Just been over to Stu's blog, it was his 28th birthday yesterday and it got me thinking.
When you are little you are always your age plus a fraction when asked how old you are. "I'm 6 and three quarters!" you proclaim proudly as you continue crash testing your Action Man jeep out of your bedroom window (in the interests of science you understand). When you hit your late teens, you're always nearly something. "Nearly 19", in the vain hope that the woman you are attempting to chat up realises that you are many months beyond being legally adult and therefore should see you as the man you are, as opposed to the boyish idiot laced with Lynx (you know, the smell of adolescent desperation) she may otherwise perceive you to be.
Now I'm 29, I've noticed another change. You don't mind being in your 'late twenties' anymore, because you know that you're really 'nearly 30'. Also you are your age right up until the minute your birthday hits. You're never a fraction and you are certainly not 'nearly' anything!
Well bollox! I am nearly 30 and I am 29 and 7/12! It bothers me not a jot, and I am fairly sure that it should, other people appear to approach some weird crisis point at 30. They start looking at their lives and what they've accomplished and stuff, whereas I can't be arsed. I mean, I've done OK so that's good enough.
I am a little worried about my expanding podge but I think I'll get my usual burst of energy when spring kicks in and I will start biking everywhere again, maybe get myself back to the gym. On the other hand, a man of my advancing years may want to avoid the gym - don't want to do myself an injury.
Also, as the Troll of my 30th Birthday lurks beneath the placid looking bridge of May, there is a slight concern that it will leap out and consume my ability to pick out clothes that belong in this decade. It could instill in me a desire to buy cardigans and slippers and a belief that anything at all written in the Daily Mail is accurate.
On the other hand I was around to see the Thundercats when it was first aired on TV. Every cloud.
[Edit] Look! You even trick yourself when trying to observe the phenomenon - my birthday is at the beginning of May so technically I am closer to 29 and 2/3. I think it must be genetic, some quirk of the evolution of vanity.[/Edit]
Friday, December 29, 2006
Just been over to Stu's blog, it was his 28th birthday yesterday and it got me thinking.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
I am returned my people!
Eventually. Took me about 6 hours but I got here (considering it was about half that on the way there!). I am not going to complain about the trains again, suffice to say dutch veal calves' travelling conditions are sumptuous in comparison to what I had to deal with yesterday!
A few pics of the brother's pub to follow. Fairly uneventful Christmas, lots of booze and food and some 360 sessions around Pete's house. The journey back was a complete nightmare as I've already mentioned, on the other hand there were silver linings.
Firstly my passport was waiting for me when I got back. Score. Secondly, I got some Christmas cards - one from Emi who ahven't heard from in a good while (with pic on Penguin on the front!) and one from fellow blogger Julie, who draws an exceptionally good reindeer that looks not at all like a donkey .
It arrived before Christmas and while this is great it makes me wonder what the hell happened to the Birthday card I sent to Maria last January. I have visions of the card being taken away and examined in connection with some imagined national security issue. Not entirely unreasonable, as it did get posted in a red envelope. Clearly both China and Russia are intrinsically evil as well as being durrty Commies (Rummies first foray into engendering fear and paranoia on a mass scale). In addition to that, addressing it to a South American no doubt led the authorities to believe that, far from being a greeting card, it was infact 17 kilos of prime cocaine cunningly routed through a Surrey post office to throw the authorities off the scent.
On the other hand it could have just got lost.
Posted by MattJ at 3:21 pm
Thursday, December 21, 2006
OK not got long here, I am off home to Wales today for the festive season, huzzah! Well.... until next Thursday anyhow!
I hope you all have a good time and Santa is nice to you, I will leave you with this MSN conversation I just had with my dad:
....Matt:No, not out tomorrow
Dad: Not gone tea total have you?!
Matt: don't be daft, I'm on call so will be round Mike's eating chili, drinking and watching crap
Dad: Oh, I'll hide the bloody Stella then!
Matt: You can't hide it from its destiny dad
Dad: You're confused - your throat isn't destiny, it's just a destination
Merry Christmas all, back next week!
Posted by MattJ at 8:14 am
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
I've not been able to look forward to my Pittsburgh Extravaganza (working title) properly because I have been passport-less. I lost mine at some point in my move from Hull I think, so I applied for a new one about 3 weeks ago. They rejected it because I didn't read the rules about counter-signatories correctly. So I got the midget in Raynes Park to sign her dinky little name on the back of my application.
Anyway, I sent that back to them sometime at the beginnign last week. I called them yesterday just to confirm that they had received it and they had matched it up to the doucments that they had retained. They said no, it hadn't got there adn if it wasn't there by Wednesday I would have to pay another 50 quid (on top off the 66 I already sent) to fast track it!
I checked my online banking this morning to discover the cheeky sods had cashed my cheque so puffed myself up with indignant British Rigteousness ready to give those scallywags a bally good talking too! Only to have the nice Irish girl called Audrey tell me that my passport was being printed as we speak and to have a lovely day, and if I had any other problems, with delivery for example, I shouldn't hesitate to call and they'd be glad to have the courier responsible for my inconvenience flogged to within an inch of his life.
I may call up to complain about them taking the wind out of my sails instead...
Monday, December 18, 2006
My XBox 360 now has its own blog here. In a couple of days it will start telling you any comobination of the following:
1: How bad I am at the games
2: How good I am at a game
3: How much time I spend playing
4: How little time I send playing.
Thanks to Stu for pointing this feature out!
OK, so I am going home on Thursday. This meant that last weekend was the last time April and I would be doing anythign before Christmas, so we did our gift exchange on Saturday.
I got her some nice Clinique skin treatments, some bits and bobs (inclding a couple of these wicked things!). I also got her an iPod nano, as she is MP3 playerless. I know I slag them off a lot but for non-techno geeks who don't know any better they are still the best players to have. I doubt she will ever want to do anything clever with it and it looks really cool. Anyway, she was well pleased and couldn't stop mucking about with it. Her computer was rejected by Noah in favour of a more up to date model so I pre-loaded it with her favourite tunes until me and Nick manage to build something that qualifies for entry into the industrial age. iTunes, along with being crap, is picky about what it will run on.
Anyway, I get some pressies - socks, some of them little forks you use for eating con on the cob (which I got far too excited about). Then she gave me a PSP. Which rocks, really quite hard. She then proceeds to tell me that she was going to get me a Wii but didn't realise she had to pre-order, which is understandable. We have already discussed that I am the nerd remember? Anyway she starts to tell me that I can exchange it for a Wii when they get new stock so long as I don't open it. A gadget boy like me not opening a Gadget?! But she was right of course, I have a DS Lite which I love and am not the biggest fan of Sony. Also I simply wouldn't use another hand-held.
So. Dilemma. Do I wait a month and try and get a Wii? (28 day limit on the return policy). Or. Do we go to the store and exchange it for cash and wait for the Wii to come out?
Do we go to a store, exchange it and pay the difference for an XBox 360?
As it happens we take it to the store, argue with the man about the 360 bundles he offers ("But I don't like driving games!"), take the refund and head to Gamestation. April then proceeds to amaze again by finding an absolutely blinding deal on the console and a whole bunch of top titles. It was more than I intended to spend, but hey! I got to take advantage of this attitude while it lasts!
Point is. I was resisting buying the 360 until March. Now I have one. Let me tell you, you haven't played until you've played in glorious HDTV. Gears of War and Call fo Duty 3 are like playing films. I can only assume she wants to dump me, cos lets be honest this isn't the way to get a guys attention focussed on you is it?
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
I don't think Cohen is particularly clever or funny. Ali G was irritating and basically a rip-off from work that Chris Morris had done with far more skill, wit and effect with The Day Today and Brass Eye. Similarly Borat is hardly an original concept, I always found him as lame as Ali G. I never really understood why he couldn't just make up a country name rather than pick a real one randomly, especially if America was his target for his, what I will loosely call satire. Lets be honest, central European geography with a specialty in ex-eastern bloc countries is hardly top of the US school curriculum right?
hat being said, I haven't seen the movie. People acclaim it as very cleverly lampooning the prejudices that the character has, I see it as a cheap laugh. I like clever comedy and, judging from Borat's 'past work', I don't think this is it.
Anyway, this is the point of this post. These barely simian trolls trying to get the bits of the movie where they exhibit racist and sexist behaviour removed from the flick. What I love is that they do not deny being racist and sexist, merely that they don't want anyone else to know! Genius.
In fact their plan will now backfire because now I will watch it on DVD, just for that bit.
Anyway, when I eventually watch the movie I will let you know whether my opinion of this alleged comedian changes.
Posted by MattJ at 3:42 pm
I'm sorry I don't get it, I've never got it and I never will get it. I've never been a Royalist and I never had much regard for Princess Diana, particularly after that sickening interview she gave. She was very good at manipulating the press and did so to fantastic effect.
She did some charity work, which is good but so do a lot of the royal family, as well they should!
There are several things that annoy me about the whole Diana thing.
Reason 1: Firstly she has been turned into some kind of saintly figure with Charles as some oppressive ogre of a man who was just 'so very beastly!'. And everyone buys it because of that simpering look she gave whenever presented with a camera of any description.
