What Video Game Character Are You? I am Mario.

I like to jump around, and would lead a fairly serene and aimless existence if it weren't for my friends always getting into trouble. I love to help out, even when it puts me at risk. I seem to make friends with people who just can't stay out of trouble.
Sitting still with Matsui Currently listening to the wonderfully titled 'The more I think of you, the more I love my dog' -- think early Aqua doing Jazz.
Feminism Country Corrs, The Dixie Chicks have taken a strike for woman kind with a fascinating plan to handle the bathroom needs of the mainly female crowds at their concerts, reported by The Smoking Gun. It's about time someone realised that we men can pee anywhere and don't have to sit on something. I'm suddenly reminded of all those stories from Live Aid of punters filling up lemonade bottles -- if only those six pint milk plastic bottles you can get in Tesco with the wide spout had been available back then...
Literature Bloomsbury magazine wonders if the British magazine market is missing our own version of 'The New Yorker'. It's an interesting piece which delves into the history of that magazine (it began life as 'The Onion' of it's day) before wondering why something at least with similar intentions: "It is hard to summarise, but there is a number of salient elements that can be easily identified. The magazine is squarely written for the educated, urban middle-classes, or at least for people who aspire to this condition. The magazine's suburban readers want to live in Manhattan or Paris rather than the country; and its rural readers aspire to a first home on the Upper East Side or Notting Hill. Its readers are not nerdy. They are not obsessives in the way that readers of the New York Review of Books or Film Comment are obsessives. They are informed, fashionable, socially dynamic members of society — the ones you meet at parties with the particularly dry sense of humour, and the enviably healthy attitude to work, children and culture. They are, like their magazine of choice, information and culture democrats — eagerly enthusiastic to learn more about the world, but by no means fanatical specialists." Is it me, or does this feel like a description of a modern Guardian reader? In fact most of the elements listed in the article are ever present in that paper's G2 and other tabloid supplements. Note for future debate: Are newspapers just daily magazines on cheaper paper? Do articles have to have big colour photos to be relevant?
Music Wither Hear'say? Would it be possible for a group created so publically to survive any longer than this one year, their future seemingly unplanned, the only point of focus in the future an optimistic stadium tour? Are we surprised that Kym (with that 'y') would be the first to go, with her family commitments and soap star boyfriend. Are we surprised that in these few brief moments before the break up, we now feel so distant from them?
Film I've written at some length before about DVD commentary tracks and how disappointing some can be (Rob Reiner on 'When Harry Met Sally' where he spends much of the time just enjoying the film, talking over the good bits). I've always thought that there isn't an excuse for a film not to have one -- why does the director have to talk about the film -- after all most credit sequences feature over a hundred and fifty people -- surely one of them has something to say. Roger Ebert feels the same way, although he takes the arguement a bit further. His idea is for anyone to do a commentary -- if a you're a fan of 'The Breakfast Club' why not record your own commentary about what the film means to you, MP3 it and put it up on your website for download: "If the approach caught on, treasures might result. I received, for example, a letter from Ronan O'Casey, the actor who played the dead body in Michelangelo Antonioni's Blowup. He reveals that his character originally had a name and dialogue, and was part of a plot that led up to and followed from his murder. By eliminating that plot in the editing room, Antonioni turned his film into a brilliant meditation on perception: It seems to a photographer (David Hemmings) that the body was there; it can be seen in his photographs, and then it disappears. The commentary by O'Casey might talk about shreds of action and dialogue that remain in the movie as clues to the missing scenes."
Law With the move into DNA as permissable evidence in court it seems only natural that older forms of 'proof' would fall out of favour. No one will have expected, however, that fingerprinting would become so unsound this quickly. The Economist reports that a judge in Philadelphia has ruled that DNA will no longer allowing finger-printing experts into a courtroom unless the prosecutor has enough other evidence to offer an acceptable arguement. I'm not a lawyer (yet another group I'm not part of), but I would have thought this ruling could be admissable in a number of miscarriages of justice, especially in the US where "declaring a match between two prints generally requires a certain number of points of similarity between them. Different jurisdictions set varying standards for how many similar points are required, which makes this standard seem arbitrary. Even worse, in some jurisdictions declaring a match requires only an overall “impression” of similarity on the part of an expert."
