Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Basically, I'm Saying "Don't Worry, Daddy Still Loves You Just As Much"

In an example of my usual skill at being ahead of the curve, I've just started to tinker on Twitter (as promised last year, I gave it some time, to see if it was just a pash in the flan) - you can see me here.

Not entirely sure if it'll prove to be a lasting thing, though I'm finding it quite diverting so far.

Anyway, I'll still be blogging - and don't worry, there are actual content-rich posts in the pipeline, not just 'ooh, doesn't that look a bit like that?' ones - so this is not any kind of farewell. You don't get rid of me that easily.

That said, I still think I'd have to sustain some kind of head injury before I'd consider signing up to Facebook.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

I Think I'll Get Some Pick N Mix Too

Obviously, it's subliminal advertising - you know they make more money from selling snacks than from sales of cinema tickets?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Two Comic Covers From 1984

Normally, I'd suggest plagiarism, but these were both drawn by the same chap (Brian Bolland), so I'll just chalk it up to a similar approach taken to both the pieces of work.

No criticism here at all, by the way; Bolland's an absolute master of comic art: if you want clean lines, he's yer artist. And I particularly like the way that the design plays on the left-to-right approach to reading, drawing the eye across the image to make you wonder just who or what is firing at the characters.

Anyway, this slight coincidence freaked out my 13-year-old self, so I thought I'd share it.

Monday, March 22, 2010

As The Saviour Of Humanity In The Matrix Put It: "Whoa!"

I've linked before to the ever-amusing Photoshop Disasters blog, wherein they point out under-'shopped bits of advertising and promotional material.

But like any tool, Photoshop itself isn't a bad thing, it's a question of how it's used, and here's something created by Eric Johansson, a craftsman who need not blame his tools:

Clever, innit? You can see more of his work here - prepare to have your ever-lovin' brain bent out of shape (or, at least, for your eyeballs to be tickled).


Saturday, March 20, 2010

I'm Using The Internet As A Message Pad, Yes. What Of It?

Just a quick message to wish my brother a very happy birthday - he's a jolly good egg, and has been a longtime reader of the blog, and is always one of the first to comment when posts become fewer and further between.

So, have a good day Bro - and if you're reading this on your phone in the usual way, I guess you'll be needing this in a minute or so:

To the rest of my readers, I can only apologise. And I do.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I Am, Quite Literally, A Dancin Fool

... oh, hang on, I can't find a film called Cardboard Box.
Ah well. Better kick off my dancin shoes.
As you were, everyone.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Perils Of Associative Thought Patterns, I Guess

This image is (as you can probably guess) from Apple's webpage about their iBooks store.

You probably can't make it out on the picture, but one of the lines reads:

"...the bookshelf flips around like a secret passageway to reveal the iBookstore..."

Anyone else inclined to think of Anne Frank when they read that?

What with their logo allegedly being a reference to Alan Turing, whatever you may think of their products, it could be argued that Apple have a sense of history.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Very Definition Of An 'Art Installation'

Apologies if you've seen this before, but if not, ladies and gennelman, I give you The Kansas City Library.

A terrific bit of architecture, I'd say - and I'm rather taken by the eclectic choice of books as well.

Bravo, Kansas!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Entering Decade Four

Today was my birthday, and for the first time in my working life, I didn't take the day off.

How was it, you ask? Well, the title of this book by the late David Foster Wallace sums it up best:

I shouldn't really complain: I've long thought that there wouldn't be any harm in everyone having their birthday as a day off school, college, work or whatever. It's just the one day, and since everyone has only one every year (except the Queen and people who were born on February 29), it'd apply pretty much equally.

Now I think about it, this is probably one of the few beliefs I have which hasn't changed over time. A solid and definite policy decision, maybe I should (crap pun approaching) form a political group and stand on this policy and this policy alone, under the name The Birthday Party?

Oh hang on, looks like Nick Cave and friends have beaten me to it. Ah well, probably for the best.

Do forgive my nonsense, it's late and I'm increasingly old. Though I guess that applies to all of us.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

There Goes The Sun, Diddle-Da-Dah...

Last summer, I wrote about watching the solar eclipse in India, and mentioned that there'd been thousands of other people observing the event.

However, what I didn't know at the time was that a camera crew was there making a BBC science-based programme, and you won't be surprised to hear that their film of the eclipse is much more professional.

The footage forms part (some might even argue the centrepiece) of the first episode of the BBC2 series Wonders of the Solar System, presented by physicist Brian Cox, who's both smiley and enthusiastic about his subject matter, and it's generally a very interesting programme.

The eclipse stuff is around the halfway point, but I'd heartily recommend watching the whole show (not least because, if it's phenomena in the sky you like, there's a great sequence about the Northern Lights towards the end of the programme).

One of the things Cox does well, I feel (in addition to explaining issues clearly) is to convey a genuine sense of wonder and amazement about things; so often people will tell you that something is important or startling, but Cox is good at telling you why he thinks this is the case. I understand they're doing a trimmed-down version of the show for children, which sounds like a terrific idea.

What's that you say? Where do you find the programme? Why, m'love, tis right here. Enjoy.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Strangely Attractive, I Think You'll Agree

Do you agree?

