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March 31, 2006

Something sqaumous this way comes

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I had long suspected Tori Spelling was a Mythos entity; she has the "Innsmouth look" about her. Confirmation will arrive as soon as the stars are right and Cthulhu has its silver screen release (hat tip to Jeff). The trailer looks promising though I expect Co-ed Call Girl will remain my favourite of the Spelling oeuvre. Details of her impending polar bear scene with Jason Cottle offer clues to the plot.

Her character is a "seductress," said Grant Cogswell , the Seattle screenwriter who wrote the "Cthulhu" script. Cottle plays a gay college professor from Seattle who returns to his home on the Oregon coast when his mother dies and gets mixed up with a mysterious cult and a sea monster whose name is the title of the movie. The script is based on an H.P. Lovecraft short story, "The Shadow Over Innsmouth," Cogswell said.

Any Mythos fans concerned that Cogswell is taking liberties by writing a gay college professor into a praeternaturally uptight horror classic should recall the entire Lovecraft corpus offers almost no female characters either.* My main concern is how the story will translate from New England to the Pacific northwest.

So, when is this blogging thing going to pay dividends in the form of a cameo for something like this? I am convinced I have it in me. In the meantime, Lovecraft purists should rent The Call of Cthulhu while there is yet time.

Great rugose cones Update: Yes, definitely the Innsmouth look.

*Notably Lavinia Whateley in "The Dunwich Horror" and Astenath Waite in "The Thing on the Doorstep" and, at a stretch, Keziah Mason in "Dreams in the Witch House".

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Jenny Lewis With The Watson Twins: Rise Up With Fists

Also featuring Sarah Silverman: Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

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Does this topic make me look fat?

Worldmapper re-sizes the world by subject of interest (via AsiaPundit).

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Are you not entertained?

Radosh host a regular New Yorker Anti-Caption Contest feature. I cannot do it justice with a summary; for Flea-readers who want to participate the most recent iteration is here. Also, be sure not to miss Heartonastick's regular submissions to the New Yorker's own Cartoon Caption Contest; a flawless response to the problem at hand.

Posted by the Flea at 09:27 AM | TrackBack (0)

The folk music of the machine age

Kim Chul-woong defected from North Korea following a life-changing experience in a Moscow cafe... his first exposure to jazz. But not just any jazz (via Harry's Place).

"I asked the cafe owner what kind of music that was, and he replied it was `A Comme Amour' by pop, classical and jazz pianist Richard Clayderman. It was too good, and that began to change my life".

This is, as Mick Hartley observes, "a chilling insight into the cultural desert that is North Korea."

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Telephony for the Devil

Tim Blair points to reports of "devil calls" in India; his Cell comparison is spot on. Though I think recent precedent suggests more a more material concern for some cell phone users.

Authorities moved on Tuesday to quash panic among mobile phone users in eastern India after a rumour that ‘devil calls’ from certain numbers have led to death and illness. People started turning off their handsets after a rumour swept Orissa state of phones exploding like bombs killing their owners when they answered the calls.
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March 30, 2006

Air: How Does it Make You Feel

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

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If you only walk long enough

Louis Wain was diagnosed with late onset schizophrenia but to me it looks more like a case of early onset cat.

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No bitter stench of funeral-still for Muad'dib

Gen-X at 40 expresses concern at Harry Osborn-lookin' University of Maryland researcher, Jason Matheny and yet more concern at the laboratory grown meat the guy is selling. Certainly, the hairstyle and fixed stare is unsettling but I think we are dealing with a more basic problem in brand management. An "industrial bioreactor" sounds like an unappetizing source for beef, pork or chicken (if a promising minimum daily source of lamella). My suggestion? The much more easygoing and accurate "axlotl tank". Mmm. Ghola burgers.

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Nothing is true, everything is permitted

Thanks to "molecular genetics, cloning, and good old American know-how" we are faced with the grim prospect of heart-healthy bacon rich in omega-3 fatty acids. It should be obvious that undermining such a basic tenet of natural law as the bacon taboo is profoundly dangerous; with no transgressions we have nothing left to live for.* Yet it turns out heart-healthy bacon is only a minor antinomian gesture compared with the shape of pigs to come. Radosh asks if genetically-engineered pigs could clear the way for kosher bacon.

OK, here's the relevant part of the Torah: "Do not mate different kinds of animals. Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed. Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material." The first decree would seem pretty definitive. Yet, so does the third, and nobody follows that any more. I bet the second is pretty widely dismissed too. I suspect it might be possible to find a rabbi somewhere who would OK kosher bacon. Maybe.

*Such as the illicit thrill of ending a sentence with a preposition.

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Fish girl kick Quran

Just so we are clear: I am not advocating kicking holy books or turning people into fish or monkeys be it in Bradford, Birmingham or elsewhere. This post is only a feeble attempt to follow Let's Be Sensible's lead (via the Drink-soaked Trotskyite Popinjays).

A couple of weeks ago I posted about an unconvincing video purporting to show a girl who had kicked the koran and been turned into a fish. This has had a noticeable effect on the number of visitors to my blog - about half of my readers, even now, are arriving through Google searches for fish girl kick quran and similar.
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March 29, 2006

White people are known for...

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Google Your Race hosts an intriguing "racial profiling experiment". Quite what to make of the results is beyond me though, in all fairness, orcs do make hopeless magic-users.

1) First I entered the following phrases into Google's search engine: "white people are known for", "black people are known for", "Asian people are known for", etc...
2) Next I recorded what came after the "are know for" in Google's search results*.
3) Lastly I took note of the top eight Images that appeared when I searched Google's Image data-base for "black people", "white people", etc... Just for the heck of it, I also did the same for "humans" and "orcs" (see below).

Small sidebar: Shocking red hair, check. Glasses, check. Typing, check. Not only is Rox Populi a goddess (not pictured above) but I imagine she too is a Deconstructionist Weirdo (though I enjoy weirdness in a Lacanian variety pack). I recalled the picture (yes, above) from my own Deconstructionist quiz result when it (the picture) popped up at Rox Populi's blog in the aforementioned "white people" image search; such being the mnemonic efficacy of latex.

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Motors: Black Powder

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

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Tired gymnast

When everything is going swimmingly is when life happens, that's when.

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A commodity appears, at first sight, a very trivial thing

Madonna has been krumping ever since her "Hung Up" and "Sorry" videos. That would be since "Hung Up" was filmed between October 7 and 9, 2005. Almost six months! Minor points of information: krumping did not start as "an underground dance", throwing a pop version of it into a stage show cannot "make it your own" and Studio 54 closed its doors six years before Thomas Johnson starting clowning, let alone krumping.

"It started as an underground dance and now Madonna wants to make it her own. Madge has ordered a unique spinning platform to be designed so that she and her dancers can recreate Studio 54’s extravagant scenes. She has also ordered dozens of disco balls to decorate the stage with authentic seventies lighting."
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Dub Pimpstar

Dub Pimpstar XP rims are a must for the future Fleamobile. These babies are crying out for the Flea signal...

Each wheel has a built-in microprocessor and wireless adapter, as well as the key component, a set of LED lights that create images while they spin. The images are created using a strobe modulation technique, or possibly voodoo -- we're not quite sure, but the effect is stunning.

The full effect is even more stunning in video (nsfw ads). The SpokePOV Kit looks like a good start for Flea-readers wanting to make a start in the shallow waters of pimpdom.

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March 28, 2006

Benny Benassi: Who's Your Daddy?

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance (nsfw due to hawt).

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No Wonder

Egotastic! forwards reports Lindsay Lohan would like to be the new Wonder Woman. I think not.

Warner Brothers probably loves hearing this news, but I'm sure that Joss Whedon will do the right thing. Oh god please let Joss Whedon do the right thing.
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A staring contest with infinity

The Hubble Space Telescope Ultra Deep Field takes one million seconds - eleven days - to take a picture about thirteen-billion years deep. It turns out the universe, like, looks like a hand.

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DataTiles

Sony is working on some sweet tech that looks suspiciously as if it could do double duty as holodeck RAM and a data pad: DataTiles.

The DataTiles system integrates the benefits of two major interaction paradigms: graphical and physical user interfaces. Tagged transparent tiles are used as modular construction units. These tiles are augmented by dynamic graphical information when they are placed on a sensor-enhanced flat panel display.
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Wideload Commandments

Alex Seropian, once Bungie-founder and lately of Wideload Games, discusses the Wideload Commandments of game development. These might usefully be transferred to a variety of contexts.

Thou Shalt Establish Thine Own Creative Direction--"This industry makes more money than the US box office, but we can't be a creative ghetto."

Own Thine Own (Intellectual) Property--"We want to determine whether we're successful or we fail. We don't want to be wholly dependent on somebody else for an IP, or on somebody else to market our games, to fund our games, or to control our brand."

Be No One's Beeotch--"This really speaks to why we're independent," Seropian said, calling Wideload's situation with Stubbs publisher Aspyr Media a "partnership of peers."