Gang-related I've never been part of a group. Or, rather to qualify that I've never been part of a specific group with a name -- I've never been 'a [insert team sport team name here] supporter'. I've never been a profession of type -- when I was offered the chance to be a 'librarian' I ran away like a madman into a string of jobs until my current one in a call centre but what's that? Call Centre Advisor -- that's a description not a grouping. Even at school I was never sporto, motorhead, geeks, slut, pinhead, dweeby, wonker or rich. No one adored me. I wasn't a 'righteous dude'. I don't miss anything in this. I've spent large proportions of my life alone and probably still will (although I'm no loner, I love the company of people).

I'm telling you all this because something strange happened today. The Metafilter t-shirt I ordered from Cafepress arrived. It sits on a hanger on the back of my door right now, brilliant white with the blue 'M', gold 'F' printed impressively on the front. For that brief moment I felt some vague community spirit -- I felt part of a group. I'm a weblogger. The closest comparison I can think of is people wearing shirts for their favourite rock band. My query is -- why do I feel a connection to this virtual place full of people I've never met, something which only feeds the sense of sight and not sound, touch or smell. It's frankly a bit unnerving that I'd got through the rest of my life with all these real world opportunities but this one thing is at the other end of the modem. I'm not worried for myself, I bought the shirt for ironic reasons more than anything else, and I hardly visit Mefi that much anymore, it's more a worry for everyone else who spends too much time at these sites. Are they substituting the beauty and possibilities of the real world for an imaginary place online which can only, eventually leave them slightly disappointed. It's link getting to the end of a film on video and the tape running out. There is only so far you can take it. Even with attachments.

I suppose I'm wondering whether the amount of time anyone spends on-line actually repays in the real world -- does this time balance out karmacally with those moments when our fingers aren't at the keyboard. Is this the sort of group you want to be a part of, one whose connections aren't physical. Clearly in some cases it does -- weblogger marriages, for example, but much of the time it feels like a creative black hole. Looking over some weblog directories and seeing all of the pages which have been shutdown by the writers because they've decided there are better things to do, I wonder if this a phase everyone online goes through. I wonder if the effort I put in here is worth the hits I get per day. I think this is what priests call 'a crisis of conscience' -- will I be letting you all down if I do stop writing here every other day? Will this all be missed? Am I a 'vital' part of this group?

It's stream of consciousness Friday everyone. What I think I'm asking is would you mind if people stopped updating their weblogs quite so regularly? If I updated once a week say, but with as many entries anyway, but fresher because I won't be rushing through them at eleven-thirty in the evening. If I appointed a day each week when you’ all would know that I'd be updating? Or would all this be breaking the weblogger's code? It would nice to hear your thoughts on this -- you can email via the 'comments' tab on this entry. This isn't something I'm going to do straight away -- just being speculative.
Travel When the a nearby council suggested his area would be perfect for tourists and renamed it 'The Wirral Pensula', we in Liverpool thought he would have an uphill struggle. But it was a mere stone in the road compared to the job of Abdul Rahman. He's the tourism minister for Afganistan, who has "declared in Kabul this week that the country was "now open to tourism for the first time in 23 years", adding that "many people will be curious to see it first-hand, especially since it has been on television so much lately" Bless.
Transport There are three things I love about this article from The Bermuda Sun:
(1) It's basically about a new ferry service but is written as though it's a major world event
(2) The new ferry is actually called 'Serenity'
(3) It shows a coherent transport policy which has been thought out and actually works (unless there are high winds).
