Life I have an IQ of 119, apparently ... [Metafilter]
Blog! Melissa is 'A Girl In Love'. As well as a positively gorgeous design, her writing style is light, breezy and above all, real. Especially love her review of 'The Musketeer':
"We watched The Musketeer last night. It sucked. It didn't just suck in one arena, it sucked in them all. It isn't a pretty way to put it but there is no way to explain it better. There is no amount of clever and well choreographed fighting scenes that can fix this kind of movie. If there was we wouldn't know it because for a movie billed as well choreographed and jam packed with fight scenes it had very few. Want something with the same feel this was going for, with the same basic plot and fun to watch, watch The Princess Bride."
Amen. I would also add that after Disney's version and 'The Man In The Iron Mask', Dumas' stories would be laid to rest for a while ... see you when I'm not sneezing at you all ...
Video Art I love art. I was almost part of the art world. But I can count the number of art objects that have given me a gut wrenching emotional response on one hand. In fact for two years I thought I was bored by art and might want to move onto something else.

Georgina Starr changed all that in one look. I was at The Henry Moore Institute in Leeds one day, I forget the exhibition, and in the corner a monitor was filled with static. Curiously I approached, and stood a few feet away as the connected video began to play.

The screen revealed image of a girl. Dark hair, dark eyes, cloudy white face except for some slight redness around the cheeks, wearing a black cardigan over a white t-shirt and grey skirt.

She was leaning against a wall, head resting on her shoulder her arms crossed, looking straight at me through the screen.

She was crying.

Not crocodile tears. The camera never lies. No - these were genuine tears, the kind you get when your world has crumbled and all you have left are the chopsticks in your hair and the boots on your feet.

I was crying.

Not about anything specific. It was euphoric I suppose. A release.

Another piece of me wanted the climb through the screen and give her a cuddle. Tell her it would be OK.

And the video continued. For what felt like hours. Just five minutes Then it was gone.

I decided not to watch it a second time. Then.

But I came back. Again. And again. Each time a saw something new in her and myself. For the time I was watching the video I was seeing something I couldn’t control – that this was something I couldn’t change for once. It just was.

After a while, the sleuth in me took over. I found out that the girl was Georgina Starr, an artist who’d had international commissions. The Institute’s library eventually acquired a video shot by Starr in the same style as the ‘Crying’ video describing its inception.

In fact she was feeling depressed. Felt herself begin to cry and decided to video it to help examine her own pain, in a way creating piece of art which should have an effect only on her audience of one.

And for a few moments, me. Only twice since have I felt that same burst of emotion in a gallery space, but its been enough to remind me that the reason we love art is what does to us, and what it reminds us about ourselves. Thanks, Georgina.

[Long term readers will recognise this post as the text from one of the portals from the old version of the website. I've had stormer of a cold over the past few days so rather than dribbling madness all over the place, I thought I'd just offer something newer readers may have missed. Georgina's official website is still quite minimal initially, but this Google search will point you in the direction of recent exhibitions]

which "monty python and the holy grail" character are you?