Keep Thine Overhead Low--"You have a small team, then you have a low overhead. A low overhead saves you money, obviously. And since Wideload has a small team, Wideload equals money."
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March 27, 2006

Judy and Mary: Music Fighter

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AsiaPundit is spot on with the Sugarcubes reference for Isoya Yuki but the video's star-and-bars guitar still baffles me. Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

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One more thing to worry about

Great. First I was anxious about Ceiling Cat.* Now I am convinced some Master Chief lookin' dude is going to kick my ass.

*Hat tip to A Former Servant of Her Majesty.

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GDC Top 10

IGN continues its coverage of the 2006 Game Developers Conference in San Jose with a hit parade of promotional pens; but for the motion-blur, Eidos is looking good. The Flea is also pleased to endorse the Intel "Leap ahead" luggage tags, Midway beer bottle opener key-chains and SketchUp toques (I hear their socks are nice too).

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Darwin awarded

Top prize at the 8th Independent Games Festival at the GDC in San Jose went to Introversion Software's Darwinia. I have been too swamped to try the demo: Flea-reader reviews would be much appreciated!

The world of Darwinia is a virtual themepark, running entirely inside a computer network and populated by a sentient evolving life form called the Darwinians. Unfortunately Darwinia has been overrun by a computer virus which has multiplied out of control. Your task is to destroy the Viral Infection and save the Darwinians from extinction.
Posted by the Flea at 08:39 AM | TrackBack (0)

Coolionaire

Larry Samuel has produced a handy taxonomy of millionaires in the field. The Flea's vast holdings would surely fall somewhere between thrillionaire and coolionaire (via Radosh).

Samuel, who has a Ph.D. in American studies from the University of Minnesota, runs a market research firm, Culture Planning, that studies the rich on behalf of JPMorgan. Samuel and his researchers examine the habits and behavior of the rich in their natural habitats and reach conclusions based on close observation and thick description. Today, after all, being affluent isn't just a matter of assets, it's a matter of lifestyle.
Posted by the Flea at 08:37 AM | TrackBack (0)

March 25, 2006

The dark secret

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A Sussex University study has unearth'd the dark secret of goth culture (via Dodgeblogium).

Parents need not worry if their teenagers become goths. A university study shows they are likely to become doctors, lawyers or architects. ... "They won't like me saying it, but their lifestyle, unlike the punk scene, is a middle-class subculture," she said. Her research shows that goths share a dark sense of humour. "The values of the goth subculture are very high-brow," she said. "They tend to enjoy old poetry, books and the arts."

And musn't forget the corsets.

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Wyclef Jean & Mary J.Blige: 911

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

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Defection

Spy vs Spy was always my favourite part of Mad Magazine. Well, that and the foldy-thing.

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Play: The Art Of Xbox 360

I somehow managed to miss Play: The Art Of Xbox 360 last month. The show featured everything from "hand-drawn concept sketches to immersive background paintings to high-definition, living worlds, rediscover the fantasy of Kameo™: Elements of Power™, the stylized world of Perfect Dark Zero™, and hyper-realism of Project Gotham Racing® 3", all of which would have been of great interest.

Play: The Art Of Xbox 360 at the Blue Dot Gallery in the Distillery District had what looked like a typical gallery opening, complete with boozy freeloaders and a fine spread of hors d'oeuvres. But the colourful pop works on the walls were actually original game concept art hung alongside actual screen shots.

And me a dab-hand at boozy freeloading: Vexed again! Now Magazine's review is not much use at this point and just barely in time for Controller: Artists Crack the Game Code; also potentially interesting.

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I love you, Tokyo sociology girl!

I may have got some backs up when I agreed with a sentiment of Samuel Johnson's the other day; probably the difference between writing as a hobby and writing for a living. Which is to segue into expressing a profound empathy with Larry Frolick. He was having the Hemingway conversation over a beer with a tough German and a wild Welshman in a remote town in Ethiopia when he felt his book fall out from under him.

We were basking in our respective glories -- guys writing adventure books about our trips to this war zone or that -- when a Japanese woman, about 25 years old, walked into the bar. She told us she had just hitchhiked through Somalia's desert -- then caught in a civil war -- after "doing" Iran and Syria. She went alone.

"I just wore a black scarf over my head and hardly anyone bothered me," Suki told us, sipping local black tea. "Most people are very nice."

The German, the Welshman and I looked at one other. If our respective book publishers ever got wind of this crazy chick, our careers were toast. Lucky for us, she was a Tokyo sociologist, specializing in this arcane Japanese subculture of students who stab their teachers with penknives. This little desert jaunt of hers was a vacation.
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March 24, 2006

A scanner mostly

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Reports of a topless Winona Ryder in the forthcoming Philip K. Dick godsend are true, mostly. Mostly.

There are a couple of scenes in which Winona is topless. I’m sorry to have to break this to you but she filmed the scenes with an exercise top on. The animators had to "imagine" what here specific attributes might look like. So there wont be any bootleg video floating around of nude Winona.

Zut! And God Created Noni has thoughtfully posted some A Scanner Darkly trailer-caps for the faithful. Now I am waiting for a web-ap that will let me "scannerize" Flea-portraits.

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Massive Attack: Live With Me

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

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Flow

Flow is an excellent diversion while I am waiting for Spore.

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WonderCon 2006

Girls of WonderCon 2006 is self-explanatory.

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Trek Passions

Sci fi dating and personals at long last.* Though a purist would insist on "sf" dating by reference to the vulgar "sci fi".

A 100% free online community and SciFi personals site for science fiction lovers, including but not limited to lovers of Star Trek®* and Star Wars. Find others who share your passion for Sci Fi. Meet people who read Isaac Asimov, Ben Bova, Robert A. Heinlein, Douglas Adams, Arthur C. Clarke & more. Grok!?

*My firewall had hiccups with parts of the site so safe-surfing, people.

Posted by the Flea at 08:41 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Xanax and Seabreeze

I am glad I am not the only one thinking something is up with Paula Abdul. Bill thinks this may be an opportunity for Chicken Little.

Goodbye, sweet Chicken Little. Charitably, you've got about a 3-month window to apply that fast fading fame towards ditching the cloying albatross of your 16 year-old man-cherry. All else failing, I'm fairly positive that you could at least round second base with Paula if you catch her on one of her charitable xanax and seabreeze nights.

NOW GO!

Straight Up Update: IDontLikeYouInThatWay forwards a report that Paula Abdul was almost fired from American Idol.

Good thing, too, because Paula has been acting the damn fool on American Idol lately. Quite frankly, her behavior is so disturbing that I have been barely able to work on my nude portrait of Katharine McPhee. I laid down the tarp and I'm naked, but I can't seem to concentrate. Granted, it is hard to hold a paintbrush with your teeth.
Posted by the Flea at 08:39 AM | TrackBack (0)

March 23, 2006

Billie Holiday: Fine And Mellow

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Imagine it is 8 December, 1957 on the set of The Sound of Jazz... The Columbia Broadcasting System presents Billie Holiday with Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins, Gerry Mulligan, Vic Dickenson and Roy Eldridge. You have a pack of Chesterfields and a bottle of bourbon. Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

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Evolution

Sam Neill understands humans are omnivorous and consequently thrive on red meat (via Tim Blair).

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Bergasse 19, Vienna (continued)

One of the greatest compliments I have ever received was a favourable comparison of Flea Towers with Bergasse 19, Sigmund Freud's home in Vienna. Mobile Gaze hosts a slide show of photographs I would have linked to had I known of it at the time.

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Credo quia absurdum

OhGizmo reports on a remarkable discovery (via Yummy Wakame).

I think this is just about freaking incredible. Belgian scientists (previously known for their delicious chocolates), have been able to extract recordings from 5,000 year old vases. How can this be? Well, here’s the deal.

It seems that the vase makers used long sticks to carve decorations on the clay vases as they were being made on rotating stones. These sticks picked up the minute vibrations in the air (caused by, say, conversations) and transformed these into grooves and bumps, much like what happens when you make a vinyl record. The Belgian scientists then analysed these patterns and extracted what is believed to be the world’s oldest known recordings.

The documentary video explains the process using a 500 year old South American piece as an example then moves on to a piece from Roman Pompeii including the spooky muffled sound of spoken Latin laughter recorded two-thousand years ago. The website of Belgian archaeologist, Philippe Delaite is worth a look though in fairness I should point out the last three words of the documentary piece itself merit special attention.

Posted by the Flea at 10:43 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Children of the corn

I eat meat and am constantly baffled by arguments that ignore human physiology. That said, I would like to have a better sense that the organic or free-range products I buy are not just so much "supermarket pastoral" marketing. Something I had not realized is just how much corn we North Americans are eating both directly and indirectly. Michael Pollan had a clever use for a mass spectrometer that achieved an alarming result.

