Watching: Hi I'm a Marvel...and I'm a DC

Following on from the comics theme I seem to have been developing in the last week, I have a few more superhero themed vids for your viewing pleasure.

This series takes the already much parodied I'm a Mac...and I'm a PC Apple ads and puts them into the world of the comic book rivalry between Marvel (Spiderman, X-Men, Hulk etc) and D.C (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman etc).

They're nicely done - the camera work is basic but the writing and particularly the voicework is great.

This is one of the things that I'm really liking about the whole evolution of the web thing (a.k.a Web 2.0) which is turning relatively passive consumers into active participants. The volume of stuff out there might bring on a little cognitive overload from time to time but there is just this incredible feeling of being on a rollercoaster right now with no sense of where this networked life is taking us.

Anyway, check out these clips and have a good weekend


LOLing: vegetable art

These were initially sent to me in an email and I then jumped into Flickr to find them. Apparently acp2049 made these images.

You can use this site to easily embed a Flickr slideshow into your blog page. Enjoy.

Reading: about L(afayette) Ron Hubbard

(Official portrait of L Ron Hubbard - from Wikipedia)

There's been a bit of hoo-haa in the media and online this week about a BBC documentary being made about the Church of Scientology. (Of course, the media does love talking about the media).

Part of it revolves around this rather shouty exchange between BBC journo John Sweeny and Scientology officials.

This clip was widely publicised online a few days before the doco was aired on the BBC, in what some believe was a well managed PR attempt to discredit Sweeny and the doco by the Church of Scientology. (The COS - in a fairly sensible move mediawise - had their own camera team mirroring the BBC team during the whole process and this is presumably their footage)

I'm not entirely sure it would be that much of a PR strategy (if that is what it was) as it's only served to bring a shirtload of attention to the whole thing.

To my ears - I work a fair bit with audio but admit I'm no expert - it seems as though there is something a little odd about the distortion that kicks in during Sweeny's outburst. I have to wonder whether it hasn't been enhanced in some way.

There is a comment on the YouTube video - who knows if it's true - to this extent.

soulrelicsnwsk (11 hours ago)

Im a qualified sound engineer and the I can tell quite easily that the audio has been manipulated. The waves are peaking far behond what could be capable at that range, unless it amplfied or set behond its level.

Anyways, all of this is secondary.

It's been a good opportunity for the commentariat to put in their two cents on the Church of Scientology and L Ron Hubbard and the like, with one of the most interesting - and seemingly well researched pieces - coming from The Age's Jack Marx.

He focusses on the life and times of Scientology founder Hubbard and compares it with the "official" biography.

Here are a few of the nuggets:

L. Ron Hubbard was born in Tilden, Nebraska, in 1911, his family moving shortly thereafter to the state of Montana. It was here, according to Hubbard himself and the official Church biography, that the four-year-old boy struck up a "unique and rare relationship" with a local Blackfoot Indian medicine man known as "Old Tom", Ron's inquisitive nature so impressing the whole tribe that, at the age of six, he was "honored with the status of blood brother of the Blackfeet in a ceremony that is still recalled by tribal elders."

Curiously, officials of the Blackfoot Nation, who never practiced the act of blood brotherhood, do not recall anyone called "Old Tom", the name appearing nowhere in the tribal scriptures.

In his book, The Pulp Jungle, fellow writer Frank Gruber recalled an evening with the 23-year-old Hubbard in New York in 1934, when several hours of listening to Ron's tales prompted Gruber to respond:

"'Well, you were in the Marines seven years, you were a civil engineer for six years, you spent four years in Brazil, three in Africa, you barn-stormed with your own flying circus for six years... I've just added up all the years you did this and that and it comes to eighty-four years...' He blew his stack...Most of the other members expected their yarns to be taken with a pinch of salt, but not Ron. It was almost as if he believed his own stories."

And this is apparently the spiritual tale at the core of the beliefs of the Church:

In a discovery that seemed to owe more to Hubbard's science fiction career than any knowable reality, Ron identified the "thetan", an entity similar to a soul or spirit, whose meddlings inside the human body gave rise to near every ailment or mental condition. Hubbard first spoke of thetans in 1952, but his explanation of where they came from emerged later, during a lecture series about "Advanced" Scientology in 1968.

Briefly, thetans were the regrettable result of the actions of the evil galactic dictator, Xenu, who, approximately 75 million years ago, tricked billions of aliens into travelling to Earth, then known as "Teegeeack", in modified DC8 aircraft, before blowing them up with hydrogen bombs. The wretched souls of the victims, the "thetans", blown into the air by the explosions, were then captured by Xenu and forced into cinemas (located in either Hawaii or the Canary Islands) where they were made to digest a series of motion pictures that depicted all manner of nonsense, including the basic doctrines of Christianity and psychiatry. The thetans then gathered together in groups and infected the bodies of the few who'd survived the bombing, their indoctrination in the movie cinemas cursing humanity to this very day. The only known way one can become "clear" of thetans is through the Church of Scientology...

