Sunday, December 18, 2005

Pieces of flair

'Susan Sontag nailed the idea of camp in the 1960s, labeling it as "failed seriousness," but no one has yet put a finger on the failed joviality of the retail age -- and its air of enforced cheer, sentimental prefab and the replication of nostalgia... "I think what it was was that one person had a bunch of crap on their walls and it was successful and everybody followed. Who the hell knows?" he said. "When I go to Chili's, it's not because of the southwestern decor."'

My worst fears are confirmed: there exists a job where you spend your days buying up boot-sale tat to nail to restaurant walls. And they're updating it for Generation Y, too! (via Cardhouse)

In other news, it has been a reasonably busy month. I bought another car, wrote it off, did lots of work and caught up with some friends. Yesterday, I was told to go to Vegas. Stay tuned for the exciting details. Now, I must do some Christmas shopping.
Christmas Fear

Yearly Christmas letters to Christopher Walken. The rest of the site is mightily interesting too; how can you resist The Anguish?

Monday, November 14, 2005


At last, a movie about the games industry!

This is, of course, terrible. I only hope that the stereotype they've gone for ("We need an utterly pathetic protaganist, a model of someone old who never grew up. I know! We'll make him over 30 yet working in computer games!") is as obviously ridiculous in its crudity as the rest of the film.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Troubled waters

..studies reveal “a commonly held attitude that romanticizes suicide from the Golden Gate Bridge in such terms as aesthetically pleasing and beautiful, while regarding a Bay Bridge suicide as tacky.”

San Francisco: more sinister than you might think. An insomniac posting because I can't sleep at the moment; not in great health these days, which has contributed to slight depression on the passing of my 26th year. Not a unique concern, I notice. I read something months back about the "mid-20's crisis" or something like that, and I'm starting to embrace the mindset: youth is gone, mortality has achieved that absolute, ever-present certainty that previously you can tune out, and you've got a very foggy view of the road ahead in which the only certainty is that you're really going to have to hustle to become a huge success at anything. All of this overlaid with that odd Generation-whateverwe'resupposedtobe nihilism; knowing it's all going to be shitty and broken but at least there'll be wireless games consoles and boozy weekends in Prague to distract you.

Or maybe I'm giving myself and my generation too much credit; perhaps this is how it's always been. Curse previous generations for confining their innermost insecurities to private diaries or the bottom of bottles, rather than posting dreary self-indulgent mush in the public domain.

Monday, October 24, 2005

"When only one of the cubicles is occupied the system attempts to construct responses using fragments of online gay chat transcripts. When both cubicles are empty it is quite possible sexBot talks dirty to itself."

So glad this got government funding. I wonder if they do a concealed version.
Character defamation

"Mr. Harper, for example, says his Elmo is a foe of Batman and Superman, but in cahoots with Mr. Incredible, SpongeBob SquarePants and at least one of the half-dozen Spider-Men who prowl the street."

I'm quite pleased about this, and not only at the mouldering Marvel image the quote suggests. I only saw Hollywood for the first time a couple of months ago, and Hollywood Boulevard was by far and away the nastiest corner of America I've ever seen - I went into the McDonalds reasonably sure that it was the most sophisticated venue for half a mile, and even then there was an armed policeman permanently stationed inside. The performers were hugely unpleasant too; unpleasant, moth-eaten and supiciously stained velour failing to contain someone who bore not the slightest resemblence to the person they were impersonating. I'm pretty sure I've had nightmares about that sort of thing in the past.

Monday, October 10, 2005

All I Want For The Cretaceous

I like the idea of hundreds of kids writing letters to Darwin. "Dear Charles, this year I have been good and learned to use tools. Now I want to evolve LASER EYES."

Monday, September 26, 2005

These are the end times

Armed dolphins, trained by the US military to shoot terrorists and pinpoint spies underwater, may be missing in the Gulf of Mexico.

I mean for God's sake. Is there even any room left for science fiction any more?

