A Bit Animated

It's 3:50. A broom cupboard. A logo created on a BBC Micro. A young man with dyed brown hair is smiling beside a sock puppet that’s squeaking ecstatically to itself. The man grins.
Hello there.’ His teeth fill the bottom half of his face. ‘Hope you’ve had a good day at school. We’ve had a lot of letters from you, haven’t we Gordon?’
The puppet squeaks.
The man opens up an envelope and pulls out a small jumper in blue and red with a yellow ‘SG’ on the front. He holds it up to the camera.
‘Look what Annie Smith from Croydon has knitted for you ... you’re Super Gordon now.’
The gopher begins squeaking again.
The man laughs. He turns to the camera . . .
‘Jimbo and the Jet Set’

And now for this evening's line up: Bagpuss FAQ, Bananaman, Bertha, Bod, Button Moon, Captain Pugwash, Charlie Chalk, Count Duckula, Crystal Tips & Alistair, Dangermouse, Dungeons and Dragons, Fireman Sam, Henry’s Cat, Ivor The Engine, Jamie and the Magic Torch, Jimbo and the Jet Set, Mary, Mungo and Midge, Mr. Benn, Pigeon Street, Pingu, Postman Pat, Roobarb and Custard, Stoppit and Tidyup, Super Ted, The Flumps, The Wombles, The Clangers, The Magic Roundabout, The Saga of Noggin The Nog, Thomas The Tank Engine, Trap Door, Trumpton and Willo-the-Wisp.

Which Rock Chick Are You?
Blog! For once it's refreshing to find a weblog as conventional as lipglosslolita -- and that isn't a criticism. As I've mentioned elsewhere I'm slightly worried about the trend towards weblogs which are unloved, unvisited and clogged up with online quizzes. beth's place is the sort of place I love to visit, striking just the right balance between life story, design and content. I think we can all relate to her trials with the dentist; and this egg is gracing my desktop as you read. I'm also looking forward to following the story of her tongue piercing over the coming months ....
Engineering There is an escalator at Liverpool Central underground station which has never worked. When I was a kid I used to run up the thing, trying the beat the moving escalator to the top. It's the tallest one as well, so if both are out of action, calamity reigns. The London Review of Books delves into the mechanics of the escalator and asks Why do they take so long to repair?

"Things getting caught between the moving parts is a problem inherent in the design of the machine, and one which may never be entirely eliminated. Lines of yellow paint on the outside edges of escalator steps, below-step lighting and brush strips which nudge feet away from the wall-step boundary improve safety, but are essentially psychological defences. A spring-loaded plate which fills the gap has recently been developed in America, where brushes have not yet been generally accepted, perhaps because they look untidy - there is good evidence that brushes work and it's hard to see any reason other than looks for rejecting them. Work has also been done on reducing friction between step and wall, to make it less likely that anything that slips into the gap will get caught."

[Metafilter thread]
TV I remember the aired pilot for 'South Park'. Not this one, the one in which Cartman gets a satalite dish stuck up his ass; in the immortal line 'Do your impression of David Corusso's career!' This was something different, funny, toughing -- and so good that preceeding episodes couldn't help to try and mimic the feeling but never truly live up to it's classic status. Yes the film was good, but did we really find the Satan/Sadam hoopla that funny? It's strange them to actually find a postive review: "Last season, "South Park" quietly regained its status as edgy, hip, appointment television after a couple of seasons when it seemed Parker and Stone were just dialing it in. Several episodes were nothing short of brilliant..." [username: feelinglistless / password: listless] [via tvtattle]

Sex The soapboxgirls' Porn Issue is a sometimes eyebrow-raising look at the consumer end of the industry. A dicey version of The Guardian's tablod section. So we have The Quest for the Elusive Attractive Man in Straight Porn ("Colt Steele, One Star, If he would cut his hair, he could have a decent career as a gay-bar go-go dancer. He doesn’t belong in porn."), Porno Preferences ("I buy more porn because I want to see new and different things, not the same old videos. And even though I’m pretty much equally into guys and girls in real life on any given day, most guys in porn just don’t do it for me. Give me all girl action any day and I’m happy.") and I'm a Porn Hater ("The cure for all this boredom? Directors who are women. The porn industry needs an onslaught of women producing porn movies, calling the shots and writing the scripts. Until then, I’m held hostage by the same storyline that’s being circulated throughout the entire porn industry. The repetitive nature of porn movies is enough for me to throw up my hands and say out loud that as a woman, I hate ’em all.")

