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Nijinsky Linky

(No Nijinsky included)

Get prepared tomorrow

Star Wars as told in the original tapestry

Listen to the music that was inscribed on a random butt in that one Bosch painting.

Woman recreates the selfies of the guy who took her phone (via Camilla)

Young people swap clothes with their grandparents (also Camilla)

Nature offers a clear, humbling account of how my discipline ended up accused of being mostly wrong.

Go Make Me a Sandwich patreon – sponsor a blog about women and games. I played a small part in inspiring this blog’s existence, funnily enough.

Conversational map: when a London Kiwi meets a London Kiwi (via Ian Hicks)

The Typefight: typefaces fight it out.

Evolution of the Vertigo zoom – haven’t watched this yet but, come on.

Evolution of the Dolly Zoom from Vashi Nedomansky on Vimeo.

And finally, someone went to an awful lot of trouble to remove the baby from “Full House”, and it doesn’t work at all, but it exists, because the internet.


Get Prepared Linky


This February 22, join me and a whole mess of other people and check your disaster preparedness kit. That’s the anniversary of the big Christchurch quake. Mark the anniversary by checking you are ready when trouble comes your way. Join the Facebook group or follow us on Twitter (Eek I really haven’t promoted or used the Twitter much, huh.) Spread the word.

How the Beatles went viral in the USA – a detailed account from Billboard. Beatlemania happened because a bunch of social, technological and political events converged in unexpected ways. They were always going to be big, but there were a lot of lucky connections that led to them getting that big, that fast.

Perfect fluid group movement: 2-second F1 pitstop.

Interesting French short film imagining a gender-flipped society as a way of highlighting the inequalities in our own. It doesn’t all work (the limitations that are built right into language can’t be evaded, and it shares the widespread French misunderstanding of Islamic dress) but there are some powerful moments here, most of them small details.

Star Wars as 80s high school movie: character designs, sketches of key scenes.

Gaddafi’s Point Guard – memoir of guy in a Qadafi-owned basketball team who found himself in the middle of the revolution. Some unpleasant stuff in here, no doubt.

Dick Cheney gets a hard, hard look in this epic NY Review of Books piece. He’s part of my axis of evil, with Blair and Rove on either side of him.

13 portraits of homeless people as they wish to be viewed (via Gem Wilder’s reliably superb Wilder Web)

Prochronisms – looking at TV shows set in the past, and using some data mashing to find words that are out of place. Not to shame the writers (boring) but to look at how language, and society, changes (interesting!) – mostly looking at Downton Abbey and Mad Men. (via Dylan H)

I took off my hijab (via Camilla S)

Epic list of monster-themed boardgames, mostly from the 60s and 70s. Lots of photos! I’ve never even heard of 90% of these.

The little girl from that famous 1981 Lego ad has been found.

And finally, via the beloved David R., Bad Romance vs. The Avengers

Bad Romance x Avengers from Fishball51 on Vimeo.


Skeletor Linky

Skeletor voice actors play with Skeletor action figures.

Perfect parody of a Trent Reznor song

Who better to smack down Kirk Cameron than a whole mess of other grown-up child TV actors?

Map of USA, each state labelled with the IMDb’s top-rated film set there.

How toast got trendy: actually a really, really interesting story.

Booth babes don’t work

The entirety of Reservoir Dogs, told via tweet

Angelo Badalamenti recounts devising the haunting theme to Twin Peaks. Great!

Best New Yorker cartoons, according to New Yorker cartoon editor. New Yorker cartoons are such a special case – always, perfectly, consistently sort-of-amusing.

Tracking flu trends using google search results

Comic-form open letter to newly-crowned chess world champion Magnus Carlsen

And finally, Feeling Cagey


Amicable Linky

Conference call in real life:

Someone actually figured out a way to make money on Spotify: by singing Happy Birthday to everyone in the world, one by one. (via Mike U)

If you, like me, like to watch the Superbowl but only watch the Superbowl, here’s a 2-minute season recap that really doesn’t make much sense to those who aren’t following the game but has lots of jokes in it so.