Reason 2: Conspiracy theories: I mean for Christ's sake! She died in a horrific accident thanks in part to a drunk driver and in part to the loathsome human detritus that are the papparazi. Conspiracy theories about this are just that, theories dreamt up by morons who are basically oxygen thieves. It's interesting that it's the tabloids that perpetuate these theories, particularly as they played no small part in her death.
Reason 3: I am sick to the back teeth of hearing about it! I could understand a 10 year memorial next year, I really could, if there was some kind of break in coverage in teh interim. Instead ever since August 1997 we've had a constant stream of Diana oriented verbal and literary loose bowel water of the worst kind. We get it already!
Reason 4: Diana stories have kept the Daily Express in circulation. I mean really, they haven't had to leave the office for 10 years - they just run a variation of the same headline every day 'New Evidence in Diana Death!', 'CIA Wanted Diana Dead!'. Apparently they resisted putting any Diana oriented stories in their sister publication 'Asian Babes'*.
So they are the main reasons. There are more but they are just personal prejudice, as opposed to the enlightened and fact driven reasons given above.
I am going to finish on Diana plus points. I am not going to mention the work she did with the Land Mines campaign because virtually nothing came of it, that famous shot of her in a UN helmet and flak jacket was ridiculously staged, in my opinion she would have done more good spending more time showing the horrific injuries that are caused by land mines. Instead we saw reruns of pictures of just how brave she was, walking through an already cleared mine filed.
No, her greatest achievement was touching someone with AIDS - I think it was in the late 80s some time. It doesn't sound like much but at a time when even the educated public had little knowledge of AIDS and were still half convinced that it could be transmitted by casual touch, I think it was an exceptionally clever and powerful thing to do. I think those pictures had a massive effect, especially in this country, on shifting the perception of the disease. Couple that with showing children in Africa with the disease - which helped illustrate that it wasn't a 'self-inflicted disease caught by those Evil Gay people and their Junky Friends', another media driven misconception of the 80s.
So I am not saying that she was evil, I am not saying she was a bad person and I am not saying that for some people her death wasn't a major event. Just stop banging on about it. Please.
Have memorials, every 5 years say? Even once a year if that's your want. Just please stop wiffling on about it in the interim, stop trying to make it our Kennedy because that poor guy was actually murdered - shot through the head, and there is actual physical evidence to suggest that the person accused was not the man who did it. That's got legs as a conspiracy theory - this Diana thing is just tabloids ducking their repsonsibility because they have no souls.
Come on people, by eliminating Diana stories maybe, in some small way, we can reduce the circulation of the Daily Express. It's not the Daily
'Look at his skin! isn't it Swarthy?! They're cannibals you know, watch your legs - they find them tasty.' Mail, but it's a start!
 Sorry! just to clarify, I know the title says 'Saints from Sinners', she wasn't a bad person I just thought the title would be quite cool as the alternative would be 'Saints from people who did their job quite well and knew how to work the press' which isn't quite as snappy[/edit]
*I kid you not, this right wing, hack written drivel is owned by Britain's most prolific pornographer.
Posted by MattJ at 12:30 pm
Monday, December 11, 2006
There will be more pics on this blog soon and on Ringo I promise. I have worked out how to get the RAW files onto my PC now. This means I can do cool image processing to the pics - the stuff you can't really do too well with JPEGs or whatever because a lot of priocessing already happens generating those images.
I am not letting the fact I have no clue how to do these things daunt me, I will play until it works damnit! This will make my Pittsburgh photos Masterpieces I tellsya!
Posted by MattJ at 4:23 pm
I just investigated the price of tickets to a Pittsburgh Penguins game - I thought I might get lucky. Sadly the game on the 20th January is against the Toronto Maple Leafs, so my optimism dropped somewhat. I can can $150 tickets, not sure it's worth it for a game I know nothing about!
Although, what's not to like about these guys? They have the word 'Penguin' in their name, their logo is an Ice Hockey playing penguin and it's an incredibly violent sport - scores all round!
Then, for kicks, I thought I would check out the Steelers - Just in case the entire fan base and their extended families had died suddenly and a seat wasn't booked. I checked their ticket FAQ and was met with the most fantastic reply:
How do I get tickets to Steelers home games?
A single game ticket sale was held in May via mail order only
Now it almost certainly means that tickets for single games were sold online during May. My brain, however, went off on its own again and came up with an an image of a single ticket for a pre-season friendly against the 'Nantucket under 12s' going for sale online, and only because the person who was originally to go to the match had died in a horrific wood chipper accident and the family needed the money for a new mop. Or something.
I like this city more and more and I am not even there yet. 'Course I may never be there if my passport doesn't come through. Some people might say it would have been sensible to organise that before booking the flights and buying half my dollars, but to those people I say this - You can prove anything with FACTS you smug git!
Posted by MattJ at 3:45 pm
Apparently it was a real heart attack this time, as opposed to a fake one to avoid standing trial for crimes against humanity.
"He will of course be buried according to his wishes - in a mass grave beneath a football stadium - The Now Show
Well, I thought it was funny. As far as I'm concerned, animals like this aren't afforded the same comedy grace period that other people might enjoy.
Posted by MattJ at 3:31 pm
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
I hope my fellow Ninjas enjoyed the inciteful and witty Ninja oriented post I put up, I think we can all agree on the fundamental points raised there.
For all you Nonjas (non-ninjas) out there, I am sure you aware that today is Annual Day of The Ninja. As such I have developed for this day some special Ninja blogging powers that only allow Ninjas to see my previous post. By using the words Ninja, Ninjonics (the urban version), Nonja and Annual day of the Ninja I am helping to promote Ninjistics throughout the world and hopefully increase the hit rate on engines like Google.
So come on everyone, get posting about Ninjas and hopefully in some small way we can make this world a more deadly place!
I look forward to reading your comments soon!
Posted by MattJ at 1:55 pm
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
The human race is a remarkable thing. The world appears to packed to bursting with people so stupid that its a wonder they got through puberty.
Stories like this one are a shining example. Now the content of the story isn't really that dumb or funny, what I find particularly amusing is the use of the phrase 'Urban Gorilla Warfare'. The site is taking the piss out of a story they deem dumb while at the same time apparently suggesting that some hip-hop simians were involved.
There are thousands of tales like these though and, frankly, its amazing our race has survived at all. Especially when we have a weird habit of voting them into positions of absolute power.
Posted by MattJ at 1:46 pm
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Because about 800 years ago the English settled in my home town as part of the on going effort to subjegate the Welsh with landed Norman gentry, this in turn resulted in the uprising of Owain Glyndwr in the 14th Century as the last Welsh Prince of Wales(which is a score for us, England has yet to have an English Monarch :p hehehe!). This resulted in my home town being razed to the ground due to its strategic importance to the English, and the fact that Owain had a bit of a tiff with his neighbour Reginald de Grey. Probably didn't return his matching barbeque set or something.
Clearly I may or may not have been related to someone involved in that traumatic and harsh period and so I deserve an apology from the British Government for something they have no control over. You know. Because it happened hundreds of years ago. And they weren't alive then.
So guess what story has wound me up today? Now regular readers (there's two, I counted) may be aware that I am not a fan of Bush's booty call but I have to speak up for Blair here. Why exactly should he be apologising? Firstly, the slave trade was never technically legal in this country, it just wasn't illegal until 1806 and slaves could actually win legal freedom well before that*. Coincidentally around the time that the whole dust up that preceeded the American War of Independence was starting, but that's another issue entirely.*
Point is, why should any goverment have to apologise for the acts of persecution and human rights abuses from centuries ago? Let me put it a different way ... 'WHAT'S THE POINT?!, WHY THE HELL DO WE LISTEN TO MORONS?!'.
I mean really! Children die of starvation every minute, 2/3s of the world population don't have clean drinking water, human rights abuses are actively supported NOW by our goverment, slavery is actively going on both as a business globally and as a cultural relic in many African tribes.....the list goes on. The point is this - There are things that actually matter going on in the world. So how abut this - all of the money, time and effort you've spent whingeing about something that a) happened over 200 years ago, b) has nothing contemporary to do with you and c) happened to someone who isn't you because you aren't 200 years old - all of that time and effort - how about you campaing about real things? Instead of manufacturing problems that aren't problems, instead of creating issues that aren't issues - how about you campaign about something that really matters?
Apologies for the rant but this irks me, people with nothing better to do with their time that they need to validate their pitiful existence by pretending that something that happened centuries ago has really scarred them. The slave trade was and is bad, a terrible thing that reduced the sum of human existence down to a commodity, to pile of cash and a shelf life, we all agree on that but....
If an apology is forthcoming, and it looks like common sense has prevailed and there isn't, I also expect apologies to Catholics for the deaths legally carried out by protestant Monarchs, to protestants for deaths carried out by catholic Monarchs, from the Egyptians to the Jews for the whole slavery thing, the Italians to everyone in Europe for the Romans treatment of them. Obviously Scandinavia has a lot to answer for, not least York. Then there are the areas that are now Austria, Germany and Hungary. They need to apologise to everyone that the Italians just apologised to, as obviously should the Muslims. The Mongols need to apologise to most of the world because they enslaved a lot of people, as did the Spanish. Anyone descended from the Aztecs and the Incas need to apologise to descendants of people in that region of the world who weren't - lots of slavery and blood sacrifice there. The Spanish in turn need to apologise to those people for wiping out their forefathers. The Turks should apologise to most people in mainland Europe but particularly Eastern Europe, who in turn need to apologise back.