this quiz was made by colleen
Comics Todd McFarlane talks Spiderman (the film ... they've actually made a film ...):
"I was pleasantly surprised, and I feel they got way more right than wrong. I was thinking, ''Here we go again. It's gonna be over-the-top and overly theatrical and silly.'' But I was actually impressed with how serious they stayed within the confines of, essentially, a guy who can flip between buildings."
And for the next theatrical release, I've just two words for you ... 'Avengers Assemble!' ... perhaps not ...
Blog! Ecritures, a Dutch weblog mixes photography with current affairs comment. Today's commentary regarding the Pim Fortuyn killing is particularly illuminating.
Fashion How can anyone be this thin? Yet again I ask, Lucire magazine, who are you trying to sell some magazines to?
Music I'll skip over the latest number one single by Holly Valance (why, Flick, why?) and return to the previous week's 'Freak Like Me' by The Sugababes. People who been visiting this place for while will know I've been championing this group for a looooong time. The fact that their first 'chart' 'topper' is a cover of a bootleg is in keeping. I'm just sorry I couldn't post this grippingly positive review any sooner:
"This is a shock, and a thrill, after a period when most of the best singles have sounded so poised and expensive - "Freak Like Me" presents a template for a fuzzed-up R&B/pop noise, crude as f**k but still excitingly android. (Think of the Neptunes in a garage, building Robot Wars monsters out of loose wires and power tools). It's also the most rhythmically brutish R&B production in ages, a stomp'n'smack forward march owing more to Glam than Timbaland. You might argue this isn't R&B at all, but the girls' voices tell a different, sexier, story."
The real trick will be next single. Where else is there to go?
Nature One of our local beaches in Formby used to famous for it's Asparagus farming, and although the art has all but died out, one small farm still continues the art and has been successful enough to interest the Natural Trust in a trail dedicated to the vegetable.
Commerce I've been posting stories lately about the customer service I've received in shops. Now 'The Guardian' has written a whole article about the subject -- specifically how knowledgable the staff in book shops are. Ooh look it's my current place of word worship, Waterstones on Deansgate, Manchester:
""I really loved The Naked Chef, will I like The Naked Lunch?"
Assistant asks herself if Jamie Oliver did one called The Naked Lunch. Looks on computer, asks colleague.
"We think you mean the novel..."
"Does it have good recipes in it?"
"No, it's about drugs. It's really surreal and it's got giant cockroaches in it. It's completely mental. You have to think about what sort of book you really want, then we can help you find it."
The section about WH Smith is particularly special. I'm reminded of the time I went to the store in Liverpool and asked if they sold any Everton Football Club mugs (they had Liverpool ones). I was taken to the video section and shown tapes with matches on. When I pointed out I';d actually asked for a small cylindrical ceramic thing you drink hot beverages from, I was indignantly, 'Oh we don't have any of those...' [Metafilter]
Film So, y'now like you're a killing machine or something. Well, does that mean you would, like, go out and kill things, you know, like on the spot? Claire Danes has joined the cast of the new Terminator film. I suppose every actor has to make a genre film at some point, and it might as well be one of the big franchises ...
Photography? News photographer, Chris Usher has been taking polaroid photographs whilst covering world events, then manipulating them using a computer and by hand to create some startlingly individual images.
Proxy Insider The problem with Blogger Insider is that it happens more infrequently than it used to ... so I've decided to start casting about elsewhere for something. Welcome to Proxy Insider. This week, I'm answer the questions The Observer put to Douglas Adams in March 1995 as part of a column called 'The Dream Team'. Feel free to borrow them (like I have from 'The Salmon of Doubt') for your own weblog (and let me know so that I can link to you). Let us proceed:

Dream Film Cast: Ocean's Eleven, pretty much, featuring Jay and Silent Bob ('F**k the money, I'm off to get some Vegas pussy, snoogens...'). Although if I have to be original ... 'The Monty Python Story', featuring Colin Firth as John Cleese, Steve Coogan as Michael Palin, Simon Pegg as Eric Idle, Liev Schrieber as Terry Gilliam, James Lance as Terry Jones, Ewan McGregger as Graham Chapman, Dave Gorman as Neil Innes, Sally Phillips as Connie Booth (and I'd start in the midst of Footlights and end when Cleese leaves the Python TV series at the end of series three).

Dream Rock Band: The Beatles.

Dream Lover Currently got a soft spot for Emily Corrie who plays Sooz in 'As If'. But that'll probably change in the next five minutes.

Dream Project: Given unlimited financial resources, saving every species which will die out in the time it takes to write this line. It's a start.

Dream Alternative Careers: Actor, astronaut, writer.

Dream Holiday: Extended break in a busy metropolis, anything will do, although I've a soft spot for London, New York and Tokyo. Somewhere which can envelope me. I get nervous during sliences.

Dream Home: Some kind of crash pad, in place where so much is happening that the most time I spend at home is to sleep.

Dream Cuisine: I I had to spend the rest of my life eating the food of one country it would Italy. Couldn't live without Bolognes

Dream Day Out: Glastonbury Festival. Must get around to that. Although I'm worried that I'd be disappointed now.