Map showing global warming contributions, per capita. NZ is an angry red, right up there at the top of the villains list. Longtime readers will know how much I hate that.

Emotional Baggage Check (via theremina)

Your next job application could involve a video game

Do you like beer? Do you like music? If you are a member of this vanishingly rare intersection of people, you should check out Buzz and Hum, my friend’s new beer and music blog.

Eye-opening photos from Kiev, by a ground-level indie journalist trying to communicate what the hell is going on over there.

Map of pre-colonial Australia.

NZ according to google autocomplete (by Grant Buist)

Video of in-depth conference presentation on NSA spying revelations. I haven’t watched because I want to live in my bubble of ignorance a little longer. (via Ed)

10 great performances from the Apollo Theatre, including 13yo Lauryn Hill at the Amateur Night. (I went to Amateur Night when I was in NYC, one of the best things I did in that crazy town.)

Middle-earth, from space

Cat freaked out by videochat with owner

And finally, I’m gonna share the whole email I received from d3vo:
Hi Morgue,
Yesterday while idling some time away, exhausted, I was trawling through youtube videos of people trying Vegemite. While on tour in Australia Oprah tried Vegemite:


American Hustle (USA, 2013)

First up: read Alasdair’s piece about this film, and how everyone’s talking about the actors and no-one’s talking about the plot. Good stuff.

This was headlining at the Roxy the same night Cal & I wanted to use our tickets to the Roxy, so we saw it. And it vexed me. On a different night I could imagine walking out of it. Not that I hated it, or found it upsetting or even boring, but there was something…

Excess – director David O. Russell drives this home right from the opening, an extended and lingering view of Christian Bale’s paunchy con-man applying a hair-piece. It’s not a subtle piece of filmmaking symbolism, this sequence, and I doubt it was intended to be. (See also: the nail polish.) Even here, the camera is restless, switching attention to Bale’s hands, looking at Bale then his reflection then back at Bale. Like the camera is anxious to get moving and is being forced, like the audience, to wait. And then it goes bezerk, two hours plus of feverish swirling camera, lots of closeups, lots of dense frames full of leering people. It goes for the voiceover method to fill in backstory but even here Russell acknowledges what he’s doing and loads it to excess, keeping the voiceover running and running and running until you’re sick of Bale’s voice and then giving other characters a chance to voiceover too and then finally ditching voiceover entirely for the bulk of the film. And Bradley Cooper’s FBI goon and Jennifer Lawrence’s messed-up wife get their characters stretched like bubble gum into the same excessive mold, Cooper’s especially, both saved from rolling over into caricature only by relentless, driving editing and the fundamental ability of both actors to ground what they’re doing.

Watching this film, for me, was an exercise in frustration. I kept feeling like the film was elbowing me out of the screen, knocking me back into my cinema seat, while it barrelled on to its next set piece. It felt like this film had been so caught up in filling itself with excess that it forgot to leave space for the viewer. There was no room for me inside it.

But even then, there was much to enjoy. Amy Adams, playing “sexy” (after building a career on winsome nose-wrinkling), but at the same time going raw, nearly method, letting her face go uncomposed or, I don’t know, unpretty, shameless, while the camera zooms in for a closeup. She was great to watch, and Cooper and Lawrence kinda kept me engaged just to see how they’d manage the high-wire of their OTT characters. And Jeremy Renner (as Alasdair notes, did you read that post I linked to, dooo it) was really sharp with his uneven principled but still sort-of-shady mayor. And Christian Bale -

- oh man, Christian Bale. Maybe it wasn’t David O. Russell who wasn’t giving me room, maybe it was Bale. Dude has screen presence to burn but when I watch him, I feel like there’s something fundamentally ungenerous about how he plays. Like he’d be happiest of all if his work never had an audience at all, the only viewer there’d ever be would be the cold lens of the camera. It’s a great performance, he holds the film together, he anchors it, and he communicates every beat of the tangled/poorly-explained plot through his performance choices. But it was like an ice cube in an empty glass. I wish the film was centred on Amy Adams instead.

