28 January 2007

A very sensible bear

A New Jersey family noticed a black bear in their back garden, perched way up in a tree. It turns out the implacable family cat had scared it up there. 'He doesn't want anybody in his yard', said tabby Jack's owner. See link for excellent pic.

- BBC News, 10 June 2006

Monkey Diving!

Oh it's been years and years since this completely took over my old workplace - - and it's still fearsomely addictive gameplay. Coax the monkeys to dive into the rolling surf, but make sure they hit the waves and not the evil rocks... and of course it gets harder and harder as you progress.

Monkey Cliff Dive

Going grey?

Oh dear. Hair dye for... um... down there. (Site safe for work)

Bettybeauty Inc.

[Courtesy of HolyMoly]

Kanye's penchant for stark minimalism

Pictures of rapper Kanye West's just-about-completed NYC apartment reveal a taste for minimalism with the volume knob turned up to eleven. Either that, or this is a ward in a psychiatric hospital that's been photographed by mistake. And only one bedroom, Kanye? Surely you could afford a guest room for when your mum comes to visit?

Kanye West's apartment

[Courtesy of HolyMoly]

27 January 2007

Misty's map of Hanwell

This excellent artiste has drawn her own idiosyncratic map of her neighbourhood, Hanwell in London. My favourite touches are the stray volcano on Church Road, and the Viking ship on the River Brent. Arty types, you should do one of these for your borough! Let me know if you do...

- Misty69's map of Hanwell

Tickle Me Emo

Or, how to get yourself beaten up at the Big Day Out: tickle an emo kid.

Games to Play at the BDO #37: Tickle Me Emo

26 January 2007

Want a cheap facelift?

This chap has an inexpensive option for you: he mangles his face with rubber bands. Link includes picture. Obviously.

- The Press, 26 January 2007

25 January 2007

Kiss of death

'Flintoff's underneath it ... he's a good, safe pair of hands ...er ... a good, safe pair of hands when he gets to it'

- Commentator Michael Atherton, as Andrew Flintoff executes a massive bellyflop and drops an easy catch against NZ at Adelaide, 23 January 2007

24 January 2007

You can run but you can't hide

'A quiet revolution has occurred since Saddam's overthrow. You didn't have broadband under the Baath party. You do now. Millions of Iraqis own mobiles. Despite the violence, the phone companies have gradually expanded coverage - although their security budgets are astronomical. Even in places like Falluja, you get good reception.

A surreal moment comes to mind, when I was there with a US patrol. My UK mobile rang. It was my credit card company, wanting to check a purchase. As I was talking, the patrol came under fire.

"I'm a bit busy now, I'll call you back," I shouted as I ducked behind a humvee'

- Andrew North, Baghdad diary, BBC, 23 January 2007

Bullshit generator

Those of us who write for a living all secretly hanker after such a marvellous tool as this... to assist us to 'harness impactful deliverables' while at the same time 'benchmarking robust functionalities'. Particularly helpful for tech writers.

Bullshit generator

21 January 2007

Reeling in Rocky

'We get the usual "training" montage showing this Saga-vintage Michelin Man running, lifting heavy weights and roaring motivationally at himself. The famous Stallone face now looks more asymmetrical than ever; it's as if a gallon of Botox has been injected into one side of his head, and his lower lip is so skewed that its right corner is now directly under his right earlobe. The unfortunate effect is that of an invisible angel of death hooking Rocky's mouth with a fishing line and implacably reeling him in'

- Peter Bradshaw reviews 'Rocky Balboa', Guardian, 19 January 2007

[Other reviews are reasonably positive - so, not a stinker]

20 January 2007

Burger contraption

Can you fine-tune the insanely-complicated burger-making apparatus to produce a decent meal? An entertaining brain-teaser to spend 5 or 10 minutes on.


[Courtesy of B3ta. Requires plugins]

18 January 2007

The perils of parking in Sydney

This is why you shouldn't let your sister mind your Maserati when you're overseas...