Yes, I know, this sort of link-passing is what Twitter is for, but I don't have a Twitter account, so here it be.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Previous Price: 75p. New Price: 0p.

Back in May 2009 I gave a resounding thumbs-up to the first issue of the comic The Unwritten by Mike Carey and Peter Gross.

This week, it's been made available online for free in PDF format, so you can have a look at it and see if I was way off the mark or not.

In the months since its release, another ten or so issues have been published, and I feel they've fleshed out the underlying 'mythology' rather well, including a number of historic figures such as Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, Rudyard Kipling and even Joseph Goebells.

It's currently one of the comics I look forward to most each month, so I'd urge you to have a look at the freebie first issue and see if it's your kind of thing.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

"Lee-ah" like Leela or "Lei-a" Like Layer? We Were Never Sure At School

For me and many other males of a certain age and inclination, the reaction to Princess Leia in the Star Wars films was one which changed as the years went on and morefilms came out.

When the first film came out, and I was 7 or so, she was just, well, there, being captured and rescued and arguing with the male characters and then dishing out medals at the end. I think I may have had the Leia action figure which came out, but it wasn't my favourite or anything.

Then The Empire Strikes Back came out, and I seem to remember Leia having more to do - she was in charge on the ice planet, and more like one of the troops. Still, as a boy of about ten, I saw that she was a girl, and of course that meant she probably smelled like flowers and liked ponies or something. I don't know, all right? I was young and foolish then (as opposed to older and ... well, yes).

But a few years later, in Return Of The Jedi there was a frankly gratuitous scene with Leia in a metal bikini (much referred to amongst boys of a certain age, and the focus of an episode of Friends), which coincided with certain age-wrought changes in me to the extent that... well, yes, I found the scene oddly compelling. That's how shallow and facile I was then (and probably am now, some might say).

As I say, the scene with Leia in a metal bikini in the 1983 film was pretty unnecessary really, and I don't think it would be stretching it to say it was sexist. Fortunately, in 1995 a remodelled version of the Princess Leia action figure was released, and I think it's fair to say that it went some way to addressing the unnecessary sexualisation of the character:

... well, maybe you find that alluring. It doesn't do it for me, and I'm not alone in that, as apparently collectors call this the 'Monkey Face Leia' figure. I can see why, though it looks both simian and constipated.

Still, Carrie Fisher has demonstrated a sharp sense of humour about all this, I feel - in 2008 she said "Among George's many possessions, he owns my likeness, so that every time I look in the mirror I have to send him a couple of bucks. That's partly why he's so rich."

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Variant Covers

I derive a strange delight from seeing international editions of magazines on the shelves of newsagents (often the larger branches).

I'm intrigued to see the differences between the covers of the US and UK versions of, say, Esquire or GQ; whilst this may have its roots in my childhood discovery of imported american comics alongside copies of Whizzer and Chips and Krazy comic (and wonderment at the fact that the US comics were, despite being smaller, in full colo[u]r), it's also quite interesting to pre-spot cover features on films or bands which may well make their way across the Atlantic in a month or so's time. This used to be very apparent with the film magazine Premiere, where last month's cover-feature in the US often seemed to be this month's in the UK edition, though I'm not sure if that mag still exists in either form.

Anyway, as ever, a thousand words or so when the pictures say it all: the UK and US editions of the current edition of Wired, and I'm amused by the different approach to the same cover-featured article: the US version looks like something from a Haynes manual, and the UK edition looks more like a poster from the era of Communism or the like.

I have no real point to make here, in all honesty; I'm just sharing something which amuses me a bit.

Self-indulgent? Very probably, but I suspect I've posted worse.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Proving That, Even In The Far-Flung Future, Intelligence Will Not Equate With Social Skills...

... in the 25th Century, Brainiac 5 demonstrates his contempt for those members of the Legion Of Super-Heroes too stupid to figure out how to make their own flight-rings.

Go on, Brainy! Flick them the rods!

Monday, March 01, 2010

The Ghost Of My Holiday Romance Toyboy Husband Shot My Conjoined Twin Baby As She Lay Dying Of Leukaemia... But I Still Love Him!

For some years now, the shelves of newsagents have been awash with... well, I don't know what you'd call them, really; tragic confession magazines? I'm sure you know the sort of thing - like the one pictured here, they're jam-packed with true tales of tragedy and woe, and yet often topped with a no-context-at-all picture of a smiling woman. Given the coverlines swirling around her, I always wonder: just what is she smiling at?

Anyway, there are a lot of these magazines, and a lot of the tales seem to focus around death or children or the deaths or illnesses of children, but there seems to be very little coverage of them; I can't help but wonder if, like their equivalent in book publishing, they're a bit of a 'dirty secret' - very lucrative, but not necessarily something that the folks involved want to admit to being involved in or talk about too much. Like being a pimp or drug dealer, or the composer of The Ketchup Song.

But, in a strange case of synchronicity, these magazines are the focus of not one, but two programmes on TV this week - one on Tuesday and another - on a different channel - on Thursday.

Hang on a mo, though... is it synchronicity... or a clever marketing ploy?

Hmm. If the latter, then my simple-minded ways have been exploited by a cruel media machine. I feel so dirty and used, like my very soul's been violated.

Perhaps I should sell my story.