I took a McDonald’s meal to a scientist on campus here and he ran it through a mass spectrometer. You can actually trace the identity of the carbon in the meal. The carbon in corn has a very distinct signature. He ran the meal through and told me exactly what percentage of everything was corn. In the case of the soda, it was 100 percent. The cheeseburger was like 66 percent, and the Paul Newman salad dressing was about the same. Even the French fries were dripping with corn because they are fried in corn oil.
Posted by the Flea at 10:41 AM | TrackBack (0)

March 22, 2006

Halo 3

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Hexus.gaming has received news Halo 3 is "finished and sitting at the mastering plant, awaiting the word to go" from a strategically inclined Microsoft. While IGN suggests the game will not be called Halo 3 but "Forerunner" which, it should be pointed out, would be cool as would a rumoured 4-player co-op. Oh yes. The closest an impatient world has come to fact, however, has been a hint from Microsoft's Vice President of Interactive Entertainment, Peter Moore:

"We haven't made any announcements regarding the Halo franchise. So Bungie is busy, they're an industrious bunch." But then more excitingly adds: "I think certainly this year, 2006, we might give you a peek at what Bungie is working on. I'm not going to give you any specific days, times or events."

CVG speculates an E3 preview for the game though I think Moore's remarks could just as easily reference a Vista-based PC-launch for Halo 2. Fun but not nearly the same. Qj.net suggests an alarming possibility: "Forerunner" may not be a sequel at all but a prequel game in line with the Halo novels and forthcoming feature film. This rumour at least seems to have been debunked by Bungie.

Posted by the Flea at 08:37 AM | TrackBack (0)

Liam Lynch: Fake Depeche Mode Song

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

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Cthulego Rising!!

The monsters of the Cthulego Mythos are accidentally awoken by Lord Sinister.

The villainous Lord Sinister and his evil henchmen have kidnapped Professor Brixton-Smyth to find the lost gold. But in their haste they have awoken the sleeping monsters of the Cthulego Mythos!
Posted by the Flea at 08:27 AM | TrackBack (0)

Brittleactica

I am as big a fan of virals as anybody but the Got Milk? people are stretching it with this Battlestar homage; the health effects of the white wonder-tonic notwithstanding. They lost me with their hyperdrive sound-effects which sounded to me to be lifted from Space Pirate (a most excellent game, btw). This sort of uncredited borrowing makes me wonder quite what the milk people were trying to accomplish. An overproduced and underwhelming Battlestar reference makes me no more inclined to drink milk today than I would have been otherwise.

Posted by the Flea at 08:25 AM | TrackBack (0)

Google Idol

Google Idol is an online competition for "the many talented (and not so talented) people out there who have been waiting for their moment of fame." Up first: a round of lip-syncing.

The competition puts publicly submitted videos from Google Video in a head-to-head knockout tournament of 4 heats and 2 semi finals leading up to the grand final when a winner is announced. Popularity is judged by the public who vote for their favourite video - and you can vote once a day for the Gidol you want to win.
Posted by the Flea at 08:21 AM | TrackBack (0)

Fashion forward

Already the most coveted of improvised shelving materials, black milk crates are now the dernier cri in hold-up fashion (via Raymi).

Police said a man robbed a Georgia convenience store last weekend with a milk crate on his head, and the whole incident was caught on surveillance tape.

Police in Pelham, Ga., said the man beneath the mask was Marty Simpson, 46. Simpson allegedly robbed the clerk at gunpoint and then ditched the milk crate in the parking lot, giving everyone outside a good look at his face.
Posted by the Flea at 08:17 AM | TrackBack (0)

March 21, 2006

Drawing Restraint 9

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Due to a personal vendetta, I have a long-standing antipathy toward the Icelandic whaling industry; or rather, to the study of the Icelandic whaling industry. Mathew Barney's film Drawing Restraint 9 is set on the Nisshin Maru, a Japanese whaling ship, which would be fine but for the fact it features music by the director's significant other, Björk. So this could be a problem (via Modern Fabulosity).

Its core idea is the relationship between self-imposed resistance and creativity, a theme it symbolically tracks through the construction and transformation of a vast sculpture of liquid vaseline, called "The Field", which is molded, poured, bisected and reformed on the deck of the ship over the course of the film.

Barriers hold form in place, and when they are removed, the film tracks the descent of form into states of sensual surrender and formal atrophy; this shift in the physical state of the sculpture is symbolically mirrored through the narrative of The Guests, two occidental visitors to the ship played in the film by Matthew Barney and Björk, who we first see taken on board, groomed, bathed and dressed in mammal fur costumes based upon traditional Shinto marriage costumes.

Having yet to see the film, "The Field" sounds to be an analogue for "lamella" which for me makes it a must see. Jacques Lacan describes lamella thusly in The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis: "The lamella is something extra-flat, which moves like the amoeba.... And it can run around. Well! This is not very reassuring. But suppose it comes and envelopes your face while you are quietly asleep..." Quite. Or, as Slavoj Žižek parses Lacan with reference to giant squid theory*, "a substance of life which can never be destroyed." You can see the attraction.

*A must read for the terms SquidMasters, octality and autocephalopodization: "... there is a giant squid conspiracy… and to make light of that conspiracy would mean death. I don’t believe there is anything hysterical about that." Go Pods, go!

Posted by the Flea at 12:17 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Macaco: Chan Chan

Playing this one again and again: Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

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Diva in drag

I sometimes wonder what it must be like for big stars to watch other celebrities on tv. The much maligned Celine Dion, for example, seems to enjoy Madonna. Possibly a bit too much for the rest of us (for which link all may blame Antonia).

Posted by the Flea at 12:11 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Making the Kessel run in less than twelve parsecs

Modern Fabulosity reports on "what may be the dumbest scientific survey ever taken". As someone with an A+ in a doctoral course in quantitative methods, I can only say he may be right. Or if slightly quicker; left.

... (S)traight males took an average of four strokes longer when pulling their pud...which either means they are more patient, or not as good at it.

Other fun facts: left-handers are quicker than righties, but ambidextrous onanists put them both to shame, amorally speaking. (Women, clearly, don't masturbate at all. Good to know.)
Posted by the Flea at 12:10 AM | TrackBack (0)

Porn free

Some rather clever ethnographic PlayStation 2 ads I had missed arrive via Porchboy and his minions.

A migrating herd sweeps across the African plain, the ambling multitude making for an impressive sight. At a river crossing an all too familiar scenario plays out, as a group of predators take advantage of the herd's slow progress across the water, brutally picking off a few stragglers. Such sequences are a staple of nature documentaries, a genre ripe for parody.
Posted by the Flea at 12:09 AM | TrackBack (0)

Slivercasting

The arrival of internet television has allowed audiences to indulge ever more specific interests. And with seemingly ever increasing bandwidth, wireless access and access to portable gadgets I can only see a need for ever more viewer-specific content.

In the last six months, major media companies have received much attention for starting to move their own programming online, whether downloads for video iPods or streaming programs that can be watched over high-speed Internet connections.

Perhaps more interesting — and, arguably, more important — are the thousands of producers whose programming would never make it into prime time but who have very dedicated small audiences. It's a phenomenon that could be called slivercasting.
Posted by the Flea at 12:07 AM | TrackBack (0)

March 20, 2006

The greatest thing that ever happened to an undeserving world

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Christopher Hitchens celebrates "part James Bond, part Bertie Wooster" Brigadier-General Sir Harry Paget Flashman and his accidental biographer, George MacDonald Fraser. He argues both offer insight into the latest incarnation of the Great Game.

Victorian empire ("the greatest thing that ever happened to an undeserving world," Fraser asserts) was largely dedicated to Lord Macaulay's belief in progress and improvement: a civilizing mission that would gradually spread light into the dark places of the earth. It involved the Whig theory of history and was supposed to operate according to a near-providential plan. Well, that's all balls for a start, as Flashman stoutly observes: "In my experience the course of history is as often settled by someone's having a belly-ache, or not sleeping well, or a sailor getting drunk, or some aristocratic harlot waggling her backside."

Flea-readers with an Atlantic Monthly subscription can also enjoy "Bottoms Up"; Hitchens on Ian Fleming as "a sadist, a narcissist, and an all-around repressed pervert" with some important insights of his own.

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Bryan Ferry: Price Of Love

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

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The nations of the world

Yakko Warner presents the ever so slightly out of date nations of the world (I miss Animaniacs!).

Posted by the Flea at 08:44 AM | TrackBack (0)

Despicable

Dame Judi Dench, reprising her role as M in Casino Royale, scolds fans so eager for another Pierce Brosnan appearance they have set up a "Craig Not Bond" anti-Daniel Craig website.

Dench claims the vicious website, which branded Craig "ugly", had left the star "devastated" and insists he has the all the makings of a great Bond. She is quoted in Britain's The Sun newspaper as saying:

"I hate the way people have been attacking Daniel Craig. It's despicable and it disgusts me. I have filmed with him in Prague and the Bahamas and he is a fine actor. He brings something new and edgy to the role. His critics will be proved wrong."
Posted by the Flea at 08:43 AM | TrackBack (0)

Irish criminality impeded

Would be criminals will have to cast about for new ways to flout authority when a number of statutes dating back to the Norman invasion and before are abolished.