Oh yeah, the plot, the story, good if you cared enough to pay attention, but you didn’t need to. The two pivot points (the one that gets Bale invited on a very unpleasant limo ride, and the one that leads to Cooper’s comeuppance) are both ostensibly surprises but I expect lots of people would see ‘em coming from the moment they get set up. The point is the journey through the plot, not its ability to stay a step ahead of you.

High point of the film: the woozy, boozy counterpoint of Bale/Lawrence/Renner out for dinner intercut with Adams/Cooper out dancing. All the stylistic overkill just flowed. Funny, fun, and another reminder that it is a good thing to see Amy Adams dance.

So I dunno man. Did I like this movie? Yeah! Did I dislike this movie! Also yeah! It’ll get some Oscars I guess, and lots and lots of people seem to like it just fine. But, for a movie that’s all about drawing people in, I wish it had tried to do that to me.

Tagged , ,

Burns Linky

“O thou! whatever title suit thee,—
Auld Hornie, Satan, Nick, or Clootie!
Wha in yon cavern, grim an’ sootie,
Clos’d under hatches,
Spairges about the brunstane cootie
To scaud poor wretches!”

Robert Burns: Address to the Devil
Not the Bard’s best work – he calls himself out for ranting in the second-last stanza! – but reliably funny. And if you can read Burns without sounding it out in your head and grinning, you’re a more disciplined soul than me.

Fight Club carpark fight sequence, with Tyler Durden removed.
& at the same link: 30 films from 1984, all turning thirty this year.

Harry Potter: images from a world where Voldemort won.

Piles of old magazines & newspapers, each pile carved out of a single block of wood. Whoa.

Clever miniature photography that makes Star Wars model vehicles look real

Infographic of whisky flavour profiles (via Mundens)

A while back my friend Johnnie excitedly mentioned he’d just been working in the recording studio with Brian “Brian Blessed” Blessed. This is why: a World of Warcraft animated fan film. Trailer below, full movie has just been released, find out more here.

TRAILER – Death Knight Love Story Pt 1 – Jack Davenport, Anna Chancellor, Joanna Lumley, Brian Blessed from Strange Company on Vimeo.

A solidly enjoyable compilation of 6-second videos, each a mind-blowing trick of digital editing:

Six-word peer review (via Karen W)

How a math geek hacked OKCupid to find his perfect match. Hmmn.

An oral history of SWINGERS. I will love this movie forever.

A speculative map: Africa if it had not been colonised

The nasty messages hidden in “Do what you love, love what you do” (via Richie G)

Marvel Comics wiki on Neil Tennant and the Pet Shop Boys

117 Buffyverse characters, ranked worst to best. Impressively committed to the idea of ranking characters. (Via Eliza Dushku, funnily enough.)

And finally… Prodigy’s Firestarter music video, without music


That Was The Was That Was

Lots of people I know had a rubbish 2013. Sometimes a really, really rubbish 2013. Mine was pretty rough in many ways, but next to what other people were going through, it doesn’t seem so bad. So that’s something!

A lot of good stuff cut through in 2013 as well. My name was attached to some very cool projects:

I contributed a story to Baby Teeth, a horror anthology for charity. The anthology’s been getting nice reviews, too.

I co-wrote a scary adventure called Silent Night for Dale Elvy’s brilliant horror role-playing game, EPOCH. Pay what you want, all proceeds to charity, and Dale’s already turned the first batch of revenue into something concrete. Do take a look if this is your kinda thing!

I have sole credit as writer for Flick Kick Football Legends from PikPok, which is a bit of a cheat because I didn’t actually write a few tiny things like, um, the central storyline. But I did write a lot for it, and I’m proud of my contributions. it was a fun project, and it’s a fun game to boot.

