cdave: (Rock)
I've listened to Jonathan Coulton's new albumn Solid State a few times now, and it's just not clicking for me.

I think it's trying to do two different things, and as result not doing either well.

It's trying to be a fun nerdcore pop album; long on geeky references, with occasional pathos to accent this. But fails as it's a concept album set in a dystopia. For instance the "watching kittens videos" and "don't feed the trolls" songs felt more melancholy and depressing than fun or pathos inspiring.

The other thing it's supposed have is "a bit of a concept behind it," with a "character that you follow throughout his life." But because most of the songs are trying to also be standalone songs, I'm just not finding the story here. But the chorus of the main track (released before the album), makes absolutly no sense to without more detail.

"What if Kurzweil doesn't make it?
What if all the switches get struck on destroy?
When the shuttle goes, we won't take it,
When the final counter-measures are deployed,"

Who is Kurzweil? What shuttle? Etc.

If the album only makes sense with the accompanying comic book, then only making that available as hardcover comic, that won't arrive for weeks after the album comes out is an odd decision.

Having said that, once I stumbled upon the explanation for his last concept album, I did enjoy it a lot more. Giving each track a counterpart track with an opposing mood makes for a disjointed, but interesting, album.

So I hold out hope that when the comic book arrives, the album will be more enjoyable.
cdave: (Angry)
Complaining about bad physics in time travel movies is pointless (but good fun afterwards), but there's a character reaction that always breaks my suspension of disbelief.

There's a trope in time travel stories where the viewpoint character jumps back into to their own body, changes the past, and then returns to their body in present day. They only retain memories of the original timeline, but the world around around them has changed. I've seen it in X-Men: Days of Future Past, Hot Tub Time Machine, and Project Almanac. The thing that annoys me is how their friends respond to their return.


Example timeline (story protagonist's perspective):

α timeline year 2000 Bob α (age 20) Bob's best friend Alice gets killed
α timeline year 2001 Bob α (age 21) Bob becomes a scientist and start work on a time machine
α timeline year 2011 Bob α (age 31) Bob leaps back in time
ß timeline year 2000 Bob α (age 31) MIND in Bob ß (age 20) BODY Bob saves the world, and leaps home
ß timeline year 2011 Bob α (age 31) Bob finds that (with no memories of these changes) he's a millionaire now, married to Alice!

Alice finally gets to thank Bob for saving her life.
Thus the movie ends happily. But it never rings true for me. What if we think about what Alice has experianced? This should be simpler, as she never travels in time.


Example timeline (friend's perspective):

ß timeline year 2000 Alice β (age 20), Bob α (age 31) MIND in Bob β (age 20) BODY Alice β sees Bob save the world
ß timeline year 2001 Alice β (age 21), Bob β (age 21) Bob β has no memory of saving the world
ß timeline year 2002 Alice β (age 22), Bob β (age 22) Alice β falls in love with, and marries Bob β. They set up a company together.
ß timeline year 2009 Alice β (age 29), Bob β (age 29) Alice β and Bob β company is doing so well they become millionaires
ß timeline year 2010 Alice β (age 31), Bob α (age 31) Bob α returns to “his body” replacing Bob β.

The question is would Alice β be glad to see Bob α or devastated at the loss of her husband and business partner?
cdave: (Comics)
Subtitle: Juxtapositions. Or two things make a post.

I've been catching up some old Radiolab podcasts, and I've just finished listening to the episode Words.

This episode concerns four people or groups of people, who at some point have no language, and then later acquire it, and the changes that follow.

I'd read about the formation of creoles and sign languages before in some popular science book or another. The founders tend to have very simple structure, but children raised in that environment later develop a more complex grammar. What the Radiolab episode added was that this places certain limits on the founders' thought process, but if the next generation teach the adults their new structure, the adults can learn new ways of thinking.

Another interesting aspect is that toddlers who are able to speak, but are not yet able to form noun phrases like "on the LEFT of the BLUE WALL", have the same difficulty solving certain spatial puzzles as rats.

Then the episode finished, and the very next podcast was Flowers for Algernon.