Under a large-scale overhaul of the statute book, only 200 laws will be retained from the period between 1100 and 1800, when the Act of Union abolished the Irish parliament in Dublin after the 1798 rebellion against British rule.

The laws that will perish include such gems as the denial of a citizen’s right to adulterate coffee with sheep dung, the burning of witches at the stake, and the entertainment of crowds with tiger fights.
Posted by the Flea at 08:41 AM | TrackBack (0)

Missing man

Wing Commander Christopher Frederick "Bunny" Currant is remembered in an obituary at The Telegraph. The man's daring was such that it is difficult to decide what to quote. He was 95.

Operating on his first patrol over France on May 22, he attacked three bombers over Arras. The engine of his Hurricane stopped and he prepared to bale out. He stepped on to the wing but realised that the aircraft was still able to fly, so climbed back into the cockpit and crash-landed in a field, breaking his nose. He made his way to Calais and eventually boarded a ship to return to England where he rejoined No 605 still carrying his parachute.
Posted by the Flea at 08:39 AM | TrackBack (0)

Shashi Tharoor

I was watching International Womens' Day proceedings on an United Nations broadcast carried by CPAC and was brought up short by Shashi Tharoor: Who is this god in human form?* Never has there been a more Flea-ish non-Flea**; in fact, more Flea than Flea. I hereby pledge that as soon as budget permits I shall have an accent and hair-style transplant.

Short chats with Tharoor hosted by the National Museum of Australia (Canberra) illustrate the point as does his World Chronicle interview with Michael Douglas (with apologies for the poor sound quality). But for the full Flea-effect, guaranteed to impress people in neighbouring cubicles, I recommend his USC Annenberg School for Communication*** lecture "Public Diplomacy: A United Nations' Perspective".

*That would be novelist, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Public Information and presumed international man of mystery.
**With the possible exception of Stewie Griffin.
***There is lots more in the Annenberg Video Archive for those left feeling insufficiently erudite.

Posted by the Flea at 08:37 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

March 18, 2006

Hoff, hoff, a Hellible Horralump! Holl, holl, a Hoffable Hellerump!

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I am delighted to hear Kylie Minogue is sporting a spiky look as her hair recovers from cancer therapy but am distressed at Stuart Heritage's unkind response to news of a children's book on the way.

Somewhat predictably, the book that Kylie has written seems to be a kind of whistlestop autobiography for toddlers. Entitled The Showgirl Princess (two of Kylie's favourite words, after the Showgirl tour and the Impossible Princess album), the book is all about a little girl who becomes famous.

We're short on details of the plot, but we'd expect the little girl character - let's call her Mylie for now - gets very famous in a cheaply-made soap opera, then starts singing, then makes a handful of awful films (including one based on a beat 'em up videogame), then stops being famous, then gets her arse out in a pair of tiny hotpants and becomes more famous than ever.

The cad! Beat 'um up video game adaptations are a perfectly respectable way to make a living and tiny hotpants are nothing if not welcome when so gracefully sported. Time to have another looking at Kylie riding an elephant (hat tip to Porchboy).

Posted by the Flea at 09:23 AM | TrackBack (0)

Daddy Yankee: Rompe

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 09:17 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

She got krump in the trunk

While the video quality is not the best I was still happy to learn all about Alyson Hannigan's training for Date Movie. Gosh. So cute when she swears.

And that would have been the end of it but I became curious just what it was of which they were making fun. Krump, it turns out, is an off-shoot of clowning, a street hip-hop dance-style rising from the ashes of the Rodney King riots first developed by Thomas Johnson aka Tommy the Clown.

"Clowning" is movement invented by Tommy the Clown who developed the strange, stilted, goofy and erratic motion to entertain audiences as a clown at parties and local events around Los Angeles from as far back as 1992. Needless to say, it caught on in a big way.

Street dance has an evolutionary life of its own and it's very nature demands constant adaptation and change. What was once "Clowning" evolved to "Krump Dance" or Krumping. As Tommy put it, "Krumping is the dark side of Clowning". In homage to the clown, some dancers paint designs on half their face.

Flea-readers with a thirst for hip-hop lore, or who enjoy a documentary, should check out David LaChapelle's Rize. Not to be confused with Dave Chappelle, LaChapelle is best known for his fashion and advertising photography and distinctive music video direction (Christina Aguilera "Can't Hold Us Down", Gwen Stefani "Rich Girl", etc.). Film promotion compares Rize to "Paris is Burning" or "Style Wars", an almost ludicrous standard to set for oneself, but the film does not disappoint.

Posted by the Flea at 09:14 AM | TrackBack (0)

Risk Addiction

Some will say a sequel to Basic Instinct was not necessary but, having encountered many Catherine Tramell types in my crime-fighting career, I can assure you her presence in London warrents the attention of investigators hardened to scenes which might shock the, uhh, less hardened. Especially with the threatening appendage of the Gherkin on the London skyline. That was something they did not have to worry about in the '80s in California for one thing.

For another is this (hilariously unerotic) uncensored promo reel from the forthcoming film. The words "Sharon Stone naked" should be enough to prompt most readers that not only is the linked material "unsafe for work" but is in fact generally unsafe under any circumstances. I should confess mixed feelings here. On the one hand I feel as though I should apologize for this entire post. On the other I am thinking this may be the greatest cinematic experience since Showgirl.

Posted by the Flea at 09:08 AM | TrackBack (0)

Hail Xenu

It looks as though Viacom has caved to yet another "religious" interest in deciding not to air a scheduled repeat of South Park episode 192, "Trapped in the Closet" after Tom Cruise reportedly threatened to cancel publicity for Mission Impossible: 3. Frankly, I think Cruise's time might better be spent kicking ass over the impossibly dull trailer* for his next vehicle than working so hard to give South Park free publicity. Andrew Sullivan thoughtfully posts Matt Stone and Trey Parker's official reply.

"So, Scientology, you may have won THIS battle, but the million-year war for earth has just begun! Temporarily anozinizing our episode will NOT stop us from keeping Thetans forever trapped in your pitiful man-bodies. Curses and drat! You have obstructed us for now, but your feeble bid to save humanity will fail! Hail Xenu!!!

- Trey Parker and Matt Stone, servants of the dark lord Xenu."

*Small sidebar here: Cruise's Mission Impossible wife asks him if there is something he is not telling her. I expect it would be unkind of me to point out how many times he has heard those very words.

Posted by the Flea at 09:04 AM | TrackBack (0)

March 17, 2006

Fordham Spire

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Flea-fav Santiago Calatrava may have made an addition to the Chicago skyline by 2010. Fresh from news the Sumida Tower has a building site the Flea now learns Chicago has granted planning permission for the Fordham Spire, to be the tallest building* in the United States. At 610m (2001 feet) it would also be the tallest structure in the world depending on which Sumida Tower figure is to be believed. By contrast the iconic Sears Tower is 442m tall.

Donald Trump expresses his reservations. Fordham's chairman, Chris Carley has an excellent rejoinder.

"In this climate I would not want to build that building," Trump said last year when the project was first announced. "Nor would I want to live in that building. ... Any bank that would put up money to build a building like that would be insane," he added.

But Fordham's Carley wasn't impressed, noting Trump's planned tower, at 415 metres, is itself no wilting lily. "I wonder where the insanity limit is," Carley wondered last summer, adding "It must be just over" 415 metres.

Newspeak Update: I just found an NBC piece (with video) that suggests to me the Donald's real problem is the relative shrinkage of his own Chicago tower project.

*Buildings are occupied while towers or structures are not.

Posted by the Flea at 08:23 AM | TrackBack (0)

Cyndi Lauper: Money Changes Everything (acoustic)

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 08:17 AM | TrackBack (0)

Desktop Earth

If someone decides to install Desktop Earth, I hope you will let me know how it runs. I love the idea of an ever-changing wallpaper but my RAM is so overcommitted just now I am afraid smoke would start puffing out of my monitor if I tried to run this one more little wafer of a program.

Posted by the Flea at 08:03 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Video Game Voters Network

While I have reservations about the "The Family Entertainment Protection Act", I believe the Video Game Voters Network is mistaken when it claims "(g)overnment does not regulate access to or the sale of movies, books or cable TV" and should therefore not do the same for video games. Unless, that is, there are states where accesss to and the sale of material deemed pornographic or violent - especially to minors - is not subject to government regulation.

It seems to me a better argument to make is that video games should not be subject to regulation that would be considered unreasonable if applied to movies, books or television. Or better yet that people who would defend the freedom of expression of novelists or film makers should do the same for video game creators; these latter deserve no less despite the novelty and popularity of their medium.

