Monday, October 31, 2005

Up Yours, Memorex

Targeted ads are all the rage, these days. Rather than mercilessly bombard an anonymous individual with as many ads as possible, in the hope they’ll see something they want to buy, it makes much more sense to mercilessly bombard someone with ads you think they’ll like.

Let me state for the record, that I hate advertising. I would like just once to sit through a TV show, a movie or website, without someone trying to sell me something.

You see, I saw something this morning that struck me as totally dishonest, and designed purely to trick the uninformed.

Today, a game that MC Etcher sent me arrived by mail (By the way, thanks Mike!)

Included with the game, on a CD-R, was a patch for the game. I looked closely at the front of the CD-R, and saw that it was a Memorex ‘Music’ CD-R.

Before I begin here, let me be 100% clear that I am in no way calling Mike dumb, stupid or a ‘Noob’ for buying a ‘Music’ CD-R. The fact it’s a computer file on the disc proves that he‘s not. I’ve also bought ‘Music’ CD-R’s myself, simply because they were the cheapest at the store.

Here’s the thing. A recordable CD is a recordable CD. The do differ in some ways, amount of storage and recording speed, being the main differences.

However, so far, I have seen ‘MP3 CD-Rs’, ‘Music CD-R’s’ and ‘Data CD-R’s’. Let me be absolutely clear on this. There is no physical difference whatsoever between these discs.

A CD-R is, basically, a thin layer of metal sandwiched between two pieces of plastic. The Metal is coated with a dye, that changes color when the ’writing’ laser in a CD-R drive hits it. One color for 1, another color for 0. All data on a CD is stored in binary as ones and zeros, it makes no difference what that data actually is.

So why are all the CD-R producers releasing recordable media that is marked as being suitable for only one particular media?

Basically, they’re trying to trick as much money out of us as possible.

You see, they’re hoping that Mr. and Mrs. New Computer User are going to get their first computer with a recordable drive and go to the local CompUSA to buy some CD-R’s.

“Look.” Mr. New Computer User would say. “They have these ones for music, and these ones for data. I want to do both!”
“Well, buy a package of each, then.” Replies Mrs. New Computer User.

Logical, right? If you’re new to computers, it’s not such a big stretch to think that Music CD’s and Data CD’s are ‘different’. After all, you can’t connect your Audio CD player to your computer and install software with it, and if you put a Data CD into an Audio CD player, you get that horrible screeching noise.

Then they leave the store, with an extra package or two of discs that they simply don’t need.

It’s nothing but a blatant attempt to confuse and trick more money out of people.

…and you know what? I’m not sure I want to buy anything from a company that’s blatantly trying to screw me over.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Read this and I'll SUE! (Not really)

I need to begin today with a short history lesson.

Back in the 80’s a group of clever boffins invented the home VCR. There was much rejoicing.

However, the Entertainment Industry, and this is a technical term, shit a gold brick. According to them, home video was going to ruin the TV and Movie industry.

Their reasoning was simple. The TV folks said that people would stop watching TV in real time, and use the devil VCR to edit out advertisements. Less eyes on the ads meant less money, which meant no more TV shows.

The Movie people reasoned that once the power to copy movies was in the hands of the general public, no one would buy movies any more. They’d copy them.

This is a standard reaction. You see, when new ideas come along, the established people in that area crap themselves. It’s the two rules of having a lot of money. 1) You want more money, and 2) You want to hang on to the money you have.

Luckily, at this time, the movie studios and TV people were unable to do anything about it. The most that could be done was to make sure that everyone knew that copying copyrighted material was a crime. They didn’t have the power or influence to bury Video Tape.

However, an amazing thing happened. Rather than having the movie industry crumble around their ears, the Studios began to make truck loads of money. They were so short sighted that they didn’t realize that home video opened up a whole new market. Rather than spend a few dollars to see a movie, and that be the start and end of it, people could see a movie, and if they liked it, buy their own copy.

Yes, money was lost to piracy, but the money from Video sales more than covered it. Like losing a penny and finding a dollar. Think about this, look at your movie collection. Tally up what it’s worth. Multiply that by the population of your country, and you have a rough idea of how much extra cash the Entertainment Industry had raked in since VCR and DVD was released.

The same thing happened with DVD. DVD was delayed enormously (almost meatnormously), by the movie studios. Their reasoning was thus: Copied video tapes tended to be very poor quality. A fourth or fifth generation copy was almost unwatchable. Rather than give, say $5, to the shady guy on the street corner for a pirate copy of ET, people where willing to spend $10 on an original, professional and legal copy. DVD would change that.

The movie studios pointed out that a digital copy is identical to the original. Where analogue video tape copies get worse and worse the more you copy it, a 1000th generation digital DVD copy would be indistinguishable from the original.

The movie studios came up with a different tactic this time. If DVD recorders, capable of recording and copying just like a VCR, were released, they’d simply refuse to support them.

Basically, if no retail movies were released on DVD, very few people would buy DVD recorders, leading to the death of the format. After all, why would anyone spend up to $2000 on a DVD recorder, when their $40 VCR could do the same thing, albeit at lower quality, and you could buy movies for it?

This is the main reason why for the first few years of DVD, you could only buy DVD Players, and not DVD Recorders. This is also why dual layer DVD’s (that hold over 8gb), cost almost the same amount as a retail DVD movie. Basically, why go to the trouble of copying a DVD, when you’ll pay almost the same amount for the blank recordable DVD as you would for the original?

Basically, the Entertainment Industry said: “DVD Players, that can only play OUR movies are great. If they can do anything else, we’ll act like they don’t exist.”

However, DVD recorders were, in the end, released to the general public. The basic idea was that you can’t ban legal hardware, for what some people might choose to do with it. It would be like banning cars because they can be used for getaways, or banning phones because they can be used to plan crimes.

The responsibility was left with the Movie studios. If they didn’t want their movies copied, it was up to them to protect their discs.

However, this is happening again with the advent of High Definition DVD players and Blue Ray DVD players.

In essence, the movie studios are demanding control over the hardware that their property is being played on. Like a music group demanding that their music only be played on a certain type of CD player.

This time, they have a lot more control. You see, whereas up to now, this problem has come up with new technology, HD and Blue Ray is, in essence, a variant of existing technology.

Killing a superior format is nothing new. For example, the battle between VHS and Betamax video tape showed this. Betamax was, quite simply, the superior format, as it allowed over 8 hours of quality recording on BOTH sides of a tape. VHS is single-sided, and manages roughly 3 hours per tape.

A Betamax tape was better quality, and could hold over five times more than a VHS tape. This didn’t stop it from getting killed off, when certain media producers refused to support it.

The sad truth is this. You can come up with the most efficient, user friendly, cheap and high quality media player in the world. The Entertainment industry has the final say on whether it’s a success or not.

It’s a sad fact today that the Movie Studios have so much control, because it can only hurt us, the consumer. They have almost unprecedented control over the hardware we can have in our homes. Not only that, but they also have control over what we can and can’t do with the hardware we own.

You see, I own my DVD player. I own my computer. It belongs to ME. However, despite this, the Entertainment Industry has a huge say in what I can and can’t do with it. Just because a certain functionality CAN be used for illegal purposes, doesn’t mean it WILL, and should be removed because of it..

You see, it’s a common misunderstanding that when you buy music or a movie that you actually own the copy. (This is why you hear people complain that a DVD only costs about 30 cents to reproduce, but we get charged over $20). What you actually BUY is the license to view the movie. The actual copy is secondary.

For example, if I buy a movie, under the law, I can make as many copies as I like. It’s called ‘fair use’.

I’ve bought the license to view it, it doesn‘t matter if I view it on the original physical media I bought it on. It only becomes illegal if I sell or distribute the copies I make.

The Entertainment Industry’s stance is this: “Why would anyone copy a CD or DVD they already own? What’s the point? If people are copying our stuff, they’re pirating it, plain and simple.”

This, however, is bullshit. Legal copies can be made for numerous reasons. Making a backup in case the original vets destroyed. Making an extra copy of a CD to listen to in the car. Ripping all your DVD’s to a Hard-drive of a computer that’s hooked up to a full-size TV for convenience. Why hunt through your collection when a double click will put it on your screen?

However, the Studios are attempting to make this impossible to do. They’re trying to give us the idea that copying media is illegal, which it quite simply isn’t. Distribution of copyrighted material is illegal. Making a copy isn’t.

I take exception to this. I’m not saying ‘I want to copy copyrighted material, I want free stuff, so it should be legal‘, but these laws should be relaxed a little.

Over-zealous copy protection is hurting the medium. We lost a far superior form of VCR in the 80’s, and it’s highly likely that we’ll miss out on superior forms of DVD, because the studios decide that the new format is too easy to copy. Freedoms we’ve had for decades are being taken away. What happens when the Entertainment Industry decides we can’t tape stuff off the TV to watch later, unless we use a particular type of recorder that won’t make additional copies?

The saddest thing is that even freely distributable game demos are now turning up with copy protection. Some computers are refusing to play perfectly legal discs because the copy protection is so tight that computers are thinking that media is pirated, even when it isn’t.

The simplest way to state this case is that the Entertainment Industry does not have the legal right to enforce half of the things it does, but it gets away with it anyway, because it’s the biggest bully in the schoolyard. They have no legal right to stop you from making legal copies, but they do anyway. It’s play football by their rules, that make sure they always win, because they’re the ones who own the football.

The most unfortunate this is that this isn’t just for home DVD and CD players. Peer to Peer networks are also suffering. Napster, Kazaa, Bittorrent are suffering over it, due to the scramble to shut them down, or severely limit their functionality.

Bittorrent is an excellent tool. It allows bands and movie makers to distribute their own legal content very easily and cheaply. A great example of this is Pod casting (Internet Radio), and Internet ‘TV’ like Systm.

Rather than having to pay huge bandwidth and hosting charges, people can use their own audience to distribute their media. Right now, on my computer, I’m ‘seeding’ the entire run of ‘This Week in Tech’, and about half of the ‘Systm’ episodes. Both are legal, and I’m helping these shows that I like reach a larger audience, with no costs to the creators.

Basically, using Bittorrent to distribute files is like me printing a hardcopy of each of my blog posts, giving a copy to my friends, and telling them if they like it, to make a photocopy and give it to their friends. I’d get an exponential growth in my audience, and it wouldn’t cost me anything other that what it cost to produce the original.

This is another thing that the major mainstream studios don’t like, as it frees future movie, TV and Radio producers form the studio system. If I wanted to start a radio show or TV show, why should I be forced to go through a studio, give them a huge cut of any money I might make, while having to bring in advertising, which would in effect censor my show, when I can make it myself and distribute it for free?

Again, like DVD and VCR, Peer to Peer networks are being shut down because they can be used for illegal purposes. You don’t ban VCR’s because they can play copied tapes, or DVD players because they can show copied DVD’s.

