Internet Internet Magazine reports something to be filed in the 'he must have known' bin of possible copyright infringement. Michael Robertson (who began launches a dual operating system which will run Microsoft and Linux applications. That's fine. Great idea. Well done. But did you have to call it LINDOWS? Isn't Winux just as good? (apart from sounding like a small island in the Pacific Ocean)

Christmas I wanna fly! NOW! NOW! NOW!

Travel Split magazine presents an extreme guide to world travel, a sort of Sunscreen song for the holiday maker: "Airline Passengers who accept flight attendants' requests to close their window shades during daytime flights to make better movie-viewing conditions are unfeeling pismires and as such should be squashed. Travel Writers are Satan's minions. Let there be a section on airplanes reserved for the following who insist on travelling: people with (bad) colds, people with (seriously) undisciplined infants, people (of all ages) who wear caps, people who read John Grisham novels (paperback or hardcover) and dare to do it in public."
Travels with Matsui Landler / Jodel / Alphorn im Stadthkeller Luzern
What? It's a CD of music from the Swiss alps I bought at a flea market one Sunday when I was in an ironic mood.
First impressions? That I'd entered a particularly wierd episode of Northern Exposure. This is the kind of music they play under video of dogs doing tricks on ITV funny pet shows.
Touched? Comforted. The troubles of the world drift away as someone yodels about things which don't matter, but somehow feeling like the most important thing ever. 'En Polka fur Dich' in particular reminds me of a fairground I went to when I was a child, all bright lights and happy people.
Lasting impressions? Only what I've said all along. That we British are a grumpy lot and don't seem to be having half as much fun as they are on the continent.
Keep, dump or sell? Keep. I'm playing at the moment and I suddenly feel fresh and in the mood for a swing. Anyone for a dance?
Adaptation Bloomsbury Magazine's round-up of book to film adaptations seems strangely familiar. But this is a jauntier, funnier piece than mine, more anecdotal less analytical: "Less successful, perhaps, was Tim Burton‘s ‘re-imagining’ — you can’t say remake or you get sued — of Pierre Boulle’s novel Planet of the Apes. Scripted by William Broyles, who also wrote Cast Away, it was a departure from the somewhat camp classic of the Charlton Heston film, but still managed to keep a wary distance from Boulle’s book. The basic elements were still there, but it lacked the social commentary which is inherent in the tale, preferring to concentrate on what is little more than a two-hour chase sequence and making the audience wonder whether Marky Mark is ever going to get busy with a damn dirty ape."
Claus The traditional image of Santa was created by The Coca-cola Company. False, according to the Urban Legens Reference Guide. It seems the soft drinks giant merely popularised the image. It's been around for nearly a century and a half. Sadly, the ubiquitousness of the red jacket and its connection with Coke still makes Santa a walking free product placement no other company could afford ....
Quiz Usually I would link to one of the wonderful Fuali quizzes here -- but sadly that is not to be as Fuali has taken a break from his hobby for a while, after becoming a victim of his own popularity...
Film This isn't the sort of interview you'd find in the pages of Empire Magazine. Raveena Tandon, the Bollywood actress is grilled by G magazine about her career and her private life. No publicist hovering about here you suspect telling the journalist what questions to ask. Could you imagine Sandra Bullock giving this response to a question about being romantically linked to a composer? "Sandeep Chowta is not even a friend. I met him during Shool while recording a song and haven’t seen him since. Chalo (the interviewer), if they link me with friends like John Abraham or Jad (Ajay Jadeja) I would still understand. They are my buddies. But Sandeep Chowta! Oh Lord, what next. Let people write or say what they want. The day I am seeing someone, I will stand up and say so. I am old enough to fall in love now. Right!?" OK ... OK ...
Blog! anything but sanity's Caro has been presenting the sanest example of being in love I've seen over the past few days counting down until the arrival of her 'toyboy'. His name is Evan and he's from Australia (although I suspect this isn't the character from The Secret Life of Us we're talking about). The piece which made me wilt: "Being with him and having him here is normal and odd at the same time. I find myself staring at him in disbelief that this beautiful man has flown halfway round the world to see me. I keep touching him at all times, to be assured that he is there. And yes, the bed has been deflowered." Christmas is about togetherness everyone ...