- NZ Herald, 18 January 2007

[Here's a picture of a Maserati, if you're interested]

The claws are out in the provinces

Apparently Pukekura Park in New Plymouth and The Square in Palmerston North are in an Internet competition to be named as a property in the New Zealand version of the Monopoly board game. And it's getting messy:

[C]alling The Square "a flat, largely featureless plot of land in one of the country's least remarkable cities" has ruffled a few feathers and upped the ante. True, Palmerston North's Square has a great toilet block and an austere Soviet-style clocktower but Taranaki voters have a vibrant contrast in Pukekura Park and its Festival of Lights.

Handbags at dawn, then!

- Source: Taranaki Daily News, 18 January 2007

Fruit & veg with personality

Pictures by a New York artist who seeks to bring out the inner personalities of fruit and vegetables. The shouting orange and the "what-chu-talkin'-bout-Willis" tomato are the highlights.

Saxton Freymann Gallery

[Courtesy of Che via Spare Room]

16 January 2007

Historical sounds

A good survey of mainly 20th century audio clips from (mainly but not exclusively American) political leaders and other major figures of the day. Nice to hear the voices of PT Barnum and William Jennings Bryan from way back. Spiro Agnew didn't like them hippies, did he?

The Free Information Society - Historical Sounds in MP3 Format

Fishing from your hotel window

Take a look at the 25m aquarium in the lobby of the Radisson SAS Hotel in Berlin... Very impressive, as long as you don't have to clean it.

AquaDom, the world's largest cylindrical aquarium

12 January 2007

Tower defence game

This nifty little home-made game is a good way to spend 5 or 10 minutes blowing things up mercilessly. Place your towers along the maze route to ensure the invading beasties get blown to smithereens before they raid your treasury. Gets progressively harder, naturally.

Flash Element TD | Novel Concepts

[Courtesy of B3ta]

Maybe the cat had really good handwriting

'The Bank of Queensland has apologised after issuing a credit card to a pet cat in Melbourne. The ABC reports South Morang resident Katherine Campbell obtained a card for her cat "Messiah", which was attached to the woman's existing account. It has been reported she was testing the bank's identity screening.

The Bank of Queensland says people who apply for credit cards must sign to confirm the information they have provided is true and not misleading'

- Newsroom.co.nz, 4 January 2007

11 January 2007

The steely glare of the marmot

Gossip newsletter Popbitch claims that a marmot's favourite pastime is staring. While this clip does illustrate the intent with which one marmot devotes itself to the art of staring, I wouldn't necessarily infer that the same applies to all other marmots. Maybe it's just this one. He does look quite serious about the whole staring thing though.

- Staring Marmot (video)

Bejewelled 2

If you've got a spare 10 minutes and fancy a simple but fun game, try Bejewelled on Popcap. Addictive Tetris-like fun, with colourful graphics and satisfying gameplay. The gems explode nicely when you line up a good chain-reaction combo.

Bejewelled 2

[Click 'Play Express' - it'll open in a separate window. The 'Action' one is the most fun, says I - can get quite tense near the end. Requires the usual plugins]

Country music, y'all

'I don't like country music, but I don't mean to denigrate those who do. And for the people who like country music, denigrate means "put down"'

- Bob Newhart, quoted in The Economist, 23 December 2006

What's wrong with this picture?

'In August, when Tom Cruise’s production deal with Paramount Pictures, Viacom’s film division, ended, Sumner Redstone, the chairman of Viacom, mentioned Cruise’s controversial public behavior, which, he said, hurt the box-office for Paramount’s summer release of the third “Mission: Impossible” movie. What Redstone didn’t say, as Edward Jay Epstein reported in the Financial Times, was that Cruise had a deal with Paramount which gave him an enormous share of the DVD revenue on the movie. “M:i:III” cost a hundred and fifty million dollars to make, and its worldwide theatrical gross was almost four hundred million. But Paramount realized that after the theatres took their cut, and the production, promotion, and overhead costs were deducted from what was left, it wasn’t going to make much money—maybe none—while Cruise would walk away with seventy million dollars'

- David Denby, 'Big Pictures', The New Yorker, 8 January 2007

[...and as has already been pointed out, MI-3 and Cruise weren't particularly good to begin with...]