Britain should apologise to everybody, if it's breathed we've beaten, killed and nicked from it.
Am I labouring the point, or can we just tell these people to either shut the hell up and campaign about something with value or stop pretending to care about 'sensitive issues'?
*Apologies for simplifying the issue here, this was running into an essay about various repeals, exceptions and precedents that was incredibly dull to anyone but me!
Posted by MattJ at 6:33 pm
Friday, November 24, 2006
Friday, November 17, 2006
Ok my desire to buy a Zune wobbled the other day. Then I realised, all the stuff that the iBoys are whineing about are just software bugs that will be ironed out easily enough. It doesn't play nice with WMP, but the Zune software has all the features from WMP I like so it's still better than iTunes. And iTunes doesn't play nice with anything, not even iPods sometimes and they have been out for 5 years.
The Zune isn't as good as an iPod in that it isn't the finished article yet, the difference is that in order to get the finished article I am not going to have to buy a new Zune, I just download the updates.
Apart from anything else, if I get one a year before they are available in the UK I'll be in an exclusive club. I'll be King Geek! I don't care if it works or not! muahaahahaahhahahaahhahaah! Join the Social my arse! Give me Geek Cred!
My ticket to Geek Points.
Everything else aside, check out the User Interface, like the fact that the previous menu is displayed horizontally so there is no need to go Back then forward again when switching album.
Not sure I like the official commercials, with all the 'Cool kids', surely it's the job of Apple to sell form over function?
Posted by MattJ at 2:01 pm
'Use Trains more, it'll help the environment'
'We need to get people out of their cars'
All things spouted by various people over recent years. And they are absolutely right. That's the thing though, they say the right thing and blame all the world's ills on these evil, selfish motorists that pootle about the place. It isn't an incorrect thing to say but unfortunately it's all just words.
To get people out of their cars and into trains you need to make the trains as economic and reliable as a car. Now I know there is traffic etc., but when encountered it can be either mitigated against or it's planned into the journey. No one goes on the M25 expecting it to be clear, that would be insanity. Now obviously you will never gett he flexibility of a car but I think all people need is a vague approximation.
Thing is, to go visit friends in Hull it's an £80 return journey that takes the best part of 6 hours each way. In a car it costs around 50 and takes 4 and a half. But that's beside the point, that journey I can cope with, it's Sundays that make my blood boil. I've lived here well over a year and have encountered a direct train to Leatherhead on a Sunday about twice. I think they replace a sleeper a week. I won't go into horrendous detail here as I know this is dull, I am leading somewhere I promise!
Now this weekend I am going to visit Hannah, I paid £16 for a pre-booked ticket to Leamington Spa (that is what you would pay for a one day travel card in London by the way). Next week is Peter's birthday which i attempted to book. They wanted over £60 for a journey I would normally pay about half that for and also over a 6 1/2 hour trip back on the Sunday and only if I leave at about midday. In total this would make my journey a little over 7 hours. This makes the journey unviable because I have things to prepare for the following Monday and a 7 hour journey journey the day before will not be condusive to a good presentation.
It appears that I am being charged an 'incompetent moron' tax for my return journey. 'We apologise for the delay to your journey and additional 3 transfers, inlcuding the 30 minute walk across the Swamp of Eternal despair. After defeating the multi-headed blood beast please bend over, so we can extract the extra charge for the additional 6 days you have spent on our service, in the only way we know how. You don't have a car do you? hahahaha! We can do what we like! You're our bitch!'
Basically people, we need some consistency. You could tell people the world will end in a fiery conflagration tomorrow unless they stop driving, if the trains are crappy they will get back in their cars and carry on about their business. And as much as I support the environmental stand point I can't blame them. Except for people who drive 4x4 cars in the city, they deserve to pay double what everyone else does and receive a sound beating after every pointless journey they make in their pointless, dangerous, badly driven Wanker-Wagons.
Posted by MattJ at 12:34 pm
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Popular Media is annoying sometimes.
"It doesn't have a single standard iPod amenity: no games, alarm clock,
stopwatch, world clock, password-protected volume limiter, equaliser, calendar,
address book or notes module."
You can always spot quotes from iFanBoys, it's kind of like arguing with a religious fanatic. No matter what you throw at them, they will still beleive that Apple are some kind of golden Techno-Hippies who create perfect devices for the free thinking consumer who doesn't kow-tow to evil corporations. Well, you know. Except for teh fact that iBooks casings crack. And MAC OS X was riddled with problems. And the iBook casings discolour. And iTunes broke the only thing it did well - podcasts. And you have to dowload everything from iTunes in Apple's shitty, lossy format. And you have to do everythign Apple's way or not at all because their software won't let you. And you can only use Apple's iTunes and NOTHING else with your iPod, and if you find a piece of software that does recognise it you can guarantee that Apple already have them in court.
Who uses all those features listed above on their iPod? I didn't even know those features existed until he listed them, and I owned one!
Now don't get me wrong, iPods are good they really are but they don't suit everybody. Their slogan should be 'iPod - for people that don't know any better'. It indoctrinates into their way of doing things, which is fine for most people, I know not everyone looks for the same thing as me. If I was given one I would totally use it, the device is good for what it does despite iTunes sucking arse. It's just that whenever a new device comes out it tries to be an iPod in some way and the Zune isn't doing that, which is why I am getting one when I go stateside, all I need to know is if it works with Media Player or not, which hopefully it will!
Posted by MattJ at 10:12 am
Monday, November 13, 2006
OK so I am a geek but I am also lazy. Blogger has lost all my little icons and links since I moved to Blogger Beta, before I go on a mission to find out how to fix this - does anyone else know what the hell is going on?
[Edit] OK, I've kind of found what's going on though the layout is all screwy. My sidebar seems determined to expand witht he content instead of expanding to match the height of the main area. Also the positioning of the icons is all weird if they appear at all. I've been driven to actually do some work, I'll have another play when I get hopme, if i can drag myself away from Oblivion [/Edit]
Posted by MattJ at 1:37 pm
Juts a shameless ad for Nick's new blog. I am hoping he isn't this informative all the time, but he has returned to the blogosphere, please validate his existence by visiting his blog.
woohoo! I just foraged smoked salmon and cream cheese croissants from a management meeting and also managed to snag a chocolate chip muffin. Go me!
Posted by MattJ at 1:31 pm
You know how sometimes you get something and you're not sure what it does? I mean, you've got a vague idea what it's meant to be for but it doesn't appear to do what it says on the tin?
Well that's kind of the best description I can give for my brother Martin. I mean he's a lovely guy, clearly far nicer than me, but that's hardly difficult. I think he got the nice gene. As an older brother however, he's never quite filled the role. Now i am not being horrible, well only a little, what I mean is he never filled the 'Big Brother' role, rather he's always been more of a little brother. This is fine, a brother is a brother after all and some people don't get any! Some people have to put up with sisters, poor sods.
Anyway, so he's been pootling along quite happily at home working, getting engaged, getting an XBox 360 (git!) etc. Which is fine, except......well. Okay, I'm sure you are all thinking the same thing: "It's great that he is doing OK Matt, but I don't see anything in this for you? Surely he sees that you are due some kind of material gain from this relationship? Matt can't live on love alone for Chrissake!". And you'd be absolutely right to think these thoughts. Luckily he has awoken to the true way and is about to take over as publican at one of our locals back home. this provides me with a free bed above a pub. It's like poetry 'Free Bed above a Pub'.
Living the dream.
This helps in another area. Since time immemorial on Christmas day, my mum packs me my dad and my brothers (well one brother now) off to the pub while she makes dinner. Incidentally before you protest about the unfairness of it all, I have offered to cook Christmas dinner on numerous occasions but she has always refused - often violently. Anyway, she says 'Back by one for lunch' we say 'Logically, the pub closes at 3 - surely that would be a better time?'. An argument ensues and we always agree on 2pm. Why we bother with the argument is beyond me, but it can be fun. Invariably someone (usually my dad) is late for lunch.
Now I have proposed a solution that is finding resistance in the Mum camp, but lots of support from the Whiskey Soaked Wasters lobby. The proposal is this: we take my mother and all the dinner stuff to the large flat above the pub. She can cook the dinner in the pub we are drinking in, then no one will be late! Its' genius! Also she can partake of some gentle libations with us!
Who said I had no Christmas spirit?
Posted by MattJ at 11:39 am
Friday, November 10, 2006
These people annoy me. Universal will be getting an undisclosed sum from Microsoft for every Zune they sell, this is so they allow digital video downloads for the player. No one except for Disney will sign with Apple for numerous reasons but mainly pricing structure.
This is kind of beside the point, many years ago various music bodies tried to apply a license to devices that played music for spurious reasons and they were told to fuck off. Now, because people like Universal don't like digital downloads, they have applied the same logic.