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Cretin Season

Clipart comics: the future. Admittedly that has already been predicted months ago by various technology types, but they say that about all online phenomena so where's the accountability hmm? Anyway, apparently Get Your War On now featured in the Guardian, along with the Perry Bible Fellowship. Good work, the Guardian!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Face off

"The "consent form" says that this surgery is so novel and so many of its risks unknown that doctors don't think informed consent is even possible."

This is great science just for that. But the form is even better:

Your face will be removed and replaced with one from a cadaver, matched for tissue type, age, sex and skin color. Surgery should last 8 to 10 hours; the hospital stay, 10 to 14 days.

Complications could include infections that discolor your new face and require a second transplant or reconstruction with skin grafts. Drugs to prevent rejection will be needed lifelong, and they raise the risk of kidney damage and cancer.

After the transplant you might feel remorse, disappointment, or grief or guilt toward the donor. The clinic will try to shield your identity, but the media likely will discover it.

I think the effort they're putting into thinking about this is even more interesting than the surgery. Great stuff.

In other news: looky, I just posted. I'll be doing this more often, although I'll take care not to say how much more. I keep the obligation much broader that way, you see.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Screw the meek

Angry Irish Person: I’m deeply offended by the depiction of the leprechaun on the cover of your magazine.

Publisher Peter Brafford: I’m sorry. We sort of like it.

Angry Irish Person: What do you think would happen if you put a picture of a black person eating fried chicken on your cover?

Publisher Peter Brafford: That’s a horrible cover idea.

Angry Irish Person: They’d be picketing your office! That’s what would happen!

Publisher Peter Brafford: Are you saying leprechauns are going to picket our office? Because I’d actually pay to see leprechauns picketing our office.

A fine rebuttal of delicacy and sensibility by Seanbaby. Apologies for the delay in posting, I'd say it was because of the workload but I've actually just had two days with no work whatsoever. Alas all I could manage to do was sleep and drive around a bit, trying to retrain myself to be a driver (watch the road, be aware of oncoming hazards) rather than a passenger (watch passers-by, look at things in shop windows, idly recall Terry Pratchett jokes for no explicable reason.) The learning imperative makes itself felt very quickly.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

From Middle Earth with love

When the knife bounced off the hidden coat of mail and the man raised a huge real-looking sword over his head, the two would-be muggers fell to their knees, begging: “Have mercy on us, Duncan MacLeod,” mistaking the Tolkien fan for the immortal highlander.

Hard times for the Russian elves. I've been feeling the need to post for a while - work having swallowed my spare time to an unusually comprehensive degree, I've not had the time. I still don't now, really, but I've managed to completely burn out the sense of panic I used to get at an approaching deadline, to have it replaced with a sense of placid inevitability. It's actually quite helpful.

Anyway, now that Kieron's new site has emerged like some fresh W3C-certified butterfly emerging from a cocoon of Blogger templates and outright filth - and linked to me in the process, which I thought was jolly nice - I thought I'd write something. So, er, I sold a car. It's actually quite big news given my previous obsession with such behaviour, and I'd written out a long explaination of why, but it reads like a melodramatic pitch to a Sunday supplement and so I'm not going to post it. Tantalising!

The important thing is that it frees up drive space for another profoundly ill-advised eBay purchase. Oh, I can feel my pulse quicken at the very thought.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Blogging from the frontline

Jonty On Tour 2005 says:
Oh oh oh. My Documents is now going to be called....
Jonty On Tour 2005 says:
*drum roll*
Jonty On Tour 2005 says:
Tim E says:
Tim E says:
Jonty On Tour 2005 says:
It's so exciting watching history being made.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Bills Need Payin'

I find the best things when researching features. And by best, I mean not.

Jonty said:
"What Ina Epiosed Of Shaman Kimng That They Had Jun and Ren Have Sex? Or Jun and Lee Bailong?????? "

Jonty said:
"There was no such episode!!!!!!And Jun with Lee would not be incest as they are not related, but necrophilia!!!"

"Leon: Oh my God! They killed Layla!
Yuri: You bastards!
Kalos: ..."

Charybdis - Goddamn Internet Boy Scouts says:
You don't need to make a living like this.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

The most patronising post in the world! I can't think of a better way to portray somebody as a complete arse; perhaps it was written by Chris Morris.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Dead Air

This is pretty, although I think the blue-sky weather really makes it.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

It's nothing personal

Er, so what exactly is permitted, then?

