Meewella | Fragments

The Life of P

Month: April 2006 (page 1 of 2)

This Glass Is Now Half-Empty

First up, Mitch Hedberg has some wise words about the Nintendo Wii. I also couldn’t wait to see what Penny Arcade’s take on this new slice of Japanese marketing perplexity would be. Would they take the high ground? Of course not.

Pessimist's MugI am now the proud owner of a Despair, Inc. Pessimist’s Mug which I have been eyeing up for some time. Once I again I managed to ruin another of Kirsten’s cunningly concealed surprises by callously failing to remind her that she’d left the box of the gift I didn’t know I was receiving in plain sight in her room. Firebox’s glaring orange logo isn’t what one might call subtle. It was to celebrate our 6-month anniversary this weekend, which actually feels a little weird — these six months with her have really flown by but I couldn’t be happier. Except that it means we’re now in exam term instead of October.

The mug was a talking point when I met the two American exchange students from Yale and Brown who have been living downstairs in M. We ended up chatting over a brunch of scrambled eggs that they made me in return for having used my plates and cutlery for some time. In a feat of gross incredulity, it emerged that I knew Leah’s ex, Rawen, with whom I have been working extensively on The Globalist! I knew the world was small but I warn you that it appears to be shrinking fast.

I have come to find those “your order has now been dispatched” emails from online retailers seem to have a taunting tone to them. They serve only to let you know that somewhere in the country your chosen item exists and is writhing helplessly within its brown packaging, but you can’t have it. I cannot help picturing a retail manager somewhere laughing at me as his drooling hunchback minion sends the mocking message. Ravi suggests I may be overthinking the situation.

Nintendo Wii Ennui

Introducing … Wii.
As in “we.”
While the code-name “Revolution” expressed our direction, Wii represents the answer.

And together, Wii will change everything.
Nintendo Press Release

Wii. Seriously. Initial thoughts are that it may be linked to wi-fi, or from the online animation that the i’s represent the new controllers. Actually that’s a lie. My first thoughts were that it’s a ridiculous name and the entire Nintendo marketing team has simultaneously contracted some form of insanity-inducing virus. It wouldn’t be the first time. Well, actually my very first thoughts were slightly childish. But are they really so off-target? Microsoft’s “360” moniker (and even the original Xbox name) was considered laughable when first announced but now seems utterly ordinary. We are now in the hottest news period in the gaming calendar with the run-up to E3, and with such a bizarre announcement every gaming site on the web is buzzing with Nintendo-focused news. Whether it pays off really depends on the console’s performance at the show itself.

My hair is finally long enough to fit gel in it again, so it seemed appropriate that I went out. This evening’s four-way birthday party at The Cow featured the birthday girls exhibiting bunny outfits, allegedly just so that the bar could keep track of their discounted tab. Allegedly. Livvy and Phoebe from the Ball Committee invited me. They packed out the basement bar pretty well, although mostly with first years whom I did not know terribly well aside from those who were on the Ball Committee and the lawyers. Meanwhile the Another Planet’s Hell crew were drinking upstairs, so I was flitting between the two crowds like a strangely eloquent moth.

And finally fair play to this guy. It makes me wonder what I should be getting for my site’s traffic…

UPDATE: After Adam alerted me to the fact the above website is indeed a hoax (I hesitate to label it a “scam” as it does not yet seem to be scamming anything), I did a little research and discovered the existence of a previous incarnation, that is no longer accessible. I expect these were intended to turn into some sort of adfarm once they generate suitable traffic, perhaps targeted at online gambling with the words “bet” and “win”. Not quite as inspired as The Million Dollar Homepage, but interesting nonetheless.

The Mighty Moshin’ Emo Rangers

I was at first non-plussed when Jehan pointed me in the direction of Emo Rangers on MySpace but the satire is spot on. If anything the result is simply too accurate with their episode mimicking the original Power Rangers series blow for blow (perhaps an unfortunate metaphor given that the original show was pulled by several networks for being too violent). By the end I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry at the fact that despite the attempt at satire, the result was still better than any of the recent (read: last decade’s) attempts to revitalise the tired Rangers franchise.