We already pay a 'useless leech' tax on all CDs, DVDs and other stuff like that, now they want to tax the ability to play those things! At least Universal have some kind of relationship with the artists though, even though those artists won't see a penny of the proceeds. The fact is artists make their money from touring, not from album sales. The lion's share of those moneys go to the distributors, labels, manufacturing, agents etc. Oh yeah, and people like the British Phonograph Institute and the Record Industry Association of America.
Now what these people's main role appears to be is to keep recorded media at as high a price as they can manage, which is why the internet has proved such a pain in the arse for them. It took them years to cotton on to the fact that the internet is the present, not the future of media delivery. In the mean time, it was a handy thing to blame for the high price of CDs.
RIAA: "The internet means that only 7 people a year buy CDs, everyone else is a thief, that's why they are so expensive!".
The World: "errrm. What bout before the internet? Why was it so expensive then?"
The RIAA: "errrr........pixies! yeah, price inflating pixies....errrrrrm - Look! the Goodyear Blimp!".
The World: "What?! where?! there's noth...... hey! Were you trying to climb through the bathroom window?".
The fact is the very existence of these organisations drives the cost of the media up, they are slavering parasitic lampreys feeding off the work of others. They lurk about striving to validate their pitiful existence with spurious lawsuits and misinterpreted statistics If we din't have to pay for these worthless, vaccuous excuses for human beings then we'd likely see a large drop in Music prices.
I wouldn't mind if they weren't so full of shit, but they always use the line 'we must protect the artists and make sure they receive their royalties!'. When in fact all but the most successful of artists get woeful royalties. In fact the only reason that the lawsuit against Apple was dropped was because had the RIAA won, Apple would have set up a separate arm called 'iTunes Limited' and set it up as an exclusive distributor. They then would have allocated the money thusly: Service Maintennance, Apple Profits, Publisher Profits, Artist Royalties. No RIAA, no inflated production costs, no addition palm greasing to preferred distributors.
The RIAA were set to win that case, make no mistake. But a deal was done. Far from protecting the existence and income of artists, their sole purpose is to protect themselves. I am not being harsh when I call them parasites because parasites will damage the host in order to preserve their own existence, in this case at the expense of the artists they say they protect. Only the most successful receive the protection of these lamentable organisations but only so long as they turn a profit and onl so long as they tow the party line.
OK, so this isn't quite as light hearted as I'd intended.
Posted by MattJ at 1:17 pm
Thursday, November 09, 2006
It's a historic day people, the Midterm Elections in America appear to mean something this year!
Bearing in mind that the incumbency rate in the House of Representatives is in excess of 90%. In fact, in 2004 the House had a 99% incumbency rate and the Senate a 96% incumbency rate.
So you can imagine my surprise when not only did the Democrats take the house, it looks very much like they got the Senate too. Now given the fact that they haven't done very much opposing in the last 6 years, this is a great result for the opposition. I mean, basically it has meant that the current Republican Guard have done such an abysmal job of running the country's affairs that the people of America would rather have complete inactivity than what they have now.
I really hope the democrats take the bull by the horns and use the power to at least do some damage limitation. Now I don't know the intricacies of the Upper and Lower houses, but I'm pretty sure it means the President can be told to fuck off whenever he proposes things like cutting Veteran's widows pensions, constitution defiling Patriot Acts or installing the Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan as head of inner city Urban Development because he was his old college buddy.
Also Rick Santorum. I like Pensylvannia more and more with each passing week. Bless you all for ejecting this bigotted, elitist, fanatical piece of human flotsum from office. I won't ask how he got in in the first place, I will just assume some form of mass insanity swept the state. Basically this man is using up oxygen and resources that could be used on something more worthwhile. You know, like cockroaches or herpes. I am assuming the it's the state that votes for the Senator and they don't just vore for the party of course,.
On the plus side of Rick Santorum, there is a considered effort to make the word Santorum mean somehting very unpleasant, infact i was surprised to discover that it doesn't actually appear in the dictionary as I thought it was a real word. So well done the campaigners on that one! I won't go into it's definition here as you may have just eaten.
So this is a message to the Democrats. Stop letting John Kerry speak - put him in a room somewhere with some playdough or try and get him to join the other side, he'd fit right in because he's an idiot. Next, try doing something. You know, like your jobs, give Americans their freedoms back and try and stop this whole fear-mongering thing, life is pretty good. And for the vast amount of people it isn't good for over there? Make it better, do something about that whole Medicare thing. Take the 'no child left behind' crap that Bush came up with and make it workable. Now I don't know how much of this you can do with what you have but frankly anythign is better than your recent record. I check out C-Span and you people need to start with the opposing already, because it won't happen over here. We have one Right wing party in power that claims to still be left wing and believe in social responsibility while at the same time ensuring the decimation of East Timor, Turkish Kurds and various other minorities, and a Right wing party that is pretending to be left wing while they hide all the Daily Mail readers under the table.
Anyway, I digress. I hope the handful of Americans who read this set me straight on a few points, the more I know the more I can misrepresent that knowledge!
(Apologies for the delay and I promise not to be so serious in the future.....probably)
Posted by MattJ at 11:06 am
Monday, October 30, 2006
Right! I've decided it's not fair that this one way insulting goes on, the common world view being that America isn't really aware that other countries exist, other than as places to put their spare bombs and soldiers..
However, I've discovered something trying to plan this whole trip thing. The rest of the world appears to think that the US consists of a handful of cities and about 3 states. There are any number of books and the like published about New York, Chicago, Florida and Nevada but piss all about Pittsburgh. I figured I would pick up a rough guide or some such, so that Maria wasn't forced to do all the leg work showinig me about, would be good for her to be able to set me free without worrying I'd end up on a one way train to Deliverance. I was mooching on the interweb, and no such guide exisits. I could understand it if there was nothing there but I have been checking out the net and it looks liek there is at least enough to fill a mini-guide of some description. There are a couple of e-guides but nothing that will make me look like the hopeless, lost, easy target for petty theft I will clearly be.
Now the petty thief in New York has an easy time of it, he can probably rate the relative wealth of his mark by the quality and variety of guide book being quizically read by the said victim. What hope for the yinzer felon? With no Rough Guides, or tourist maps are available for the city of Pittsburgh, he will have to rely on observing poor dental hygeine and misplaced air of superiority in order to rob me of the cheap tat that I will no doubt end up buyinjg, that no self respecting yank would be caught dead with.
With all the death, violence and persecution in the world how can I stand by and let Pittsburghg be forced to sit at the bac of the bus? Those Anti-Yinzer separatists at the Rough Guide will not get away with it you hear me?! So I am going to write my own online guide to Pittsburgh after I get back and it will be available for free I tellsya! Granted it will likely only contain a few bars, a Target store and the India Garden, but it's a start right?
OK, yes I am looking forward to my first holiday abroad in years. Yes I am short of material. Yes, perhaps I should eb working instead of looking at things to do on holideay in over two months. I don't care, it's my blog and I can ramble all I like so Nerrrrr! [Stamp foot]
Incidentally, MJ does attend the India Garden so I definitely have somewhere to go if I get homesick for a bit of curry - the bar beneath it apparently has bands too and, looking at the site, they have about 24 World and American beers on sale.
Posted by MattJ at 4:16 pm
OK so I did it. I booked my flights to Pittsburgh this morning. On a side note, I also intend to do some grocery shopping on the net today. I believe the official term is 'Achieving a work/life balance'.
Anyway, Pittsburgh. I have no idea about the average American really, I only have real experience of ones over here when at Uni. All of whom were generally cool with the odd wanker - just like everyone else. However, as I like my stereotypes I think it would be a good idea for you all to guess how quickly I get beaten up because I got drawn into an argument about something I disagree with.
This could be anything; the ludicrous nature of gun laws, the barely simian chimp that runs the country with the mental agility of a sea cucumber, banana republics, The GAP, the continued success of FOX News, Rush Limbaugh, Pat Robinson, the continued refusal of the country to apologise for New Kids on The Block, the use of the word Aluminum, Barney the Dinosaur..... the list is endless.
In an effort at international brotherhood I have compiled some responses for any yinzers (thanks Kt) who feel the need to shoot/stab/slap me after a drunken ramble; The ludicrous nature of weapons brokering laws, the lying self serving lying liar who oozes deceipt and lies with every breath that runs the country, Indonesia, the GAP, the continued success of the Daily Mail, the BNP, UKIP, Michael Howard, Michael Portillo (Port-a-loo), the continued refusal of the country to apologise for any number of 'pop' acts - most notably the Spice Girls, the Telly Tubbies, constantly whingeing about another country changing a language that is constantly in a state of change like we are the only ones who have the right to change it....... the list is endless.
On a lighter note I have compiled a list of American brews I am going to give a whirl when I am over there. Top of the list is Iron City as it is truly local to Pittsburgh so i will be sinking them regularly whether I like it or not, it's a habit I have - always drink the local brew! I've also had Sam Adams recommended to me by the flatmate. I was looking at Yeungling's (or something like that!) but I've been warned off it. I was told, basically, that there is more alcohol in a breath mint.
I should point out I may be over egging the pudding about my cantankerous nature, I'm generally very nice to new people - the ranting creeps in after you get to know me, so I should be relatively safe. Probably.
Posted by MattJ at 12:28 pm
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Here's some photos that I took over the last month or so with the new camera. As you can see I am still getting the hang of things!
