Burn!

July 5th, 2003

Dead Kenny has an intriguing theory about the climax of this year's Big Brother.

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Pretty!

July 5th, 2003

You have to see this.

Wait for the Flash intro to load, click on the button that appears (don't worry that you don't understand the Japanese text) and watch what happens next. Move your mouse around. Click your mouse button occasionally. If you don't spend the next ten minutes playing with light and sound then you're not human.

Oh my, there are more of them. If I don't post again for a couple of weeks, you'll know why.

[Via MetaFilter]

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Arnie's Adversaries

July 4th, 2003

The Top Eleven Adversaries of Arnold includes some very eccentric choices.

How can a mere game show host defeat the Predator and the T-1000? In what bizarro version of Total Recall was Johnny Cab, the automated cab driver who appeared for about two minutes, scarier than the evil bastards played by Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside and Ronny Cox? On the other hand, it's good to see Bennett, the chief bad guy from Commando get some recognition.

For what it's worth, I think you have to put Robert Patrick's T-1000 at the top of this list, narrowly ahead of the Predator, which was only slightly more evil than the deadly duo of Joel Schumacher and Akiva Goldsman.

[Via Pop Culture Junk Mail – see entry for 1 July 2003]

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Barry White

July 4th, 2003

Barry White, owner of the sexiest singing voice in all creation, has died aged 58.

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Beware: cuteness overload

July 4th, 2003

More cuteness than the human mind can take: Seven ways to sleep.

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T3 might not suck?

July 3rd, 2003

Could it be that Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines won't entirely suck? Tim Doyle went into the screening room with low expectations and came out and wrote a rave review:

What Turned Me On

Fidelity to the material

Instead of doing an "Alien3" and trying to branch off into untried, experimental territory, the filmmakers have cranked the action to new, almost masturbatory heights. When the T-X drives a monstrous crane through downtown LA, taking out a street's worth of telephone poles and even the front of an entire warehouse, it took five minutes for the grin to leave my face. (It came back later in a moment of such stark, hilariously gratuitous violence, I thought Paul Verhoeven had seized the reins for a moment. You'll know it when you see it.)

Sounds promising.

[Via feeling listless]

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Digital shoplifting

July 2nd, 2003

In the wake of the outbreak of paranoia about the use of phonecams I posted about a couple of weeks ago, we have more evidence that phonecams are a menace to society: Japanese bookstores are campaigning against a tidal wave of "digital shoplifting", as people browsing magazine racks send their friends pictures of a new dress or whatever from a fashion magazine and ask them what they think.

Now the spectre of intellectual property "theft" has been raised, I give it six to twelve months before someone suggests a levy on the cost of transmitting pictures from phones to compensate magazine publishers for lost sales.

[Via William Gibson]

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Katharine Hepburn

July 2nd, 2003

I know it's a couple of days late, but I want to point out a couple of glowing tributes to Katharine Hepburn published in the Guardian earlier this week. Film critic David Thomson provides a considered overview of the career and the life, whereas novelist Zadie Smith gives us the devoted fan's perspective.

Thomson sums it up best:

The mere wondering about who could take her place is enough to establish her rarity, and our final removal from the golden age of Hollywood. Golly, is she really gone?

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Bruce Almighty

July 2nd, 2003

I've just got back from seeing Jim Carrey playing God in Bruce Almighty: not exactly a revelatory experience. It wasn't terrible, but nor was it terribly good. Billed as Carrey's return to all-out comedy after his attempts at more dramatic roles failed to impress, Bruce Almighty reminded me of nothing more than one of Robin Williams' early 90s efforts: far too reliant on giving the star a chance to let rip with their familiar schtick, and with a horribly sickly core of sentiment to ensure a crowd-pleasing ending. Carrey mugs like crazy, Morgan Freeman is exactly as impressive as you'd expect a deity to be, and Jennifer Aniston does her best in a nothing role as Carrey's girlfriend, but the funniest moments – Post-ItTM note prayers, newsreading in tongues and an exceptionally well housetrained dog – don't depend upon him. The script doesn't help, being in two minds about whether it's a relationship drama with extra funny bits or a wild comedy with a couple of semi-serious subplots bolted on.

Humour is of course very subjective, so it's entirely possible that there are people out there who will find Bruce Almighty a real return to form for its star. (After all, the TV adverts remind us that the film had "Jim Carrey's biggest ever US opening weekend", though it's worth remembering that opening weekend figures are as much a product of hype as quality.) All I can say is that I found it nowhere near as funny as The Mask or Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, or even Liar, Liar.

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Connery 'has worst film accent'

June 30th, 2003

Is Sir Sean Connery really the man with the worst film accent? It depends which you think is worse: being such a big star that you don't even try to adopt the accent of your character, as Connery does in just about every role he plays nowadays, or trying but missing by a mile as with runner-up Dick Van Dyke's woeful cockney accent in Mary Poppins.

I think Van Dyke would take the prize if it was my call.

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Puppies!

June 30th, 2003

Oliver and Hugo have been dethroned: there's now officially a new cutest puppy in town.

[Via JillMatrix.com]

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"The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers"

June 30th, 2003

Steven Frazier planned to build and sell decoders allowing people to access premium satellite TV channels they hadn't paid for. Then the FBI caught him red-handed, before he could start supplying the 5,000 customers he'd lined up with their decoders.

As you'd expect, Frazier ended up in court. You'd probably not be utterly amazed to hear that, having been found guilty, Frazier was handed a five year jail sentence. What you might not expect is that Frazier was also ordered to pay restitution in the sum of US$180 million. Yes, that's right: One Hundred And Eighty Million Dollars!

