Monthly Archives: February 2005

Hunter S Thompson 1937 – 2005, And Barbecues

Well waddya know. He went and shot himself.

It made it into the Today program on Radio 4 in a minor way (“writer dies”), but the reaction on the net has been immense. Take Metafilter, for example. 240+ comments!

It’s weird. I was at a barbecue on Saturday where the birthday boy (hope you had a good one, Aubs) was telling us about his trip to Las Vegas last weekend as a member of the James’ stag party. All the trimmings, by the sound of it – (fake) Hummer rides, firing guns at innocent sandbags, gambling, sex with prostitutes in knocking shops and of course, extreme intoxication. I asked whether he’d seen any lizards. And everyone knew what I meant.

A barbecue in London in February, I know, it was freezing, it just made hanging around the grill all the more legitimate. Macho!

A nifty party, all told. Excellent barbie grub, served up by the Antipodean host, so I guess he’s had practice. Those of us who reached puberty without seeing the sun at all are rather lacking in the whole field of ‘cooking outdoors’. Although I have to say that what little experience I’ve had of barbecuing in the US, which is not much, has told me they’re not so hot either. Either you soak your meat in the entire contents of the spice rack, or you have a piece of beef so chemically altered it recommends a salad dressing for you. (See The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe). Aha! Generalisations! Gotta love ’em.

They know how to do it proper in Germany. No bread, just an entire pig on a spit, a 6-litre flagon of beer, consisting of 80% froth, and 10 Kleine Jaegermeister playing in the background. ( Translation here)

Ishkurs Guide to Electronic Music

If you’ve ever wondered what all the different genres and subgenres of house, techno, noizecore(!) etc sounded like, and how they link to other genres of music as a whole, this Guide to Electronic Dance Music should answer your questions. This Macromedia Flash application has been recently updated with tutorial about the origins of the music, or you can just dive in and click a genre at random. Fantastic stuff. The creator has added his own thoughts on each style, from his experiences as a DJ. Funny, and informative!

Plus, in the new version, for some genres of music, there is a direct link to a streaming session of that style. So, if you have a deadline today, click on through to Hard Acid Techno, crank it up, slip on the headphones, and you’ll have that Powerpoint out the door faster than your foot can tap.

Otaku Creatrix Plus X Zero

Jennifer Diane Reitz creates some of the most fascinating and though-provoking comic book art around.

I started reading her wonderful pixel-drawn series Unicorn Jelly in late 2001, and the whole concept really gripped me. I found myself starting from the beginning and getting no work done. Apart from the fantastical characters and RPG-like factionbased infighting, she had created not just a universe, but a multiverse, along with a detailed universe classification system.

The universe in which the story of Unicorn Jelly takes place has its own very clearly defined physics, flora and fauna ( land– and sea-based), alphabet and history. These were built up and added to as the story went on, which made coming back to the site for the next instalment all the more interesting – “What will she think of next?”.

Unicorn Jelly came to an end on March 7, 2003, with an Epilogue running until 14 April. The saga, along with all the extra materials, is now available as two books.

But that’s not the end of it. Pastel Defender Heliotrope takes place in a different universe (but the same multiverse, obviously) – most of the time. Reitz is now exploring what would happen if residents of one universe found a way to access another. That is deliberately, rather than being stranded when a bubble of your universe is dumped in another (I hope I haven’t given too much away…).

Rather than pixel-drawn, the new series is (digitally) painted in a lush colourful style, which gives the whole a nice cartoony feel. As the story progresses, it’s becoming clear that despite being set in a new universe, Unicorn Jelly and PDH have more than an author (Or should I say Creator?) in common. It’s full of strange machines, political intrigue, detailed backstory and interesting characters. I’ll be following closely.

Talking of characters, Jennifer Diane Reitz is quite a character herself. She was one of the founders of the great games website HappyPuppy.com (now sold and commercialised). She also co-wrote the Amiga and PC game Boppin’, which has some graphics and concepts in common with UJ and PDH, now I think of it – dimensional doorways, multi-universes, and so on. She is part of a group marriage with 3 spouses, created the Transsexual.org advice and support website, and is a self-confessed Otaku. Indeed, she co-runs Otaku World which is a great anime portal.

She has the transsexual angle in common with Dani Bunten, co-creator of the seminal Commodore 64 game M.U.L.E. a 4-player colonization sim, set on the space frontier. And let’s not forget Wendy Carlos, formerly Walter, who composed music for The Shining and Tron, and produced amazing electronic, vocoder-enhanced versions of classics for films like A Clockwork Orange.

What are we to conclude from this? Transsexuals make good games and music? Some form of link between change and creativity? I don’t know. The gender thing is irrelevant to me, apart from being a tenuous thread through a poorly thought-out article. Still, great comics, great games, great music. Cheers.

Stop European Software Patents!

They’ve been stopped once, thank goodness, but it’s not over yet.

European Software Patents would stifle innovation, competition, and put an end to choice in the market. They are wide open to abuse by large corporations, only interested in stamping out competition. Basically, whether you understand the issue 100% or not, it would be great if you clicked on the banner below and signed the petition.

STOP SOFTWARE PATENTS!

Gold Star For Effort

What does the hotel star system mean? Where is it defined?

A while back, in Edinburgh, I stayed in two hotels, opposite each other, both with the same number of stars. So, they both had en-suite, coffee & tea, TV etc.

One had a faux-marble bathroom with power shower, sweeping red-carpeted stairs, and hot chocolate and herbal tea as well as the standard granules and bags. The second had a shower room tacked on, made from a flimsy partition with cheap plastic shower head, barely adequate. Tea & coffee was stale bags and a scale-ridden cheap plastic kettle.

OK, not sure where I’m going with this, but basically, it seems that as long as a hotel has the services and features it claims, it gets the stars. Whether these services are any good is quite another story. A shame really, because I really like staying in British hotels. It’s the only time I ever eat full English breakfasts. (Then I go back to bed to sleep it off).

After Show Party Sonnetry

At the Carlton’s after show parties, we do a secret-santa-style oscars ceremony, with each gift accompanied by a poem. I was digging through some old papers the other day and found this, the poem written for me after I played Benedick in ‘Much Ado About Nothing’. You can see the sort of level we operate at.

NB. the ‘Slippery Nipples’ in question were consumed at a post-dress-rehearsal piss-up. Just so you know.

Shall I compare thee to Olivier?

Thou art more luvvie and intemperate.

From cynic to lover, so easily swayed,

Its the fastest U-turn, I’d like to bet.

Your sword is blunt, but only so with maids.

The company of men you do prefer

cos there your privates are often on parade.

But at the last you do end up with her

And so conclude that mans a giddy thing

(Especially when consuming Slippery Nipples)

With just Beatrice getting to see your ring,

Unless of course you ever fancy a triple.