Tried to blur out the back ground and just have the flower thingy in focus. My only attempt at video editing, I messed it upa little.
Tried to blur the forground to have the berries in focus.
This and the next lot were taken at Painshill Park.
Attempt at an Arty shot hehe!
OK, that'll do you for now. Now I've worked out how to do this I'll put up the amazing temple of Bacchus another time ;)
Speaking about the proposed moving of the Burberry Factory at his home in Essex yesterday, Burberry boss Terry 'Mosh' Duncan had this to say:
"We have listened to our customer base, they have spoken! They demand that the clothes they wear reflect the lifestyle that they lead. We have always managed to provide ugly and repulsive clothing with our patented 'Beige Tartan Vomit' Burberry pattern but always at a relatively high cost. By moving the site of production off-shore we can add Cheap to that heady mix!
Customers reactions have generally been very supportive of the proposed move. Father of 42 Mick 'Broken Bottle in the Face' Johnson (14) of Hull had this to say 'Yeah! I fink it's real good! Viss way ah can do out me whole family in burberry at half der price! I mean, I know I nick it all but it's the wotsit - princey-thing of it! An' I 'eard vat dey were gonna do a special line of gear that comes pre-worn so you don't even have to wear it for 3 weeks to get that special stale B.O. mixed with cheap Lager and chips smell!''
Mosh Duncan outside his local off license.
Posted by MattJ at 10:02 am
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
I've been home to Wales this weekend and i actually remembered to take the odd photo of people, not just the scenery! So here they are in Glorious Technicolour, some family, some friends and some random gay people in their underwear at Jonny Shaw's house.
Exhibit 'A' depicts Jonny shaw and his Antipodean better half (Re)Becca. The photo is a bit fuzzy, but it's OK because so were they by the time this photo was taken, thanks in no small part to the Absynthe that Mr Shaw brought back from Prague.
The reprobates from left to right - Jane - friend of Michelle and Becca, Michelle (Jonny Shaw's housemate), Becca - Inebriated Ozzie Other Half of Jon, John and Adam - random gay friends of Becca in their pants, and finally on the right - a slighly balding Monkey that got into the house, often mistaken for Andrew Farrell but answers to Jon Shaw.
And now some family:
From left to right: Methuselah - instrumental in discarding the Rhombus and the Trapezium as viable shapes for the original wheel, all his good work was undone during the Sliced Bread Wars of 1203 when he joined the ill-fated 'Length-ways' faction. (It's lucky for me my dad can never ber arsed to read this).
Next is Pedr, who claims one of the 'best mate' positions on my permanent staff. I should have mentioned that Jonny Shaw also occupies one of these positons. It's a voluntary positions which they occupy with glee. Honest. Incidentally Pete has lost about a person in weight over the last 6 months, so much so that when he came to visit last I was caused to exclaim 'What the f***ing hell has happened to your head?!'. 'Well done' is so over used in my opinion.
Next to Pedr is Mike, another of my longest serving and best friends*. As you can see he loves nothing more than having his photo taken. Mike probably has the coolest hobbies of all the people I know. He has a Harris Hawk called Sparky which he flies regularly - he and his friend karl have caught rabbits and pheasants and all sorts of stuff with them. He is also a keen frowner and enjoys curmudgeoning.
Next along is my brother Martin, also known as the Waffle. Now I can talk a hell of a lot, and I do. At length. Whether you want me to or not. But my brother........how to put this delicately.....errrm....he talks so much he has to breathe through his arsehole. He's a lovely chap but I am convinced he consumes the oxygen of 10 men and may very well be a viable option for solving the energy crisis. Martin is sat next to his fiancee Katherine (though she may spell it Kathryn, I am not sure :s). She's lovely and completely oppostie to Martin in that sge is very quiet, though that may just be lack of opportunity. Basically she is taking one for the team I think so all you ladies out there need to be writing some cheques.
Finally is 'She Who Must Be Obeyed' as my dad affectionately calls her. She phones me every few weeks or so to make sure I am alive and has a go at me for not calling, but that's basically her fault. I've inheritted the 'I can barely remember to breathe, let alone make a bloody phone call!' gene that appears to affect my whole family. This is a woman who lost a purse, but not in a conventional way. We eventually tracked them down. She had put her purse in the freezer where the peas were meant to go, the peas in the fridge where the milk was supposed to go and the milk in the oven for reasons best known to herself.
So there ya have it! Piccies of wale goin on Ringo soon, only a couple as didn't have much opportunity.
Posted by MattJ at 9:27 pm
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Is it just me or are we devolving? In an age of increasing Scientific discovery it appears that primitive and superstitious bullshit is gaining more of a foothold. Far from evolving to stage of greater understanding, we are entering a stage of increasing religious bigotry and violence. Bigotry and violence powered and driven by religion.
I've traditionally been ranty against religion but pretty much left people to their beliefs so long as they don't bother me with them or try and get me to believe them but I've had enough. Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu - I don't give a toss. You're all wrong. Stop killing each other over who has the hardest imaginary friend. Stop using a random passage out of a text book to justify acting like reprehensible pricks. Lets take the Bible as an example - Thou Shallt not Kill. Fairly sure that's clear isn't it? But no, they have to take a 3 line quote from some obscure passage which they then interpret to mean 'It's OK to kill people so long as they aren't White Christians'. 'Cos you know Jesus was white, white people were rife in the Middle East 2000 years ago.
Basically it's cowardice - people don't have the courage of their convictions. Turning the other cheek is hard. Loving your enemy is Hard. Forgiveness is Hard. Much easier to kill those who tresspass against us, rather than forgive them.
I am focussing on Christianity as that's what i ahve had the most contact with, but another thing that is hard from another religion: Jihad - this is supposed top be conflict with oneself, not with others. And That's hard.
It's easier to ignore the message and interpret the words as you choose than to have the courage to follow the actual message.
And that book? The one that is the 'Exact word of God'? (this goes for pretty much any religion in one way or another). It isn't - you're idea is that God is infinite right? Ergo God's word is infinite, therefore you can't write it down you idiot. I have to refer to the bible again as it's the one I have the most knowledge about (by no means massive knowledge). This is a book written 1200 or so years after the event by a bunch of mysogynistic wankers who selected the gospels that best fit the world view of the Church and state. How is that the exact word of God?!
Anyway, I've digressed. Devolution. There is now an argument whether or not it is OK to torture someone if it could reveal information to save lives. OK< I'll make it easy for you. No. If you disagree with me you are not only wrong, you are morally bankrupt. Let me explain why I think this. You start off with definitive proof someone has done something, you torture them to find out information to stop people dying. This goes on - then you find out someone has probably done something - do a bit of torture and you probably get some useful information. Eventually you end up in a virtual Theocracy where people with the wrong coloured skin, in the wrong place at the wrong time get shipped off for a 'world torture tour'. There is no evidence to speak of, no trials, no lawyers - just abuse of power. What you have is a paranoid religious fervour that matches that which it purports to oppose.
This post wasn't meant to be this long, I just wonder how we are becoming more religious and how it is the question 'Is it OK to torture another Human Being?' could ever come up while we still claim to be civilised?
Posted by MattJ at 10:33 am
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
This channel infuriates me. Garth Marenghi has finally arrived on DVD (or DeanVD as the case says, hehe!) after about 3 years waiting. This is a hilarious show and anyone who doesn't think so is clearly an idiot. When it was on Channel 4 the advertising for it was woeful but it has enjoyed massive success as a cult show since its airing. On Friday night on Channel 4 is a spin-off series called 'Man to Man with Dean Learner' which looks great too, what little has appeared of it.
It's another terrible advertising campaign by C4, the only intelligent thing they've done is release the Garth Marenghi DVD to coincide with it. So why am I so upset?
The IT crowd.
At best this show can be described as 'Watchable'. It has some comic genius in there, including Chris Morris (who did the amazing Day Today and Brass Eye shows) and Richard Ayoade (Nathan Barley, Mighty Boosh, and the indescribably ace Garth Marenghi's Dark Place_. But the show itself is just OK. But C4 advertised it like it was the funniest show that would ever grace the Earth. It was advertised in between every show, on the London Underground, Billboards and hoardings. It was ridiculous. In the 80s it probably would have been an OK show because sitcoms with lame and obvious jokes were popular then, and it is done very well. It just isn't very clever or funny. If it was set in the 80s even, that would be something! But the stereotype it plays on is so hopelessly out of date that it just doesn't work.
So. In much the same way that I pray for the day when lazy, talentless Hollywood directors remake crap films, instead of 'remaking' (for remaking see despoiling) classics (Nicholas cage in the Wicker Man? Are you fucking insane?! Why are you remaking perfection you toad?!), I want Channel 4 to advertise the good stuff and ignore the stuff that is just 'OK'.
Won't happen. On the plus side it means I got the Marenghi series for a mere 12 quid. Every Cloud.
"Maverick Doctor - Rick Dagless MD(2nd Right), his Best Buddy Lucian Sanchez (Left), Fiery hospital Boss Thornton Reed (2nd left) and Woman, Liz Asher (right)"
Please buy this, borrow it from a friend with taste - anything! Anything with lines like this: "I'm one of the few people who's written more books than he's read" - Garth Marenghi, and episode names like "Skippy the Eye Child" deserves a place in anyone's collection.
