24 August 2009

Peter Jackson's cameos

A nicely-edited sampler of director Peter Jackson's cameos in his own movies and in Hot Fuzz (nasty Santa!)

22 August 2009

Sprinter and sprummer

'George Gershwin would turn in his grave, but if a Sydney botanist gets his way, Australians could find themselves humming "Sprummertime and the living is easy" come October.

Tim Entwisle, executive director of Sydney's Royal Botanic Gardens, wants the traditional four seasons to be abolished. Or rather, he wants to tinker with them and add two new seasons: sprummer and sprinter.

Dr Entwisle believes the model of four three-month seasons, which Australia inherited from Britain, is unsuited to the rhythms of a continent with vastly different weather patterns. If the seasonal calendar was adjusted, he says, people would become more attuned to their environment and better able to observe signs of climate change.

Although spring officially begins on 1 September, for instance, Australia's national flower, the wattle, always starts blooming in August, or even July. "Every year people say spring has come early, but in fact it happens every year," Dr Entwisle said yesterday.

He is advocating that spring be brought forward to August and last only two months, to be followed by a new pre-summer season, spanning October and November. Summer would start in December, as it does at present, but would last four months rather than three. There would be a short autumn in April and May, followed by a brief winter in June and July.

"Sprummer" is Dr Entwisle's light-hearted suggestion for the pre-summer season, while the early spring months, he proposes, could be "sprinter". A competition could be held to decide names, he says'

- Indepedent, 22 August 2009

16 August 2009

How to save rock 'n roll

GWYNEDD, WALES — Calling it the planet's last, best hope for saving rock music, the Guardians of the Protectorate of Rock announced Monday that they would take the extraordinary step of unleashing a never-before-heard Jimmy Page riff, hidden for decades in a mythic, impenetrable vault.

"We who believe in the immortality of rock took a vow 30 years ago that we would never release this incredibly powerful force unless we faced a Day of Reckoning—and that day has come," said Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi, one of the chosen few who helped forge the Secret Vault to Save Rock and Roll, at a press conference in the Welsh highlands. "Just look at the pop charts, and you shall know I speak the truth."

The Guardians said recent developments in the music world, such as the unaccountable popularity of the Dixie Chicks and Sufjan Stevens, have created a "perfect storm of lameness" from which rock might never recover. While Iommi refused to say when the vault would be opened, hard rock sources believe it will take place just prior to next month's Fall Out Boy–Honda Civic tour, which many fear will suck the remaining lifeblood from all that still rocks.

- The Onion, 5 March 2007

When zombies attack

'In a paper published in Infectious Disease Modelling Research Progress, a team of mathematicians from Carleton University and the University of Ottawa have created a series of mathematical models to explore the effects of a zombie outbreak and determine the best course for human survival. For the purpose of the paper, the team limited their models to the George Romero slow-moving zombies, and created separate models for zombie infections that cause the infected to resurrect immediately after contact with a zombie and for zombie infections with a 24-hour incubation period.

The paper examines three possible methods of dealing with a zombie outbreak: quarantine of the zombies, treatment of zombies so that they once again become human, and impulsive eradication of the zombies whenever possible. The models found that quarantine could work, but the end result would be either the eradication of all zombies or the eradication of all humans; if a cure for being a zombie were found, humans would coexist with zombies, but only in low numbers; but eradication, if properly coordinated, could wipe out the entire zombie population in a mere ten days'

When Zombies Attack!: Mathematical Modelling of an Outbreak of Zombie Infection

- via IO9.com & Gizmodo

14 August 2009

On the awfulness of Catwoman

On the 2004 movie adaptation of Catwoman:

There is school of thought that says, no good will ever come from a director who is represented by a single moniker: McG, Taz and, of course, Pitof, director of Catwoman. Arguably the most derided of all superhero adaptations, its faults are many. One of the most obvious being that it wildly deviates from its source material, managing to weave a plot that is by turns moronic, nonsensical and most astonishingly of all, took four whole writers to craft.