Posted by the Flea at 08:01 AM | TrackBack (0)

PlayStation 3

Sony has confirmed its "spring" PS3 launch has been delayed until November (hat tip to Porchboy). While this will be a disappointment to Japanese PlayStation fans it means Americans can look forward to a simultaneous launch with Japan; Europeans may even hope to get their PS3s sooner than the expected spring 2007 if the new plan is for a global launch. But The Economist claims more is at stake than Sony's position in the video game console market.

The timing of the PS3 launch is critical to Sony’s broader corporate strategy. The company is betting on the technologically ambitious new console to do more than just continue its profitable dominance of the games industry. (The PlayStation 2, the clear winner among the current generation of games consoles with sales of over 100m units and a market share of around 70%, has sustained the company in recent years.) That is because Blu-ray is currently locked in a standards war with a rival high-definition disc format, HD-DVD, backed by Toshiba. Billions of dollars in future licence fees are at stake as the two formats fight to establish themselves as the high-definition successor to the DVD format.
Posted by the Flea at 08:00 AM | TrackBack (0)

March 16, 2006

Gorillaz: El Mañana

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 08:54 AM | TrackBack (0)

The selfish meme

No matter how many books Richard Dawkins pens his audiences bring him The Selfish Gene to sign. Dawkins considers the book thirty-years' on and ponders some alternative, approachable titles. Though I think "selfishness" is only the beginning of the problem when it is still the case for rather clever biologists to talk about natural selection "choosing" between species or genes "pursuing (an) agenda", selfish or otherwise. Semantics, not genetics, accounts for what we have got here (a failure to communicate). Ethics and aesthetics are another matter entirely.

A teacher reproachfully wrote that a pupil had come to him in tears after reading the same book, because it had persuaded her that life was empty and purposeless. But if something is true, no amount of wishful thinking can undo it.

Look, people: Dawkins is not Nietzsche. While the man has an editorial hostility to religious belief there is nothing in his impressive popular science writing that contradicts the revelatory or the miraculous. But then my faith has never relied on a "literalist" acceptance of Bronze Age science as its foundation any more than on the Guardian ruminations of Oxford professors even be they so clever as to marry a Who companion. The Selfish Gene is still worth a look thirty years after the fact though Flea-readers with a biology background or a bit of patience would be better advised to pick up a copy of The Extended Phenotype. I expect Dawkins would be delighted if someone brought one along to his next book-signing too.

Posted by the Flea at 08:47 AM | TrackBack (0)

March 15, 2006

Sumida Tower

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The Tokyo Tower is surely an impressive sight at 333m as must be the Ostankino Tower at 540m. I can assure Flea-readers everywhere that the CN Tower, while '70s looking, is an attractive addition to the Toronto skyline at 553m. This last fact making the CN Tower the world's "tallest freestanding structure" and a reasonably convincing phallic symbol to wave across Lake Ontario at our American neighbours. Now it turns out Japanese television has something to say on the subject.

NHK and five commercial TV broadcasters in the Tokyo area said Monday they have picked the Sumida-Taito area in the capital as a leading candidate site for a new 600-meter Tokyo Tower. The area -- two neighboring wards in eastern Tokyo -- was judged to be superior among the 15 areas in the metropolis proposed for the new tower, which will be the world's tallest and is planned for completion by 2011 as a radio and TV transmitter when the nation's terrestrial-based broadcasting will be completely switched to digital from analog.

The Sumida Tower is to be 610m, actually. Not that size is everything. Readers of Japanese can find out more at the official site.

Posted by the Flea at 11:10 AM | TrackBack (0)

Utada: You Make Me Want To Be A Man

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 11:07 AM | TrackBack (0)

Chromehounds

I am not much for mechs but Chromehounds looks like fun for the Xbox 360. The trailer is impressive for the animation alone. Now if only I can do something about the Xbox 360 that is missing in my life.

In this massive global conflict, three nations with opposing political views have erupted in an all-out war. From the cockpit of a giant metal "HOUND", you must power your tower of heavy artillery through giant war zones while backing five others on your squad and dodging the firepower of six other live players via Xbox Live.
Posted by the Flea at 10:54 AM | TrackBack (0)

The 1940 test

The UK House of Commons defence committee ponders a replacement for the Trident weapon system, scheduled to be decommissioned around 2020. An important consideration is the cost/necessity of developing a British alternative to Trident.

Dan Plesch, from the Foreign Policy Centre, told the MPs' first hearing the UK would probably not be able to use nuclear weapons without America's agreement.

"The public understanding is that we have this if ever again we face 1940," said Mr Plesch, referring to the UK going to war with Germany without US backing. ... There's a strong sense, going back almost to the Armada and Trafalgar in our culture that we have to have some contingency."

While the United Kingdom's nuclear deterrent consists of warheads designed and built by the Atomic Weapons Establishment and deployed aboard British Vanguard-class SSBN submarines, the Trident missiles themselves are supplied by Lockheed and delivered direct to these submarines at an American naval base. A desire for an entirely independent nuclear deterrent on the part of the UK defence establishment would seem to echo the earlier shift from the Westinghouse designed PWR1 reactor to the British designed and built Core H PWR2 reactor (and a jolly reactor it is, too).

Posted by the Flea at 10:51 AM | TrackBack (0)

Ugly bags of mostly water

Daniel Engber asks why we tend to assume alien life will be made of water and silicon. As opposed to, say, methane, liquid amonia, boron or Flea-fav silicon.

The Cassini spacecraft has found evidence of what may be geysers of liquid water on a moon of Saturn, project scientists said on Thursday. "If we are right," said one of the Cassini researchers, the moon "might possibly have conditions suitable for living organisms." Liquid water is generally considered one of the likely preconditions for extraterrestrial life, along with sources of heat and organic materials. But why are we so sure water is crucial for the development of life?
Posted by the Flea at 10:44 AM | TrackBack (0)

March 14, 2006

The Showgirl Princess

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Kylie Minogue is to write a children's book aimed at fans aged six and upwards. A must for the Flea's extensive, if currently hypothetical, pop-star authored children's book collection.

The hardback book will feature exclusive photos of Minogue taken by long-time collaborator William Baker, as well as illustrations.

The book's editor, Jane Richardson, believes it will "appeal to little princesses everywhere who love to dress up and have fun. ... It brims with positive messages such as believing in yourself and the importance of friendship and teamwork," she added.
Posted by the Flea at 10:58 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

The Streets: Lets Push Things Foward

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance (waving a lighter over my head for SondraK).

Posted by the Flea at 10:57 AM | TrackBack (0)

Raymi and JD

I turns out Raymi knew JD Fortune in his life before INXS. Somehow I am not surprised. But when do we hear if she will try out for the next Rock Star project? It would be, like, fate or something.

Posted by the Flea at 10:54 AM | TrackBack (0)

American Apparel, rock on

If Ryanne Hodson is a figment of American Apparel's imagination she is key to the most effective viral ad I have ever seen. Otherwise, rock on (via Instapundit).

Posted by the Flea at 10:53 AM | TrackBack (0)

Chef walks

Isaac Hayes has left South Park saying his 40 years as a civil rights activist are no longer consistent with the last (almost) ten years of involvement with the show (hat tip to Porchboy). The problem, "disrespect" toward religious beliefs and practices. I can only second Matt Stone and Trey Parker's reaction.

"South Park" co-creator Matt Stone responded sharply in an interview with The Associated Press Monday, saying, "This is 100 percent having to do with his faith of Scientology... He has no problem - and he's cashed plenty of checks - with our show making fun of Christians." ...

Stone told The AP he and co-creator Trey Parker "never heard a peep out of Isaac in any way until we did Scientology. He wants a different standard for religions other than his own, and to me, that is where intolerance and bigotry begin."
Posted by the Flea at 10:49 AM | TrackBack (0)

March 13, 2006

Shady lady

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Much better than my old Farah Fawcett Majors sunglasses. Oh, and Victoria Beckham is going to be Katie Holmes' "birthing partner" or something to that effect.

Posted by the Flea at 10:24 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Mish Mash: Speechless

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance (QT file).

Posted by the Flea at 10:21 AM | TrackBack (0)

Footie featured

The football clubs of England in an attractive, interactive format. Also, Scotland. If my limited grasp of the system is correct, these are Football League teams hence some missing prominent FA Premier League names (via Daimnation!).

Posted by the Flea at 10:19 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

The religious affiliation of comic book characters

Superman is a Methodist and the Thing is Jewish. Who knew? Insights into the religious affiliation of comic book characters are revealed thanks to the exhaustive factoid archive known as "the internet". For example; why are so many major superheroes Episcopalian?

"The original creators of comics, 60 or 70 years ago, were almost all Jewish and Italian kids from various parts of New York," notes DC Comics Executive Vice President and Publisher Paul Levitz. "And the characters they created were pseudo-whitebread Episcopalian. It was almost de rigueur back then to paint people in this idealized American image."
Posted by the Flea at 10:17 AM | TrackBack (0)

Elohim is plural

A comprehensive study by Drs. Karl Pootle and Yumble Frick proves the universe was designed by committee (via the Commissar).