Music You can imagine the scene on the 24th January. Danny Wimmer, Flawless' Senior Vice President, Fred Durst's personal assistant and their collective friends sit in an office. Everywhere jiffy bags are piled high, each containing a shiny disc from on of his fans with one of their songs on, entrants to a competition. All human life is here from the man in his bedroom with a guitar and too much time on his hands, to the full scale pub band who play cover versions of 'The Who', biding their time until their big break. They look about this sea of brown paper and realise that they are going to be there for some time, cursing the day they first heard the words 'Puddle', 'of' and 'Mudd' collected together.
Books What happens when Jon Ronson's THEM, a book about cooky Americans is released in their own country? He gets reviews like this one from The Book Reporter: "First off, Jon Ronson is something of a smart ass --- albeit a smart ass of a very high order. Unlike comedians and essayists, who are always commenting on things, Ronson is a journalist; he exposes the silly underbelly of pompous people by using their own words against them. He's the master of the quote that says 10 times as much as it appears to, of the uninflected description that is more damning than a thousand adjectives." I really miss his weekly articles from The Guardian on a Saturday. I alway wonder what happened to that man and his wind-breaks...
Wars America's Saturday Night Live parodies AOTC. TheForce.net puts it up on their site. Fans react: "Well, I thought it was a joke when you put it up, but I just saw the SNL sketch with EP2 and N'Sync. That had to be one of the worst put together SNL sketch's ever. Although I think it will send a message to George to make sure he cuts the footage from the film." Rinse, repeat.
Film Harry Hill once said: 'Pornography / Art' 'Art / Pornography'. He summed up in a few words this whole article from Papermag about how semi-porno has reached into the art house film sector in recent times. It's from an American perspective, and their censors are notorious for being able to cope with savage violence and not tender loving care. Compare and contrast the stigma attached to NC-17 films there with 18-certificate films in the UK: "Alfonso Cuarón's wildly entertaining erotic road movie Y Tu Mamá También contains enough crude language, rampant nudity, and ribald sexual permutations among its three attractive leads to have earned an NC-17 rating from the Motion Picture Association of America. Taking into account the box-office doom of past NC-17 recipients Henry & June and Showgirls, Y Tu Mamá's U.S. distributor, IFC Films, has opted to release the film unrated, thereby limiting its advertising and distribution channels and ghettoizing its audience into select urban arthouses."
Blog! There has been a bit of discussion of how weblog titles seem to correlate with the music world. You could argue that most titles can be split into two categories. Those which sound like a band name, and those which sound like album title -- for example, the remarkable 'Using Bees To Effect Vengeance'. You'd expect the cover for this album to now feature a picture of Osama Bin Laden walking through a doorway as a bucket of honey is about to fall on his head, a swarm of bees ready to pounce. The weblog itself is fascinating. Today's entries simply consist of hiaku's about Dubya choking on that pretzel.
Random Feelings I haven't been in love for while. I used to fall in love on a regular basis, even after my teenage years. I'd meet some girl, get to know them and take the leap off a cliff. Then meet her boyfriend. But I haven't felt that way for a few years. I'm not sure which worries me most. Not being in love or whether I've lost the capacity for it. I'm sure I haven't. I'm sure it's just a while since I met anyone I could even feel anything for. Oh alright, there was one girl, but I haven't seen her since before Christmas and only a few times earlier than that. But she was the last someone new I've met who I have anything in common with, so I don't know whether that's why I'm thinking about her now. It isn't easy socialising with work colleagues when you live in a different city. I need to stop commuting soon, I think, so that I can get some semblance of a normal life back.
Music "Originally released on the STORM FRONT album, (Billy Joel's) "We Didn't Start the Fire" is an excellent education tool for teachers and students! Below are the song's lyrics. Click on the links within the lyrics for info on the major events of the 20th century!" Strangely addictive page which links all of the 'lyrics' in the song to an explanatory website.