Photography Jerry N. Uelsmann offers snapshots through a Dali-filter, experimenting within the dark room, super-emposing negatives together to creating sometimes haunting, sometimes halting images. Even more extra-ordinary when it's revealed in the interview that none of these sights have been anywhere near Photoshop. Seeing the introductory photograph of this interactive flash-site you really will believe a man can fly.
Christmas Just a quick note to thank everyone who's been 'feeling listless' over the past few months. I've stood toe to toe with some of you on line and it's been lovely experience. Thanks also to the silent majority who pass through here every day, either via other websites, Blogsnob, the webrings, my Mefi profile or bizarre Google searches. I hope you found what you were looking for and if you didn't at least saw something interesting or rewarding. I'll be taking a Christmas break so let me take this opportunity so wish everyone who celebrates a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and to everyone else all the best. At times like this it's good to keep your loved ones close to your heart. To paraphrase a single from the past decade, "You'll miss them when they're gone..."
Film Speaking of films which no one has seen, Film Threat have their own list for this year. My eye reaches immediately for The Turkish Star Wars, and the notorious The Barber of Siberia (which I do want to see -- I love long ponderous epics). Oh and the fantastic sounding Jesus and Hutch -- hey Messiah, my maaan ....
People I once thought I could be a model. It's true. Although at most I have 'quirky' on my side and you'll more likely see me gracing the cover of Fortean Times. I suppose the work involved terrifies me, as does the prospect of a casting agent like Barbara Pfister pouring over my photo casting judgement. Although her methods set her apart: "Scanning Barbara's legendary Polaroid board, something interesting occurs to me. There is something about these street faces, found skateboarding in parks, chilling in record stores, rocking out in East Village dives that make them more dynamic than some of the agency models in question. They look at the camera with a pure and unguarded directness ... "I think sometimes the photographers just want to find a new face that inspires them and differentiates their work from everybody else. If every photographer is shooting that one hot model in the same hot outfit as everybody else it brings a kind of sameness to the picture. By bringing in someone who is unusual and real it keeps things exciting for everybody" Perhaps there is hope... [From]
Society When you put that ten pence in the collection box at your local Tesco the other day, did you know where your money went to -- if you knew exactly which cause it was helping it might have been used more wisely. As Virginia Pelley of ClickClick describes: "Sometimes people who ask for donations do represent charitable organizations, but the money collected often goes toward fundraising or to helping run the charity, not to homeless puppies or endangered rainforests, for example. Although it's legal and necessary to raise funds to offset those costs, volunteers won't always be upfront about where the money's going, assuming that they even know."
Christmas Every year since 1995, just before christmas I've sat with a cup of tea and a biscuit and watch 'In The Bleak Midwinter', the Kenneth Branagh film about a group of actors putting on a production of Hamlet in an old church at Christmas time. It's a small film, made in black and white and featuring many of his friends (some of whom would turn up in the four hour Hamlet). But it's passionate, filled with lovely dialogue, affectionate performances, and actually makes you feel good about Christmas. Like all good films it's changed with me over time. Few people saw the film on its original release -- the press unkindly described it as an ego piece for Ken (although they think that about everything he does, so what's new?) and though word of mouth was good it wasn't showing anywhere. A few people saw it on video (including a girl in a video shop I frequent -- she was asking the shop keeper for something else funny to watch (having just brought back the seventh Police Academy film and UFO, the Roy Chubby Brown film) so I pulled this off the shelves -- I know it was entirely the kind of film she'd hate, but I couldn't help myself). I had hoped that more would have seen it on TV, but sadly Channel 4's policy of not showing b/w films in prime time (unless they're by Scorsese) meant that it appeared it 2:30 in the morning the other night to a miniscule audience. I can heartily recommend you go and pick up a copy. Oh and if you're in America, its retitled in your country as 'A Midwinter's Tale' for some unaccountable reason (which is oddly enough the title the Channel 4 showing the other night. Odd, most odd).