Why close down a legal Peer to Peer network, because it can be used to distribute copyrighted files?

In the end, Movie studios and media producers don’t actually OWN your DVD player, VCR or computer, so why should they have so much control over what you can and can’t do with it?

It’s infringing on our own legal rights. By law, I can back up my own Movies and Music. I own the license to do so.

Let me reiterate this. If I buy a CD, I’m buying the license to listen to it. The actual CD, the media that the album is on, is secondary. If I’m legally allowed to buy a CD, then make a copy of it to put in my car, why is the entertainment industry allowed to put obstacles in my path to stop me from doing so?

Audio tape, the standard for decades had no copy protection, and it didn’t hurt the music industry. Why have things changed because the same music is now on a CD?

The absolute saddest thing is that this is a typical knee-jerk reaction. When Napster first hit the scene, it allowed many non-signed bands to develop an audience. During that time, CD sales actually ROSE, they didn’t fall.

This was because with Napster, you’d look for your favorite artists. You’d find another user, who also enjoyed the same type of music that you did, but they would also have MP3s from bands you’d never heard of, that you’d discover through Napster. If you liked them enough, you’d go out and buy the CD.

There’s the stone cold truth of it. Since Peer to Peer networks and the introduction of DVD, sales of movies and music have steadily increased.

However, facts and figures can be twisted. This summer saw a fall in DVD sales and Movie Box Office receipts. The Entertainment Industry is blaming this on piracy. I see it another way, this summer saw some of the worst movies in recorded history. This summer, few people went to the movie theatres or bought DVD’s, not because they had pirate copies, but because there was nothing worth watching.

Copyright laws are simply too extreme. For example, just by me writing this post and publishing it, it automatically becomes copyright for my lifetime, plus 70 years. I don’t even have the legal right to tell you that you’re free to download, copy, distribute or alter this post in any way. Even if I, the creator of this post, give you permission to do so, you’re still technically breaking copyright law if you copy this.

I’m going to end today with an open question to the Entertainment Industry:

Why are you doing this? You’re making it harder and harder for people to enjoy your products, and demanding that things that users like, that boost your business, be shut down and banned. Napster, before it became the pay-per-track system it is now, resulted in over a billion dollars in extra sales. Why do you think this is a bad thing?

In short, why do you enjoy pissing your consumers off, and why, with every new technology, must you be dragged kicking and screaming to the money tree?

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Matthew Lesko Must Die

I have yet another theory.

The people who write TV ads are all either a) on crack, or b)mentally subnormal.

Remember when TV ads used to actually advertise what they were selling? “Washing Powder X, cleans your clothes better than competing brands!”

They may have been talking crap, but at least you knew what the hell they were selling.

Nowadays ads look like they were written by frustrated film students. I still don’t see the connection between ‘feminine hygiene products’, and windsurfing, sailing and water skiing. There are prepubescent boys everywhere who wish they to could have a period, because it looks like so much fun.

Anyway, two adverts have caught my attention recently.

First of all is the army ads. “Strength for now, strength for later.”

What these ads should say is: “Join the army and be a smug, self satisfied bastard for the rest of your life!”

Now I have nothing against the army, or and branch of the armed forces, but those ads are making them all look like self absorbed assholes. The ads all follow the same formula:

Guy starts new job. A new co-worker says “You ever done anything like this before?” or “Ever been around anything like this?”

Cut to montage of the guy being trained by the army.

The cut back to the guy at his new job.

“Yeah, in my last job.” He says, before giving his new co-workers a superior grin, while looking all smug and self satisfied.

You can tell what his new co-workers are thinking:

“What a tool.”

Here’s an idea, Mr Ex-army guy. Instead of saying ‘Yeah (grin), in my last job.” Why not just say: “Yes, I worked on Apache attack helicopters for the army, so sure, I know what I’m doing with this one.”

To the army, why not try to show that working for the army for a few years give you lots of skills and self-confidence…not self absorption.

However, nothing on TV annoys me more than that complete and utter tool Matthew Lesko and his ‘Free Money’ ad.

To the Brits in the audience, let me explain this. Matthew Lesko sells a book that details all of the government grants available in the USA. He points out that nearly everyone in the USA is able to receive these benefits, and you should buy his book.

What do you expect? A serious looking guy in a business suit, sitting behind an oak desk, explaining calmly that the Government offers all kids of grants and benefits, that you’re able to apply for?

Well, that’s what you’d expect.

Instead, what you get is a 60 year old guy wearing a lemon yellow and ‘worrying piss’ green colored suit, covered in question marks. That’s right, just like ‘The Riddler’ from Batman.

He stamps around outside, looking like he’s drank 15 black coffees with speed in it instead of sugar, and literally shouts and screams that you too can get ‘Free Money!”

Americans in the audience, please back me up on this. Can anyone watch this ad without getting the irresistible urge to punch this guy in the face as hard as you can, over and over, until he stops moving?

I have another problem with this advertisement. It’s not just because of Mr Attention Deficit Disorder.

You see, I used to work for the Unemployment office in Britain, and I hate to say this, but no money is ‘Free’. It doesn’t appear out of nowhere. It comes from taxes and the people that work.

Basically, it bugs the ever living crap out of me that this green and yellow, question mark wearing freak, is running around outside and basically screaming: “Work for a living? Nah, just get your grubby mitts on the piles of cash taxed from people who do! Why work for a living when you can let everyone else do it for you!”

Sigh, Rant over

(PS, Mum and Dad, I tried to keep the Bad Language under control.)

Friday, October 28, 2005

They're coming! Chain Down the Writing Implements!!!

A while ago, I wrote a post about the Post Office. Basically, my point was you pay the post office for a service (EG, take your letter or package, and deliver it somewhere), so why do you have to pay extra for insurance to make sure it gets there?

I said it’s the same as going to a garage to get your car fixed, and the mechanic saying “Brake job? That’ll be $50, but if you pay me $75, I’ll put it right if I fuck it up.”

I’m paying you for a service, if you lose or break my package, why aren’t you liable?

Well, a few days ago, I visited the bank, in order to get some notarized copies of some documents for my status change.

Like the post office, I noticed something that all banks do.

Next time you go into a bank, look closely at the counter. To be more precise, look at the pens on the counter.

The f**king things are chained down!

Think about this for a minute.

First of all, what do you do at a bank? That’s right, you give them your money to keep safe it safe. You trust the bank with your entire life savings. They expect you to walk in, hand a perfect stranger your paycheck, or a large wodge of cash, and that’s fine.

Don’t however, expect them to trust you with a 12 cent disposable pen.

“No, you fuckers! You may have just handed me $500, but the second my back’s turned, I just know that you’re going to whip away my valuable pens!”

This always makes me think of Gollum with the Ring of Power. Try and steal a pen…

“NO! You MUSTN’T TAKE the PRECIOUS!!!” (Bites off finger and runs into one of the back offices.)

Look, you banking bastards, I just handed you a hefty wedge of greenbacks. I can more than afford to run next door to the Dollar General and buy a whole pack of pens.

Fuck! They’re JUST PENS!

Ok, ok…before I get jumped on, I realise that the pens may be chained down to stop people from absent mindedly walking off with them. We’ve all done it, either at school or the office. Someone hands you a pen to write something, and when you finish, you pop it into your pocket without thinking.

Pens are absolutely critical at a bank, if you don’t have something to sign your name with, you’re screwed.

However, the other thing about banks is that they are also the richest businesses in the world. They charge you interest and all that crap, but don’t think your money just sits in a vault somewhere. Nope, it’s lent to other bank users and paid back with an inflated interest rate. Your money is also used to invest in businesses and all that crap. That’s right, money in the bank is working for the bank.

So can you explain to me why every other little tinpot business in the world gives out pens, with the business’s name on the side, as free gifts.

Why not just put the name of the bank on the side, and leave them out? They’re making an absolute mint on all of us, but don’t want to go to the expense of a couple of cheap pens?

Quite simply, like silence in a library, banks and post offices protect their pens like they’re the most precious thing in the world.

If you really want to freak out bank and post office clerks, charge in wearing a ski-mask and scream:

“Hands up Mother-Stickers! This is a fuck-up! Put all the pens in the bag!!!”

You see, they’re trained in how to act in a robbery, and I don’t think handing over piles and piles of other people’s money, which is insured anyway, is all that traumatic for them.

Threaten the pens, the items that they covet and guard so jealously, and they’ll faint where they stand.

DISCLAIMER : This blog post is for entertainment purposes only. If you're dumb enough to charge into a bank wearing a ski-mask, you deserve to get your ass shot off by the police. Don't blame it on me, Jackass, The Internet or Video Games. If I told you to jump of a bridge, would you go do it? If you answered yes to the last question, go jump of a bridge, you're doing the human race a favor

Thursday, October 27, 2005

ARRRRRRRRGGGGGH!

For the first time since starting this blog, I decided to write directly into blogger, instead of writing it into word first.

I wrote about 1500 words, that were truly spank-tastic, and when I tried to publish it, I lost everything I wrote.

I can't be arsed writing it again, so...

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Anyone who's read my wife's blog today will have heard the latest in Politically Correct madness.

For those that didn't, here it is in a nutshell:

Two British banks are banning 'piggy banks', because it may offend Muslims.

I would say this is the most retarded thing I've ever heard. The sad thing is, when it comes to political correctness, it frankly isn't. It's a tame example.

Here's just a few. It's no longer politically correct to say "black list' because it may be offensive to black people. It's wrong to call a black person 'black', they're 'African American'.

That last thing particularly pisses me off. If I was black, why am I suddenly 'African', just because of the colour of my skin? Isn't it a hundred times more offensive to force a nationality on someone who may be eighth generation American, than to refer to them by their actual colour?

The most pathetic thing is that political correctness is completely and totally counter productive.

You see, white people hear about things like this, and it offends us. Being told that there won't be a Christmas Tree in the center of town this year, or that Santa will not be part of the Christmas parade...all because it might offend non-Christians who have different traditions and customs, really pisses us off. Represent the minority, sure, but why do we have to disregard the majority?

It's the equivalent of voting in a general election, and then giving the presidency to the candidate who got the fewest votes. It makes no sense.

In short, white people are being told: "It's wrong to celebrate your customs and traditions, because it will offend non-whites. However, non-whites and non-Christians are still allowed to celebrate anything they damn well please, because if we tell them they can't, it'll offend them."

It's fine to ignore and exclude the majority. It's a mortal sin to exclude a minority.

I mean, why exclude anyone???

When it comes to Politically correct shit like this, if any other race, religion or creed was treated like White Christians, it would be racism, plain and simple.

