Alchemists of Sound
A documentary about the BBC's Radiophonic Workshop, composers of music for Doctor Who, Blakes Seven and The HitchHiker's Guide to the Galaxy amongst others. TV show on the BBC4 next week for anyone interested. Interesting interview here of the modern embodiment Mark Ayres.

Verisign redirection to return
After the stink it caused last time? Isn't this another example of a company using insider technology to monopolise a thriving market and reduce consumer choice?

Prince of Persia Flash Version
Never played this (using a Commodore 64 when it was originally released and the eventual conversion was a staggeringly poor). Feels like a 2D Tomb Raider. Warning -- it's a pop-up -- hold down shift key if you're a Google Toolbar user. Downloads very quickly though.

Indiana Jones Boxset IGN Review
Probably the most comprehensive review around. Extraordinarily technical in places. Looking forward to this ...

Me @ The Collective
Crikey -- my review of The Internet @ McDonalds has been highlighted on The Collectives Near You page. Best go in and correct the spelling of Wunderkind -- that'll teach me to use words when I don't know what they mean.
Life At ten past six this evening I was standing in a bar taking a group photograph of twenty Chinese business people.

For the first time in a while I'd gone to the FACT centre for a film double bill. After glancing through the choices for the six o'clock showings, I decided that instead of the dialogue free French animation and the gritty New York drama on offer I would attend a seminar about the interaction between Detective Fiction and Fine Art. Which is another story. Anyway the thing doesn't start until 6:30 so I decide to get a coffee in the Mezzanine bar.

FACT has a massive entrance hall and it's filled with the sound of Chinese music, although it's slightly westernized. Or rather they're using the instruments they have to play the theme from The Visit, that documentary series with Desmond Morris. As I approach the main stairwell I realize that it's heaving in the bar area. But I decide to go anyway. I was determined in fact (pardon the pun).

When I get up there, it's filled with Chinese people, all in suites and power dress, attending what I later find out is a party to mark the start of a Chinese Film Festival. There is a channel through to the bar, so I approach order a cappuccino and wait while the barperson spills the froth all over her trousers and the floor. The only couch available has a very low coffee table next to it, but I sit down anyway, to soak in the admittedly pleasant music and read my magazine and wait.

I've been there about ten minutes and it occurs to me that all the throng seem to be doing is taking pictures of each other. Just each other. Not of themselves within the fabulous architecture which surrounds them. Each to his own I think though. Until I get a tap on the shoulder.
"Can you take our photo?"
She's cute and I'm a dork, so I agree, thinking it'll be her and a friend. So I stand and readily take her camera asking the usual question: "Just press the button?"
Then I look up and realize that people are massing at the bar and they're all looking towards me and the camera. It's a group photo. The cute girl looks at me apologetically, "There is a very important visitor…" Because time is pressing, I illogically take this as a perfectly reasonable explaination.