“Emo” still strikes me as one of the more inane genres that modern music has thrown up, or perhaps it is merely sad reflection upon the fact that the vast majority of music released today is utterly devoid of any emotion whatsoever. Not that the average emo band is much more sincere in their sound necessarily, but at least their attempt isn’t to sterilise music in typical bubble gum pop fashion. Or maybe I just crave more like Tool after hearing Vicarious’ impassioned message about how we thrive on violence in the media and yet shy from this ugly truth when faced with it in real life. It may be argued I am overdoing the not-so-subliminal buy 10,000 days messaging on the Tool front but I have no remorse.

For discusssion: Scrubs — revision aid or revision plague?

Happy 50th Birthday, Mum

Oops. Yesterday night’s post was accidentally labelled with today’s date which resulted in a slightly upset mother thinking I’d forgotten her birthday, especially since it’s a big one — err, I mean a special one. I’ve only had nineteen and a half of those fifty years, but I want to thank her for all of them. To show I’m suitably penitent for the mistake, today’s post is dedicated just to the birthday greeting she deserves and nothing else.

Happy Birthday Mum!

Revision Hajduk

In M staircase, exam term has a very different atmosphere from last term. Gone is the fear of the unknown, replaced by a more pervasive realisation that in terms of finding employment this year is very important. I haven’t clocked many library hours yet, prefering my own room despite the obvious distractions. I get on well with the people I live with so the kitchen always has a genial atmosphere whoever happens to be in there when I pop in to make those essential strong brews of revision tea. And then there are the dulcet tones of Chima’s enthusiastic Numa Numa rendition drifting through the ceiling from the room above. If that’s not a call for a revision break then, sir, I do not know what is.

It’s been in the works for a while and GameSpot UK has now officially been launched. Acknowledging the size of the gaming community in this sceptred isle, the new site will feature earlier reviews for European releases and focused news as well as finally delivering competitions we can enter. Apparently a deal with may also be in the works so if you’re a gamer, now may be a good time to get in on the action.

The bizarre Nintendo Revolution controller has garnered a lot of interests, both positive and extremely critical, resembling as it does a cross between a remote control and an iPod. The possibilities for its light-gun-style abilities are certainly appealing and this fan-made advert certainly whets the appetite as to how it might be used in conjunction with a certain franchise.

Bad Service, Good Times

The site suffered a little unexpected downtime last night so apologies if you were left adrift in an inconceivable deluge of boredom and thanks to Luke for pointing it out. However, it taught me an interesting truth about server support. Hosting the Ball site with NetPivotal we would have regular trouble with the database but problems were always sorted out very speedily after entering a support ticket. With ICDSoft I so rarely have any trouble that when it came to an event I couldn’t deal with myself, I couldn’t actually remember my support username in order to raise a query. The moral of this story seems to be that bad service makes fixing problems easier…

I have always recommended Copernic Desktop Search as leader of the pack in terms of desktop search programs which index the files on your computer in a similar manner to a search engine and can therefore provide virtually instantaneous results rather than the half hour trial, the endurance of which we came to expect as normal. It was one of the first to provide full support for Mozilla applications and great care has gone into crafting its interface. Although the latest “upgrade” only consisted of some useless IE toolbar changes, it also alerted me to the fact that a beta has been released for v2.0 of the product. A stable release, it features a more minimalist interface that allows for speedier navigation to the results you seek as well as the capability to suggest alternatives and correct search terms based on its index of your machine. Well worth the tiny download.

With the resurgence in remakes of classic horror films, it was perhaps inevitable that someone would stumble across a dusty videotape of The Omen and come up with the bright idea of reproducing it for modern audiences. However I was pleasantly surprised by the subtle eeriness of the teaser trailer as the camera pans around Damien sat on a creaky swing. The boy’s dead gaze is perfect. The recently released full trailer similarly creates the right moody ambience until towards the end. Guns with laser-sights and big explosions made me realise exactly why this sort of thing is a bad idea, even if it’s in the hands of a capable director who understands how to evoke the right mood through visual style.

Helping the Rockonomy

Continuing the theme of the last post, “Rockonomist” Alan Krueger recently announced that filesharers are the reason that the cost of tickets to live performances are increasing. He alleges that previously artists were willing to underwrite some of the cost in order to boost CD sales. Since people are not buying their CDs they can no longer do this. The argument conveniently fails to acknowledge the fact that artists receive a fractional amount of CD sales anyway, and the simple market economics of the situation is that the reason Madonna’s concert tickets now cost £170 each is that enough people are stupid willing enough to pay. And while the already rich mainstream artists may lose out, it seems that smaller bands are still profiting from the increased exposure granted by P2P networks.