However, the main point I think everyone needs to know, is that it's not the minorities who think this shit up. You average Jew, Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist doesn't give a damn if there's a Christmas Tree in the town center. They don't give a crap if Santa and Rudolph make an appearance in a Christmas day parade. Most of all, they don't care if a Bank gives out a pottery money receptacle, just because it's in the shape of an animal their religion forbids them to eat.

I'm certain they care about equal representation. Santa, Rudolph and a Christmas Tree, to the exclusion of everything else would be bad, but equal rights does not mean preferential treatment for any one group. White or otherwise.

These things are thought up by middle aged, middle class white people, who come up with another great idea that's going to show just how non-racist they are. The saddest thing is that everything they come up with is another way of dividing everybody into Us and Them.

It promotes bad feeling as well. I've heard a few people, when they've heard the newest piece of politically correct bullshit say "F**king Jews/Blacks/Muslims! They want everything their own way."

I can understand the actual feeling. Who doesn't feel slighted when an immigrant minority is given preferential treatment over the born citizens of a country? The problem is, this feeling is completely misdirected. Don't blame the minorities, blame the stupid bastards who come up with this shit.

Being an immigrant myself, I think I have a special viewpoint on this. I'm an immigrant, but I'm also a white male.

Here's the deal. Some British holidays are completely passed over in the USA, and there are others that could be considered downright offensive to the British People.

Take Independence Day. This is a holiday that celebrates the day that America stopped being under British Rule. Basically, July 4th celebrates the American people defeating my people in a war.

Am I marching on Washington, demanding that this Holiday be scrapped, as it offends British people, a certified immigrant minority in America?

Am I bollocks! You see, I understand one thing. America isn't my country. I moved here of my own free will, and you simply don't walk into a country, and demand things that have been done for centuries be stopped, because you don't like it. Minorities know this. It's the white do-gooders who decide that doing something like this is not only a good thing, but completely necessary.

However, when it comes to race and religion, it's different because it's not someone coming into a country and demanding things be changed. It's a minority group of the majority that takes it upon themselves to speak for a minority, whether the minority in question likes it or not.

In the end, I think Carlos Mencia has the right idea. He's a comedian, and will happily take the piss out of any race, religion, majority or minority...most importantly, including himself.

Everyone should grow a sense of humour. I don't throw a shit fit every time I hear a black comedian tell a white joke (We can't dance, we're all nerds, and apparently, we all talk like Professor Frink).

I'd like to end with something for you to think about:

In the Movie, "The Longest Yard", Chris Rock says:

"I was so bad at sports at high school, they used to pick me after the white kids."

Everyone laughed, it was funny.

Now consider this. If instead of the above joke, Adam Sandler had said:

"I was so dumb at high school, I scored lower in tests that the black kids."

What do you think would have happened? Newspaper headlines? The end of Adam Sandler's career? Probably.

Basically, Political Correctness can bite my White English Ass.

Feel free to make fun of me. Tell white jokes, British jokes, guy jokes. I have a sense of humour. If it's funny, I'll laugh.

Just don't get upset when I make fun of you back.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Chicken a la Paulius

Ok, I'm about to write a post I promised myself I'd never do.

A recipe.

In my own defence, not only do I think this is worth sharing, but if I put it up here, Sunny can't say she doesn't know how to make it, so I won't have to cook it all the time.

Bear in mind, the weightwatchers out there, that this is hardly 'low fat'.

You have been warned.


Chicken A La Paulius:

You will need.

One chicken breast per person.
Mozzerella cheese
Bacon (Streaky bacon for the Brits in the audience)
Garlic powder
Whatever herbs you like (Mixed italian seasoning works best)
Butter or Margerine

To prepare:

Take your chicken breasts (fully thawed), and place on a sheet of plastic wrap, fold the plastic wrap over the top.

Hammer the chicken breasts flat (to about a 1" thickness), and remove from the plastic wrap.

Put a few slices slices of mozerella on top of the chicken breasts, sprinkle with garlic powder and herbs.

Roll the chicken breasts into a cylinder, with the cheese inside, like wrapping a pancake around a sausage link.

Wrap a single slice of bacon around each chicken breast to hold everything in place.

Put in a pre-heated oven at 400 degrees.

Put your margerine into a microwaveable cup, and add garlic powder and your herbs. Microwave for about 40 seconds until the butter is melted.

Use the margerine/garlic mixture to baste your chicken every 5-10 minutes.

The chicken will take roughly 20 - 30 minutes to bake. Check it often, and be sure to cut into one to make sure it is cooked through before serving.

Oh, and one last thing, put another slice of mozerella on top of your chicken breasts about 5 minutes before removing them from the oven.

Serve immediately (They aren't good cold), with whatever you like.

Shouting 'BAM!', 'Let's kick it up a notch' or 'Pukka!', is entirely optional, but not recommended.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Revelations is Revolutionary

Ok, I’ve gotta say, anyone in Charter’s area should definitely get their high speed broadband.

You just can’t argue with $20 a month.

It really is blisteringly fast. Watching streaming video with no delay whatsoever. I downloaded the Doom 3 demo (500mb) in less than a half an hour. In fact, I watched some streaming video, with a game demo downloading at 250kps in the background.

If you’ve never used a broadband connection before, I can only explain it like this. It’s a whole different internet. You just don’t realise the amount of stuff that’s available.

Anyway, I’m going to stop talking about Broadband now.

Today’s post is going to be more of a review.

I’d heard a lot of rumblings about Star Wars : Revelations, a 40 minute Star Wars fan film. Being the Star Wars geek that I am, I decided to download it and take a look.

To be perfectly honest, I usually avoid fan films like the plague, unless they’re spoofs or poke fun at the movie they’re based on. (The CG musical short ‘One Season More’, and the ‘Pink Five’ series are awesome). The reason I usually avoid fan-films is simple, 999 times out of 1000, Fan Films suck ass. Usually, they’re nothing more than a group of friends dressed in bad Halloween costumes, badly acting out a story that is totally self indulgent, crap and rarely makes sense.

Basically, geeks use them as an excuse to get dressed up and have light saber fights with their friends. Fun for them, classic movie raping eye torture for everyone else.

However, Revelations surprised the hell out of me. It was actually GOOD.

Let me get the bad stuff out of the way first.

It has to be said that the acting in it is pretty dire. One character, who is meant to be a Vader-style bad ass, recites her lines in a monotone mumble, and her facial expressions just never change. It’s almost painful to watch her. The best actor in the film is on the same level with your average daytime soap-opera.

The costumes and some of the locations are ‘off’ as well. Some scenes look like they raided the Halloween section at walmart. One scene has a Mon Calamari character who’s face is a fairly well done silicon mask, but animatronics it ain’t. No movement whatsoever. It doesn’t look like an alien, it looks like a guy in a mask. Surprisingly, the Darth Vader costume and the Storm Trooper costumes are absolutely spot-on. However, the emperor looks a lot like a plastic Micheal Moore who’s been put in a microwave.

The locations that aren’t done in Blue Screen also look a little out of place. They’re not necessarily bad, but are noticeable. Obviously, they are real world locations and haven’t been constructed and lit, and don’t look very star-warsy

However, all of this is forgivable.

This is a fan film, made by a group of people with no financial backing. They’re simply not professionals, and have paid to make this short out of their own pocket. As long as you have your expectations in the right place, it’s fine. Obviously they couldn’t afford to fly out to Tunisia to simulate a desert planet. They can’t afford a full animatronic mask for the alien characters. The best way to look at it is that some of the aliens in the Cantina scene in Episode IV didn’t look amazingly convincing either.

However, the special effects and CG work is absolutely amazing…and I don’t mean amazing for a fan-film. The modeling is done excellently, and the animation is absolutely top notch. Put it this way, if the CG scenes had been rendered in higher resolution, you’d be hard pushed to tell the difference between Revolutions and a current feature film. Only one or two scenes are a little shaky. For example, watching the TIE-Fighters launch in one scene, makes them look a little like weightless toys. However, this is one tiny fly in a big old bowl of ointment.

The chase scene through the shipyard is outstanding. The explosions look fantastic, and the new (never before seen) ships are extremely well designed. I particularly liked the main shipyard facility, a space station that has huge long fins all around, that look very similar to the Solar Panels on the side of the Tie fighter. It really helped tie in the structure to the established Star Wars Universe.

I think the best compliment I can give the makers of this film about the CG design is this: It’s new, but it looks like it actually belongs in the Star Wars universe.

The story is fairly well written. There are, however, a few holes. Two Jedi character’s fight all the way through like cat and dog. Not very ‘Jedi’ like. However, I can’t really call this a bad thing, as it’s just my interpretation of how a Jedi would act.

There are a few more slight niggles I have. For example, a lot of the light saber combat isn’t up to scratch. Some of them are well choreographed and acted, but some just look like ‘banging sticks’. Again, though, they didn’t spend months practicing with a stage fighting professional.

In the end, I can say the production quality on Revelations gives me a lot of hope for the proposed Star Wars TV series. If amateurs can make a 40 minute movie, on the budget they had, and end up with something of this quality…professionals should be able to make a TV series that kicks, rather than sucks, ass.

I’d really recommend downloading this movie. It’s obviously not up there with the ‘real’ Star Wars saga, but I don’t think any amateur, with the same budget constraints could do any better.

As long as you don’t start this movie up, expecting to see a multi-million dollar feature, I think you’ll enjoy it.

If this was a 'real' movie, I'd give it a 4 out of 10.

As it is, I'll give it a 9 out of 10.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Broadband Bizatch!

MUAHA HA HA HA BROADBAND INSTALLED, BEYOTCHES!

Ok, I can calm down now.

I think there's be three possible reactions to this post:

People who have broadband will think 'so?'
People who still have dial-up will go 'That would be SOOOO coooool"
...and my wife will say "Grow up, you great big fat nerd!"

All I can say is this. Last week, on my Dial up connection, I downloaded the latest drivers for my video card. The file was 18mb, and took almost 6 hours.

I just started downloading the Half-Life 2 demo, which is 751mb, and it's going to take about 45 minutes.

Anyway, this isn't' just a gloat post. To everyone who knows me, my Bellsouth email address won't be valid within a few days. So in the meantime, you can email to my Yahoo address (it's linked on the left of this page).

I'll get my new charter email address set up sometime tonight, and everyone who's privileged enough to know my private email address will get the new address emailed to them shortly.

Finally, I can actually look at the videos and crap that Kato links to.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Man DIY Doesn't Ride Again!

Ok, nobody panic, but I think the world may be broken.

Since starting this blog, I’ve started to develop a much more positive attitude to when stuff fucks up, because after all, it’ll make a good blog post, right?

Well, today, Sunny decided that we’d borrow her Mum’s truck, go get some mulch, and re-mulch the front of the house. You know, pretty it up a little bit.

Let me quote Sam, of Sam ’n’ Max fame:

“I was filled with disgust and an odd sense of foreboding.”