I released Providence Summer, 1961, a free series plan for a role-playing game called the Dramasystem. It’s the first thing I’ve ever put out under Taleturn branding – there will be more under this name, for sure. Plus: I did the graphic design by myself and didn’t screw it up too badly! Hurrah!

I’ll shortly be kicking off the month-long buildup to Get Prepared February 22, which is an annual reminder to sort out your disaster preparedness kits, on the anniversary of the awful Christchurch earthquake. It’s still a small thing but it feels worthwhile and sustainable, and I hope it will grow.

I released into creative commons my first novel, the teenage Hutt boy saga in move. A fair number of people read along with the serialisation, and before the file host removed download stats it was clear a lot of people had grabbed the ebook. So I call that a win.

I was a foundation contributor to new blogsite The Ruminator. I used the opportunity to push myself for some more ambitious pieces, the highlight of which was my essay about kids, toys, and gender. I’m very proud of that article and it was shared pretty widely, which was extremely pleasing. I hope to write more for The Ruminator but time has been depressingly short for quite some time now.

And last but not least, the Wee Long-Leggedy Beastie was a solid source of entertainment.

So. That’s not bad. And best of all, I’m already working on some other stuff that’s even more exciting.

So here’s hoping for a hearty 2014 for me and for everyone. See ya later 2013. Thanks for the good times, get out of here for the bad times.


Wee Beastie 2013 Omnibus (part 2)

(Link to part 1)

July 3:

While on the phone to grandy I can hear Wee Beastie chattering away to herself in the lounge. At the end of the call I come in to hear her saying to herself with much glee: “And that was the story of the three bear humptys!”
A fairy tale/nursery rhyme mashup? Sounds great! I ask if she can tell me the story of the three bear humptys.
“Ohhhh… I don’t think so.”
So it appears the tale of the three bear humptys has been lost to history. Sorry folks.

July 5:

My daughter, ladies and gentlemen. At 10pm, in the dark, reading ALL THE BOOKS. Staring at the illustrations and doing the sound effects.

Needless to say there were no books on her bed when she had her goodnight kiss some hours earlier.

July 11:

Wee Beastie driving a train. Grandy in the caboose.

August 3:

Wee Beastie knows we bought some treats home from the supermarket – English breakfast muffins, and mini ice-blocks.
“So what do you want for breakfast?”
“I want a…. ICE BLOCK!”
“How about a breakfast muffin?”
“Yes please! And after that, a BREAKFAST ICE BLOCK!”

August 12:

Wee Beastie’s favourite toy right now is a wooden plane. She puts her small animals and people in the cockpit, and balances more on the wings, and flies it around the room narrating the adventure they are having.

This plane is in fact a spaceship built by my grandfather, to my design, three decades ago. (It is in scale with my Star Wars figures and has a compartment in the back where a bounty hunter could put his prisoner. Oh yes.) She found it in a cupboard and claimed it for herself, and it makes me _indescribably happy_ to see her playing with it. Thanks Percy!

August 28:

Wee Beastie has found a 30cm ruler made of transparent plastic. She is wandering around holding it up to her eyes: “I’m looking at things through my measuring glass”.

September 16:

Wee Beastie walks one of her Little People up to a toy playground swing. She does voices for both.
Person: I would like to swing!
Swing: Yes. Here is your change.
Person: (kicks over swing) But swings don’t have changes!
Person proceeds to toy playground slide.
Person: I would like to slide.
Slide: OK, here is your change.
Person: (kicks over slide) But slides don’t have changes either!

September 18:

Wee Beastie lines up all her cuddly toy friends.
WB: We are doing a show! You can sit right there.
Me: Great! What is the show about?
WB: They are all asleep and then they wake up and go to a show!
Me: Excellent. What do I do?
WB: You just sit there in the theatre. The show is about to start!
Me: Okay!
WB: The show isn’t starting yet because they are all asleep. They need to wake up to start the show!
Me: Shall I help wake them up?
WB: [angry] No! They are asleep at the start of the show! [thinks about this] This show is stuck.