The one fantastical element on show is the crushingly poor acting of Halle Berry, who with all the CG in Hollywood is unable to look anything less than wooden. Her performance is so bad, that on release, one critic suggested she relinquish her Oscar as punishment.

With little else to offer, the film is heavily reliant on special effects. They come in two flavours, at best eye-strainingly awful, at worst a poorly animated shitstorm. A typical scene involves Catwoman leaping from roof to floor in a blur of CG accompanied by fitful editing and an ear popping R&B score. Upon landing Berry will say something uninspired, trite, and sometimes both: "Miaow" or perhaps "That's purrrrfect" (she is a CAT-WOMAN...do you get it?). In a flash, Berry will kick a goon in the throat, gyrate across the floor and scrabble up a wall in a CG flurry.


What grates the most, as with many films on this list, is how the makers have taken something good and turned it into a patronising, bland and soulless exercise which should have been left in the litter tray.

- Tom Fenwick, The 10 worst comic book adaptations of all time, Denofgeek.com

[Blog post number 1000! Hoopla!]

Motion pictures that suck beyond belief

'Yes, it is too long, but Funny People is nonetheless the most interesting big-budget film to come out of Hollywood this year, and it certainly deserves a wider audience. It will probably have to wait until it comes out in DVD to find that audience, when the public comes to its senses. As for the public, if it keeps turning out in droves on opening weekend for films such as GI Joe and Watchmen, it doesn't deserve to have any good films.

Obviously, one can go too far with this line of reasoning. There is a natural temptation among producers and directors of duds to console themselves with the following socratic line of reasoning:

A. The Wizard of Oz was a flop.

B. The Pink Panther 2 is a flop.

C. Some day, The Pink Panther 2 will be as beloved as The Wizard of Oz.

Alas, reality doesn't work that way. History tends to be very hard on motion pictures that suck beyond belief, which is certainly the case with The Pink Panther 2. History catches up with bad films, and repossesses their kudos, but it also catches up with good films and tries to atone for their earlier mistreatment'

- Joe Queenan, Guardian, 13 August 2009

13 August 2009

"I'd probably cry and go insane"

Teenagers have reportedly begun to suffer the condition known as 'nomophobia' - the fear of being without a mobile phone. The Timaru Herald interviewed some local girls and found the affliction is rampant in New Zealand:

Aleisha Kendrick won't sleep without her phone switched on, will check for new text messages every second, and ensures her phone is fully charged wherever she goes.

A while ago, Aleisha sent 12,000 texts in just one month. She has three phones, lots of friends, and a well-exercised thumb. She has swapped plans and changed numbers many times in order to keep texting.

"If I didn't have my phone I'd feel empty. It's my life, it's my baby. I'd feel out of the loop, like I'm missing out. I'd probably cry and go insane."

Her friends Georgia Comer and Andrea Prattley knew of other friends who had put their phones into condoms so they could text while in the shower.

Beth Comer once used a sealable plastic bag to protect her phone from water damage while showering and Andrea usually wrapped her phone in a facecloth so it wouldn't get wet while she was in the bath.

Bernice Rangirangi said her 20-minute shower was too long for her to be without her phone. What if she misses out on gossip? What if something happened and she wasn't the first to know?

Bless 'em.  Of course there are healthy doses of the usual teen hyperbole involved, but I can offer some useful advice to the frazzled teens: don't worry about your phones. You live in Timaru. How likely is it that something interesting is going to happen?

- Source: Timaru Herald, 14 August 2009

12 August 2009

Never touch a mouse inappropriately

A 60-year-old man has been convicted of groping a woman in a Minnie Mouse costume at Walt Disney World.

John William Moyer of Cressona, Pennsylvania, told the judge he is innocent.

His son said before sentencing that his father would never inappropriately touch a woman, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

He was convicted on Tuesday of misdemeanour battery and sentenced to write the victim an apology, serve 180 days probation and complete 50 hours of community service.

Moyer must also pay US$1,000 (NZ$1505) in court costs and possibly undergo a mental evaluation.

The victim says she had to do everything possible to keep Moyer's hands off her breasts.

- AP, via Stuff.co.nz, 12 August 2009