Every piece of research in the Radiolab episode happened after Daniel Keyes wrote Flowers for Algernon, yet it fits so well as a response to that episode.
cdave: (Comics)
Let's look at the Evil League Of Evil's Sad Puppie's demands:

Larry Correia

First and foremost, you guys need to decide, once and for all, what the Hugo Awards really are. There are two choices.
It is the most prestigious award which represents the best works in all of fandom.It is a little award, for one little group of people, at one convention.
You can’t have both. Pick one, stake your flag on it, and we will proceed from there.

Brad R. Torgersen

So the totem is ours too. We have claim on it. It is “the most prestigious award” for everybody. And everybody agrees on this.
Either that, or change the branding, and call the Hugos, “The little award, for the little crowd at Worldcon.”


So it's clear they're simply asking for offical hugo award administrators to stop using the word "prestigious" on the one place it apears on their offical site.

The Hugo Awards about page

The Hugo Awards, presented annually since 1955, are science fiction’s most prestigious award. The Hugo Awards are voted on by members of the World Science Fiction Convention (“Worldcon”), which is also responsible for administering them.


They're just asking for an edit to one page. Unless that's just a smokescreen to make it look like a barely resonable argument, and not what the puppies really want.

Not to mention that one of my stated goals was to demonstrate that SJWs would have a massive freak out if somebody with the wrong politics got on. So on the slate it went. I nominated Vox Day because Satan didn’t have any eligible works that period.

emphasis mine.
cdave: (Default)
The last company I bought glasses off online was a highstreet opticians who were branching out. But they seem to have closed shop now. So I went looking elsewhere, and may have been stung. Thought I was a bit savier that this. Ah well.

I've ordered a pair of cheap glasses, and they've not even processed the order yet according to the online tracking. The site seemed to be a UK company, with a UK number, but no-one was answering. I looked a bit further and it's registered to an office with about a hundred other companies. Looking further still I found 4 online opticians all registered by the same overseas agency.

perfectglasses.co.uk
glassesexperts.co.uk
exclusiveeyes.co.uk
eyeexperts.co.uk

They don't answer their main lines either, but I seem to have found a chink in MAK Media & Creations Ltd.'s airwall. The person on the end of line said he'd get someone to look into it, and seemed very surprised that his number was on their site. So here it is in case it disapears +44 20 70 60 70 55.

These two site don't seem to be registered to the same company, but have bits of the same text on their site, so I could be wrong, and plagerism is wrong anyway.

cheapnewglasses.co.uk
facefurniture.co.uk
cdave: (Default)
Photobucket
Any steampunk fans? You've got until the end off office hours to a bid on these funky glasses.
cdave: (Default)
Case a:
I turned up early at the V&A for a Sandpit (Pervasive Gaming) evening. I wanted to have a look at the Echo Bazzar \ Fallen London game in particular. So did a lot of other people. And the main organiser was running 15 minutes late. The queue filled the balcony beside the Silver gallery, and all the way down the stairs to the sculpture corridor.

In order to beat the queue, they insisted the first few groups come in in groups of 10. I was with [livejournal.com profile] hawkida, [livejournal.com profile] viclet, Floo, and Archdeacon (nee StarShirt on this blog), so was halfway there. We grabbed the nearest 4 people to us and set off to solve a series of puzzles round the museum.

On the way we lost the Dutch Couple, who figured out that you could just play the game individually, and kept running another pair of Joinees, but that sort of thing isn't that unusual when you live in the same city.

The Small Word part was when went to the pub afterwards, and convinced the other pair to join us down the pub. It turns out that [livejournal.com profile] h4nchan hadn't been to a Sandpit before, but had been to Hitchcon, and recognized a few fannish names. So we swapped Social Network contact details. The first thing I spotted is that she was a fellow DFC subscriber! A rare breed :) The first thing she spotted was we just missed each other at Uni. She would probably have used some of the Jingle packages I put together for student radio station!

Case b:
I'm not under any illusion that all of the couple of thousand regular UK litcon goers know each other, but I really was shocked to find that Paul Cornell does not know the Fishlifters!

Case c:

Today, I joking tweeted that there was no Snow in St Albans (Since a lot of people tweeted about snowfall locations at the start of the year), and it turns out an old colleague had also had his London office shut, and had been moved to St Albans!
cdave: (Default)
Harrumph. Looks like official UK update of HTC Heros from Android 1.5 to 2.1 has been pushed back by two months. Think I'll be rooting my phone soon, and installing a custom ROM.