09 January 2007

Stealing groupies from The Wiggles

Every media source in New Zealand has been reporting on the two Christchurch lads, Max Tetley and Alex Philpott, who Jack Black of Tenacious D spotted busking in Cathedral Square. Their two-piece band is called Black Tear. Black gave them a tip and then arranged for them to open for his band tonight, in front of 2000 rock fans. Let's hope their amps go up to 11...

- The Press, 9 January 2007

Most returned albums

Top ten most returned albums at the Music & Video Exchange, Berwick Street, Soho in London:

1 Outkast - Speakerboxxx / The Love Below
2 The Darkness - One Way Ticket To Hell... And Back
3 Matt Costa - Songs We Sing
4 R.E.M. - Up
5 The Verve - Urban Hymns
6 Manic Street Preachers - This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours
7 Breaks Co-op - The Sound Inside
8 Kula Shaker - K
9 Morning Runner - Wilderness Is Paradise Now
10 Richard Ashcroft - Keys To The World

- Q Magazine, December 2006

[I still really like Kula Shaker! All together now: "Acinta bheda bheda tattva..."]

Nothing like a war to encourage a bit of opportunism

'Trooper Frank Charge, departing from Worcester, wrote to his father, "Mothers kissed sons, sisters kissed brothers, lovers kissed sweethearts - and, on the spur of the moment, someone else's sweetheart too"'

- Letter dated 16 April 1900, quoted in S.M. Miller, 'In Support of the Imperial Mission? Volunteering for the South African War, 1899-1902', Journal of Military History, July 2005

Why modern reporters are so lazy

'Does anyone here remember Graeme Burton? The same one that was involved in the recent manhunt. Would have been at Naenae College around mid-late eighties. Please call me in confidence on 027 [...] Simon Bradwell, One News'

- Oldfriends.co.nz, 8 January 2007

[Courtesy of Al. He doesn't even offer to foot the cost of the cellphone call. Now that's modern journalism...]

Underlining the benefits of spring cleaning

Liechtenstein, a minuscule principality and perennial Trivial Pursuits question topic in Central Europe, has completed an audit of its territory using modern technology and discovered that it's actually 0.5km2 bigger than everyone thought. Which doesn't sound like much, but when your country is only 160km2 in size, it's worth looking down the back of the sofa for bits you've forgotten.

- Source: BBC News, 28 December 2006

Have they considered charging admission to your funeral?

Well-known American evangelist Rev Billy Graham is having a spot of bother with his sons: they're arguing about how to bury their parents. But their parents aren't dead yet. One son wants to disregard his parents' wishes and bury them in the equivalent of a Billy Graham theme park.

'When visitors enter the barn — designed with help from consultants who worked for the Walt Disney corporation — they will be greeted by a talking mechanical cow and rooms full of multimedia exhibits. They will eventually be led into a garden where, under Franklin’s plans, his father and mother, Ruth, will be buried'


- The Times, 14 December 2006

07 January 2007

Got them screaming southerlies blues

'A few days ago, my husband, an Englishman whom I lured to Wellington with false promises of a sun-soaked Pacific paradise, finally lost it.  
"This summer is an OUTRAGE!", he ranted, as he pulled on his second fleece.  "Why have we come to this godforsaken place?  We must leave now!  We must pack up our things and go!".
He has jungle fever; he has gone troppo.  It is too much for him.  And it is too much for me.
There is only one solution.  If farmers can be offered recompense for flood damage, Wellingtonians should be given compensation for being deprived of the one season that makes it possible for us to tolerate staying here for the rest of the year.
I hereby promise my vote in the next general election to the first party that agrees to fund a fortnight in Fiji for anyone unlucky enough to live in Wellington'
- Linley Boniface bemoans the pitiless un-summer, Dominion Post, 8 January 2007  

06 January 2007

What, no lipo for Fido?