Posted by MattJ at 11:36 am
Monday, October 16, 2006
Went to see this yesterday which was pretty cool. Astrid was visiting so was glad I was able to entertain her, or at least have her entertained! Also Nick and Kara were present along with the lovely April (I have to say lovely in case she is reading, even though she has some bizarre ideas when it comes to cheesecake).
Anyway, I hope to get some pics up later this evening, until then I have them all on Ringo (anyone know how to link Ringo pics?). I was expecting to love the 'Shaolin Warriors' etc. but they were a little disappointing to be honest as they were clearly not genuine Shaolin or Wu Shu guys. They were pretty cool but not all that. What I was really impressed with was the clown guys and the contortionist. And the lions, they rocked!
Now I have to put a note in here about clowns before Pedr jumps in. Clowns suck, they aren't funny. They've never been funny and they never will be funny, they are rubbish. People who are told by their mothers that they are 'really funny and bubbly' become clowns, even though no one else agrees. I don't like clowns.
These guys were kind of the equivilant - they did some funny running about, tumbling, some rope walking stuff. But they did it incredibly well and with skill, the slapstick wasn't over done and they didn't wear stupid outfits with 'funny' face paint. So they weren't clowns, they were funny acrobats.
More later when I can upload pics ;)
Posted by MattJ at 3:00 pm
You blew it my friend. You were the most popular thing because you were so lame and didn't notice it you see? You're music is terrible, as are allyour TV shows and films. What made them unique is the way in which they were terrible.
That way was the 'Hoff' way! So convinced of your own talent that you didn't notice that most of the people who like you do so because you're a big, permed, orange caricature of a man and, frankly, it was really funny to like you. Now you know you're popular, and while you are still convinced of your talent, you are now aware of your cheese factor and this takes all of the fun out of liking you.
You're now fully exploiting your lameness and using it to full commercial effect so now I don't have the same amount of fun. I'm sorry David, but it's over. You know I've equally divided my time between you and someone else, now I have to throw my support fully behind that someone else. He's a far greater man than you will ever be, he is involved in a very worthwhile charity and despite being an outspoken Christian, is a generally nice bloke. He also isn't a dick to his ex-wife.
I used to say there was an immovable object and an unstoppable force in the world David but, like Samson when he lost his hair, your powers dissipated with the loss of your blindness. Chuck, my friend, would roundhouse kick you into a badly permed grease stain.
Posted by MattJ at 8:45 am
Friday, October 06, 2006
Before I start I should mention that I shifted over to Blogger Beta yesterday and there was an issue where I couldn't figure out how to upload photos. Rob discovered the way of getting the options back up on the new Blogger. I knew he was good for something - just goes to show it's worth perservering with people. Even if they are mindless thralls to Evil Feline Overmasters.
Anyway. Gift Shops. It's easy for the laymen to be deceived by this simple phrase when seen in the context of a retailer at a Theme Park/Country Park/Museum/Stately Home or other such attraction.
Your average English-Speaker would take these words to mean 'A place from which to purchase Gifts'. Perhaps, they think, to purchase memorabilia to remember the visit by. Maybe a thoughtful present for a loved one or family member.
They are, of course, wrong in these assumptions. What is not explicit in these signs is that the words, while resembling that of the normal vernacular, are in fact a throw-back to an earlier civilisation that held beliefs and values different to our own, yet still reflected in many areas of modern society. It is because of this increase in followers of these ancient beliefs that these establishments, oft mistaken for shops, have sprung up more and more.
It's been speculated that the words 'Gift Shop' in this context originate from a small tribe of now extinct garishly clad midgets of Malaysian descent, specifically from the Kualar Lumpur region. The midgets were often beaten by their larger cousins. This wasn't cruelty, merely that myopia was rife in the area and the midgets were sadly mistaken for hardened orange fruit due to their portly shape and bright body paint. The other natives would beat at then in the hope of reaching the Juicy Goodness in the centre of what they thought was fruit. The midgets would make 'oof!' and 'oomp!' noises, leading to their commonly used name 'Ooomp-uh! Lumpur'.
These creatures created low quality effigies of animals that were only loosely associated with the area in which they lived and worshipped them as Deities. Well, for about a week - at which point the stitching would come apart and the stuffing would come out, or they would combust or perhaps the head would fall off the small statue they had built. Another practice was to take the sap from the rubber trees of the region and fashion them into different shapes - perhaps to resemble some of the low quality effigies, or the trees from whence the sap came. The reasons for this are lost in the mists of time but what is known from archaelogical digs is that they were placed with reverance down the back of a large Altar, which itself resembled a sofa. It is thought these rubber shapes were then never retrieved, no matter how hard they looked in the places they thought they had left them.
The effigies and rubber objects, along with sketchy written histories produced by the Oompa Lumpurs fetched a high price at the time but no one has been able to fathom why, or indeed who would buy them. But buy them they did, from the priests of the tribe. The traditional Temples contained all of the Ghiffths (as the effigies etc. were known) and were called Ch-orrpths. The priests, not holding themselves greater than those around them, merely distinguished themselves by wearing a variety of the items of worship that they sold - badges, clothing, hats etc.
It is from this small tribe of people, then, that the words we know as Gift Shop originate. Gift, from Ghiffth, meaning : items made from the Pap, Tat or Pulp of available materials and Ch-orrpth meaning: Place from which to worship Pap
I apologise for the incompleteness of this explanation as I am at work but I hope this goes some way to helping the layman understand the deeper meaning of the words and why it appears there is a growing number of people that thrive on purchasing overpriced, low quality pieces of shit.
Posted by MattJ at 12:21 pm
Thursday, October 05, 2006
That's right folks! I have achieved this heady state of being!
Well.....Ok. I have a RSS reader for Outlook now. While IE7 has an RSS feed function on it that is very easy to use and configure, I wanted something to plug into Outlook so it looked like work. And now I have RSS Popper. This means I can keep a better eye on you slacking bloggers out there while at work! mwahahahahahahahah!
Incidentally I ought to say this right now and face the consequences. IE7 is better than Firefox. I'm sorry, I really am! But it is true. I really hope Firefox 2.0 is better again but I don't think it will be - IE7 does everything useful that Firefox does. The only people that need Firefox now are the 1% that use the full extendable stuff, IE7 is just really nice to use. I switched from IE to Firefox for 2 reasons:
1) Firefox has a cooler logo.
2) Internet Explorer was pants.
Now Firefox looks dated and IE no longer sucks arse, so I swithced back. What Firefox need to do now is exactly what Microsoft did - nick good ideas off someone else and make their browser look cooler again.
Anyway - RSS feeds (Really Simple Syndication) for those of you that don't know are really cool things that allow you to check updates on websites without actually having to go to them. Saves checking all your favourite blogs to for updates, instead you can see direct from a list which have new entries etc.
OK, doesn't sound great but when you are a Geek like me and you read a lot of news, technology updates and blogs it is very useful. Engadget for example update regularly throughout the day so it's a good thing there. Right I am off - promise the Gift Shop post and Temple pics later tonight!
Posted by MattJ at 1:16 pm
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Basically me and Nick wanted to play with our cameras. Anyway, it all starts off well enough, we buy our tickets from the Gift Shop* and begin our tour of the grounds. Now for the most part it all went very well, I took quite a few shots of the Bronze statue 'The Rape of the Sabine Woman' in various ways I considered a bit Arty. Now I can' work out if it's possible to link photos from Ringo or not yet but it doesn't look likely. I have started a Flickr account but the upload limit is useless. The long and short of it is that I can't upload pics right now cos they are all at home.
So anyway, Arty photos of cool bronze. Then we mooched and looked at the ruined temple, the Grotto and loads of other stuff that ranged from the really quite impressive to the 'Gee, that's amazing. No, really - look at my face, I'm truly taken aback'. Nothing, however, prepares you for the Gothic 'Temple of Bacchus' experience at Painshill Park.
To be more specific, nothing prepares you for the fact that it isn't actually there.
Seriously, there is a past tense slant on the literature but nowhere does it tell you that it isn't there. There are pictures of it all of the place, it's part of the route on the map. Not until you walk through the 'Elysian Landscapes' does the true awesomeness of the absence of the Temple of Bacchus become realised. There is a little sign telling you all about it and how it may have looked - it's at this point you realise all those pictures were cunnning CG Images. There is an excavation where you can see the foundation stones. But no Temple.
Fear not though, that isn't all they give you. They have spared no expense in attempting to bring to the observers eye the majesty of the once mighty monument. I don't want to spoil it for you, I will upload the picture of the vision later this evening. You'll just have to wait.
Posted by MattJ at 3:25 pm
Monday, September 25, 2006
Please stop making them, they don't work. OK?
You want an explanation? Fine, I'll give you an explanation. Even if you manage to make a film that is watchable, which is unlikely, it still won't work properly. I'll start off listing the better ones then move to why even these don't work (after listing a couple of awful ones)
Look, resident Evil wasn't utterly awful. Silent Hill was actually pretty well done.
Doom clearly sucked ass, even if you take into account the nod to gamers with the first person bit at the end. Mario Brothers, I don't think this requires explanation. Final Fantasy - oh my good God. All others fit here.