In the mean time here's dump of all the apps I have on there at the moment. I'll add descriptions reviews a q-codes soon.

My Andriod Apps )

All of those are free, but I intend to pay for a few of full versions soon.

Apps I'm still think about / trying to find the right one of include:
To Do list. (GTD tie in? Tie in to Gmail tasks / Don't forget the milk, etc).
Replacement for the Call log, as it doesn't show the time of recent calls on the main view.
[ETA]
Locale. Clever App that switches on and off setting and Apps based on locaction, battery level, etc. But costs $10.
cdave: (Default)
In my local seat the two parties who most stand a chance of winning there have:
  • A rebellious incumbent MP who votes against his party (usually in the direction I'd want), but whose party I don't want in power.
  • A local councillor for the party I'd like to see in, who doesn't really impress me with his literature, and website (and hasn't replied to an email from 5 days ago asking why I should vote for him).


[Poll #1553873]
cdave: (Default)
... or If I Don't Write Something Now I Never Will.

This was a very different convention for me personally. I was definitely far more a participant than a consumer. Oh, and I actually got about 7 hours sleep, and only drank 3 pints, each night. Unheard of!

To begin with I was on 4 programme items. No wait. 5. Oh and that. 6 then. The 2 on comics went reasonable well I felt. The panellists largely had some overlapping experience, but some things that were new to each of us. And sufficient audience participation to show that they were involved with our discussions. For the two on the future of Eastercons, I largely sat back and listened to what the other people in the discussion were saying. Think I learned a lot, and hope I did manage to get my perspective across when I did speak.

The "Star Wars: A Small Hope" cabaret was great fun to do, and seemed to be well received. It did take a large chunk out of Saturday, as we only managed to start rehearsals a few hours before the show, and needed much repetition to get it tight. Hats off to [livejournal.com profile] adelhied for pulling together a top notch script and props collection in the weeks pre-con. [livejournal.com profile] fuzz57, [livejournal.com profile] frankiemouses you were magnificent. Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] j_lj for lending us the lightsabers, one of which was found under the stage after he'd left the con. And to C for pinning me into a Leia dress without complaining :D
{ETA: And big thanks to the mighty tech crew for the Madonna headsets, and to the Cabaret organisers, and to our two sheet holding gophers, and the c ConCom, and everyone else who helped make Odyssey happen!}

The last other programmed item I was on was the Eastercon Bid Session. It was interesting. In short I'm now Head of Programme at Illustiorous, Eastercon 2011. Eep. The other news from that session is that Olympus 2012 will be the subsequent Eastercon.

The rest of the con was largely taken up with: Illustrious work (committee meetings, ticket sales, and programme idea discussions), Programme Ops / unofficial Ops Rover work, occasional gophering, dances, and seeing one or two programme items a day. Distressingly little left over for socialising, so I apologise if we didn't get to chat, or if I left after too little time.
cdave: (Default)
10) The Audacity of Hype by Armando Iannucci.

A collection of short columns from 2009 from this reality TV hating satirist. Best read in short bursts. For someone who dislikes soundbites, he is good at them (see the title of the book).

11) The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde.

Recommended to me by C, who is a fan. Part spy thriller, part regency romance, part civil service bureaucracy, part time travel paradox. Really fun book.

12) The Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes (Volume 1) written by Neil Gaiman, Artists: Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg, Malcolm Jones III.

Been meaning to read this for years, but decided I couldn't afford the complete run at once, and suspected I was always going to get hooked.

Loved it. An excellent use of the 20 to 30 page monthly form. Starting with a delicious tale of horror, and moving onto a quest for the King of Dreams to regain his power, pausing only for a 24 hour descent into madness with some hostages held by a very strange captor. Finishing up with a strangely charming introduction to Death. I can see why she became a fan favourite. Cameos from several DC characters tie it into their Universe, but this is not a superhero book.

13) The Jennifer Morgue by Charles Stross.

I realised when reading the latest short in The Laundry series, that I wasn't sure I remember what happened in The Jennifer Morgue. I very pleased to realise that that was because I hadn't got around to getting a copy yet. Lapped it up. A bit more spy thriller, and a bit less bureacracy and maths, but just as geeky, ireverant, and compeling as The Atrocity Archives.