This project came under the headings of gardening and DIY, neither of which I have much success with. Regular readers will know that the simplest DIY jobs turn to ratshit if I’m involved in any way.

Basically, I’ve came to the conclusion that I’m an Anthropomorphic Personification (Like Death, Father Time, Jack Frost or The Sandman).

What Anthropomorphic Personification am I?

I’m Murphy the embodiment of Murphy’s Law…God of Fuckups (DIY division to be precise)

Just like the God of Wine has his negative, the ’Oh’ God of hangovers…I am the negative of Lady Luck. The embodiment of Home repair and maintenance gone wrong.

“Oh well.” I thought. “Tonight’s going to be another ‘Man DIY Rides Again’ post.”

It had all the classic hallmarks of a DIY disaster. It involved a trip to Lowe's to get the landscape sheeting to stop the weeds from growing up through the new mulch, giving the sales assitant every opportunity to screw me over. It involved cutting this sheeting with an extremely sharp knife, meaning it had the ‘disastrous but hilarious injury’ potential. It also involve moving a few hundred pounds of mulch (By the way, I love that word…mulch, mulch, mulch…it’s one of those words that sounds dirty, but isn’t…like ‘flange’ and ‘gusset’.)

As far as I was concerned, I was all set. I’d attempt the job, fuck it up royally, the cat would make a cameo while trying to kill me, and I’d be sitting here now, injured, annoyed, but with something funny to write. I’m Murphy, remember? It’s my job. I’m the Shadow that defines the Light. Without my royal screw-ups, there could be no ‘job well done’s’

However, what happened went beyond Murphy‘s Law. It was damn right freaky.

We went and got the mulch. Brought it home, and it didn’t blow out of the back of the truck, and did not result in a scary but humorous encounter with the SC Highway patrol.

Then I laid out the Landscape sheeting. We didn’t have enough, but we didn’t expect to. This was known and prepared for ahead of time, meaning I didn’t shout and swear a lot, and have to go back to Lowes today.

I cut the sheet to size, and didn’t cut myself, therefore not leading to much humorous cursing and bleeding.

I laid out the sheeting and did not drop the rocks I was holding it place with on my toe, meaning I didn’t end up hopping around the front yard, screaming hilariously.

Then the wind didn’t blow it away, which didn’t lead to a hilarious chase across the property, followed by me not tripping and landing on a porcupine or in some animal poodoo.

Then Sunny backed the truck up and didn’t roll over my toe, which didn’t lead me to invent numerous new swear words, while trying frantically to work out the international sign for ‘The Truck is On My Toe‘ through the truck window..

We then shoveled the mulch onto the sheet. It didn’t cause a mulch-avalanche, and did not bury me up to my ears. A Spider did not crawl out of the mulch onto my face, meaning I didn’t squeal like a 3 year old girl.

I also didn’t trip and fall over, didn’t end up with a mouthful of old tree bark, and didn’t have a Biff Tannen “I hate manure!” moment.

Then we took the rake to even out the mulch. I didn’t step on the rake, leading to me not getting a big humorous bruise on my face and a week long speech impediment. The mulch evened out easily, and I didn’t end up with bare patches, an I didn’t tear the sheet underneath, meaning I didn‘t swear a lot, and didn’t have to put all the mulch back on the truck while I didn‘t replace the sheet.

On my way into the house, I didn’t trip, bang my head, and have the cat run up and pee on me.

Yes, it was just that freaky. It went swimmingly. Literally like clockwork. Everything that was supposed to happen happened, and everything that could go wrong…didn’t. It’s like heroically jumping on a grenade, and it failing to explode.

As far as I can see, there are only four possible explanations for what happened today:

a) The world is indeed broken, and the laws of Paulius DIY-Physics no longer apply.
b) Karma is taking a break, and is waiting to drop something REALLY shitty on me.
c) I accidentally found my way into an alternate universe, the one where things actually go right for me.
d) Mulch is my own personal Kryptonite, which robs me of my screw up powers.

I did a DIY job, and everything worked out well.

You have NO FRIGGING IDEA how freaked out I am right now.

If anyone needs me, I’ll be hiding under the bed, rocking slowly backwards and forwards, while muttering the word ‘mulch’ to myself over and over…waiting for the other shoe to drop.

(PS, Mark this date in your calendar. This is the last Blog post, for the foreseeable future, that will be posted through a 26k dial-up connection.)

Sweet broadband!

Just a quick bit of news today.

After ordering Broadband over the internet, and getting the confirmation email saying they would call ‘shortly’ to set up the appointment…I got a little impatient.

Today marked one week since that email, so I finally cracked and called them up to ask what the hell the delay was.

So after calling Charter, talking to their help department, then being put through to tech support, help desk again, back to tech support, then (oddly) to the DVR enquiries line, before going back to the first person I talked to…who put me through to sales…I finally got to talk to the right person.

“You always know you’re in trouble when you ask a simple question, get about a minute and a half’s silence, followed by “I’ll put you through to X, they’ll know how to help you.”

The work order didn’t go through, but I managed to set up an appointment to have broadband put in this coming Sunday.

Seeing as it’s now 12.07am, I can say in all honesty, that I’ll have 3mb Broadband tomorrow.

Sweet broadband! It’ll have to do before I can get the internet directly connected to my veins.

However, I’d like to assure all of my regular readers that, despite the fact that I’ll have the bandwidth to do it, ‘Life, What the Hell is Going On?” will remain an animated gif, non-stoppable midi file and annoying sound effect free zone.

(Today's handy hint : For those of you who got screwed by emachines, and are forced to write your posts in Microsoft works, pasting the text in 'edit html' instead of 'compose' preserves the formatting.)

Today's hint is brought to you by Paulius Brand Assorted Animal-Part Spread...Mmm, mmm, mmmm, you can really taste the spleen!)

Friday, October 21, 2005

Curse you, MC Etcher!

MC Etcher does not know how lucky he is. He almost incurred my full wrath.

To explain why, I need to give you a little bit of back-story.

Recently, I got a phone call from my parents to let me know that the British Tax system over-taxed me the entire time I was at my last job. This resulted in them receiving a fairly decent check from the old IRS. (This is not common place like it is in the USA, you rarely, if ever receive a refund…we don’t file a return, our tax is worked out month by month by our employers).

Anyway, it was a nice windfall. Not a huge amount of cash, just about 200GBP. However, due to the wonders of the Pounds Sterling to American Dollars exchange rate, that gets me approximately $360.

Not bad. I actually earned it, but it being so long after I quit that job, and with it being unexpected, it feels like free money.

However, shortly before this, I discovered that there’s a fair chance that I’ll have to take another medical for my green card procedure, which means this money is spoken for. It’s the old story, free money lands on you from nowhere, and an extra expense jumps out the grass that eats it up.

I promised myself that even though this money is spoken for, I was going to take a little bit of it and treat myself. Seeing as I managed to wangle myself broadband, I decided to get a microphone headset and a web cam. Not being sure exactly how much that is in American Dollars, I decided that anything over the $300 is mine to spend…I might even be able to get a copy of Guild Wars!

This has an added bonus. As well as the web cam being a shiny gadget, it was actually very easy to justify the expense. The headset and web cam means I’ll be able to actually talk to, (and see) my parents without having to pay for an international phone call. The headset is particularly easy to justify:

“Hey sweetie? You know how you complain when I’m playing a PC game when you’re trying to watch TV? I have a solution.”

The game is a little harder, but the way I see it, I so rarely have a little extra money to spend, that I’m allowed to treat myself once in a while.

Golden.

However, if you read the comments of yesterday’s post, you’ll see that I discovered that MC Etcher and myself both liked the Thundercats cartoon. This lead me to mention that I wished that a replica company would make a ‘real’ Sword of Omens from the show.

You see, I’m a sword and edged weapons collector. Especially weapons that have featured in movies. Well, perhaps ‘collector’ is too strong a word. It implies I have an actual collection. Unfortunately, I don’t.

I own the grand total of 5 swords, a glaive and a few knives. It’s more I WANT to be a collector, but swords are expensive, and I don’t have that kind of disposable income right now.

However, I have one or two jewels to my ‘collection’, namely a Force FX Darth Vader Lightsaber, and the sword from ‘Blade’.

So here’s where the problem comes in. If I really, really want something, have the money to buy it, but for whatever reason can’t actually buy the damn thing…it really, really annoys me. You see, when I pick a hobby, I get obsessive.

So you can imagine how I felt when MC Etcher pointed out to me, and gave me a link to a site where you can, indeed, buy a steel Sword of Omens, I had the curious feeling of being ecstatic and extremely pissed off at the same time.

Ecstatic because someone had made something I’ve wanted since I was 6 years old. Pissed off, because while I have the cash for it in my pocket…I can’t buy it, because I need the money for that medical I might have to take.

I imagined telling Sunny, and my parents, that I wouldn’t be buying the Web cam and headset, because I was going to buy a collectible sword based on a cult 80’s cartoon.

It wouldn’t have gone down too well, and to be honest, I wouldn’t have cared. Geek-lust would have kicked in, and I’d have stepped over my own grandmother to get my hands on it.

Fortunately I was saved by my own geekiness.

You see, I only like film replicas if they are just that, replicas. My Lightsaber is movie perfect, other than the hilt is 5% larger than the movie prop to hold the electronics. My Blade sword is indistinguishable from the movie version, other than it doesn’t have the built in booby trap.

The Sword of Omens collectible was just plain wrong. The ‘Eye of Thundera’, the jewel set in the hilt, just below the blade was the wrong shape, the Thundercats logo on the jewel is wrong, and the blade is far too long.

Basically, it looked like someone had given a sword designer a general description of what it looked like, but no actual reference material. It also appears that they gave him a budget which was less than half what he needed.

So, miraculously, I didn’t want it.

…and Etcher bought himself a few more days breathing privileges.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Friday Film Specials

Now I’ve no idea where today’s post topic came from. It was just one of those moments where you’re busy doing something, and a memory just slaps itself at the front of your consciousness, and refuses to go away. Something you haven’t thought about in years appears in your head. Something that is completely unrelated to what you were doing.

The memory was of a particular movie I watched in the late 80’s.

Not just any movie, but a Friday Film Special.

Let me explain these movies:

On Fridays, the BBC, rather than run their usual after-school programming (Dooby’s Duck Truck, Thundercats, Ulysses, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), they would play a movie instead.

Now these weren’t normal movies. Today, I look back on them and wonder how I ever watched them, with every symptom (and I choose my words carefully) of enjoyment…and I mean true enjoyment, not ironic, piss-taking enjoyment.

But why is that a bad thing? How can enjoying a movie be bad?