Music Freaky Trigger exposes Bootleg Mixes, the dispiriting solution of two dispirite tracks, including an attempt to make the estimable Sugababes a viable prospect again: "Meanwhile the Sugababes' record company had a problem. The girl band had enjoyed an enviable rep for making moody but modern pop and for having 'real talent' at the same time - in other words, they were pop it was OK for anyone to like, innocents in the cynical biz, best mates, unmanufactured. This rep had been torpedoed by the defection of original 'babe Siobhan and her replacement with a girl called Holly, who had been in - oh horror! - an early line up of Sugababes antithesis Atomic Kitten (seveth mention). The game seemed to be up. What should Virgin Records do but relaunch the band - next month - with a cover of "We Don't Give A Damn..." Funny little article which demonstrates how some of these remixes can be better than the originals...
Physiology I'm not sure whether I'm left or right handed. I hold my pen in my right, but this is also where I hold my fork a traditionally left handed eating tool. This confusion once led my Mum to have lengthy discussion with a teacher at school -- I think the teacher thought I was a very confused child -- I was but not because of how I hold my pen. This nicely philosophical article from Attache looks at the history of left-handers, and decides that they have the better deal: "One body of evidence, however, is becoming increasingly credible: There is a clear link between handedness and the way we learn to talk, read, and manipulate symbols. The practice of forcing a left-handed child to conform to a right-handed society is now known to be seriously detrimental to the child’s development. The practice, once widespread in many societies around the world, still exists in the United States."
Site News Evening. Thank you to all the nice people who contacted me regarding the possible demise of the weblog because of 'hosting issues'. That's Nick, Robbie, Vicky, Meike, Alfvaen and especially Martin Lang, who emailed this extremely useful and expressive article about the challenges of selecting the right webhost. He's very kindly agreed to let me post it here so that others might benefit:

choosing a webhost is one of the biggest pains in the ass i can imagine -- you want one that is cheap but not 'shoddy', and you want good customer support.

when i was recently shopping for a webhost, one technique i used was to check out the webhosts used by online personalities i like/admire. they often mention their webhosts in the 'about' or 'technical' or 'colophon' or whatever section of their website. but if they don't, you can usually find out who their host is by running whois queries on their domains (through network solutions: http://netsol.com/cgi-bin/whois/whois) and noting the 'technical contact' field (which will often be support personnel at their hosting company) and/or the 'domain servers' field.

for example, let's look at my whois entry: http://netsol.com/cgi-bin/whois/whois?STRING=surfaceparking.com&SearchType=do (it's useless looking at my website since there's nothing up at the moment). you can see that my technical contact has an email address at 'pair.com' and that my domain servers ALSO run through 'pair.com'. so if you point your web browser at http://www.pair.com, guess what? you've found my webhost.

or, if you want to get freaky, you can plug my personal address into map quest and then click over to the aerial photo tab and then zoom in for a nice view of the house where my parents live. (the whois database is a little bit frightening, however useful it may be.)

anyway, the three 'for pay' webhosts that i recommend you check out are modwest (http://www.modwest.com), pair (http://www.pair.com), and dreamhost (http://www.dreamhost.com).

christine castro of http://www.maganda.org uses modwest (she indicates so at the bottom of her homepage) which looks to be very good and VERY reasonably priced. i very nearly signed up with them myself.

i've been very happy with pair. priced in between modwest and dreamhost, they're extremely reliable and they do everything decently, including customer support. the 'feeling' i get from pair, sort of the 'brand identity', is 'dreamhost for grown-ups'. matt haughey used to host with pair before he moved all of his personal sites onto the metafilter box.

dreamhost is, of course, ubiquitous in the blogging world - and they deserve to be. reasonably priced and with excellent customer support, they attract many 'webmasters' making their first jump from free to pay hosting. i used to host with them and never had any complaints. heather champ of http://www.harrumph.com still uses them.

fwiw, all three of these hosts also provide domain registration services.