14) The Doll's House written by Neil Gaiman, Artists: Mike Dringenberg, Malcolm Jones III, Chris Bachalo, Michael Zulli, Steve Parkhouse.

This book starts with a myth told by a tribal people introducing us to more of Dream's character. It then steps into the main arc of this book involving the a young girl whose fate is tied deeply to the dreaming realm, and Dream's attempts to round up some of the Dreams that have escaped his realm. A disturbing familiar Cereal Convention turns out to be very odd. Again, it contains a single issue that almost steps aside from the main flow in the middle. A wonderful character piece about a man who has been made immortal almost on a whim.
cdave: (Default)
Ooh, apparently the British Science Fiction Association's survey of authors is winging it's way to me. Covering the results of two surveys, twenty years apart, and covering over 120 writers.

Didn't even have to ask for it, it's just a bonus to members :)

Sample survey response here.
cdave: (Default)
Only 5 memberships left!

Guess who is number 895?
cdave: (Default)
I managed to score some tickets to a recording of "Comedy Store" at "The Comedy Store" for "Comedy Central". The site proclaims:
On its grimy stage some of the greatest acts in the business have perfected their act
Which clearly isn't true. They was a two man team with a mist-er and a stiff broom giving it quick scrub when we arrived. Owing to my leaving the office later than intended, we were one of the last groups let in. We wound up with a choice between left wing front row, left wing a few rows back, or right at the back.

We decided to sit at the front. I thought that this meant there was a good chance I'd get picked on. As I mentioned I'd come straight from the office, and was in a suit. I've been at the comedy store before where the stand ups picked on the suits.

As this was a TV recording though, and they generally wanted to try and keep to a tight set, I almost got away with it. )
cdave: (Default)
1) Emission Spectra Scarves. Or Absorption spectra ones if you're after something more colourful. via @davedevereux.

2) 3 colour Brunnian link (not a knot) neck warmers / bracelets. Wikipedia link via [livejournal.com profile] makyo.

3) A double walled tubular scarf with two side scrolling levels on it that actually scrolls.
Look it works in my head, okay.
Knit a few loooong rows of brown. One or two of green. Quite a few blue. Then a few brown.
Fold in half width ways, and stitch together, such that the join helps stop the tube rotating.
Sew on a load of felt bits representing objects from Sonic on the green stripe edge, and Mario on the other.
Pull one end through the middle, and seamlessly stitch to the other.
cdave: (Default)
And both [Ultimates comics] are incredibly quick reads. Okay, perhaps that’s what I should have expected, but these comics are $4 / £3 each. And that works out to about £1 a minute or £60 an hour. When the comics are costing about the same as my plumber there’s something horribly wrong. - Richard Bruton


Even [livejournal.com profile] jamesb has been talked a little about the cost of comics recently.

I finally remembered to head down to my local library to raid their comic shelves. Seems they don't have any Sandman (although I can order it from other local libraries), but I did pick up:

7) Bleach by Tite Kubo Volume's 1 & 2 (Manga)

This is very popular Anime series at the moment, and I've only seen one episode, so when I saw it on the shelves I snapped it up.

It's about a high school student, who can see ghosts, and accidentally gets recruited to be a sort of combination monster hunter / grim reaper. And frankly he's kind of pissed off with the whole situation.

The first volume is essentially an origin story, giving us a lose background into this world, and a few short battles. The second volume introduces a few more characters (I get the impression no-one in this place is going to be left without some mystical power for long), and a bit more about the way this afterlife thing works.

I can see why it's popular. The battles are fun and all, but there's a wonderful sense of humour throughout.

Guess what's happening in this thumbnail? With all it's dramtic shadowing, and extreme close ups.
Bleach page

He's answer here ) Bizarre.

8) Flight Explorer Volume 1 anthology editor Kazu Kibuishi (Graphic Novel)

I'm not going to pretend to know a lot about the Flight anthologies. They've been produced as something quite different for a few years now and are coming to an end soon. Full colour, and luscious art, they are often ... quieter tales than your typical super hero comic.

They're produced "via the internet" in some sense. At least most of the contributes are geographically spread, and are often bloggers.

Flight Explorer is the first (but hopefully not last) in a line pitched at the same market as the DFC, the 8 to teen market that seems to be so neglected in comics today.

The art is cartoony but brilliant for it, and the stories from a moment in the life a little girl and her monster friend's first experience of snow, to an action packed tale of a space mouse crashing beside a tribe who are under threat.