September 24:

Me: All right Wee Beastie, if you’re not coming, I’m going to pick your socks. I pick… these ones!
WB: (several rooms away) No! I don’t like those ones!

September 30:

**Wee Beastie has a toy helicopter.
WB: Daddy daddy! I have a rescue helicopter! You be this doggie and you need to be rescued!
Me: OK. (as the dog cuddly toy) Woof! Help! I need to be rescued!
WB (as helicopter): I don’t think so.
Me: What? Help! Help!
WB: You have a sleep. I might rescue you later.
**WB flies helicopter away.

October 3:

Wee Beastie obviously did some rearranging of books and friends after we said goodnight…

October 9:

Wee Beastie frequently talks about how her favourite character in the Hairy Maclary books is Scarface Claw, and how he is nice really, he just needs a friend.
Now she’s become obsessed with Monsters Inc., where her favourite character is the unscrupulous Randall.

Oh no. She likes bad boys.

October 15:

Wee Beastie starts kindy today! (That’s preschool for you overseas types.) She is very excited. We leave in five minutes..

November 16:

Wee Beastie watching a DVD. Two armoured knights enter pitched battle, swords clashing!
WB: Oh oh! They’re not sharing!

December 12:

Wee Beastie in the back seat of the car today, screaming and screeching in argument. The argument was between her left hand and her right hand, who were not sharing the cracker she was eating. Eventually they agreed to put the cracker back in the plastic container and save it for another day. And all was quiet again.

December 25:

Merry Christmas all! From Wee Beastie and her new friend, the Talking Frog from Monsters Inc.

The Wee Beastie turned 3 just before Christmas. I look forward to 2014!


Wee Beastie 2013 Omnibus (part 1)

(Photo from May 1)

Over on Facebook I try to share amusing moments from life with the Wee Long-Leggedy Beastie that is our daughter. Here’s the first half of 2013…

January 10:

Wee Beastie: Where is the apricot? *arms out, turns around, looking all over the room* Where has it gone?
Me: Have you lost it? Where did you put it?
WB: In my mouth!
Me: You ate it?
WB: Now it is in my tummy!
Me: I guess it is!
WB: In my mouth and my tummy. It comes out the hole.
Me: What did you say? What happens to the food in your tummy?
WB, pulling up my t-shirt, pointing at my bellybutton: It comes out the hole!

Subsequent questioning showed absolute confidence in her theory that the food that goes in her mouth later emerges from her bellybutton.

February 6:

Hearing an unpleasant wailing, Cal Greaney rushes to the Wee Beastie’s bedroom – but just before opening the door, she pauses. That’s not crying – WB’s lying in the dark pretending to be a cat.

February 28:

Wee Beastie: Can you draw a square?
(I draw a square)
WB: And a star?
(I draw a star)
WB: And a moon?
(I draw a crescent moon)
WB, giving me a look: That’s not a very good moon.

She is currently in her bedroom looking for books with better pictures of moons to show me where I went wrong.

March 2:

Wee Beastie bedtime story – she asked me to tell a story about Mickey and Minnie not feeling well. I told her about Doctor Jiminy Cricket coming to help them. (It turned out they’d eaten too much birthday cake.) After I finished she decided the story needed a coda: “Then Doctor Cricket Pitch got back in his car and drove away.”

March 14:

Me: Hey Wee Beastie, you’re dribbling.
WB: (big grin) You’re a dribble!
Me: No, _you’re_ a dribble.
WB: No, YOU’RE a dribble! Hee hee, we’re doing tricks!

March 20:

On a walk with Wee Beastie, after seeing and discussing a dog.
WB: Tell it again?
Me: So if you see a dog by itself, you don’t give it a pat, because it will be a bit afraid waiting for its mummy and daddy to come back. OK?
WB: Mmm. When you see a dog by itself…
Me: Yes?
WB: watch it in the swimming pool and then it takes its togs off and gets all dry and then it goes to see its husbands!!!
Me: yes, that’s pretty much it.