I do hope a similar formula will be applied when the various Enron and Worldcom senior executives end up being sentenced.

[Via Techdirt]

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Famous First Words

June 30th, 2003

How many Famous First Words from books can you identify?

I managed 10 out of 13. Much better than I'd expected, especially since I somehow contrived to get number 3 wrong! I mean, how could I have failed to spot that author's … distinctive … style?

[Via dust from a distant sun]

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Agent Smith Takes Tokyo

June 29th, 2003

Agent Smith is taking over Tokyo.

My favourite picture is towards the foot of the page, where it appears that Neo, Trinity, Niobe and Morpheus are being chased through Tokyo by the every single participant in the Burly Brawl. Fly, Neo, fly…

[Via Boing Boing]

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Easycinema in trouble

June 29th, 2003

Comfortably winning the coveted 'Least Surprising Business Story of the Year' award, Easycinema has announced that its no-frills cinema at Milton Keynes may be forced to close because it can't persuade the major distributors to let it show first-run films in return for a flat fee.

Goodness knows whether the inevitable complaints to the consumer protection bodies in London and Brussels will come to anything – and even if they do it'll probably be years down the line, long after Easycinema has closed – but it's safe to say that something needs to be done to inject some genuine competition and innovation into the film distribution system. If you removed all identifying logos from the three multiplexes within reasonable distance of where I'm typing this post then you'd be hard-pressed to tell they were operated by different companies based on the mix of films on offer, the facilities available or ticket prices.

At the moment only one of the chains offers an internet-based credit card booking service, and right now that's pretty much the only reason I have for preferring the Odeon round the corner from my office to the Warner multiplex a fifteen minute walk away or the UCI Cinema which I pass on the bus ride home every weekday. I don't necessarily think that Stelios Haji-Ioannou's venture is right to insist that the distributors should be obliged to adjust their pricing to suit his business model, but at least he's trying something different.

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Don Swaim author interviews

June 28th, 2003

Radio journalist Don Swaim was host of Book Beat, a long-running book show on CBS Radio. Wired for Books hosts a collection of RealAudio versions of Swaim's interviews with authors as diverse as Douglas Adams, Elmore Leonard, Peter Straub, Joseph Heller and Richard M Nixon (Yes, that Richard M Nixon!)

Typically the interviews run to some 20-30 minutes, and judging by the two interviews with Douglas Adams I listened to this afternoon they're conducted in a fairly relaxed, breezy style and give the authors the chance to relax and meander a little. I'm definitely going back tomorrow to check out some of the other interviews.

[Via MetaFilter]

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Last Orders

June 27th, 2003

Simon Hoggart remembers the late Denis Thatcher, and reminds us that there's a human side to even the most high-profile political life:

[…]

He once said: "For 40 years I have been married to one of the greatest women the world has ever produced. All I could give – small as it may be – was love and loyalty."

Now that support has gone. She is succumbing to what used to be known as senility, and is nowadays usually called Alzheimer's. Her short-term memory is fading rapidly. Friends find her decline almost too painful to watch.

Denis would have been there to the end; Nancy to her Ronald Reagan. It is almost impossible for us to realise how distraught and bereft she now will be.

That's truly sad.

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Infrared Zoo

June 27th, 2003

The Infrared Zoo Gallery is host to a collection of fascinating images of wildlife as we don't normally see it.

The details infrared brings out are fascinating. See the changes in temperature in different parts of a collared lizard's body as its metabolism speeds up, or watch as the back of an eagle which has just landed cools down after being heated by the sun.

(I must note that the picture of a scorpion gave me a huge Predator flashback.)

Great stuff. I wish we'd had this sort of resource when I was a kid.

[Via The Internet Scout Report Volume 9, Number 25]

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The Trouble With Carrie

June 26th, 2003

Stephanie Zacharek thinks Sarah Jessica Parker has spoiled Sex and the City by transforming her character into a glamourpuss. (NB: Salon article – non-subscribers are required to watch a 15-second ad)

It's a pity that Zacharek spends the last section of the article exploring the implications of Parker's refusal to do on-screen nudity, because that's the least of the show's problems. Indeed, in some ways the relatively prim image of Carrie which has developed over the last season or two can work in the show's favour: the aftermath of the incident when Carrie walked in on Samantha orally pleasuring a delivery boy was one of season 5's highlights.

Sex and the City doesn't need more skin. As Zacharek concludes, before going off on a tangent about Parker's status as a producer, what the show mostly needs is less Carrie Bradshaw and more of her friends. In particular, we need more Miranda: for my money, Cynthia Nixon's character is vastly more interesting and sympathetic (and sexy) than Parker's Carrie. And Miranda has better taste in clothes.

Not a tremendously original thesis, I'll grant you, but it had to be said.

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What's wrong with the Incu-droids?

June 26th, 2003

Matthew Baldwin watched Logan's Run for the first time the other day:

I learned some astounding facts about the future.

  • We will live in a domed city, which, judging from the opening shot of this film, will be seven inches high and surrounded by Hi-Ho Train Model trees.
  • […]

  • Apparently the whole "Death with Dignity" movement will have collapsed by 2274, since shuffling off the mortal coil in Logan's Run entails the wearing of Stupidest Costume Ever, flying into the air, and exploding.

$DEITY knows, nobody could claim Logan's Run as any sort of unappreciated gem. However, it wasn't a total write-off. For a heterosexual boy of a certain age, no film which features Jenny Agutter taking her clothes off could ever be considered a total write-off.

Sad? Perhaps. True? Definitely…

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