"If you’re one guy designing a universe, why come up with twenty different ways of tackling the same issue?" Pootle said. "If you’re omnipotent, presumably you know perfectly well whatever the one solution is that will work best, and you go with that. The fact that the world obviously doesn’t work that way is what led us first to the committee theory. The plants and animals that inhabit the Earth show the kinds of random and incoherent thinking that can only otherwise be found in the products of design committees where there’s a lot of CYA and turf protection going on."
Posted by the Flea at 10:14 AM | TrackBack (0)

NaturalNano

Finally something useful from nanotechnology. Even if Newsday seems to think this involves "harnessing sub-microscopic organisms for everyday uses".

Playing to the backlash against ubiquitous communication, a company called NaturalNano is developing a special high-tech paint that relies on the wizardry of nanotechnology to create a system that locks out unwanted cell phone signals on demand.

The paint represents a dream to those who seek a distraction-free movie or concert experience, and a nightmare to those who compulsively monitor their BlackBerry phones.
Posted by the Flea at 10:11 AM | TrackBack (0)

March 11, 2006

Client: In It For The Money

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 09:31 AM | TrackBack (0)

The Kryptonics

Vin Diesel has a ridiculous pet name for his biceps, apparently. Now must come up with pet name for the biceps of the Flea. I am thinking Hugin and Mugin...

Posted by the Flea at 09:27 AM | TrackBack (0)

Pluto

Ahh... the 1950s. Those were the days. Men were men, women were women, a steak was a steak and a missile was a Supersonic Low-Altitude Missile. With an onboard 500-megawatt reactor, this baby was really a nuclear missile (hat tip to Varenius).

Pluto's namesake was Roman mythology's ruler of the underworld -- seemingly an apt inspiration for a locomotive-size missile that would travel at near-treetop level at three times the speed of sound, tossing out hydrogen bombs as it roared overhead. Pluto's designers calculated that its shock wave alone might kill people on the ground. Then there was the problem of fallout. In addition to gamma and neutron radiation from the unshielded reactor, Pluto's nuclear ramjet would spew fission fragments out in its exhaust as it flew by.
Posted by the Flea at 09:23 AM | TrackBack (0)

XM101 CROWS

Common remotely operated weapon stations (CROWS) sound like a sensible move toward enclosing all too vulnerable gunners. If only the Marines could sort out a similar arrangment for exposed Warthog turret operators.

The idea for CROWS has been around for nearly half a century. Years of tinkering, and better technology, eventually made the remote control gun turret effective and dependable. CROWS us a real life saver, not to mention anxiety reducer, for troops who drive through bandit country a lot, and have a turret mounted gun (usually in a hummer). The guy manning the turret mounted machine-gun is a target up there, and too often, the bad guys get you.
Posted by the Flea at 09:21 AM | TrackBack (0)

March 10, 2006

Last tango for Paris

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Recently afforded the honour of topping PeTA's worst-dressed celeb list*, Paris Hilton's notoriety would seem assured. Yet Best Weekend Ever asks: Is Paris over? I find it difficult to believe Vanity Fair would reject her for not being famous enough (the cads!). It seems rather more likely we will know the Paris phenom is done with when she is left off a guest list and the press fails to report it.

On Sunday night, Hilton was banned from Vanity Fair's annual post-Oscar party. With only 500 invites, Vanity Fair Editor in Chief Graydon Carter reportedly didn't think Hilton was important enough to attend. "Paris who? She will never attend one of the parties I host," said the editor.

*The dolts. Paris loves animals. She is very sweet that way.

Posted by the Flea at 08:33 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Sugababes: I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Scenester Update: Here is the Arctic Monkey's original for non-NME readers.

Posted by the Flea at 08:29 AM | TrackBack (0)

Kabbalah at work

Madonna quits acting. Before anyone asks "Madonna was an actress?" or something to that effect I ask you to remember Desperately Seeking Susan and cut her some small measure of slack. Though I suppose we are all at our best when we play ourselves.

Madonna has vowed never to star in another movie, because she fears her terrible acting reputation will condemn any film. ... "What film can survive people saying it's going to be a bomb from the second it's announced?"
Posted by the Flea at 08:25 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

The law of unintended consequences

Andrew Sullivan points out the spectacular success of a New Zealand boycott of a controversial South Park episode.

The viewership of the show increased by more than six times the usual rating.
Posted by the Flea at 08:23 AM | TrackBack (0)

Enceladus the Storyteller

The Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn and Titan has discovered what may be liquid water on Saturn's moon, Enceladus. An impressive finding in itself and all the more improbable given the local real estate is only 314 miles across. Anyone put off the news because Enceladus sounds like a Taco Bell offering should know is quite pretty, actually.

"We realize that this is a radical conclusion -- that we may have evidence for liquid water within a body so small and so cold," said Dr. Carolyn Porco, Cassini imaging team leader at Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo. "However, if we are right, we have significantly broadened the diversity of solar system environments where we might possibly have conditions suitable for living organisms."
Posted by the Flea at 08:17 AM | TrackBack (0)

The Ludovico Method

"I would there were no age between sixteen and three-and-twenty, or that youth would sleep out the rest; for there is nothing in the between but getting wenches with child, wronging the ancientry, stealing, fighting."
- William Shakespeare

Theodore Dalrymple has another go at the ideology of self-expression by way of discussing Anthony Burgess and A Clockwork Orange. Dalrymple has little enthusiasm for kids these days but then he gets twitchy around people with tattoos so grain of salt and all that. My favourite passage could just as easily describe an encounter with any university student assigned a grade lower than a "B" (or in Harvard's case, an "A").

For example, adults grow afraid of the young and defer to them, something that has certainly come to pass in Britain, where adults now routinely look away as youngsters commit antisocial acts in public, for fear of being knifed if they do otherwise, and mothers anxiously and deferentially ask their petulant five-year-old children what they would like to eat, in the hope of averting tantrums. The result is that adolescents and young men take any refusal of a request as lèse-majesté, a challenge to the integrity of their ego. When I refused to prescribe medicine that young men wanted but that I thought they did not need, they would sometimes answer in aggrieved disbelief, “No? What do you mean, no?” It was not a familiar concept.
Posted by the Flea at 08:14 AM | TrackBack (0)

March 09, 2006

The Last Stand

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The latest trailer for the latest X-Men movie. Serious stuff. Also: Phoenix.

Posted by the Flea at 07:37 AM | TrackBack (0)

Peter Gabriel: Shock the Monkey

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 07:34 AM | TrackBack (0)

Sprockets: Dieter's Dream

I have always wanted to make love to a woman with punctuational nomenclature. Now is the time at the Flea when we dream.

Monkey-touching Update: It looks like SNL/NBC's lawyers have gone after You Tube. Here are some Dieter quotes to be getting on with.

Posted by the Flea at 07:33 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Soon it will be time to buy all those movies again

I plan to splash out on a giant plasma screen television just in time for it to be made obsolete by an even more splash-worthy 3D laser projection system.

The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology ... and Keio University (President: Yuichiro Anzai), in collaboration with Burton Inc. ..., have succeeded in the experimental fabrication of a device displaying "real 3D images" which consist of dot arrays in space where there is nothing but air.
Posted by the Flea at 07:31 AM | TrackBack (0)

Remote Controlled Robotic Shark

This remote controlled robotic shark should come in handy for all your remote controlled robotic shark needs.

A full 2' long, this unique robotic shark has a full-range of motion to replicate the smooth, sleek swimming of one of nature's most efficient predators. It is able to gracefully maneuver up, down, left, right, and even backwards through water, in depths up to 9'.

Prospero had better be prosperous Update: Just spotted the seven-foot Robby The Robot. A snip at $49,999.95!

Posted by the Flea at 07:29 AM | TrackBack (0)

Robotic mule

The last sound the last human will ever hear may sound something very close to the racket made by this robotic mule. Plus maybe a chainsaw or knee-level whipper-snipper arrangement. Or possibly just the click of the trigger before firing that last precious bullet saved for the final contingency. Seriously folks; we are on a dangerous road with this stuff.

(Hat tip to A Former Servant of Her Majesty)

Posted by the Flea at 07:27 AM | TrackBack (0)

March 08, 2006

Frankly Scarlet

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I'm all about fashion, cheeseburgers and bright red lipstick.
- Scarlet Johansson

The Flea's hard-hitting editorial series, Object Lessons in Objectification™ soldiers on with the depressing observation that - no matter her other attributes and interests - for so many there is only one feature that stands out when the name Scarlet Johansson is called to mind. I can only express my disappointment, on so many levels, that Isaac Mizrahi should think it was appropriate to grope her breasts at the Golden Globes (no smart remarks, people!). Or indeed that I would imagine the fact I have linked to an animated gif of the incident would in any way generate traffic.