News: 'The world's first weight-loss drug for dogs has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)... However, the prescription drug can also produce side effects, including loose stools, diarrhoea, vomiting, lethargy and loss of appetite'

Much easier than actually taking the dog for a walk everyday, right?

- BBC News, 5 January 2007

05 January 2007

How they dispose of old computers in Kentucky

They shoot 'em, and they blow 'em up... real good.

- Computer Trap Shoot (Video)

[Courtesy of B3ta]

'The sexy nude scientist of the stimulating underground'

Of whom do I speak? Well ladies and gentlemen, the title refers to that thoroughly talented chap, Cameron Casanova... oops, I should've said 'drum roll' before that. He's a Greek/German DJ now living in London, and his website biography is an entertaining read of sub-Borat stylings and out-there vanity. Some quotes:

- 'Soon he will release on major label UK his debut album Cameleon Woman. A collection of sexy and catchy pop bombs...'

- 'Experts are spreading rumors of incredible stimulating nights with him at the clubs around the world. They call him "sexy nude scientist of the stimulating underground", cause of his topless performances and his ultra-genious pleasure toping sets'

- 'Insiders are spreading rumors of a big thing coming, maybe the highlight of U.K´s music business for this winter. He is also ready to float the dance-music scene to the insanity starting his badly sensitively DJ-performances right from the heart of London'

- 'I had a lot of girls. I cheeted them all...'

Cameron Casanova

[Courtesy of Holymoly. Of course it could all be a tongue-in-cheek bad English spoof to gain publicity!]

04 January 2007

How (not?) to dance New Wave

Well, in the mind of the choreographer of this 1982 Australian movie, 'Starstruck', at least. A lot of jerky pelvic thrusting and lycra static going on there. Featured act is the excellent Swingers, with good old Phil Judd (ex-Split Enz) up front.

YouTube - Starstruck Swingers

[Starstruck's director, Gillian Armstrong, went on to direct Charlotte Gray nearly 20 years later]

03 January 2007

'Thank God, we've got rid of them at last'

In December Belgian TV broadcast a news programme stating that 'Flanders had unilaterally declared independence from Wallonia and King Albert II had fled to Africa. The country had ceased to exist'. Only it was a spoof, you see.

Other than the usual 1938 'War of the Worlds' spoof broadcast repercussions, the problem is, it seems to have touched a nerve...

'Flemish independence, until now a marginal notion claimed by extremists, is no longer taboo. The response of many Flemings was revelatory. "Thank God, we've got rid of them at last," was the reaction of a Brussels woman before, disappointed, she learned that the break with the Walloons was only fictitious'

- NZ Herald, 4 January 2007

Reflected Ordnance and the Dialectic Housemaids?

MP3-blogger Vinyl Mine has been musing about the wisdom of using spam email titles as band names, and I think (s)he's onto something:

'Hey kids, need a new band name and artist name for your black sex metal electronic band? How about Whorehaus Mutilatio starring Sarah Slaughter on guitar, Mr. Minor on bass/keyboards and Hari Karen on drums with special guest vocals by Bao Candelaria (moaning and groaning)?'

Two cheers for summer...

'The National Climate Summary shows December temperatures were well below normal in all five main centres. Wellington had its coldest December in more than 70 years, despite getting the most sun of the five main centres'

- Radio NZ, 4 January 2007

02 January 2007

Talk about suffering for your art

'The Royal Academy Art School ... is home to two remarkable anatomical artefacts, which, although not on public display, you might nevertheless be interested to know about. Both are plaster casts of men executed at Tyburn, flayed (skinned) and put into poses while still warm, until rigor mortis set in. One, a smuggler, was set in the pose of a famous classical statue, the Dying Gladiator, and the cast is known as Smugglerius. The other, in order to assist devotional artists, was crucified'

- Dr Ruth Richardson, 'Anatomical London', in 'London Walks vol. 1: 30 Walks by London Writers', 2005