Well, you see, every single one of those movies, had to have the following characteristics:

a) Be at least 10 years old.
b) Have never been released in Movie Theatres or on Video.
c) Have a $50 budget maximum.
d) Contain at least one washed up soap-opera actor.
e) Have extremely bad acting.
f) A very far-fetched story, with a kid or group of kids as the heroes.
g) Have some well meaning moral, that doesn’t work in real life.

Basically, these movies were crap. Complete and utter crap. The kinds of movies that make the world’s worst B-movie look like a billion dollar masterpiece.

Here’s the storyline of the one Friday Film Special that popped, uninvited, into my head. Trust me, you’ll enjoy it:

A young boy is at school. He’s getting bullied and isn’t very popular. Then, one day, he finds a T-shirt with a picture of a Tiger’s head on the front of it.

Oh, he finds this T-shirt on the ground…in the mud…in the frigging woods.

Rather than leaving it where it is, like any other sane person, he picks it up and takes it home. Somehow he’s completely oblivious to the fact that the reason he is unpopular and gets bullied, probably has something to do with the fact he proudly wears clothes he finds on the ground…in the dirt…in the woods.

His parents don’t ask, and don’t care, that their son is wandering around in a T-shirt that’s likely been used by a hooker to clean up afterwards. Oh, that’s another thing. He doesn’t clean this T-shirt. He gets home, takes off his normal T-shirt, then pulls the other one over his head before examining himself in the mirror and saying “Cool!”

By lucky coincidence, from a story point of view, the next day at school is Physical Education day…

(Quick aside, I remember being 5 years old, and trying to work out what the letters P.E. (Physical Education) actually stood for. One girl stated authoritatively that P.E. stands for ’Good Fun’. This is the same girl who, during another conversation about why we actually had to go to school, stated that we all came to school to ’earn money’…she didn’t get much smarter for the 13 years I knew her…surprisingly, she never went to college. Right now, she probably wears clothes she finds on the ground…in the dirt…in the woods.)

Anyway.

The kid in the movie decided that P.E. would be the perfect place to show off his “Found on the Ground in the Dirt the Woods’ T-Shirt. His two complete social misfit friends positively adore his new T-Shirt, and are not put off when he proudly states that he found it. The ’cool’ kids (following one of the prevalent Friday Film Special conventions…IE are they are mean, bad, and assholes), quite rightly point and laugh.

We discover that our hero is a sports-spaz. We find this out by the mean ‘cool kids’ making fun of him.

(Oh, another FFM convention. The cool kids aren’t cool at all. They look like the kids that got beat up daily at school. They’re ‘cool’ because they have gelled hair, sunglasses and earrings.)

Anyway, they line up for the 100 meter dash, and something amazing happens. Our ground-clothes wearing hero, who is usually a complete sports spaz, wins the race by a massive margin. I mean, he’s finished by the time the rest of the pack are at the 20 meter mark.

(This was obviously achieved by having the other kids run in slow motion, the hero run normal speed, and then running the tape at 60 frames per second…remember the $50 budget maximum.)

That’s right, the hero’s new T-shirt, the one he found on the ground…in the dirt…in the woods, gives him super powers.

I should point out here that this is never explained. We never discover how the T-shirt lets the geek run at about 80mph, or how it ended up on the ground…in the dirt…in the woods.

Our ‘ground T-shirt’ wearing geek-boy becomes an overnight hero, because as everyone knows, being able to run fast automatically makes social outcasts super-popular. Everyone wants to be his friend. The cool kids want to be his friend. The teachers want to be his friend. Even the evil school principal (another FFS convention, Principals are always evil), starts sucking up, and wants him to represent the school in the Inter-School cross country running competition.

Our new hero accepts in a display of bravado. He now has gelled hair, sunglasses and and earring. I only hope that he didn’t find them on the ground…in the dirt…in the woods. I also hope to hell that that is actually gel in his hair.

However, after a few more wacky adventures, in which he completely alienates his geek friends, the T-shirt starts to act strange, doesn’t work properly…and wouldn’t you know it, the Cross Country competition is tomorrow!

Ignoring his geek-friends warnings, he decides to wear the T-Shirt anyway. The T-shirt made him cool. The T-shirt is his friend.

Race day arrives.

Halfway through the race, his T-shirt starts to screw up, he’ll run, stop completely dead, then start running backwards (Done with the amazing special effect of running the tape backwards…kids are too dumb to notice smoke from chimneys going back in, or that a dog in the background started running backwards as well).

His friends, who just happen to be watching at the spot where this happens, beg him to get rid of the T-Shirt. He argues, he relents, he takes it off and throws it into a bush.

The T-shirt inexplicably explodes.

However, then something miraculous happens. Despite the fact he’s a good mile and a half behind everyone else, he grits his teeth and starts running. He manages to pass everyone, and wins the race! It’s like Anakin Skywalker’s Pod Race, but without the aid of two gigantic jet engines, production values, special effects or horse-faced Duggs saying “Et chuta, bantha poodoo!”

He wins to general acclaim. Tells his cool friends to sod off, and despite the fact he treated them like shit for weeks, his geek friends welcome him back with open arms.

I think the moral of the story is meant to be “Believe in yourself and anything is possible.”

Let me pick that moral apart for a second, before I tell you what the morals the kids actually picked up are.

Contrary to popular belief, you actually need more than belief to get anywhere in life. You actually have to do things like work hard and practice to get good at anything. I could believe that I could become the worlds greatest singer. However, it’s never going to happen, I just don’t have a good singing voice.

Basically, you can have all the belief and potential in the world. It’s not going to do you a damn bit of good if you don’t work at it.

I think it was said best by Nanny Ogg: “If you follow your dreams, and wish upon a star…you’ll get left behind by the people who actually worked at it, and didn’t waste their time wishing.”

Anyway, here are the morals a 7 year old Paulius got from that show:

1) It’s perfectly acceptable to wear clothes that you find on the ground…in the dirt… in the woods.
2) People will be friends with you, only if you’re good at something they can exploit.
3) It’s perfectly fine to cheat.
4) If your cheating sets you back, it doesn’t matter, because you’ll win anyway.
5) Getting in with the cool kids should be your number 1 priority.
6) Never, ever trust a school principal.
7) Feel free to treat your friends like shit if you get a better offer. They’ll welcome you back with open arms if it fucks up for you.

Bear in mind, we watched that shit every single week. Other morals I learned are:

1) Attempt to capture dangerous criminals…it’s fun!
2) Two 10 year olds can take down a hardened criminal by both holding opposite ends of a rope, and running round and round the guy. He’ll just should “Get out of it, you kids!” Before humorously falling over.
3) You can break a smuggling ring with a RC plane that can drop water balloons.
4) As well as wearing any clothes you find, eat things you find outside as well. They’ll do great things like make you shrink, grow or give you superpowers.
5) Don’t bother to work, practice or apply yourself in any way. A special piece of clothing, food or magic pixie will come along and sort everything out.
6) If a teacher is youngish and had straight hair, she will help you out of any bother you get into. If they’re older, have their hair in a bun, and have their glasses on a string around their neck…they’re evil, and should be avoided.
7) It’s perfectly safe to build a clubhouse in a scrap yard. No one will care that you’re trespassing on private property.
8) After beating off the local bullies with a barrage of slime filled water balloons, everything is fine. They will not kick the shit out of you the next day at school. They will have ‘learned their lesson’.
9) All bullies are cowards, and will back down from you, no matter how big they are, if you challenge them. None are just plain psychopaths who enjoy causing pain
10) It’s perfectly safe to build a hang-glider out of stuff you find. Dropping freshly mown grass from this hanglider will clog up the engines of the enemies micro-lites…forcing them to land, humorously, in prison.
11) Parents never, ever give half a damn about where their kids are or what they‘re doing.
12) When parents find out that their kids took on a gang of dangerous criminals, they will be proud. They won’t care that their kids could have got killed, and will certainly not beat the crap out of them for being stupid.

Dumbasses Unite!

You know, sometimes you can't think of something to write to save your life...then something like this comes along that's like manna from heaven:

A couple of days ago, I wrote a purely satirical post about Webcomic-addiction, (trying to point out what idiots people like Jack Thompson are, without giving the attention whore any more coverage).

In this post I suggested that everyone boycott Kato’s and MC Etcher’s blogs, as they have links to a couple of the most popular webcomics on the net.

Believe it or not, I actually received my first hatemail today over that post. Here it is:

--------------------------

Kato’s blog is wayyyy funner that urs. U should tink about makin urs better b4 you slag off sum1 elses. Webcomics rule! Just becoz u tink there bad 4 u, mayB u shoud jus stop raeding them!

I’ll never look at ur blog again!

--------------------

After reading that, I'm starting to wonder if webcomics really ARE bad for you.

Ok, let me start off by saying that I hope to hell that this is a joke. If it is, congratulations! You gave me that best laugh I’ve had for weeks. If not, I really, really hope that the doctors can do something to help you.

I also want to thank you because I’ve been absolutely dying to get some real hatemail since I started this blog. Your email was a dream come true, I’ve finally ‘arrived’.

I’m sorry, I know I’m British, and have something of a gift for sarcasm, but I honestly never thought subtley was my strong point. If you couldn’t spot the sarcasm in that last post, I’d be surprised if you could find your own nose if you were crosseyed.

Oh, and one last thing. If you feel like exposing your stupidity like that again, can you please send it to my comment’s section? You don’t have to be a blogger to post a comment, and it saves me mining your blog gold from my email inbox.

Keep the hatemail coming….ya friggin’ idiots!

Oh, and Kato, you obviously have a fan, and I agree that your blog is much 'funner' than mine.

Etcher? Seems he didn’t care about me demanding that your blog be closed down.

There’s an idea, let’s start a fake rivalry. Let’s pretend we hate each other. It’ll keep the dumb asses emailing, and do wonders for our traffic.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Geektastic!

Halloween is almost here again.

I’ve got to say that American Halloween is absolutely great from the Brit perspective.

You see, back in England, Halloween is definitely a ‘Kids Holiday’. The only people who really oserve Halloween in England are people with young children. You’re usually hard pushed to spot a jack-o-lantern on most streets.

Basically, other than the obligatory re-runs of ’Nightmare on Elm Street’ and the ’Halloween’ series on the TV, it pretty much goes past unmarked.

Plus, you learn to hate Halloween in England (or at least where I used to live), because of the 16 and 17 year old scumbags who would come to your door ’trick or treating’ from October the 1st. There’s nothing more annoying when you’re sitting down to dinner and getting disturbed by a knock on the door, and you open it to find a 17 year old, wearing a tracksuit and baseball cap standing on your doorstep saying “Trick or Treat”, while holding out an expectant hand.

They don’t even want candy, they want cold, hard cash.

Basically, Halloween in England is primarily used for dickheads, who are old enough to have jobs, to beg money off you. Money so they can run to the liquor store. Kinda spoils it for the actual kids who take the time to get dressed up, and are actually doing it for fun….instead of booze and cigarette money.