9) Watching the Watchmen by Dave Gibbons

Seeing the thumnails and early sketches for the iconic Watchmen moments is pretty neat, but Dave's tale of how it was produced is what really made this for me. And hats off to him for refusing to get drawn into the drama of what happened next. It's a story that needs hearing, but this celebration of the art of the Watchmen was not it.



Oh, and the library had a clever promotion on. They offer a cheap DVD rental service (with a lot of art house stuff as well as block busters), and to encourage the DVD crowd to read more they had a box of wrapped up mystery books on the counter you could borrow, and get a free DVD coupon.
cdave: (Default)
Anyone fancy joining me at an up-coming sandpit?

The evenings I've been to have consisted of a couple of newly designed games they are trialing (sometimes involving running around outside), and a few perenial favourites like Wearwolf, and Dadist Trivial Pursuit to pass time while waiting for you slot on a big game.

Monday 22 February on the Spirit Level at Royal Festival Hall. All Free! I know a couple of people who are going to this, so anyone else fancy turning up?

Friday 26 March 2010 at the Victoria & Albert Museum for their monthly late-night opening. Almost certainly a free games, bigger ones may have a small charge. Don't know anyone who's turning up yet, but Echo Bazzar (Victoriana text adventure RPG, twitter login) are running something there!
cdave: (Default)
Don't think I'll get around to these, but should really. Plus posting on Friday means no-one will see this anyway.

  • Conrunner
    • Never seen a better populated programme stream :) Lots of notes.

  • Stopping a fight
    • Just a slice of life post describing the 30 minutes or so I spent after I came out of a late night tube into blazing row.

  • SFX weekender
    • +New 2 day convention!
    • - ... on Friday and Saturday, with no Sunday programme.

    • +Shed loads of authors
    • -... on a small stage at the back of a noisy pub, and no clue in programme if it was a reading, interview, talk, Q&A, or Ukulele session.

    • +Hanging with friends
    • -... who I didn't seem to see a lot of on Friday.

    • +Dead cheap as these things go!
    • ... but then the accommodation was mouldy stained and frayed.

    • +Went for a swin in the pool (never managed get round to at a con before)
    • -... at noon, as it wasn't open in the morning.

    • etc. Essentially there were lots of little things wrong, but I think the killer is state of the accommodation. Just see what others have said.

  • Good Customer Service - I always mention the bad stuff, so should do the good too.
    • Echo Bazzar A turn based RPG text adventure (with log in via twitter). I emailed them to claim responsability for a bug fix they rolled out. They said they'd spotted it anyway, but still gave me a bug hunter's prize.

    • I emailed the manufacturers of Killer Bunnies to say that one of my cards was damaged in the packaging, and they sent me a free replacement, and a bonus playable card that they must have given out at a convention or something :)
cdave: (Default)
5) Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

Like the Handmaid's Tale it's told by alternating chapters on the "present" with flashbacks from the protagonist. In this case the flashbacks seemed less well integrated. They're more linear, and with less obvious triggers for why the protagonist should be recalling that episode.

I actually quite liked the protagonist. He may be a self absorbed w*nker, but he knows he is. And it makes a change to have a protagonist who is below average amongst his peers.

Triggered my bad movie physics *twitch* towards the end. No one thing in particular it's just that a lot of the "science" in it is there as decoration, and doesn't really work if you think about it. Occasionally a bit heavy on the symbolism and the polemic she wants, rather than the story.

For all that, it's an entertaining story. Is it wrong that I want a Buckets o' Nubbins from ChickieNobs now?

6) Persopolis by Marjane Satrapi (graphic novel)

Originally published in French, the English language editions are divided into two "books".

The second book is a fascinating autobiographical tale of the journey to adulthood of the young Marjane. It starts of with her first days sent to live overseas. She went through some severe culture clashes, and isn't afraid to show the readers some of the negative sides of her time. It's a moving story, and I'm glad I read it.

The first book is the reason I'd picked it up though. This is the tale of a child born during the Islamic revolution in Iran, and growing up with relatively liberal parents where the country round them is getting more restrictive (and getting bombed by Iraq).

I don't know nearly as much modern history as I'd like, so recommendations for engaging first person narratives would be welcome.

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