So the good one - Silent Hill. Not a bad film. However.
Logic - it simply doesn't work. The film plays like a computer game, using computer game logic where finding certain things lead you cryptically to different bits of the game, or in this case - film. While you would logically follow these steps in a game because you know that's the way the game works and the designers are trying to give you little teasers and leads, it simply wouldn't work like that in any other scenario. The fact that it fails to explain how any of the clues got there and just leaves you to assume is classic computer game stuff.
It's difficult to actually articulate my objections, basically it was like watching someone playing the game, complete with 'meanwhile back at the ranch' cut scenes, rather than watching a horror flick. Which was a shame because if they did it slightly differently it may have worked. In its defence, as a reproduction of a game it did have that whole Resident Evil/Silent Hill feel about it, it just needed to be more of a film.
Posted by MattJ at 1:33 pm
Friday, September 22, 2006
In addition to Rob spending an enormous amount of cash on a fluffy embodiment of Evil, it would appear my friend Astrid is the latest to succumb to the feline mind control phenomenon.
She picked up Beezlebub last night. She calls it 'Poppy' but its well known amongst the Cat Resistance movement that all cat names can be translated into 5 Names of Evil using a complex system of Numerology and hearsay. Those 5 names:
3) Margaret Thatcher
4) Bernard Manning
5) Barry Mannilow
And obviously any groups of these creatures of darkness can be referred to by any of the following:
1) A Conspiracy of cats
2) A Murder of cats
3) An evil of cats
4) Guests on Trisha
5) 5 Star
So another otherwise good and sensible person is to become a mindless slave and plaything of the felines.
When will the madness end?
Posted by MattJ at 3:03 pm
Thursday, September 21, 2006
So barring major disaster I am off to visit the lovely Maria in Pittsburgh in January, which I am looking forward to immensely. So long as I can keep my mouth shut and not get myself shot by the one American who decides to live out the stereotype I have in my brain..... Wow! That would be tough. I mean, yeah I'd be dead but also I'd have the satisfaction of being right......so you know, every cloud.
Anyway, I tell people and they look at me funny purely because I didn't say the words 'Vegas', 'Grand Canyon', 'Niagra Falls' or 'New York'. Which kind of annoys me. While I'm sure the waterfall and big ditch are awesome and New York is very cool, I find it very hard to believe that Pittsburgh has nothing at all to recommend it. Just because the BBC says they are places 'you must see before you die' doesn't make it true.
So anyway, I will be flying in and out of New York so reckon will spend the last couple days of the trip there and Maja is keen to take a weekend trip somewhere with me and Stefan (Her Boy) and she's suggested the Falls. I am going to do some research about what's in the surrounding area while trying to shake off the British view of 4 hours being a long drive.
So just to clarify, I am not trying to denegrate the places I highlighted. Well. Maybe Vegas. I mean, it's just Blackpool with more lights isn't it? .....As I was saying, don't want to denegrate them, I am sure they are phenomenal, I would just like to see something other thant that which someone has decided everyone 'must' see. Like if I went to Oz, yeah I'd like to see Ayr's rock but I'd also like to see the Devil's Marbles and some of the stuff described in Bill Bryson's book! - I really like random things.
I have noticed there is a major Warhol museum in Pittsburgh so that's one to go see,and technically speaking they are my American Football team so I should go look at their stadium. Other than that I am looking to you people, I have little idea of American Geography or any spacial awareness to speak of. With this in mind can any of you recommend any naturally occurring coolness in the immediate 4 hour vicinity of the city? Or other stuff for me to consider while I am over there?
Of course, that all depends if I spend all my money on cheap electronic gadgetry in the first day or not :p
Posted by MattJ at 3:31 pm
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
I really feel sorry for the guys who try their best to write George's speeches. I mean, they write them then they have to release him out on his own and hope he doesn't cock it all up.
"You know, one of the hardest parts of my job is to connect Iraq to the war on terror."—Interview with CBS News, Washington D.C., Sept. 6, 2006
Boris Johnson and George W Bush. You can't make people like that up, they are like living, breathing caricatures of a satirists dream!
Posted by MattJ at 3:35 pm
OK, I know I am conspicuous in my absence sometimes but this is ridiculous! All of the blogs I normally check have had pitiful update rates of late and, frankly, it is unacceptable. This is primarily for Famulus, Olivia and Luna. Luna is currently using the 'I'm getting married in a few weeks' excuse. Well that old chestnut isn't going to work on me young lady! What's more important? Keeping me entertained when I should be working or ensuring the biggest day of your life goes perfectly? You need to sort out your priorities.
Famulus - 'I've just started a new job in Luxembourg' - pffft! I've heard that one a thousand times! Again, it's all about prioritisation and to be perfectly honest your preoccupation with ensuring that you can provide for your family has affected your blogging frequency entirely too much!
Liv - What can I say? I am both shocked and appalled at the drop in your blog frequency, this whole 'career' thing while essential to your continued mental stimulation, sanity and general well-being - it's hardly providing me with lunchtime reading material is it?
In conclusion, you should all stop being so selfish and start to think of poor old me and my lack of reading material in work. How am I going to occupy myself otherwise? I mean, you don't actually expect me to do my job surely?
Posted by MattJ at 12:46 pm
Monday, September 18, 2006
This woman has the audacity to say this in order to justify spending $20,000,000 on a jaunt into space:
"You'll see how small and how fragile the Earth is compared to the rest of the universe. It will give us a better sense of responsibility."
I would give these wankers more respect if they were honest instead of talking such shit all the time. Every one of these people who has bought their way onto a shuttle has come up with some bollox about how what they are doing is important for science or some shit like that. What they all mean is this:
I'm really rich and NASA are always after money - Monkeys don't put themselves into space!
If this woman is so concerned about the Earth's fragility I am sure she could find something more productive to do with $20,000,000. Now there is an argument which says 'people spend lots of money on holidays every year, you could say they should spend that money on charity'. Yes, I could say that but that would be unrealistic, I don't think asking someone not to spend 20 million dollars on a flight just so you can outdo your peers and look impressive at dinner parties is unreasonable. Because that's all it is, they just want their names written into history. They think that when space tourism is common place they'll be seen as pioneers. As opposed to rich wankers with no sense of social responsibility.
Now this comes out like I hate rich people, I don't. I hate obscenely rich people who know that people die every minute because they can't get clean drinking water and then blow 20 million dollars on a flight. It's all very well flaunting your wealth and buying posh and expensive things, but when it's such a vast amount on something so fleeting and whimsical - just to satisfy one's ego, it makes me sick.
Posted by MattJ at 10:07 am
I was playing this game on Saturday with April, Cara and Nick. April had to draw a warehouse for me. So she proceeds to draw a big building, with loading doors, shelves and boxes etc.
Now how the hell am I meant to get it from that? I suggested what she should have drawn was a full moon and some hideously crazed half man, half house monster. According to Nick mine is the only brain that works that way, I don't know whether to feel proud or slighted.
Posted by MattJ at 9:49 am
Friday, September 15, 2006
This is a demo of one of the games that comes in the Console box of the Wii. Now tell me that doesn't look like the most fun you can have with a games console!
Come on, admit it. That's worth 180 quid. It's even less in teh states, less again in Japan! - Incidentally those guys making arses of themselves are some of the most powerful people in Nintendo.
Posted by MattJ at 5:19 pm
I Love Nintendo. I mean it. I used to hate consoles and Nintendo were always the epitome of everything I hated.
*I wrote a big long evaluation of the competition here but I have already done one today so here it is in brief*
The Wii has been given a European lauch date and price. It looks amazing. Not nearly as powerful or graphically impressive as the 360 or the PS3. Can't play DVDs. Doesn't appear to have the same complex and complete social networking system that 360 has.
So it's not as good right? Depends. Nintendo market at people these days, not at gamers. Give a PSP to a non-gamer with a copy of Pro-Evo Soccer, he/she'll put it down in a minute. Hand them a DS Lite with Brain Training and they'll be hooked in the same amount of time. Nintendo are bringing something back to consoles and gaming in general that appears to have been missing. Fun.
It's going to be 180 quid and I am finding it had to think of a reason not to get one for Christmas. No 'core packs', 'uber packs', or 'super Uber Packs'. One model. one Colour, lots of fun. Seriously, just go take a look at the demos of the remotes - that's innovation for you. All the otehr guys do is exploit current technologies and make their consoles more powerful, the guys at Nintendo seem to be doing things totally differently.
Anyways! I used to hate Nintendo but my DS Lite is the only gadget I own that still gives me a buzz when I pick it up - it's complete in every way it can be, that's what's nice about it. I challenge anyone to try one and not want one immediately, I have the feeling the Wii will have the same effect. See I am a PC fanboy, as a result having 2 systems in the house that are capable of playing powerful new games wouldn't be much use to me. Unless the second one could do something my PC couldn't.
*I banged on about why DS Lite was better than PSP here, but all you need to know is this : I used to hate Nintendos, then simply didn't even acknowledge them. I bought a DS Lite over a month ago and I am still banging on about it, gadget boys like me usually lose the buzz after about 3 days. Pick one up and you'll want one.