Blog! Some weblogs forego long lists of links and complicated front pages (ahem) and just offer the content in a pure, yet exceedingly focused form. The inaccurately titled inessential is filled with moments of genuine inspiration: "Brent’s Law of Feline Behavior: The only way to stop a cat from crying at a window is to open the window; the moment you do that, he’ll go cry somewhere else." In the spirit of this post I present some films I haven't seen and don't intend to (this is going to be difficult, because regular readers to this blog will know, I'll watch any old hacked off garbage):
Sister Act 2: Back In The Habit
Raging Bull
Pokemon: The First Movie
The Next Best Thing
Science Why should technology only be designed to cater for the needs of young people? Surely people over age of fifty sometimes need help with their day-to-day lives as well? It can't be easy for a pensioner in a supermarket doing their weekly shop to ask some teenage clerk to help them around. Wouldn't give them confidence and self-respect if they had the ability to do it themselves with a little bit technology which extends their physical reach. The AgeLab at MIT is designing just such machines, as Metropolis relates. "Joseph Coughlin sees it as a laboratory where he and his collaborators help divine a new lifestyle for the world's increasingly aging--but resiliently active--population. It's an impetus that Coughlin says is sorely needed if our society is to overcome its own denial--and in some cases revulsion--about growing old." My favourite is the Pencell, which can turn the handwritten word into speech.
Travels with Matsui Q Best of 2001
What? Every year, Q, the music magazine have a covermount which is supposed to collect together the best music from a particular year -- a sort of anti-NOW album. This year it's been backed up by a large fly-poster marketing campaign.
First impressions The cover is great, a riff of 'The Sims' game featuring prominant music stars and other miscreants (The Hamiltons, Jamie Oliver, Bin Laden). The album begins with a statement, The Strokes 'The Modern Age' -- its big, its loud and it woke me up at 8:50 this morning.
Moved? Oh there is a lot of stirring music on here. The disappointing factor is a lack of familiarity. In the past these CDs have literally included many of the best singles from the stars involved. In the world of this CD, REM are represented by an album track which isn't 'Imitations of Life'. And wither 'Clint Eastwood' from the Gorillaz? But the biggest omission is feminity. The actual magazine makes much sport of women in pop music with interviews with musicians as diverse as Gwen Steffani, Kate Bush and Goldfrappe. Nothing on this this disc. The only woman involved is the guitarist from Ash. The only female voice we hear is a computerised repost at the end of Air's 'How Does It Make You Feel?' It's almost as though this silly rock music isn't something girls would do. Q, what were you thinking?
Lasting impressions? The afformentioned Air track in which a whispering version of Stephen Hawking's computerised voice attempts to come to terms with reality. Worth playing over and over.
Keep, sell or dump? Worth keeping for the Air track. Under normal circumstances, sell....
Obituary Stuart Adamson is dead.
Mefi Fifty-two things they do better in America, to which I'd also like to add community weblogs, road movies and cheesy christmas singles [from The Guardian]. Posted this to Mefi an hour ago and already twenty-two comments...doesn't time fly?
Politics Speaking of presidents, Bill Clinton's Dimbleby Lecture went out last night. Despite his head cold, he was articulate and passionate on a whole range of subjects, and despite the images he will forever conjure at the back of your mind, there will always be the What-Ifs of how he might have handled the past few months. The implication is that he would have gone into Afganistan as well: "First we have to win the fight we're in, in Afghanistan and against these terrorist networks that threaten us today. Second, we in the wealthy countries have to spread the benefits of the 21st century world and reduce the risks so we can make more partners and fewer terrorists in the future. Third, the poor countries themselves must make some internal changes so that progress for their own people becomes more possible. And finally, all of us will have to develop a truly global consciousness about what our responsibilities to each other are and what our relationships are to be. Let me take each of these issues quickly in turn."
Aids This article in The Economist has floored me. Why would a court order be required for vital medicine be given to people who need it, especially in a supposedly progressive country like South Africa. But as always, it's down to one man, and yet again, it's a president: "The government’s baffling reluctance to offer people this cheap and simple life-saver is usually blamed on one man: Thabo Mbeki, the president of South Africa. After surfing some of the odder corners of the Internet and chatting with a few maverick American scientists, Mr Mbeki, who has no medical training, concluded that HIV does not necessarily cause AIDS. He also seems to have decided that the anti-retroviral drugs that keep HIV-positive people in rich countries alive indefinitely are useless packets of poison."
TV The final episode of Blackadder Goes Forth is regularly trotted out as one of the greatest moments in TV history. You remember, almost the whole cast clambering out from the trenches into no man's land only to be shot down by enemy fire. But was it actually all that good? Off The Telly lifts the lid: "Call me mealy mouthed, but the actual realisation of the trenches, and in particular, the battlefield at the end of the final episode is atrocious. If you want to explore the true horror of the First World War (in lieu of providing 30 minutes of decent comedy) then it would seem only reasonable that you make a real fist of it, and actually show it for all its worth. Perhaps I have been spoiled by the stunning realisation of the same conditions in such dramas as The Monocled Mutineer, and should not demand equivalent production values from a sitcom, but then I come to expect it due to the seriousness of the point that Curtis and Elton are trying to make."