I look through the digitalviewscreenfinderwhatever on the back and they aren't all fitting in. I look down. Two more cameras have appeared on the couch in front of me. The cute girl is still smiling at me.
So I start making hand gestures trying to get people to bunch together.
"I can't fit you all in." I say loudly.
The other problem is that whenever they're all ready someone appears from the side to shake hands with one of them, turns around, notices me, then decides to join the photo. Which means everyone has to re-arrange themselves.
Eventually, five minutes later. They're ready. I can't help myself.
"Say cheese!" I shout.
Twenty very important looking Chinese business people including the very important visitor say: "Cheese!"
Click. I think it was straight.
I pick up the next camera, hoping to rattle them off. But the digitalviewscreenfinderwhatever on the back of this one is off. I hold the camera up. "Erm… I can't see through the .. um. …"
"Just press the button." One of them shouts.
"I can't. The thingy…"
The owner of camera steps forward to show me … and the group start moving about and chatting. "It's in sleep mode." He says. I nod as though this is also perfectly normal. And now I'm back were I started, gesturing.
"Are you ready?" I shout.
They all turn around and look at me.
"Ok." I say.
I grab the next camera as quick as I can. It's a traditional camera with a proper view finder. I look through. I can only see two heads. Dilemma. Do I take it anyway and hope that someone emails one of the first two almost identical digital pictures to them? No. Like it matters, I step backwards far enough so that they all fit in again. By now there are thirty people and they're stacked on top of one another like the team photos which appeared in Panini Football Sticker Albums.
The group disburses and I hand back the cameras. I sit down, and finish my coffee. Then I look up and notice the group are starting to get back together again. Out of the corner of my eye I notice the cute girl looking over at me again.
I get up. I walk out of the bar ...
Quote From a voiceover to a film we watched tonight in my World Music course about Samba (delivered in a flat, even French accent): "His songs are now heavily influenced by western music, so the words don't mean anything."
Linked! is a new catagory for people who have been kind enough to send a link my way. So hello Porfessor Wayne Berninger of the English Department, Long Island University, Brooklyn. Someone is reading my weblog in places that Scorcese, Allen and Lee have made films. Intriguing. The link is here.
Music The Onion A.V. Club interviews Randy Newman Here he talks about looking back at his old songs in retrospect:
"Well, you know, I was surprised at the consistency. Whether good or bad, there were no real jumps in quality or drop-offs that I could tell when I listened to it. Born Again is kind of an odd album, but they're not bad songs. I was surprised. There were things I wrote for the last record that could have been on 12 Songs. Maybe the last album is a little better. Things held up pretty well. There was nothing completely ridiculous."
Nothing about the songs he wrote for Finding Nemo which weren't used. Hopefully they will eventually surface (pun intended).
Food The Naked Bard. Shakespeare on Food.
Technology Just one dermatological layer away from becoming a cyborg:
"The female mannequin at iRobot?s headquarters in Burlington, MA, is fairly typical: tall and thin, with perfect features and fingernails painted claret red. But instead of designer clothes, she?s modeling combat fatigues and a camouflage vest with a 500-megahertz computer system embedded in it. An eyepiece is mounted over one eye, and she holds a joystick to control the accompanying PackBot, a small, tanklike robot recently deployed in military missions in Afghanistan and Iraq. "
Reminds me somewhat of the 2000AD Magazine character Rogue Trooper.
Quote Unmemorable Book Openings (#1): Star Fighters by Robert E. Miles

The forces of the Dark Empire seemed to be irresistible: its black star fleets ranged far and wide, extinguishing the light of freedom in galaxy after galaxy, creating in this manner the mightiest empire ever known among the stars. Rebellions were virtually unheard-of in that vast slave-empire, for the reason that their occurrence brought forth punishments of unbelievable severity.

The elite fighting force of the empire was the Death Legion, commanded by yet another elite, the Ysss: a race of fierce reptiloids who held the empire's highest offices and kept the counsel of the Dark Emeoror. They worshiped death and lived to destroy; friendship, kindness, pity and compassion they regarded as mere signs of weakness; they were creatures bred to murder. Chief among the Ysss overlords was Blorg, the Supreme Commander of all the empire forces and the being closest to the Ylang-Ylang.

The Dalk Empire spread across the star-fields in the manner of a tidal wave, and all who encountered it (with few exceptions) were convinced of its invincibility. It was a creation of darkness, a juggernaut fueled by evil and armoured in the powers of the dak side of the Infinite. Its might grew with each new conquest; and horror and terror filled the shadows it left in its wake. The empire seemed truly unstoppable . . . until one day a strange combination of forces, both accidental and intentional, vectored-in on the line of it's progress.

It started with the invasion of the Primula galaxy, a place where war had been unknown for over two hundred years; and this act of naked aggression brought together most of the principal actors in this cosmic drama . . .

[with apologies to Darren at LinkMachineGo, who has been supplying some very Memorable Book Openings over the past few weeks, like this one. This book was published in 1978. No surprise there...]