Usually, by the time the ‘real’trick or treaters make an appearance (On Halloween), you’re so pissed off at the money-begging dickheads, you rarely open the door. After all, the scumbag population see Halloween as a source of free money, so they see no reason to confine it to only one night.

However, Halloween in the USA is great. EVERYONE gets into it…and trick or treaters don’t give you a look like you’ve come into their house on Christmas morning and pissed on their kids, if you hand them actual candy instead of cash.

For the kids, it means free candy. For the adults, it’s an excuse to get together and have a party.

However, I have a theory about Halloween.

I posted a while back about hardcore geeks being the most well-adjusted people in the world. They do what they enjoy, and don’t give a damn about what people think about them. Only someone who is supremely secure in themselves can dress in chain mail armour and tights, and go to the woods for some live-action role playing.

Now, the next time you’re at a costume party, look around. If you take away the booze, and what does it remind you of?

A sci-fi convention, that’s what.

Halloween is the only time of the year when a closet nerd can make themselves a JedI Robe, go buy a light saber, get all Obi-Wan’d up, and no-one can say a God Damn thing about it.

In fact, Halloween is the ONLY time of year when not getting costumed up, either as a JedI, a Pirate or your favourite Superhero, is almost socially unacceptable.

Think about it. If you go to a costume party, who’s the one who gets made fun of and talked about? Not the fat guy dressed as a Klingon, not the housewife dressed as Wonder Woman, not the Teenager in the Spider-man outfit…nope, it’s the dick who turned up in his jeans and T-Shirt. The one who’s not joining in, or getting into the ‘spirit of the thing’.

However, people don’t like being talked about, so the really insecure ones are the ones wearing a T-shirt that says “This is my costume”.

This is the bizaro world equivalent of the hardcore geek trying to fit in. It’s like a hardcore comic-book nerd wearing an Armani shirt, Dolce and Gabana jeans…but has forgotten to take out their pocket protector, and is still wearing their digital watch with the calculator on it.

Pure Geek, like ‘Pure Cool’, cannot be faked.

Basically, Halloween is that one magical night where ‘normal’ people are given a licence to be geeks, with no strings attatched. In fact, the geekier your costume, the more people like it. The guy in the Navy Uniform gets a nod, but the guy in the movie-perfect Darth Vader costume is the life of the party.

So here’s what I’m basically trying to say:

Halloween is like a trip into The Bizaro World. Halloween is a taster of what life would be like if the social order was reversed, and geeks were the dominant life-form on this planet.

That’s right. If the geeks were in charge, it would be like Halloween every single day. (Oh, and internet service would be free).

Think of how great this would be. Imagine three complete hotties walking into a bar dressed as Cat Woman, Jean Grey and Seven of Nine. Star Wars would be on the big screen instead of sports. The guy in the Basketball jersey would be ignored and given a wide berth, and they’d make a bee-line for the guy at the back, dressed as Legolas, sitting with Gimli and Aragorn, and the hotties would sit down, and start talking about their level 42 Dungeons and Dragons character.

This will never happen.

However, in order to honour this one glorious night, when the Geek is king, I’m starting a campaign.

A campaign to rename Halloween to ’Geekmas’.

Anyone with me?

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Confessions of a Junkie

Okay, my loyal readers, it's time to come clean.

I'm an addict, a stone cold junkie. I'm also not talking about the sissy stuff like weed, crack or heroine.

That's right...I'm addicted to the strongest of all drugs...

Webcomics.

Frankly, I blame Kato and MC Etcher, who should be ashamed of themselves for being so irresponisible and careless to post links to not just Crtl-alt-del and Penny Arcade, but PvP as well. Are you involved in their evil plan? Putting up an innocent looking link that someone like me clicks just out of interest? Getting me hooked, to where my ass hurts so badly from hours in front of the PC, I actually have to go out side and (gulp) excercise?

Oh, they suck you in.

Boycott Kato and Etcher's blogs, they're pushing this stuff on children!

The addiction works in cycles. You find a new webcomic, and it's a whole new world. If it's been running for a while, you find yourself freebasing the whole archive in a day or so. I personally got through 7 years worth of PvP in three nights. I'm not proud of it, but it's what happened.

You're on top of the world, captivated by the great art and witty, caustic, entertaining writing.

Then it happens.

The evil dealer (the comic artist) cuts you off. They let you mainline the archive, and now the dose drops to a single comic every copuple of days.

The come down is intense, the new strips keep you coming back, you HAVE to read them...but it's just not enough.

You do your best to break the addiction. You swear that your webcomic days are over...Then you find a new comic, and you're back in the clouds...for as long as the archive lasts.

Tycho, Gabe, Kurtz, Buckley...you're evil comic pushers, offering a little free, in order to hawk your printed comics. You guys hould be ashamed of yourselves.

Kids, just say NO to webcomics.

PS Any chance of another Penny Arcade - PVP crossover any time soon?

HEH HEH! FIRE! FIRE! FIRE! (HUH HUH)

Just got back from my stepdaughter's house.

Hell of a lot of fun. Made a fire in the back yard, had a few drinks...great.

You just can't beat sitting outside on a cool night with a roaring fire in front of you.

...only if leaves you with that disconcerting feeling of your back being toasty-warm, and you front being freezing when you get back inside.


Oh, and two drums and a cymbal fall off a cliff...

BAD-UM, TSHHH!

Friday, October 14, 2005

Some GOOD news, for once!

WOO HOO!

Okay, here's what happened.

During a late night net-surfing session (or as I call it with my 26k connection, net-paddling), I decided to torture myself by drooling over the broadband services offered in my area.

Charter are offering a 3mb connection for 19.99 for the first three months. No connection, start-up or installation fee.

Good, but still a little our of our price range, to say money is tight would be an understatement.

Then I thought of something. We currently have Charter Digital TV, again, with a promotional offer. A promotional offer that's going to end next month...raising out bill by about $30.

In short, we have to cancel digital soon anyway.

A bit of creative budgeting later, I realised if we cancel our dial-up service, go from digital back to regular cable...I could get this internet connection, and actually be $10 ahead of the game.

Seeing as our on-demand movies hardly ever work, and I only ever watch one channel on cable anyway (that's available with basic), it's not a huge wrench to lose it.

The other benefits are good to. Rather than pay for international phone calls to my parents in England...I can hook up my microphone and headphones, and talk to them for as long as I want with no per-minute charge! If I can wangle a web cam, they'll even be able to see my ugly mug too!

Sunny and I used to talk on netmeeting, and with just a 1mb connection, the video was smooth, and the audio had no delay.

Basically, pretty soon, I'll leave behind this 26k connection, and be set up with a 3024kbps one. For the mathematically impaired, that's 124 times faster.

In short, fear my I33t connection, bizatch!

(Oh, and Kato and Mike. Finally, you can kick my ass at an online game...except Jedi Academy, any of the X-wing series and MOHAA. I rule at those.)

Reader Poll

I noticed MC Etcher has one of these polls on his site recently, and well...I'm blatantly copying him.

Seriously though, I've been wondering about the direction of this blog for some time. I've noticed I've been writing gaming posts more and more frequently, insterspersed with the odd serious post, and some seriously off the wall shit.

So, I want to ask you all what you'd like to see more of. If you can think of something that isn't in the list...that's what the comment's section is there for.

As an aside, I have at least 10 lurkers who read regularly, but never post comments. Make yourselves known!

(Oh, and Big Up to my readers in Malaysia and the Phillipines)

Here's the poll:












What would you like to see more of ?
Serious posts
Funny, off the wall shit. (Fiction)
Funny, off the wall shit (Non-fiction)
"Man Guides" (IE Man DIY rides again!)
Gaming/Tech related posts.
Rants


  

Free polls from Pollhost.com

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Disney Movies : The Killer In Our Homes

Anyone interested in the Video Games industry will have heard about that wacky Jack Thompson’s latest attention grabbing tactic.

However, I’ve decided that the fame-hungry, money-grabbing attention whore is getting more than enough free press, and to that end, after today, this blog is becoming a Jack Thompson Free Zone. The senile old fool wants nothing but attention, and is desperate to stay in the lime-light, so I’ve decided to simply deny the retard any coverage.

Yes, I know that I’m hardly CNN, and me refusing to publish anymore of his mindless monkey-chatter is hardly going to bother him, but I suggest all you bloggers out there do the same. Ignore him, and he’ll go away…probably back to eating worms in the schoolyard …it’s already obvious that he’s willing to make a complete idiot of himself, and expose his shoe-size IQ for publicity.

After today’s post, I’m never mentioning his name on here again.

------------------------------------------------------------------

I’m here today you warn you of the real danger that’s plaguing our society.

Disney Films!

Forget violence, forget sex. Disney films are warping our children’s minds, and have already resulted in countless deaths around the world.

The reason for this is that Disney completely mis-represents the animals it chooses to portray.
Think about this. Simba from ‘The Lion King’, Mickey Mouse, Goofy.

What do all these cartoon animals have in common?

Why, they’re friendly, loveable and completely non-threatening.

But surely this means that children will also grow up to be friendly, loveable and non-threatening? Surely sitting your child down in front of a good Disney movie will enrich their minds with wholesome entertainment?

That may be true, but it also means children assume that real animals are non-threatening.
At the time of writing, in the past, no less than three people have already broken into the lion cage at London Zoo, and suffered severe maulings.

The evidence is all around us. Animal attacks happen every day. People getting too close to zoo cages and getting grabbed by monkeys. People deciding it would be a good idea to try to pet the tigers. People are running across bears in the woods, and rather than attempting to escape, they break into a rousing chorus of ‘The Bear Neccesities’, complete with a dance routine.

I’m not making this up (except for maybe the ‘Bear Neccesities’ thing). People continue to approach wild animals without caution, and every year there are numerous incidents where people break into zoo cages.

Breaking into a lion cage does not result in petting a cute baby lion, while listening to a beautiful rendition of ‘The Circle of Life’. It results in the nearest lioness biting your head off for getting to close to her cub.

Dogs can be dangerous, bears have the strength to literally rip your head off, mice carry diseases, donkeys kick, and monkeys, as well as being, on average, many, many times stronger than humans, throw disease ridden poop at you.

However, none of this is that animal’s fault. They are, after all, wild animals and are only reacting on instinct. The problem is these irresponsible Disney Films that are teaching our children that these animals are to be petted, rather than respected or feared. Spending your formative years watching cute bears, tigers and other dangerous animals play on TV results in serious warping of your judgement.

How has this complete and total irresponsibility, and complete and utter disregard for the welfare of our children managed to go unchecked for over 50 years? Why hasn’t anyone done something?

Upon coming face to face with a dangerous wild animal, our first instinct should be to run or hide.