On the home front, I was working on a solution tonight (in between watch a double bill of documentaries about why the World Trade Centre collapsed and a langerie company is successful -- welcome the BBC TWO evening line-up everyone). This time it's right. It will work. And no one will have to be nailed to anything. You'll notice over the next few weeks that the material in those 'portal' pages will be migrating over to the weblog. I finally worked out how to make my archives viable (always been slow on the uptake) so on my non-weblogging days they'll be appearing in special edition format. As George Lucas is always saying 'Well I was never completely happy with them in the original format so I thought I would bring new technological advance to bare etc etc etc...'

What Flavour Are You? I taste like Beef.

I taste like beef. I'm probably made of beef. You are what you eat, they say, and if the title didn't mean something else, I would be a beefeater. I think red meat is good for you. Puts hair on your chest. What Flavour Are You?
Journalism Every now and then The Guardian reprints an article from an online source, usually Salon. Although they've been including articles about weblogging they are yet to reprint material sourced from there. It can only be a matter of time. In the mean time, as Online Journalism Review reports, newspaper sites have begun to run their own blogs instead:

"We looked at the amount of self-publishing that was going on in America and thought it was a shame that there wasn't an equivalent in Britain,"says Christian Alden who, together with the Guardian Unlimited news team, is the brains behind the site's Weblog. "Then we looked at what our readers wanted online: Depth of coverage and links. The need for Weblogs clearly existed but there was nothing on the same self-publishing scale as in America. We saw a gap in the market and decided to fill it by launching our Weblog. "Indeed," he adds, "our biggest problem was letting people know what a Weblog was."

You're not joking ... the number of times I've told someone I've got a weblog and ... well you know how it goes ... and there was me thinking doing this would get me chicks and stuff ...
News Every summer someone in Surrey will complain about a hosepipe ban. Perhaps if they read the top news story in Moldova they may have a pause for thought. In a bid to cut costs, the Mayor of Azi has brought a halt to the heating of people's homes: "Urechean said temperature outside has reached levels when homes no longer need to be warmed and indicated that the disruption of the service would allow the city to save some 40 million lei (over 3 million dollars)."
Blog! Black Robot has been feeling a touch of insomnia: "4:00am ... Still awake. The room is bathed a deep blue color from the TV. I decide to catalog every object in view. I stare at the odd looking lamp next to the bed trying to decide if it has some kind of secondary function due to the extraneous (and hideous) pieces of metal jutting from it. I decide I'm going to steal this and throw it out my window on the way home if she tells me 'no' when I ask her for it in the morning."
Food I'm notorious for not being able to take my drink. I can just about handle a Budweiser or a Rolling Rock -- anything else and I go blind and forget how to move. Which is why when I see Caribbea cocktails like these in National Geographic I find myself marvelling at the pretty colours. Chin cin.
Game Shows Dave Gorman was once deeply disturbed to find that one of his namesakes plays Scrabble with his wife every lunch time and records the scores of every match in a series of ledgers. He would be positively pschotic to find that one fan of the television word game 'Countdown' has diligently recorded the scores of every match from almost every series. Find out who won on the day your baby was born or some other landmark ... maybe not ...
Music Sometimes a voice is so expressive and silencing that words fail. I first heard Eva Katzler on the EP 'Poem' she put out in a very small run through the Virgin Megastore in Liverpool. It's a lullaby for those of us who need to find somewhere to curl up and hide when the world around us is so loud and overbearing -- her vocals wrap themselves around you and for those brief moments, everything is OK. This isn't the first time I've raved about Eva and it won't be the last. If you've got a bit left over this month, instead of propping up the latest average album from an average band, I urge you to splash out on her disc instead.
TV As an update to Off The Telly's remarkable history of British Breakfast Televsion, Media Guardian uncovers the replacement for Channel 4's increasingly desperate 'The Big Breakfast' (which seems to be continuing seemingly unaware of its up and coming demise -- on present form I wouldn't be surprise if at the end of their tenure they trail the following week's star guests and continue to produce the show even though it isn't being broadcast).