"It was definitely in poor taste," said Johansson, speaking about her reaction publicly for the first time. "I’d been prepping for two hours with hair and makeup and getting dressed. And the first interview I do, someone who I have never met before fondles me for his own satisfaction."

Johansson was wearing a clingy, low-cut gown that made the most of her ample bust line when Mizrahi made his move.

The cad!

Posted by the Flea at 08:54 AM | TrackBack (0)

Sasha Dith: Russian Girls

One day all videos will feature girls washing cars. Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.*

*Possibly not safe for work unless you work in recruiting for the Russian military in which case you probably made your quota this month.

Posted by the Flea at 08:53 AM | TrackBack (0)

Lynx Rituals

With spring coming I am reminded it is good not to be a turtle.

Posted by the Flea at 08:47 AM | TrackBack (0)

God is in the details

Anselm is best remembered for his ontological argument.

The first, and best-known, ontological argument was proposed by St. Anselm of Canterbury in the 11th. century A.D. In his Proslogion, St. Anselm claims to derive the existence of God from the concept of a being than which no greater can be conceived. St. Anselm reasoned that, if such a being fails to exist, then a greater being — namely, a being than which no greater can be conceived, and which exists — can be conceived. But this would be absurd: nothing can be greater than a being than which no greater can be conceived. So a being than which no greater can be conceived — i.e., God — exists.

The Flea presents a simplified proof in the form of Jessica Alba's photoshoot for Arena Magazine. Think of it as an actually existing ontology which, to my mind, is much closer to the revelatory core of the Christian message than Anselm's mental gymnastics.

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Am the Flea a Libertarian?

One welcome side-effect of writing rather more about Kate Beckinsale and rather less about Canadian politics is that I am not asked this question as often as I used to be. Now I find I am in almost 100% agreement with Scott Adams on the subject.

Frankly, I’m suspicious of anyone who has a strong opinion on a complicated issue. But when it comes to social questions, those are usually simple. I take sides with whatever viewpoint is good for me personally.
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March 07, 2006

God is a gamer

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I can hardly wait to play Spore. SimCity and The Sims creator, Will Wright walks through game features in this video from last year's Game Developer's Conference.

The game starts out humbly enough, with little microorganisms slurping around a puddle of green goo. Wright led his tiny microscopic creature around, eating little green cells and avoiding brown cells or black cells that tried to eat him. "This is kinda like Pac-Man," he explained. After he ate enough, he was rewarded with the ability to lay an egg -- which he did.

Clicking on the egg brought up a creature editor, and allowed the player to "evolve" with a new generation of critters. The editor was amazingly flexible. Wright could give his creature extra vertebrae, he could give it fins or tails to move faster, he could add claws or extra mouths, whatever he wanted. More importantly, all the creature animations weren't hard-coded; they were dynamic. If he put six tails on his creature, the game would figure out how a six-tailed creature would move. The critter was completely his.
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Faithless: God is a DJ

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

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Xbox Smacktalk

Talking smack over Xbox live: an educational film that should come in handy for dealing with Porchboy.

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Google tracking

For all your Hubble Space Telescope and International Space Station tracking needs.

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Local Technology Preview

Windows' Local Technology Preview lets you drive around Seattle or San Francisco combining a database of street-level photos with top-down satellite imagery. Neat. I drove from San Francisco's Chinatown out to Haight/Ashbury then on through the park to a spot where I once stood looking out over the Pacific as a storm rolled in. The street-level imagery only covers the downtown core at the moment but a great tool for jogging the memory nonetheless. I can only imagine what this sort of interface will be able to do in a year's time (via Dodgeblogium)

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March 06, 2006

Razzies 2006

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Flea-fav Paris Hilton was honoured with the Worst Supporting Actress nod by this year's Golden Raspberry Awards. I was equally delighted by Will Ferrell and Nicole Kidman* walking away with Worst Screen Couple. Excepting fame, fortune and verticality what appeal could Ferrell possibly hold that the Flea does not possess in abundance?

*Pictured above at another awards ceremony. The People's Daily Online has yet more Oscars red carpet photos.

Portmanteau lyrics Update: Only a tangential link here but I am not waiting until tomorrow to post Natalie Portman rapping. Damn Natalie, you a crazy chick (hat tip to Bill) (link now updated thanks to A Former Servant of Her Majesty).

Information wants to be free (unless I own the IP in which case it is time to pay) Update: YouTube has removed Portman's rap saying, "This video has been removed due to copyright infringement." All right... you win for now, "internet". Take a look at Miu von Furstenberg's Oscars worst dressed picks instead.

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Morcheeba: Otherwise

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 08:36 AM | TrackBack (0)

Brokeback Bunnies

Brokeback Mountain re-enacted in 30 seconds. By bunnies.

Posted by the Flea at 08:34 AM | TrackBack (0)

Unaustralian

Unaustralianism is everywhere, apparently.

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Simpsons title sequence

A source of ongoing confusion to me is the British love affair with The Simpsons. Not their enjoyment of the show itself but how in the course of expressing their Simpsons enthusiasm they will patiently explain how Americans have no sense of irony. Perhaps ironic: in telling me this they often imagine they are educating a befuddled American.

Makers of the hit cartoon The Simpsons have a filmed the show's opening titles using real actors. In the hit viral going around the world we get to see what Bart, Homer, Marg, Lisa and Maggie would look like if they were humans.
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Pandora

The Music Genome Project aims to help people find more music they will like. Their oracle for this task is Pandora, an A.I./DJ. It is this bespoke internet music radio station that separates the system from, for example, Gnod and I am tinkering with it as I type this post. My first artist selection was VNV Nation in part to test the range of music in Pandora's box. It promptly called up "Entropy", played the track and then suggested Eiffel 65's "Blue (Da Ba Dee)" by matching beat, tempo and vocal stylings with my first selection.

I have now added Underworld and Faithless; I like "Blue" just fine but am after more downbeat lyrical content just now. Having played Flea-fav "Born Slippy" by Underworld, Pandora now calls up "Call The Ships To Port" by a band called Covenant. Never heard of them and it is exactly what I am looking for so props to a network that can do my exploration for me.*

At which point it hits me with the registration interface. You can choose a subscription or to sit through ads; fair enough. Next up was another Covenant track, "We Stand Alone" after I asked Pandora to play more like it. This followed by an excellent guess, Funkervogt "Killing Fields". An hour of listening later and I have a half dozen new bands to check out. Well worth the visit.

*Excellent sound quality too, btw.

(Oops! Forgot to hat tip A Former Servant of Her Majesty for this one.)

Posted by the Flea at 08:23 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

March 04, 2006

Local girls

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Han Solo had a girlfriend. Who knew? Except for Jenny Cresswell herself, that is. Not to be confused with the intriguing Swilla Corey (pictured above).

According to production notes, there were several "local girls" on set, meaning female human Tatooine residents that would not require complicated alien masks. One of the extras, noted in continuity logs simply as "Jenny" was to be seen snuggling next to Han Solo. She was cut from the film, but can be seen in a video included in 1997's Behind the Magic CD-ROM from LucasArts. An image of this scene was also published in Star Wars Insider #41 in a fascinating article about an early cut of A New Hope.

Another local girl is a stringy-hair blonde lurking behind Ben Kenobi after the old Jedi puts away his lightsaber. This character was established as Swilla Corey by the Customizable Card Game.
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Space Acid

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.*

*If anyone can identify this act; please let me know!

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Vintage Star Wars toys

My cousin, an only child, had something like a hundred Star Wars action figures and the battle for Hoth playset. That still pisses me off.

Posted by the Flea at 11:19 AM | TrackBack (0)

Troops

I cannot quite believe I have never linked to Troops at the Flea. Perhaps the file size was just too large. Also much more managable is the C3POs cereal ad, Star Wars Gangsta Rap and Triumph giving his two cents on the off chance there are any Flea-readers who have missed these classic bits.

Posted by the Flea at 11:14 AM | TrackBack (0)

Turkish Star Wars

Sure, atrocity fantasies, organ-stealing Jewish doctors and the utter venality of some actors suggests something rotten in the state of Turkish cinema. But the Flea issued a fatwa against Turkish cinema long ago for the horror that is Dunyayi Kurtaran Adam.

Posted by the Flea at 11:12 AM | TrackBack (0)

Star Wars Holiday Special

[hangs head] Right. That's one of those things that happened, and I just have to live with it. - George Lucas

Before the latest trilogy was released and the Flea started issuing fatwas against false jedi I used to insist there were four Star Wars films. But then it used to be if you wanted to watch the Star Wars Holiday Special* in Toronto you had to go rent it from a certain edgy video place that shall remain nameless (George Lucas may be a Flea-reader for all I know). Now half the whole shebang is available at your convenience thanks to the copyright infringing wonder that is "the internet". Surely 50 minutes is enough to be getting on with.

A Star Wars Christmas Special that only aired once ever. Afterwards, all copies were destroyed. This is the work of Satan. Prepare to view the worst of special effects, wookie drugs, and more! Puke bags are located under your seats.