[I think if you compare the above with Douglas Adams' version you'll see the difference between a great writer who will be sorely missed and a hack.]
Backlog Just got around to watching the final two episodes of 'Rescue Me', the Sally Phillips rom-com. This show received an ungodly amount of criticism, much of it completely unfounded. Unfortunately the initial trailers sold the show as a sort of TV Bridget Jones (Philips being the obvious connection) when in fact this has been an ensemble piece. At times the comedy hasn't been that funny, but the drama has been quite affecting even in such a fantastic setting (the magazine of the series was about as realistic as 'Attachments'. The real find of the piece was Stewart Wright, playing Eddie, the love-lorn puppy-dog of Philips (think Brian Krakow to Angela Chase). I've been in his position enough times to see the realism in his portrayal. Wanting so desperately to tell this person who loves you as a friend that they mean more to you than that. And Sally's response when he finally tells her felt completely realistic. Often the people who are the centre of your world can never work out why -- they never think they're that special ...
Logo Bar When ITV wasted £70 million pound rebranding OnDigital to ITV Digital, the most existing subscribers got was a letter through the post acompanied by a silver label with the tacky ITV logo to place over the old signage on the box. It was ugly so we left the box as it was, unblemished. ITV Digital did little to actually change the box we had, and so even now, when we check the menu system inside the box it's as it was in the OnDigital days. With this kind of service, there was no way that Sky couldn't win. This piece from Media Guardian sums up the experience of most subscribers ...
"Firstly, and most importantly, the picture kept cutting out to the extent where the little red dot in the corner of the screen became a more common sight than the programme you were trying to watch ... Inevitably, this happened at the most inopportune moments - when Gianfranco Zola was bearing down on goal in a Champions League quarterfinal for example, or in the final moments of a film."
This is something which was never fixed. In fact in really bad weather, many of the channels would simply disappear, and a call to the technical help line offered no help at all. The lamest excuse we received was 'it's the leaves.' Rupert Murdoch here I come...
Literature Just spotted these Amazon reviews from David Langford (Sci-fi writer and SFX columnist) and Lance Parkin (Doctor Who author) of Douglas Adams' posthumous work, 'The Salmon of Truth':
"And if I haven't done so already, here's where I lapse into cliche - Douglas Adams delighted millions; created characters and phrases that have passed into everyday use; he died tragically young; he made the most complex philosophical and scientific ideas seem so simple; I never met him but he made me feel that I knew him; I laughed aloud while reading this book."
Which is recommendation enough for me. Parkin's Who writing has always been slightly out of the box -- a bit different -- very Adamsesque.
People John Turturro has always been an actor which everyone admires, but who they wouldn't expect to carry a film. Which is odd because he has the talent, as Sidekick examines:
"(He) is one of those actors that you know signals quality in a film. He has a real knack for picking projects that are a little off the beaten track, but guaranteed to be interesting. Almost always, they feature John in an unusual role that lets him expand his already impressive repertoire. Although John's look might have seen him spend his career typecast as a nervous, Jewish sidekick, he's instead crafted a resume filled with memorable, unique supporting parts, and a few great leading roles as well."
The Middle Finger Gallery, amounts to lots of girls flipping off a finger. Feminism with an edge:
i think this all started when i noticed that stacey had a tendency to flip me off whenever i took her picture. flip off or stick her tongue out at me, take your pick. it breached over to our other friends and after a while we figured it'd be funny to have a middle finger gallery to display on our site, and hence this page has been created.
[from: the plain jane]
Blog! Blind Date Blog. Don't even get me started.
Architecture When the Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery was opened, the gallery and architects took the brave step of allowing natural sunlight illuminate this medieval exhibition. The sun doesn't shine directly upon the works, but through a series of reflections and refractions bounces through the roof on the walls and into the exhibition space. The effect is extra-ordinary -- there is a sense that this light is appearing from nowhere, the masterstroke being that because of the grey walls, and whatever meagre light hits the paintings, the gold leaf throughout engenders even more light, making the works even more stunning. Artificial light would only have dulled the impression. This method also saves on electricity bills as Architecture Week descibes:
The introduction of daylight with all its variety has always been recognized by architects as having positive advantages, and now this view has gained ground due to the realization that our finite resources of energy must be conserved in world terms. The developed nations need to consider how savings of energy through building design can make a positive contribution.
This short article delves into some of the history of how natural light has been used throughout the centuries for its luminous properties.
Internet The BBCi website has launched a search engine. Other web searching companies are reportedly 'angry'. What specifically -- that they're going to be put out of business, or that the Beeb went to Google for support? This isn't something which is going to replace anything else, but is simply another way in for beginners. Also, it's designed not to infringe the usual broadcast guidelines to do with taste and decency, so its a pretty safe search for kids, without shocking amounts of advertising clogging the place up.
Commerce I'm getting a complex about this. I'm in a sandwich shop in Manchester. I order a Cheese Salad sandwich. In the middle, the clerk's mobile phone rings. He answers it, and then proceeds to have a five minutes conversation with someone (in Italian) whilst I'm standing there. He mate behind the counter arrives and asks if I want something.
"I'm waiting for him to get off the phone."
The man on the phone just turns and apologises, then continues with the conversation...
That Day Happy Birthday, Chris ...