I don't envy the task of Princess Productions. They have to produce a show which is significantly different to 'The BB' to be worthwhile, but also retain the same core audience, as well as being different to BBC Breakfast and GMTV. A segmented approach might work. I think I would prefer it if I could sit down for a ten minute segment and know what I'm going to get:
7:00 News
7:10 Sport
7:20 News Interviews
7:30 Entertainment News
7:40 Entertainment Interviews
7:50 Mini-gameshow
8:00 around we go again.
Commercial breaks between the segments. Hang on -- sorry -- that's Channel 4 Daily. Well why not? The only reason it failed last time was because so many different production companies were involved. With one company at the centre there really isn't a reason it couldn't work this time. I was never really the same when that attractive woman in a bathrobe stopped pulling that curtain aside to reveal the sunrise every morning...
Sport Feeling conflicted. My boyhood footballing heroes Everton are playing my new friends at Middlesborough on Saturday. May the best team win and all that...
Time It's always strange at the end of a week's holiday. Time is slipping away until the vacation version of me reverts to the vocation version. Usually it fills me with depression, but this time I feel different -- positive. Yes, the time at work feels like a twelve hour black hole in the middle of the day. But I realised that those precious five hours between the return home and time for bed aren't something to be squandered -- that I can use them to do all the things I want to do. That I should worry about the routine of it, but embrase it -- that if I started to plan my time I'll forever have something to look forward to. It could be as little as scheduling my tv or film watching or my time in my weblog, to setting dates to meet people. By making these the events they should be, I can return to being myself for those few brief hours each night.
Blog! Anna Kiss is posting again: "there are moments when i feel happy and alive and well. then there are moments where my heart feels heavy with the sorrow of nothingness and i can do nothing but fear my future. i am incapable of articulating that which i feel. i do not have the language for the weight on my thoughts, that thorn in my side."
Blog! When I first named this weblog I originally invisioned it as a place to let off steam -- somewhere I could be mean spirited and ugly -- but I'm not that funny as well so who would want to read those sorts of bitter ramblings? We have livejournal for that. Tanya Headon has proved that with a bit of work it is possble. Her blog 'I Hate Music' is a vitriolic scream against the business of pop. Judging by her impression of how Dido writes her songs I'd hate to think what she thinks of Alanis the Rambler ... [via Sore Eyes]
Food At first you would think Milk Bottle Of The Week would be a definitive candidiate for 'the worst of the web', but it's saved by extremely good execution. No messy Geocities site. It's a labour of love which turns what is ostensively quite a narrow topic into something extremely interesting. It's almost worth visiting for the tagline: "More snap, less crackle", "Feeling of colour" and my favourite "Little Crackers".
Religion From the Jamaica Gleaner: "Rastafarians, with the backing of the Public Defender, have a case in the Supreme Court which could win them official recognition as a religion. That would be a major advance for a sect which originated in Jamaica and has attracted notoriety for tenets diametrically opposed to generally accepted religious orthodoxy in this country."
Chat Anyone who saw the Johnny Vegas performance on Room 101 last week will let out a yelp of glee -- Beauty's Castle really exists: "Beauty's Castle is a Unique Realm. It is a Community that Welcomes All who wish to Learn, Explore, and Enjoy themselves. Enter the Castle and Explore....the Web's Most Intelligent and Friendly alternate reality! (enchanting smile and gaze)"
Speedblog Twenty minutes and counting...