Mike and SullyMy assertion that Monsters, Inc. remains the pinnacle of Pixar’s work so far annoys many fans, but having finally obtained the DVD I am more convinced than ever. It marked a huge leap forward in animation quality both from their previous work and their competitors Shrek and Ice Age, particularly evident in Sully’s realistic fur. And while it lacks the visual detail of Finding Nemo, Monsters more than makes up for it through unique storytelling. Its tale of a monster world powered by screams obtained through artificial doors into children’s closets is so bizarrely conconcted and yet utterly immersive with an exceptionally crafted cast of lead characters. Mike and Sully are the perfect duo for a children’s comedy, while Boo is just indescribably… cute. Its witty dialogue is matched by clever visually gags rather than mere slapstick, and with perfect length and pacing, it is a triumph from start to finish. While I do love their later work too, it will be hard to surpass my love for the Monsters who scare because they care.

And if you thought you were trying hard to develop a revision-avoidance procrastination reportoire with sufficient sophistry, prepare to be shamed by this Japanese video.

10,000 Days Later

Tool - 10,000 DaysTool‘s forthcoming album 10,000 Days leaked two days ago. Don’t ask me where to obtain it, I haven’t looked. I remain optimistic that despite the leak fans will still be flocking to buy the album on its release at the beginning of May, exactly 5 years after Lateralus. I myself have already pre-ordered a copy (music, unlike movies and videogames, can actually be a lot cheaper when preordered online, often becoming more expensive later if successful). When a band create sufficient goodwill coupled with a reputation for producing albums of a consistently high quality, people are more than happy to hand over their cash. I won’t pay for a CD that contains a few good songs amidst mediocre filler, but I trust Tool to deliver the high aural quality I expect. That’s rare given the current state of the music industry — the last album I was confident enough to preorder was A Perfect Circle‘s eMOTIVe. I guess there’s something about knowing Maynard James Keenan is involved in the process that just puts me at ease.

The official site has been updated with a teaser introduction featuring music from the opener and first single Vicarious. I am tempted to obtain the single to whet my appetite before the album’s release but am actually quite happy to avoid the low quality leaked MP3’s until I hold the CD in my hands in a little over a week. Interestingly, despite the band being American, the US release date is later than the rest of the world, a full day behind the UK release which is itself a few days after several European countries.

What Would Tyler Durden Do?

Rumors have swirled all week after Carmen’s birthday party last Saturday, when Navarro left alone at 2 AM while Carmen hung around until 4, but most claim problems began the day she realized they were both b-list lunatics, but she looks like Carmen Electra and he looks like a gay cartoon devil.

I’m not normally one for celebrity gossip, but when it’s presented in as caustic and amusing a style as WWTDD (that’s What Would Tyler Durden Do), even I see the draw. Updated with around 3 or 4 new stories a day, it’s a great site aside from some slightly suspect CSS. A nifty feature is that the sidebar on the right lists many of the celebrities regularly written about so you can click to see all the stories about your (least) favourite celebrity. Bursting the celebrity bubble with panache. Unsurprisingly, scientologist nutcase and part-time actor Tom Cruise features heavily.

Easy CompanyPhil H mailed out a photo from last week’s paintballing trip so you can see the gang all geared up. I opted for the photo sans headgear since otherwise we could be anyone. At this size detail in group photos is scant, but if you were there I imagine you can fill in the gaps for yourselves. I’m the one in the second row holding the severed head of an enemy combatant. Or possibly my mask. Who can truly know?

Moving back to Cambridge was relatively painless in itself but the requisite workload that accompanies it on arrival is somewhat less appealing. I was buoyed somewhat by the surprise package of a DVD copy of A Lot Like Love, courtesy of Empire magazine. Although overtly a typical romantic comedy involving a series of chance encounters, it succeeds due to the believable, quirky chemistry between its leads. This is particularly surprising given that one of them is the generally unimpressive Ashton Kutcher and the other is hit-and-miss Amanda Peet. I recall considering it unexpectedly decent when I saw it last year.

Happy Easter 2006

Just remember it ain’t all about the chocolate, guys. Have a great day!

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"Civilization now depends on self-deception. Perhaps it always has."

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