However, this instinct has been stamped out of us as we have been conditioned, brainwashed and de-sensitized to these warning instincts. Why run from the grizzly bear? Wasn’t he one of Mogli’s dearest friends? Why not pet that snarling dog? Didn’t goofy warm our hearts for years?

I myself, have been beguiled and brainwashed by these vile, animated fantasies. I once attempted to remove a mouse from my house when it had been caught in a glue trap, feeling sorry for it…and unlike Mickey, on the way to the door, it got its front legs free, turned and bit me.

THIS WOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED IF IT WASN’T FOR WALT DISNEY!

So, parents, I beg of you…write to your Senator or Member of Parliament, and demand that these horrifically irresponsible films are banned, or at least given an Adults Only rating, where they can be kept away from impressionable minds. These films are nothing but Flight-instinct suppressing Stupidity Simulators.

Please, before your son or daughter tries to pet a rabid monkey, or even worse, a Rabid Babboon… Take action now. The lives of your children depend on it.

------------------------------------------------------

Ok, in case anyone missed that, I was being incredibly sarcastic. The saddest thing is, I made this up off the top of my head, and it is just as logical, if not more so, as Jack Thompson’s stance on video games. If I had enough money, and was a lawyer myself, I could easily employ a bunch of scientists who would give evidence supporting the above ‘Anti-Disney’ claims. Especially if I could get one or two senators who are desperate for good press in the face of an upcoming election to back me.

Let me explain.

Nearly everyone in the Western World has seen a movie, Disney or otherwise, that involves cuddly, talking anthropomorphisiszed animals. This also means that it is almost a certainty that anyone who has been attacked by an animal or broken into, or got too close to a zoo cage, has seen one.

In short, I could claim that there is actual, documentable ’scientific evidence’ that there is a direct link between watching animal based Disney Movies, and being attacked by animals. Hell, I’m a Bachelor of Arts, and have Media Studies qualifications myself, so technically I’M an ‘authority’ on this.

The truth is, it’s always a hell of a lot easier to blame our cultural and societal problems on some form of popular culture than to accept responsibility ourselves. This has always been the case, from Jazz in the 20’s, to Pulp Comicbooks in the 50’s, Rock and Roll in the 60’s, Home Video in the 80’s, up to current times when people place the responsibility for all society’s ills on Rap, Hip-Hop and Video games .

In the 80’s, they blamed the horrific murder of a child, by a child, in England on the movie ‘Child’s Play’. That case also bears a startling resemblance to the current Anti-Video Game campaign, as the main point that the papers labored was that Home Video players (VCRs) allowed a minor to view a movie that he was not old enough to see. Yes, the videos were rated, but the fault apparently lay squarely at the feet of the movie industry, rather than the parents of the children involved.

However, VHS and DVD are no longer part of ‘Youth Culture’, they’re part of world culture now, so are no longer an effective scapegoat. Basically, all the politicians and lawyers own VCRs and DVD Players, so they can’t blame anything on them. You simply can’t vilify something you personally own. However, not many politicians or lawyers tend to own Games Consoles.
BINGO! Instant scapegoat.

The truth is, there’ll always be crazies in our society, there will always be people who will commit murder and other atrocities, just because they want to. Conversely, there will always be people who will use this for their own gain. Either sueing blameless businesses and companies for their own lack of responsibility or judgement, or riding the wave of moral panic to some sort of sick and twisted fame, like Jack Thompson.

I would also point out that Jack Thompson made his name campaigning about a sex ‘mini-game’, in a game that is rated for people aged 17 and over. The age of consent in England and most US States is 16. Basically, he’s saying it’s wrong for people who are actually legally able to HAVE sex to view an extremely tame ‘cartoon sex’ scene, that has all the sensuality and eroticism to play as a game of ‘Dance Dance Revolution’.

This is our current, rational ‘voice of reason?’

If you read some of Jack Thompson’s email replies to gamers in the internet, you will find him to be an arrogant and aggressive fool. Someone who is far from rational. Despite the fact that he has been contacted by gamers that are University Graduates, Doctors etc, he never hesitates to personally attack and call you an ‘irrational idiot‘. His debate style is to ignore anything that doesn’t support his views, put his fingers in his ears, sing “lalalalala”, and finsh with “I’m right, you’re wrong, go away.”

The most recent example of this is his reply to Gabe at the Online Comic ‘Penny Arcade’.
Gabe emailed Thompson and pointed out that while Thompson is offering $10,000 to charity, (on the condition that a games company makes Thompson’s idiotic anti-game ‘game’), Penny Arcade’s own charity ‘Childs Play’, (www.childsplaycharity.org) has already raised well over half a million dollars, this year alone. Half a million dollars to be spent on toys and games for children’s hospitals all over the country.

Apparently, this is a side of gamers that Thompson just does not want you to see.
This resulted in a few minutes of Thomson screaming at Gabe over the phone, followed by him telling Gabe he would ‘regret it’ if he emailed Thompson again.

Yep, there’s your rational ‘voice of reason’. You’ll ‘regret’ pointing something amazingly good and worthwhile to him that doesn’t support his stand. All gamers are socially inept potential murderers, remember? Half a million dollars to charity just doesn’t quite fit. Fingers in the ears and abuse time… again.

When it comes to acts of violence, it’s a natural human instinct that when something goes wrong, we absolutely NEED to find somewhere to place the blame. No-one wants to discover that their child is a murderer…but every murderer in the world has parents. Rather than accept the fact that their child maybe just had a screw loose, or even worse, that the blame could rest with them, the parents, it’s far easier to blame something else.

When this happens, we take the easy road, and ignore the inconsistencies in this theory. Billions of movies and games are sold every single year. You can count the number of murders that have been ‘attributed’ them in the past decade without running out of fingers.

No one notices that things that were hailed as the downfall of morality in society in the past, are an integral part of culture today, and are held up as ‘The Innocent Good Old Days’.

Try to get a reputation as a dangerous, social deviant today by listening to Elvis Presley. Kids, see what your parents say if you listen to Jazz and read hard-boiled detective stories.

Look at it this way. If over a few hundred million copies of violent games or movies are sold in year, and 2 people commit murders that have a tenuous link to them, does that mean the game has an effect? Or does it mean that there was something wrong with the murderers to begin with? I’ll leave you to decide.

However, my opinion is that if a movie or game can set you off on a murder spree…you’d probably have done it anyway.

I’m making a call for common sense.

The next time a teenager goes bezerk, and kills someone, let’s not ask whether they had an X-Box, or watched violent movies…Let’s ask where they got the gun from…and why their parent or guardian didn’t notice any warning signs. The exact opposite happened during Thompson’s notorious ‘Doom’ murder case. He wanted everyone to know the child in question played Doom. However, he never once asked where the kid got the gun from, and why the parents didn’t know what their child was capable of.

It’s easier to get a ton of cash out of Games Industry Giant like Id, than it is to get it out of some poor, disturbed kid’s parents.

In my lifetime, I’ve watched hundreds of violent movies, and played almost every violent PC game that has come out. I’ve never killed anyone, just like the vast majority of other gamers and movie fans out there.

The truth is, the number of violent crimes that can be ’attributed’ to games and movies is statistically insignificant. It’s something in the realms of one in a trillion.

I have the solution to young children and teenagers commiting these atrocities. It doesn't take lawyers or huge sums of cash, and it can be summed up in a single sentence, just six words long:

Parents, pay attention to your kids.

Very Interesting Mr Bnod. (Sic)

It has been povren taht as lnog as the frist and lsat letetr of a wrod is in the rhgit palce, the bairn has amlost no dicfituly rdeanig it, no metatr how jmubled the rset of the ltteers are.

We dnot raed ervey letetr, but raed the wrod as a wohle.

As lnog as we hvae seen the wrod bferoe, its ptrety dman esay!


Of course, it makes you want to punch the writer in the face...

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

I may not know art, but I know what I don't like!

Kato expressd an interest in seeing some of my oil paintings (or more likely wanted me to put my money where my mouth is).

As Sunny said in his comments section, every time I paint something, someone takes it, almost before the paint is dry. My parents have one, my mother-in-law has the other, and one or two of my stepkids want one for christmas.

In short, I don't actually have very many of my paintings.

This one, however, I kept...if only because it was the very, very first oil painting I ever attempted.

I would also like to point out that I don't have a scanner, so I just took a picture of it on the wall. This room isn't very well lit, and the flash screwed up the colours a little.

I know it's not particularly good, but it's something:

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

The Real Story

Ok, first of all, I need to point out that the following parody does contain one or two spoilers for the Harry Potter Books, and the Lord of the Rings books. if you've not read "The Half-Blood Prince" yet, don't read on.

I would also point out that, in case some young kids do a search looking for Harry Potter and land here, this story is M-Rated...Mature Audiences Only. So if your parents find this in your browser history, it's your own fault.

Oh, and if you're the parent of a child reads this, and you feel compelled to send hate mail, or threaten to sue...You should have pulled your lazy fat ass off the couch, and not used the internet as a baby-sitter.

In short, your kids are your responsibility, not mine, so screw you.

So, Dear Reader, here we go:


It’s the Third Annual Fantasy Character’s convention (Held in New Jersey). A convention where characters from popular films and books can meet up and let their hair down.

Gandalf and Dumbledore have been selected to be the doormen this evening.

“Just got it! Brand new!” Said Dumbledore, brandishing his wand. “Oak, Dragon Heart-string, eleven and a half inches. Watch this!” He twirled the wand in the air, and muttered “Budweisercus toolarj-glassesov!”

In front of them two beers appeared. Gandalf took one, and took a large gulp.

“Nice.” He said. “Eleven and a half inches, you say?”

“Yup.” replied Dumbledore. “You don’t have a wand, do you?”

“Nope.” Said Gandalf. “I have one of these.” He pulled out his staff from inside his blinding white robe and struck the end of it on the ground, there was a flash of lightning and a clap of thunder.

“Impressive.” Said Dumbledore, as he put his wand away. “Very…errr, large.” He paused for a moment. “Tell me, do you drive a porche as well?”

“Up yours, Dumbledore.” Said Gandalf. “I’m thousands of years older than you, and can kick your ass without breaking a sweat…remember that. You got killed by a teacher…I fought gigantic trolls and orcs and Uruk-hai, and lived to tell about it.”

“Sorry.” Said Dumbledore. He glanced at an approaching figure. “Oh, here we go.”

A dwarf strutted up. “Hello, guys.” It said in a far too high-pitched voice.

“YOU CANNOT PASS!” Thundered Gandalf, holding his staff high above his head.

“What?” Squeaked the Dwarf. “Gandalf, old pal, it‘s me Gimli!!”