March 26:

Cal Greaney putting the Wee Beastie to bed, telling her nice things about herself.
CG: You are very funny, you make me laugh!
WB: You say Knock Knock?
CG: Knock knock!
WB: No, there’s no-one here.

April 19:

Having animated talk with my mother while Wee Beastie prepares to play with trains. WB gently takes my hand and walks me out the door, then lets go, backtracks inside, and calmly shuts the door in my face.
Undivided attention from grandma: achieved.
(Actually i didn’t let her get away with pushing me around but I was impressed by the smoothness of her intervention.)

April 25:

Somehow the Wee Beastie has ended up with 3 toothbrushes, which means brushing teeth is preceded by a lengthy period of arranging the collection and weighing up the brushes’ various merits before finally choosing which one to use.
Yesterday I decided one of them had frayed far enough, so WB carefully carried the “boy and cat” brush to the bin and dumped it inside.

Last night, as we prepared to do her teeth before bed, I overheard WB with her remaining toothbrushes, holding one in each hand:
(squeaky voice) Oh where is the boy and cat one? Where is it gone?
(normal voice) said the bumblebee toothbrush.
(squeaky voice) Oh I don’t know where is it? The boy and cat one is lost!
(normal voice) said the wiggles toothbrush.
Then she put both brushes in one hand, and with the other she picked up her toothpaste tube and walked it up to the brushes.
(deeper voice) It’s okay! The boy and cat one has just gone in the rubbish that’s all!
(normal voice) said the toothpaste.

I love my Wee Long-Leggedy Beastie.

May 21:

Special dessert chosen by the Wee Beastie: six frozen blueberries, and a pickle.

May 23:

Inspired by Morgan Jones and Janet Humphris, I just asked the Wee Beastie, “Are you a boy or a girl?”
She replied, “I aren’t.”
Case closed.

May 23:

While making dinner, I hear a wail from the lounge. This is what I find.
She was wound about three revolutions deep. (Forgive me for making her wait while I took a photo.)

May 28:

Cal Greaney asks a very sad Wee Beastie why I made her sit in the corner.
WB: (crying) Because I didn’t listen.
Cal: I think you should say sorry to him.
WB: (looking down) Sorry daddy.
Cal: You should look at his face and say sorry.
WB: (meeting my eyes, very sad) I’m sorry about your face daddy.

June 18:

Wee Beastie carefully removes all the money from my wallet, replaces it with clothespegs. “There you are Daddy. I put pegs instead of money in case you might need some pegs.”

June 24:

Wee Beastie is working on her phone technique with a toy phone. I say it’s her grandfather calling! “Will you say hello to him?”
“No. But Baby Dolly will.”
I give her the phone, and she carefully puts it to Baby Dolly’s ear. After a moment she looks at me, eyes big and innocent. “She didn’t say anything! She was just quiet.”

(She didn’t want to talk to Grandy, but she eagerly had a full one-sided conversation with James the Number Five Red Engine.)

(link to part 2)


3 Linky

The Wee Beastie is 3 years old today! Hurrah!

Salon’s Hack List is marvellous this year – each entry written in the style of the hack it is honouring

Charlie Stross wants bitcoin to die in a fire
The weird mechanics of a bitcoin heist
(less controversially, Stross also hates Microsoft Word)

Minimalist circular city maps

Superhero spankings

A big assault on the selfish gene metaphor (there have been replies to this, of course, but I haven’t read any of them yet)

BuzzFeed article generator

The full stop (aka the period) – now it means “I am angry with you!”

Via John Fouhy, and also in the field of internet linguistics, I can’t even

Interesting discussion of the word of Norman Rockwell. I’ve always had a huge soft spot for Rockwell because I grew up with a big coffee table book of his work in the front room.

Pianist up on stage before large audience. The orchestra begin. But they are playing a different concerto to the one she prepared for. What happens next? (Well, she conquers, of course.)

Via Georgios, a lunchbreak romance

And finally, old Finnish people with things on their heads