Saturday, March 12, 2005


This is brilliant. It turns out creativity in gaming isn't purely being squashed by the distribution model; it's actually being forcibly restricted on a hardware level in next-gen consoles. Plus all sorts of other great stuff. Wish I'd been there.
Sorry, Asimov

I love this graphic. It somehow suggests the centre of the universe lies in Sheffield.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

It's All In The Name

I've been fuming over this for a while now, but thanks to my goldfish-like attention span and poor time management, this is the first time I've tried to express it. Here goes.

I am annoyed with - and I'm only going to write this once - New Games Journalism. Understand, I don't have any problem with the end result. All this stuff about experiencing games and emotions and humanity is just beautiful, and it's great that the subject has developed to the point where it can be discussed in terms of how you feel, rather than empty details. Awesome stuff, all of it. But that's not good enough; it's got to be labelled as NGJ now, and the dewy-eyed, standard-bearing descriptions it's been receiving are becoming insufferable.

I've never been entirely comfortable with the term "games journalism" in any case, and NGJ as it stands at the moment is a step beyond into faux-literary pretension. As a defined movement it's both uneccesary and unwittingly demeaning; a validation for any gamer who has spent hours spent playing shitty RPGs and mediocre FPSs and understanding appalling gags like "sword of +4 sarcasm" and lame previews that had to be enthusiastic about games you knew were going to be terrible. It turns out it was all okay! No more little boxes listing the publisher and the maximum number of players; it's a literary movement, worthy of lots of self-important discussion.

This is understandable. It's also bullshit, and I hate it for the same reason that I gave up on literature: there are entire bodies of criticism that are now entirely self-perpetuating, generating huge amounts of books and speeches and arguments - people dedicate their entire lives to arguing nuances in long-dead literature that they can't prove and nobody would have seen if they hadn't invented. Dressing up interesting writing based on games as a "movement" is merely spawning exactly the same thing: a grounding for a load of useless, pointless arguments that don't achieve anything other than jumping-off points for more arguments.

My deepest bile on this subject is reserved for The Videogame Ombudsman - a self-appointed and apparently utterly unqualified site which seems to exist purely to state fatuous media-studies truisms while suggesting that rabid fanboyism may have some basis in fact - but that's focused on "journalism" of a different sort and will be ranted about separately. What I'm cross about NGJ is that it's gathered disparate bits of genuinely interesting writing and is attempting to present itself as boundlessly significant. And it isn't. It's a huge and welcome improvement over feature lists and polygon counts, yes - but that's significant only because they were so crummy. That there now exists excellent prose talking about what takes place in and around games, and doesn't require years before the joypad to understand, is an inevitable consequence of market maturity, not some brave new literary creation.

Let's not forget, the thing that started this - the excellent "Bow, Nigger" - was produced entirely from the mind of always_black as a novel feature for a very small games site. He didn't introduce it as The Brave New Thing, he just threw it out there and let people find it. And they did! And it was discovered, and circulated, and printed, and discussed just about everywhere and that's absolutely right and true. But it was only a breakthrough in games discussion if all you'd ever seen before was witless previews of puzzle games; prior art has existed ever since the first conversation between two people who regarded games seriously enough to talk about them. Now, however, a reverse-engineered, ever-shifting and dissent-spreading concept has been founded in its name, and it's redundant.

NGJ didn't need a name, and it didn't need an oversight committee, and it didn't need to have its fundamental nature endlessly debated - not yet, at least. It just needed people doing it. Now it's a "movement" it's got nowhere to go but up its own arse.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

World of goddamn Warcraft

I got promoted last week. This is good. I have not shone in my new role yet, which is bad. I've been a bit tired.

I have been tired for what feels like forever.

It's because I've been playing WoW until 2am, every day, despite knowing full well that it's a bit broken and ultimately, y'know, futile.

Today, I wasn't going to play.

I did anyway, on the condition that I would totally, completely, stop at 11.

I stopped at half past.

And now I'm writing this.