Posted by MattJ at 3:54 pm
Apple revealed all their new iPoddy stuff this week. They've tweaked their big players and slightly dropped the price. The Nano now goes up to 8GB and comes in different colours. They’ve changed the casing to anodized aluminium to combat the ease with which the Nano gets scratched.
The 2GB model comes in Silver only, 4GB different colours and the 8GB only comes in black. Only the Black one looks any good to be honest, all the other colours look like crap versions of the old iPod Mini. They have improved battery life and tweaked the software, it's pretty pricey though - but 8GB flash memory is pretty new so it's to be expected, I think only SanDisk have an 8GB flash player out at the moment.
Ok, so nothing new - nothing about the iPhone and nothing about the rumoured Virtual Interface.
The Microsoft Zune was announced yesterday, I have been waiting on this and had high hopes that this would be my next portable media player. I feel a bit let down, they are releasing one model and it looks a bit clunky next to an iPod.
Historically the problem with iPods is that you have to do everything Apple's way. You have to use their crappy iTunes software (except the Podcast bit - that's really good). If you are dumb enough to use their music store, you are forced to use their crappy DRM music format. The players themselves don't actually do that much, in terms of functionality they are very light. In terms of form and ease of use, they rock. Once you get used to their menu system. I went from Zen to Nano and getting used to the fact that Apple don't let you do anything cool was frustrating at first but, like the Newspeak of 1984, the mind shuts down and allows it to happen.
Pedr just got an iRiver H10 (I techno-sheeped him!), which is a lovely little device. iRivers historically have had oodles of functionality but with a User Interface that requires a PhD in particle physics to fathom. They've fixed that here apparently, Pedr is loving it.
So, the Zune. I am in no desperate need to get a new player. I need to see if Creative will replace my broken Zen Micro before anything else but the 2GB Nano i have is a little limited in capacity, it's getting to the point where I want something I can carry my whole audio collection around in. I don't want that thing to be an iPod but right now it's the only thing that fits my idea of a compact player. Everything else is a bit.....well......fat.
On the other hand, Zune has Wi-Fi, FM radio and a whole host of other goodies (no movie playback as yet). So I've decided to wait 6 months to give 'em a chance to do something cool with it as it does have an awful lot of promise and potential in areas that the iPod simply seems incapable of exploiting. Apple has decided on completely proprietary methods of Music storage and sharing, as a result they have closed themselves off from the growing community market. Microsoft have done amazing things with XBOX Live in terms of gaming communities and social networking, if they can do something similar with Zune then they have a chance of carving out a market.
I'd like to take this opportunity to apologise for complimenting Microsoft but anyone who has played XBOX Live recently will know where I am at. I have played Live a bit at Nick's, the service has built up associations around his gaming style, preferences, who has rated etc. and as a result when you join a random game it always puts him in a game with like-minded people, so you rarely end up with the wankers you often find in various online games that spoil the enjoyment for everyone. Anyway, I digress. I have no idea why I posted this, but my advice for anyone after a small player - get an iRiver H10, they are about 6GB and available for under £100. Media Player is better than iTunes (but then so is Herpes), you just need to break out of Apple's 'our way is best so you don't need to think for yourself' software. If you're after a new High capacity player i would wait a few months, I have a feeling Apple were waiting to see the Zune before the real development announcements and equally Microsoft are waiting for the Apple response before releasing the cooler stuff. Hopefully they will put podcast software on there because it was really dumb leaving it out.
Oh. I really like that the Zune comes in Brown!
Posted by MattJ at 1:17 pm
Thursday, September 14, 2006
I decided to translate a random phrase into a randomly selected language using babel fish today. I have no idea why I thought of this phrase but I have no doubt it says something disturbing about me. Anyway, today's randomly selected language was Japanese - lets see how accurate this flaky translation tool is shall we?
Answers on a postcard.
Posted by MattJ at 10:31 am
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Right! Stop it, RIGHT NOW!
We all know that American and UK Foreign policy pisses me off, lots of political and legal things do. I whine all the time. We know that Creme Egg fillings in chocolate bar form is just plain wrong. We know that only stupid people believe the world was created 6000 years ago and to suggest otherwise pushes one of my rant buttons.
All these things we know. There is one thing we all know that Stephen Fry phrases better than anyone else:
You can't live with them, you can't live with them. The first sign of these nasty purulent sores appeared round about 1894. With their jangling keys, nasty suits, revolting beards, moustaches and tinted spectacles, estate agents roam the land causing perturbation and despair. If you try and kill them, you're put in prison; if you try and talk to them, you vomit. There's only one thing worse than an estate agent but at least that can be safely lanced, drained and surgically dressed. Estate agents. Love them or loathe them, you'd be mad not to loathe them.
I know I've posted it before....but....well.......gah! Phucking Estate Agents!. Utter Bastards!
"Burn The Big 'Oose! Are Ya With Me Lads?!!" is what we should be shouting! Ofcourse on the way to the big house, a wriggly estate agent would lean out of the window and say something like "Yes, it is indeed a big house and we can include the open fire you suggest for only the price of one kidney and your first born child!".
Now I know it says 'property investors'. You know what a property investor is? It's a fucking estate agent with an exclusive post code.
While nothing will alleviate the fury at the name of the Mighty Honey Badger being taken in vain, looking for that Fry quote brought a smile to my face as I founnd this one too:
I stooped to pick a buttercup. Why people leave buttocks lying around, I've no idea
Posted by MattJ at 5:15 pm
I feel that my last post was far too comedic and frivolous and some of you may be concerned that I am veering away from the major concerns of the nation, indeed, the world. Fear not loyal reader, I still scour the world's news providers for the most up to date information on war, injustice and corruption. I also bring news of heroism, inspiration and domineering spirit.
I think this tale is an inspiration to us all:
I am sure you will join me in wishing the proud father a swift and full recovery!
Posted by MattJ at 3:11 pm
One of my fellow bloggers recently posted something on her blog that was incredibly complimentary about the American Spirit vs British disparagement of same. I was resisiting a counter post but have rambled on over on her blog far too much, which is a little unfair. I did put some counter arguments up, someone else resorted to a fairly insulting track aimed at the author which was uncalled for. So rather than carry on there, I am doing my counter post! You may now switch off. Pedr, come back tomorrow I'll have something for you ;)
OK I think what got the person who resorted to personal slurs annoyed was the statement that British people have an inferiority complex due to repeated invasion and conquering. Which is only accurate if you go back about 1000 years or so. So logically we have to wait another 600 years before we can have an accurate comparison. And far from an inferiority complex I think we have an overwhelming superiority complex where Americans are concerned, convinced that we are intellectually, culturally and morally better than they are. Basically we appear to view America like a wayward teenager who is a little too interested in matches.
It's Just a Phase He's Going Through.
I am going off the point though. I am not quoting verbatim here, so apologies if this is out of context but I think I get the right feeling. Basically, the person who raised the post and I have differing views on the same facts. She sees the original settlers as hardy pioneers, with a strong spirit of adventure and a 'overcome all odds to achieve my dream' mentality. I see them as religious zealots from the 16th century, desperate not to die from myriad nasty diseases and - just like all animals - a desire to survive. That's all they did initially, and only with the help of the natives. Who they later killed.
My point I guess is that if we look back on it, it's easy to attribute these golden qualities to the original settlers of the States, but in reality (in my opinion) they were just like their contemporarys around the world. They saw an opportunity to have things, which they proceeded to take.
Another point was that they eventually broke free of British Imperial power, which is absolutely true. They did it with the use of French Colonial power. That's a conveniently forgotten fact when American politicians discuss the French though. But break free they did, there are arguments about the altruism of those who pushed for independence. Being a cynic, I can't help but notice that in the early 1770s there began a concerted effort to outlaw slavery in Britain and its colonies and in 1775 a war of independence broke out. Slavery has technically been illegal since the 12th century in Britain but in practice it wasn't until the 18th century that the law began to be clarified. Anyway, I digress. My own biased and cynical opinion is that you probably had a bunch of people who believed in freedom and independence and a bunch of people who had an eye on the profits. Again, this isn't unique to America and this particular war - there are ulterior motives for most wars, usually to do with profit or territory.
I am rambling on here, I guess the point I am trying to make is that America didn't start off that different to everyone else. There were a handful of pioneers who did some amazing things, but mostly they were just like everyone else - eveything else is just about how good the story tellers after the fact have been.
Ok so what's the point of all this? Well I've put a lot of negative stuff here, implying that the War of Independence was linked with the Slave trade, that original settlers were just as greedy as everyone else, that freedom through genocide is a morally bankrupt trade-off and lots of other things. Some of it is tenuous and I was going to go further, to the extremes of cynicism. Bascially my real feeling is that somewhere between the romantic view and this view lies something approaching the truth. I am considering doing two posts, one extoling the America's virutes as a nation at its inception and various instances since and one lambasting the same things, it could be an interesting exercise on 2 fronts :
1) Illustration of how the same facts can be talked about in two entirely different ways.
2)See if I am able to say unequivocal good things about the US or the UK!
Anyway, let me know what you think.
I deliberately didn't link to the original article but if the author wants me to I will, I just thought you could do with a breather!
Posted by MattJ at 9:57 am