Wars I somewhat previous review of The Phantom Menace which eventually concludes the Lucas made a kids film. Yes really: "By the time I saw the film the Star Wars fanatics had had their fill and the audiences had begun to thin down; although it was an evening showing of The Phantom Menace, the audience was mostly families with young children. The kids were oohing, aahing, and cheering. I doubt that any of them left the theater feeling disappointed or betrayed."
Obituaries Ted Demme is dead. Stanley Unwin is dead.
People Cynthia Basinet was at a low ebb. Her acting and modelling careers weren't going anywhere. Then she discovered music -- and them she discovered MP3.com and found it was was possible to have a career outside the system: "The hardest thing is authentic power. To do the baby steps. Have the dream. And then just do the work. Don’t buy into the hype. If you’re an artist, a true artist then it is really a journey. So enjoy it. Take your time, make the right choices. Be proud. And sing to your little hearts content." Gosh...gee...
The Trains A man in a mac during a voxpop on BBC News tonight summed up how I feel about the state of Britains railways. He said, "The one thing which seems to have been missed is the sheer frustration of using the trains". I know what he means -- if a film crew had followed me around on my way in to work this week they'd be able to see it. Only one evening was my train on time. Another evening I came home on an earlier train which was half an hour late, and if I hadn't caught it, my scheduled train would have been late. On two other evenings the my actual train was delayed for twenty minutes to half an hour -- which meant if I wanted to get home within an hour and a half I had to get completely different train and change at a branch line station to a stopping train. Believe me, if anyone reading this considers commuting in the UK in the north, forget it. No one should have to feel as relieved as I do sometimes when I get on my train home... [related articles from The Guardian]
Travel Rob Penn spent his late twenties riding around the world on a bicycle. This is a short article about his general impressions, with links to related articles about the trip on the same page. He found that the human race has a kinship on a local level which isn't clear from the disagreements amongst its leaders: "In the three years it took me to ride 24,000 miles round the world, I was frequently amazed at the genuine and unmistakable trust people from the 31 countries I crossed placed in me, simply because I was riding a bicycle. Trust leads to, at a practical level, food and accommodation, but it is also a key to kinship and understanding. And in modern times, when we can be at least cursorily familiar with so much of the planet from an armchair, this is one of the greatest goals of travel. "
Sculpture Wendy Ross creates sculpture which mimics possible yet fictional molecular forms in steel. This seems to be the development of chaos into formality. She talks about art in the way others might describe physics: "The concept for “Unearthly Garden” is to portray a symbolic universe inhabited by forms transiting from one state of energy into another. Forces of expansion and contraction permeate both the smaller and larger constituents of this universe."
Reader Letters Paul Carroll, old school friend, brings us something for non-cat lovers. So how do you want them, scanned or smaller?
Travels with Matsui
The Beatles Anthology Vol #2
What? Mid-nineties attempt to re-invigorate interest in the fab four via the release of unused and half-finished versions of well known songs. Which here amounts to three versions of ‘Strawberry Fields’ and a bunch of like tracks from some concert in Blackpool.
First Impressions I’m from Liverpool. It’s The Beatles. Magic? Almost. Like most people I only really know the singles and the opening section of Disc One is loaded with album tracks. There is some temptation to hit the skip button. Or there would be if the music wasn’t so arrecting.
Moved? Oh yes. All over. Most of the versions on here are simple, often Paul or John with a guitar. Everything feels fresh again, stripped of all the bullshit and overpraise which has been heaped upon them. Almost in tears at the terse version of ‘Yesterday’; I can finally hear the lyrics to Penny Lane (there’s a café called ‘Sgt. Pepper’s’ now in the spot where the flower seller and I got a bad haircut in that same barbers). ‘I Am The Walrus’ is even stranger and sounds like Oasis (maybe that should be the other war around…)
Lasting Impressions Considering the way the individual musical development of the surviving Beatles, it’s probably a good thing they got out when they did. I imagine much of Paul’s career was him doing all things he couldn’t get away when John was on his shoulder.
Keep, sell, dump? Keep. This is the missing scenes DVD extras for The Beatles whole career.