I am really, really hoping that I won't go back and start playing in a minute.


Saturday, February 05, 2005

The Revolution Will Be Pixellated

"All in all, the Cossacks/Knights of the Old Republic is one of the most manipulative pieces of software ever devised. It leeches morality of young minds and prepares them to kill their peers to prevent a revolution."

Wow, the author lives in California. What a huge surprise. I suspect a move to China may well be in order as that's the only place with a big enough wall to line all his unwitting enemies up in front of. I wonder what he'd consider a good game to be - A Tale In The Desert, maybe?

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Well, how marvellously modern this is. Here I sit, tapping away at my tolerably tiny laptop in a coffee shop in Covent Garden. I've even connected to the internet, spurning the pay-as-you go offering of Cafe Nero in favour of the free connection of the hotel next door. Wonder if they make any money on wireless browsing in here...

Something that I could be even more flash about is the fact that I'm using a Tablet PC. These have attracted much derision as another doomed Microsoft initiative (such as, say Smart Displays) and I have been a mite sceptical myself. Now that I'm using it, however, I am a changed man: it's great. You can drag it round just like a normal laptop, but whenever you want to do the hasty-scribble notepad thing, just flip the screen round and start writing. It's just as easy as taking regular notes, with the advantage that I'm exponentially more likely to actually convert them into usable stuff - I keep all my old notebooks, but only once in a blue moon can I ever be bothered to go through them and find the line of illegible scrawl that holds the relevant bit of info. Here I can just rely on the (admittedly not-perfect) recognition to convert it all, and then I've got my choice of desktop search tool to go through it without having to rely on my increasingly poor memory.

Plus, even this fairly anonymous example impresses the hell out of people. If I had the oh-so-gorgeous HP I'd be surrounded by drooling women, depend upon it. Or prematurely greying hitmen - and let's face it, wouldn't that be just as good? I mean, who wouldn't want to have one as a favour-granting friend...

Anyway, so far so great. The only problem is that I'm only here because I'm two hours early for a meeting that I endured much stress to make it here on time for. On arrival I was rebuffed by a bunch of people in their late thirties boasting haircuts designed for the early twenties, and almost gatecrashed a fundraser for Comic Relief. I then reaffirmed that my mobile phone is indeed absolute shit, only to have it's status retrospectively elevated by the fact that nearly all the phone boxes in Covent Garden don't acually have phones in - and the one that did, had shit in it as well. Which I trod in. I wonder if I sit here long enough, I'll get a few sympathetic squirts of air freshner - of course, there's no grass for about five miles in any direction to wipe it on. Oh cruel, capricious fate.

Monday, January 31, 2005

I choose you, Marie Curie!

"Pokemon is a main switch in the molecular network that leads toward cancer," Dr. Pandolfi added. "If we could turn Pokemon off, it may block this oncogenic circuitry and stall the malignant process."

I can't help but feel that the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center are cruising for a drastic reduction in research funding quite soon. What's next? Renaming MS to DS?

Monday, January 24, 2005

I [heart] the internet

Jon [DIY Performance Exhausts] says:
botherer says:
See, now *this* makes me squeamish.
Jon [DIY Performance Exhausts] says:
I wish he was *my* friend.
botherer says:
Maybe if you email him he will be. I'd imagine he's not picky.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

I'm going to blatantly harvest the traffic that John has sent my way and elaborate: he really does have that effect on computers. I've never seen a BIOS suddenly, spontaneously, decide to reset its boot priority. And I resorted to unplugging the internal speaker after it suddenly jettisoned all the standard warning beeps in favour of a prolonged digital farting noise that I've still yet to fathom.


Friday, January 14, 2005

The extended rant that I subjected to innocents like Tim, John, Neil and Alan has been professionally presented right here. Which is actually sort of bitterly ironic, but still.

Monday, January 10, 2005

This article: Crap. I need to think more about it, but I have formed unpleasant and derogatory opinions on those involved as a prelimary action.
This article: Very interesting. I've only got one paragraph into it, though, and it's told me to go to sleep. So I shall.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

I've not heard of this, but it looks very cool: Sin City. I think it might be based on a comic or something.