“No it isn't.” Said Gandalf. “And if you are, you’re the fifteenth Gimli who tried to get in today. You and 5 legolas’s, 10 Aragorns, 3 Snapes a Malfoy, 2 Lupins and 3 Galadriels.”

“But you let the Galadriels in!” Squeaked not-Gimli. "I saw you!"

“Yes, we did, because they were hot, and gave us their phone-numbers.” Said Dumbledore. “ As for you, on the other hand: One, you’re about 12. Two, your axe is plastic, and three, you’ve got the worst case of acne I’ve ever seen. Try Comicon or something. This is official characters only!”

And Elf-like hotties.” Said Gandalf

“Screw you!” Squeaked the troll. “I didn’t want to come in anyway. Your books suck!”

Dumbledore raised an eyebrow. Gandalf saw a little twitch from inside Dumbledore’s robe, and heard him mutter something. However, it seemed to have no effect, as not-Gimli pulled off his Gimli helmet (movie collectables, $55.99) and strutted off.

“Did I hear that right?” Said Gandalf. “Jollystick Glueupicus?”

“Yep.” Said Dumbledore. “Wait until he tries to pee.”

“Ooooh.” Laughed Gandalf. “How long before it wears off?”

“Wears off?” Said Dumbledore. “Probably right after his bladder explodes.”

“Oooh Nasty! Said Gandalf “Ha! Serve him right!”

“Yeah!” Replied Dumbledore. “I hate kids, and I get lumbered running a school full of them. They think they’re hot shit, and that Potter boy is, quite frankly, a turd.”

“You should try hobbits.” Said Gandalf. “Greedy fuckers, eat all the time ‘Show us some fireworks, show us some fireworks’! Bastards. You’d think they’d at least offer me a coffee and a sit down first! No ‘How was your very long trip, Gandalf?’ Just ‘let‘s light a fire so we can eat for the millionth time today, who cares if doing so is like putting up a giant neon sign saying ‘Ring Wraiths Attack Here‘’. I ‘accidentally’ twatted Frodo with my staff once or twice. You should stick Potter‘s wand right up his urethra!”

“Yeah, I’d love to, but that Rowling bitch had to make a a good character. Voldemort has all the fun.”

“I know, but the bad guys always get killed, don’t they?”

“So did I!” Spat Dumbledore, as he finished his beer. “by a sodding teacher! At least when Tolkien did that fake out with your death, you were fighting that bloody great monster. There’s no justice!”

“Nope, there’s not.” Said Gandalf. “I did all the bloody work throughout my entire trilogy, and that shortarse Frodo gets all the credit. Just because Gollum bit off his finger and slipped into the fires of Mount Doom.”

“Well, at least you got a cool name.” Said Dumbledore. “’Gandalf’, has a nice wizardly ring to it. Look what I got stuck with! I mean, what in the blue fuck is ‘Dumbledore’?. Also, you get ‘Minas Tirith’, ‘Rohan’ and ‘Mordor’…good wizardly fantasy place names…and I get stuck with ‘Hogwarts’ and ‘Hogsmeade’…I think Rowling had a Pig fetish.”

Gandalf laughed and drained his beer. “Any chance of another round? Something stronger?”

“Sure.” Said Dumbledore, manipulating his wand. “Rotguticus Blowyertitsoffia!” he proclaimed. Two bottles appeared, both inside brown paper bags.

“Now yer talkin’!” Said Gandalf, taking a swig. In classic comic fashion, steam came out of his ears.

“Anyway, why are we stuck on the door? Aren’t we the powerful wizards that should be inside getting wasted?”

“You’re forgetting.” Said Gandalf. “We’re just the uber-powerful ‘guides’, we're background characters. It’s those young whippersnappers that are the ‘stars’, little shits that they are.”

“Oh yeah.” Said Dumbledore. “Funny that. I’m meant to be the most powerful wizard who ever lived, the only one Voldemort was ever afraid of, and Rowling makes that runt Potter do all the cool fighting. I just turn up at the end and fill in the plot holes, or offer an enigmatic remark.”

“Same here.” Said Gandalf. “I’m officially ‘Gandalf the White’, as powerful as a wizard can be, have my cool staff…but they make that three foot whiney bitch Frodo the hero. Well, at least I got to kick some ass. Stabbed one orc right in the eye. It was cool, his head exploded everywhere. Even Aragorn turned green.”

"Where is Aragorn today?"

"Oh, he's inside. Apparently, he's got the 'hottness' factor that makes him popular."

"Yeah, not very many women have caught on that an engorgment charm can make anything massive."

"Yeah!" Said Gandalf. "Never had any complaints, and once you go Wizard, you never go back!"

“We should be in there.” Said Dumbledore, wistfully. “I hear they have those mini cocktail weenies. I love those.”

“Yeah, and Veela waitresses."

"Veelas?" Said Dumbledore. "Shit! Those babes are the shizzle!"

"Yeah, I know." Said Gandalf. "but it could be worse. At least we’re popular characters. I heard they’ve got Sauron and Voldemort parking cars.”

“Ouch.” Said Dumbledore.

"I know, I mean, they are our mortal enemies, but you've got to have professional courtesy."

“I'd rather spend a week with Voldemort than a second with any of those little shits at my school though." Said Dumbledore. "I really, really hate those young…”


“…bastards!” Said Frodo as he slammed his drink onto the table. “Those old biddies think they run the place! Who was the one who actually threw the ring into Mount Doom? Me!”

(Hello, it’s me, Paulius. Did you see what I did there? Very clever trick, melding together what Gandalf and Frodo where saying…although it would be a lot more impressive if this was a movie rather than text. I could’ve done a cool transition effect and everything. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, what I’m doing now is called ‘breaking the fourth wall’…see wikipedia if you want to know what that means. We now return you to your regularly scheduled story)

“Didn’t you want to keep it for yourself, and then Gollum bit off your finger?” Said Harry Potter.

“Shut it, Potter.” Said Sam. “I’ve read your stories, all you’ve ever done was break rules, act like a tit, and manage to scrape a win through with sheer luck. Oh, what a surprise! You won the Quidditch cup again! Poncing around on a broomstick. I had to fight a blood big spider!”

“Whatever.” Said Potter, as he finished his drink. “Oi!” he shouted to a passing waitress. “Another round over here.”

The waitress, a female adventurer type, dressed in what looked like a bikini made from a square inch of leather, with one huge metal shoulder pad, nodded and headed to the bar.

“God I’d like to get me some of that.” Said Frodo. “Where are they from?”

“Some other fantasy series I think. Too bad they’re not in ours.” Said Sam.

“I brought along the Veela girls.” Said Harry, pointing to a few blonde images of perfect hottness. “Don’t get them mad, though. Turn into ugly bird things.”

“I thought that only happened to hotties after you married them?” Quipped Frodo.

Harry laughed. “I know, that's what usually happens."

He paused, suddenly looking very serious.

"However, the exception to that rule is the wife of a friend of mine, named Paulius. His wife is an angel, an angel, you hear? And she would definitely not garrotte him with his own socks for a joke like that...and certainly wouldn't think to punish him or exact any type of revenge whatsoever. Even her best friend Lois, who has an excellent sense of humour, would understand that a joke like that is meant in fun, and would not email him about it, or comment on it in any way... except to congratualte him on an excellent joke.” he said.

"Very true." Said Frodo.

“Anyway. the amount of shit we have to go through, you’d think those old bastards would pull their fingers out and actually do something.” Continued Harry.

“I know.” Said Frodo. “They said to me ’Take this ring to Mordor’…so obviously I’m thinking, jump on a horse, quick ride into the country, chuck the ring into Mount Doom, home by Dinnertime.”

“Yeah!” Said Sam

“They never mentioned fighting all those orcs, putting up with Gollum, slowly going mad because of the One Ring, and getting attacked by a giant spider.” Said Frodo. “I mean, who calls a mountain ‘Mount Doom’ anyway. Sounds like someone’s trying to hard.”

“If you think about it,” said Sam, “If they called it ‘Mount FluffyBunny’ it’s give them more of an advantage….lure people there unawares like. ‘Let’s go for a picnic, where looks like a good spot? I know, Mount FluffyBunny. Then they’d be all, ‘Oh no! I never expected there to be lots of evil orcs and stuff on the way there! I left my battleaxe at home! Who thought I’d be fighting a bloody great spider on my way to ‘Mount FluffyBunny’ I just wanted a nice quiet picnic!’”?

“Don’t mention spiders.” Said Harry. “That business I had with Aragog. That fat bastard Hagrid ’follow the spiders’. How did he ever get to teach? That’s just child abuse that is!”

“There should be a law.” Said Sam. “Something like ‘When tricking an inexperienced and massively outmatched na├»ve young adventurer into doing something outrageously difficult and dangerous, you must mention if the quest involves giant spiders.”

“Yeah.” Said Harry. “I beat the living shit out of Hagrid for that. Made sure it was left out of the book though.”

“Your drinks, sirs.” Said the scantily clad waitress, who appeared like a vision.

MY PRECIOUS!” Screamed Gollum, jumping out from under the table. He grabbed a large vodka from the waitress’s tray and darted back unto the table.

“You know," Said the waitress, calmly. "if he does that one more time, I’ll kick him in his little Smeagle Balls, the bug eyed freak!”
“Sorry, he’s got a bit of a drinking problem.” Said Sam. "He's coming down off the One Ring"

“Here you go.” Said Harry, pushing a fifty dollar bill into the front of her leather g-string. “For the trouble.”

The waitress turned and walked away.

“And to think.” Said Harry. “The only action I got was Cho Chang and Ginny Weasley in my story. We need some of them. I must call old JK, maybe I can get a band of them to help me find those Horcruxes.”

“That one looks like a bit of a whore-crux herself" Came a voice from under the table "....mmm Precious dulls the pain.

Sam rolled his eyes and passed a large brandy under the table.

“Precious! Must have my precious! It’s my birthday!” The voice said. There was a sound like a herring being flung against a wall.

“Oi! You nearly took my fingers off.” Shouted Sam. “and it’s not your birthday, you lying fuck!”

“Did you ever have any luck finding a ‘The One Ring Anonymous’ support group for him?”
Asked Harry.

“Nope.” Said Sam. “There’s not much call for support groups for junkies of 'Ring-Based Ultimate Power.”

“Pity.” Said Harry.

There was a few moments of silence, as another scantily clad, and well endowed waitress walked past, a Veela, this time...and she was indeed the shizzle.

“Er, Harry?” Said Frodo.

“Yeah?”

“You know that Imperious curse, the one where you can get someone to do anything you want.”

“Uh-Huh.”

“And that other one…Errr, ‘obliviate’, the one that erases someone’s memory?”

“Yeah?”

“You can do them, right?”

“Of course.”

“Would it work on those waitresses?”

Harry pondered for a moment.

“My hotel room, 15 minutes.”