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Apr. 6th, 2006

Simon Singh: Big Bang

Big Bang has no pretensions to being a profound book, but I don't think it's possible to write about the birth of the universe without being profound.

Despite Singh's littering of the text with pop culture references and gossipy anecdotes about the sex lives of scientists, the incredible fact that mankind has had the arrogance and the brilliance to measure the universe, and almost to understand it, comes through loud and clear.

I now know roughly how old the universe is, the approximate dimensions of our galaxy, and the distance of others; I know that our universe is not eternal, but came into existence.

What I don't know is how. Shall I have to turn to philosophy for an explanation? Or even religion? Scientists seem reluctant to speculate, uncomfortable at the very prospect that they might prove the existence of God.

The Call of Cthulhu

The H.P.Lovecraft Historical Society have succeeded in making the best screen adaptation of his work to date, with their no-budget The Call of Cthulhu".

The HPLHS are a band of keen HPL fans who came to his work via the Chaosium RPG, as have so many others. The film they've made - actually shot on Digital Video, but given a convincing "film look" - is interesting for several reasons.

Firstly, unlike most other HPL adaptations, it doesn't have an updated setting. Like Peter Jackson's "King Kong", it takes place in a loving recreation of the era in which it originated. Taking that one step further, however - and PJ should take note - they have also filmed it as a silent, black and white, gothic horror.

The silence adds to a genuinely unsettling mood, as well as helping to avoid the no-budget pitfalls of poor acting and poor sound recording. Black and white captures a period feel, and helps to sell old-fashioned mechanical special effects and model work.

More than anything, however, filming it as it would have been in the 1920s gives us a tantalising glimpse into what might have been: Universal Studios should have made this film in 1933, with Colin Clive, Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Lionel Atwill and Dwight Frye.

Highly recommended.

Mar. 27th, 2006

Two-headed girl

It's odd to see the headline "FRANCE Two-headed girl dies" on Teletext in the morning.

Sadly, the story itself is not as weird as it is sad.

Mar. 2nd, 2006

David Bowie Comic

Care of Boingboing, an bizarre, amateurish David Bowie comic:

http://community.livejournal.com/found_objects/2555300.html#cutid1

Jan. 3rd, 2006

Greenwich Union

The Meantime Brewery in Greenwich supplies Sainsburys with their reasonably nice and reasonably cheap "Taste the Difference" booze. The associated pub, also in Greenwich, has most of the same beers on tap, where they taste considerably nicer.

I went there yesterday, and was, at first, dismayed: they have discontinued Golden Beer. Golden Beer was the second nicest beer I have ever tasted, after the Red Beer from the Alstadthof Brewery in Nuremberg. The discontinuation was, worryingly, in response to a lack of interest from Sainsburys. The production line has been turned over to making more "Taste the Difference" Wheat Beer.

I cheered up, however, when I decided to give the Wheat Beer in question a second chance. Previously, I'd found it extremely underwhelming - no banana/fruit smell or flavour; not much flavour of any kind, in fact - but it was obvious from the first sip that the recipe has been changed. Sure enough, it is now a percentage point stronger, and has been rechristened "Grand Cru". It tastes and smells like Franziskaner. It tastes and smells very nice.

Motivation

I was concentrating and working hard until about fifteen minutes ago, but I realise now that it was equivalent to the first two minutes of a run: I went fast out of the trap, and have now bonked. My to do list looks unsurmountable. My eyes won't stay open. All I want to do is sleep. Sigh.

Dec. 22nd, 2005

Dream the Impossible Dream

Anyone for a free Mp3 of Peter O'Toole singing "Dream the Impossible Dream" from The Man of La Mancha? Very good. Not as good as the version on the Honda advert, but free-er.

Dec. 9th, 2005

Oysters

My boss invented a new phrase this morning: "Everybody's been copied into this email - the world and his oyster!" I imagine that she meant the world and his brother, but halfway through started thinking that the world was her oyster. I like it.

Yesterday, she accidentally rechristened His Eminence Archbishop Gregorius, head of the Greek Orthodox Church in the UK, "Lord Gregarious".

Dec. 5th, 2005

The Blood on Satan's Claw

The Blood on Satan's Claw is an interesting film, but not as interesting as you might expect given the title, or having read a synopsis:
After a plowboy accidentally unearths the skeletal remains of a demonic creature, a cult of teenage devil-worshippers emerges in a 17th-century Cornwall farming community, led by the gorgeous temptress Angel (Linda Hayden, who positively smolders). Together, the children begin performing blood sacrifices in order to bring the skeletal demon back to life. The New York Times
It scores well on atmosphere - I suspect that Tim Burton borrowed some of the bleak rural landscapes for his Sleepy Hollow.
The acting, too, is generally good. Some people have complained about the West Country accents, but most are pretty convincing.

The first appearance of the Devil, too, is genuinely unnerving: a black skull in the soil, with a gleaming, living eye, upon which crawls a worm.

Where it falls down is its pacing. This is often the case with exploitation films, whose structure and length are often dictated, not by the story, but by the space available (or needing to be filled) on a double-bill. By the time the film reached its climax, I was slightly confused, and rather bored, but not as bored as I was by Lost in Translation.

Nov. 28th, 2005

NaNoWriMo

I done it.

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