Interesting column and well worth a read - the comments are priceless too :)


Going: to trivia at the Durham Castle Arms

Those who know me a little know that I have something of a checkered past when it comes to trivia nights and quiz shows.

In my day I've been on Sale of the Century, Jeopardy, The Weakest Link and Temptation - one day I might get around to putting a clip or two online so that the world can share the joy that was my 90's dress sense. (Actually, I do have some pix and fortunately I like a good laugh as much as the next person so here you go)

Sale of the Century 1991 (age 19)

Jeopardy 1993

The Weakest Link 2001

Temptation 2005

Hmm, now where was I - I seem to get so easily sidetracked these days.

Oh yeah, trivia at the Durham last night.

Well the Pussycat likes a bit of a trivia night herself so when she mentioned that it was on it didn't take too much to convince me to head along.

Now this trivia night is organised by a company called Fame trivia who run a pretty successful business of putting on these nights for pubs around the country to a relatively set formula which makes for a pretty entertaining night.

I also have a feeling that they create one set of questions per week, so theoretically, you could go to one early in the week, take notes and head to another one later and clean up - not that I could be bothered particularly. If you were of a mind to though, the jackpot questions last night were the country Hugo Weaving was born in, which golfer was the first to win the US open - or Masters or something four times (it's not Tiger Woods) and the meaning of some word associated with mammals - vibrisso (?) which means whiskers. Go nuts. (If I'm wrong, sorry but that's what you get for trying to cheat :)

Anyways, the place was packed - well it was deserted about 5 mins before the comp but there was a surge of people between then and start time (all the tables were pre-booked) and we (PC, myself and her friend Jodie) were fortunate enough to join nice-guy scientist type Jamie's team "Only here for the beer".

I'll spare you the blow by blow, suffice to say we were leading at half time (there is an opportunity to buy one answer for $2 at this point - there was some debate but my slightly competitive streak won out here) and at the end, we were only a point or two off the pace, coming second and picking up $25 in bar vouchers.

Interesting facts learnt - Australia's second largest bird of prey is the Sea Eagle, the sport of floating down a river on an inflatable mattress is indeed called liloing, the Murray and the Darling rivers meet at Wentworth (sorry guys), Spice up your life was released in 1996 and worms store eggs in their "saddle".

Fun night - not sure if I'll want to do it every week but definitely semi-regularly anyways.


Smiling wryly: at myself, the brainiac

Brainiac is a fictional character, a DC Comics supervillain and frequent opponent of Superman.

Though at his core Brainiac is formless, most incarnations depict him as a bald, green-skinned alien android from the planet Colu, and one of the most intelligent villains in the DC universe, capable of possessing others, creating and manipulating computer systems, and exerting some control over time and space.

(Thanks Wikipedia for the overview - unsurprisingly, given the nature of geekdom the article about Brainiac goes on for several more pages).

In addition to supervillaindom:

Brainiac is a common modern term used to describe someone exceedingly smart in a certain field. Also a slang term, indicating a highly intelligent person. It can be used in a complimentary manner, or it can be used pejoratively when describing so-called "nerds"

Brainiac is also the password I used when setting up a new identity for a web thing I joined recently. (It gets hard thinking of new passwords all the time and yes, maybe I am a little nerdy, give me a break :)

Unfortunately I didn't quite think it through and now, every time I log into this site, I have to type the password braniac. (Who could still be some kind of supervillain - the name says cereal killer to me)


Updating: Watching: Short Seasons

I reviewed Short::Seasons Autumn'007 a couple of weeks ago and bemoaned the fact that none of the film makers appeared to have heard of YouTube.

I'm happy to say that the makers of Lucy's List have put their film up now - it's a little melancholy perhaps and maybe even a little emo but there is something about this film that I just really liked. (Pussycat was less of a fan though)

Watching: The Iraqi Breakfast Club

I'm not sure what it is about the 80s John Hughes film The Breakfast Club that has captured my affections so much but I'm a sucker for any Breakfast Club reference or sample these days. (Maybe it's just that it is the definitive high-school teen angst flick and given that that is where I was when it came out, it was just a good fit)

(The Kleptones - who I will talk about later in the week - have a bunch of samples from this film in their 24 Hours album)

Suffice to say then that I was tickled when I came across this animation online a little while ago. It's a couple of years old now but takes the Breakfast Club concept and applies it to the process of coming up with the new Iraqi constitution.

(The only thing that's missing is the "Does Barry Manilow know you raid his wardrobe?" line - never mind)