbs and then dares, "now who wants nuggets for lunch?". To my horror some hands from the audience still shoot up in the air without a moment's pause. It seems you can make anything taste palatable if you deep fry it in enough golden brown grease.

We catch up with the school 'cooks' again following the publishing of a newspaper article accusing Jamie of branding them stupid and ignorant. His comments were twisted for dramatic effect, nevertheless they seem genuinely shocked and baffled by the suggestion. This coming from grown adults who routinely serve the kids in their care pizza for breakfast and nitpick at the nutritional value of Jamie's alternative meals.

In another episode we meet 16 year old Brittany who is so obese, doctors have told her she's likely to be 6 feet under in 5-7 years as a result of the spots on her liver caused through binge eating. The threat of death looming over her like a black cloud apparently hasn't been enough to motivate her to exercise or go on a diet, yet now there's 5 minutes of fame at stake, she's prepared to take her health seriously.

I suppose the take-away (pun intended) lesson is that eating colossal dollops of saturated fat on a bun for breakfast, lunch and tea makes you morbidly obese. See, watching TV can be educational.

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