Christmas On saturday Mum and I went to town. We we got there we went to the games shop (computer), were my mum said I could have any game I wanted (within reason). We walked out with computer games Hits 10. I said "I'll have it for Christmas." We then went to Blacklers, to get my mum and Dad's presents. I got my dad an apple courer and my mum an orange pealer. On sunday we wnt to Albert dock. We went to a craft fare, were I got yet more presents. They are:- mum=framed picture, Dad=postcard and my auntie= a card. I also got a velvet coulering board.

[Yes, it's another installment in my life as an eleven year old. As you can see I had my priorities straight already. I imagine my parents bought each other lots of presents otherwise this looks really bad. Although not as bad as a few years later when I bought my Dad a bar of soap in the shape of an audio cassette. What sorry, yes that was it. In the year they bought me a Video Recorder -- I've been making up for that one ever since. This was in the days when you really did get computer games compilations. Don't get too excited -- it was for an Acorn Electron. As for the Albert Dock, it had just re-opened then, after years of dereliction, as a shopping arcade and at the time was the place to go for Christmassy things. Then the shops which moved in realised they couldn't afford the rent, and promptly moved out again. If the Tate Gallery and Maritime Museum weren't there I'm not anything else would be. Trying to work out what the Albert Dock is? It's where Richard and Judy sat for much of their career. And yes, Fred's Weather Map is still there...]
Blog! Sometimes you just link things because of the title -- presenting Aaron Humphrey's The Den of Ubiquity. He must write his weblog in his sleep -- or have his brain strapped to some device which trips his words out whilst he's doing other things. How he finds the time I really don't know. But it isn't just the quantity -- it's the quality of the writing, which captures the detail of all our human failings. Example: "Gee, a coughing fit that felt like it went right down into my larynx and came back up. Any more of that and I'll be puking. Hope that cough syrup kicks in soon. Why do I always have a cough that lasts for weeks after the rest of the cold has gone away? Did I hang around my brother and his smoking friends too much many years ago and wear away those little protective hair things in my lungs? (Technical term escapes me.) Is it because our house is pretty much a mess, and no doubt rife with bacteria? (I'm just around the corner from the cat's litterbox right now.) Or does this happen for everyone? Somehow I suspect it doesn't. Not looking for specific medical advice here, just whinging. Pay no mind."
Fashion First came extreme sports -- now extreme business. Barry Evans gave up the western life, moved to Mongolia and began a printing firm (quick pause here for you to marvel at the audacity of that). The article doesn't go into much detail as to what Evans left behind. The reason for going was simple -- he wanted to corner a market: "At that time there was no local supplier of decorated promotional garments and customers were being forced to source the goods in China, Hong Kong and Thailand. With no previous screen printing experience to his name, Barrie shipped in a 4-colour carousel, drying unit and assortment of screen inks from the UK and immersed himself in Scott Fresener’s training manuals and videos, How To Print T-Shirts For Fun And Profit."
Christmas About two months ago, my mother wondered if it might be worth buying an artificial christmas tree. I think my silence said everying. One of the highlights of every christmas is buying the tree. We go to the same flower shop to buy the spruce, and each year they never let us down. If ever someone had engendered customer loyalty. Even though we only ever see this shop once a year, the seller remembers us, remembers the type of tree we like and magically it only ever takes moments before he gives us the perfect one. More often than not, the truck has just arrived and he takes us directly there, selecting a many branched affair from the back, snow still flying off from the mountain were it was standing just that morning. Is £25 good value? The fun part, the bit I love, is getting it home.

We don't drive, so the only thing for it is to carry the tree shoulder to shoulder through the suburbs of Liverpool. The reactions are always the same. People stop on the other side of the road to watch. Drivers passing by sometimes honk their horns. Others just look at us as if they've never seen a Christmas tree before. This year we went the scenic route through the park, so we had to dodge the joggers and people playing football (yes, even in this weather).

So now, there it sits in the living room. I wasn't feeling too christmassy before. I do now.