Remember what Mark Hamill looked like before the accident? Though I expect I have got my time-line wrong on the special. For anyone who thought Ewoks, let alone Jar Jar Binks, meant an end to suspension of disbelief I can only suggest they watch the whole thing (or just skip forward to Jefferson Starship).

*The holiday in question being Life Day, the one day a year Chewbacca's father gets to use his virtual reality porn headset without getting hassled (no, I am not making this up). Now all I need to know is how long it takes to marinade the Bantha loin for Bantha Surprise.

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March 03, 2006

Jewel: Goodbye Alice in Wonderland

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

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You scare me, Heidi Klum

Heidi Klum + French fry = The Hunger.*

*Der obige Text ist eine Assoziation von Klum zum Stichwort Unappetitlich.

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We could all have been killed - or worse, expelled

Emma Watson + beer = S-P-E-W.*

*Not to worry. Corona hardly counts as beer.

Posted by the Flea at 07:41 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Björk talking about her tv

Just stare at the monitor and stop judging whether the Flea is a good idea or not. Björk Guðmundsdóttir; will you marry me?

Posted by the Flea at 07:39 AM | TrackBack (0)

Defend the Children of the Poor & Punish the Wrongdoer

The proceedings of the Old Bailey from 1674 to 1834 are now available on-line (via Yummy Wakame). Accounts of over one-hundred thousand criminal trials are included. Take Isabel Harris, for example.

Isabel Harris , was indicted for stealing a Riding-hood, a Gown, and Petticoat , the Goods of Thomas Elliot , March 3. Guilty .

Her sentence? Transportation.

Posted by the Flea at 07:33 AM | TrackBack (0)

The sky is falling

While The Economist reports Tim Flannery has the usual things to say about global temperature change they are impressed with what they say is almost a throwaway point.

He suggests that if humanity were facing the threat of cold, rather than heat, the talking would have been over long ago and a strong plan of action would be in place. His point is that Homo sapiens is a tropical species which, having only recently spread to temperate and frigid climes, still thinks like a tropical species. It really fears the cold, but rather likes the heat. The word "warming", therefore, has positive overtones. So perhaps the underlying problem is not so much, as in the case of staying slim, that you have to trade a real sacrifice now for a potential benefit in the future, but that a lot of people who are perfectly willing to believe that global warming is happening don't really see it is a problem at all.

Being entirely convinced we are a couple million years into an ice epoch and are currently overdue for another 100,000 year ice age I am rather more concerned about global freezing myself; no matter this global cooling euphamism. You know, the same end of the world scenario climate scientists were ranting about in the 1970s when such was the fashion. Yet Homo sapiens managed to struggle on doing nothing whatsoever about it despite our tropical ancestry. Unless, that is, we count SUVs as the thin line between Canada and the ice. I hope climatology has become a more reliable discipline in the last thirty years but I doubt human nature - with its wishful thinking, doomsaying and indifference alike - has changed in the slightest; something an evolutionary biologist should appreciate.

Posted by the Flea at 07:31 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

March 02, 2006

Don't hold your breath

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Many hopes were raised upons seeing Jessica Alba in a bikini on the cover of the March 2006 issue of Playboy Magazine. It turns out Jessica Alba is suing Playboy as this might have lead some to believe she would appear nude inside. Not so.

And the sigh heard around the world will come from sixteen-year-old boys everywhere, who just lost the greatest thing that almost ever happened to them.

It is probably best some facts retain their sacred mystery. With that in mind I am hesitant to direct Flea-readers to the Jessica Alba butt collage thoughtfully posted by Easy Does It University by way of fleshing out the facts of the controversy. Arguably ironic sidebar: Alba's cover appearance is down to having been voted the sexiest woman in show business by a Playboy magazine poll.

Posted by the Flea at 07:23 AM | TrackBack (0)

Faithless: Insomnia (live)

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 07:21 AM | TrackBack (0)

Belle And Sebastian: The Boy With The Arab Strap

There is still snow on the ground in the northern wasters but somehow, somewhere it already feels like spring. Must stick with the fitness regimen. Also, find a stretchy headband.

Posted by the Flea at 07:17 AM | TrackBack (0)

Semtex Girls

Madonna's recent announcement of a new business venture was image rich if detail poor.

Madge, 47, has refused to reveal what her company does — but said the name described her staff. She explained: "The Semtex Girl is a girl who is dynamic, a girl who explodes and doesn’t take no for an answer."

That image being provided in part by Madonna's own in combination with the famous Czech explosive. Now Explosia, inventors with a brand to defend, are suggesting they may take legal action against the Immaterial Girl. Semtex has its reputation to think of.

Posted by the Flea at 07:15 AM | TrackBack (0)

That will teach you

The Flea may be second to none in uncritical David Beckham media but even I have a hard time believing the math curriculum has changed to the point Brooklyn's math homework should present a challenge.

"Their homework is so hard these days," Beckham, 30, said in an interview with the Mail on Sunday. "It's totally done differently to what I was teached when I was at school, and you know I was like 'Oh my God, I can't do this'."

Multi-millionaire Beckham, who has become regular tabloid fare because of his dress sense and hairstyles, said after failing in mathematics he offered to read a book with Brooklyn instead.
Posted by the Flea at 07:14 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Searching for Shakespeare

An exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery brings together for the first time six paintings of Shakespeare thought most likely to have been painted from life. Channel 4 discusses several contenders, saying the National Portrait Gallery's three-year project concluded only the Chandos portrait was likely to be an authentic representation. Yet a German academic claims no fewer than four fit the bill, including a death mask not included in the exhibition. Hildegard Hammerschmidt-Hummel, who surely has the coolest name in all of Shakespeare studies, claims a swelling appearing under the Bard's left eye indicates he had lymph cancer and also provides a clue as to which portraits were based on the man himself.

The four images with the morphological similarities are, she reveals in a book to be published in Britain in April, the Flower Shakespeare, named after the brewery family that gave the picture to the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1895; the Chandos Shakespeare, presented to the nation by Lord Ellesmere in 1856; the terracotta Davenant Bust, which stands in the Garrick Club in London; and the Darmstadt Death Mask.

Flea-readers seeking more Shakespeare pictures may find them at The Shakespeare Page and further discussion focused on the Sanders Portrait at Canadian Adaptations of Shakespeare. The National Portrait Gallery hosts Searching for Shakespeare through May 29.

Posted by the Flea at 07:11 AM | TrackBack (0)

March 01, 2006

The lawnmower effect

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This Gillette Fusion™ razor system is everywhere. Seriously orange and in my face every time I set foot in Shoppers Drug Mart with the Spartan-117 cryo-tube packaging and companion HydraGel display. BusinessWeek is calling it "the lawnmower effect" as Procter & Gamble Co. makes shave-prep products "an extremely high priority". Their secret weapon: Canada's own J.D. Fortune as the new spokesface for Gillette's Revolutionary New 5-blade Shaving Surface™.

Canada's newest and hottest rock star, J.D. Fortune, traded in his microphone for a Gillette Fusion™ razor today to demonstrate just how revolutionary the new men's shaving system-which features 5-blade Shaving SurfaceTM technology-really is. Fortune, 32, recently chosen as the new front man for Australian rock group INXS, took time out from a North American tour to demonstrate the new Fusion razor during an up-close-and-personal media launch event in Toronto.

"I prefer the Power version but the truth is that they both deliver a close and smooth shave," said Fortune following his live, on-stage razor demo. "I've always used Gillette and this is their best product yet."

That settles it for me. Plus this degree of shamelessness means somebody at Gillette is sure to take pity on me and send me one for testing purposes (non-power version please and a refill cartridge pack would be much appreciated). Any Flea-readers who remain to be convinced should consult the Gillette shave-prep A.I., Cassandra. "Activate FUN"!

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Posted by the Flea at 08:57 AM | TrackBack (0)

Vanessa Paradis: Joe Le Taxi

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

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Trish Thuy Trang: Joe Le Taxi

Let's try that again with two heaping scoops of Flea! Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 08:53 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Hanayo: Joe le Taxi

Also quite Flealicious! Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 08:51 AM | TrackBack (0)

Green Tea Kit Kat

Mmm. Anti-oxidant flavour. But it is the others mentioned in comments that have fixed my attention: cantaloupe Kit Kat, pineapple Kit Kat and the too good to imagine lemon cheesecake Kit Kat. Wikipedia lists many more including a Christmas Pudding Kit Kat presumably meant for resolute optimists.

Posted by the Flea at 08:48 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Black is the new black

As antipodean fashionistas flock to the 2006 L’Oréal Melbourne Fashion Festival I confess an underwhelmed-at-a-distance* feeling; it seems a bit frump to the fab of London Fashion Week. A good bonfire is not to be dismissed but surely someone could have spared a moment to let this poor soul know her raincoat was undone before she paraded down the catwalk in the almost altogether. One high-note: black is back, apparently.

"We're an intellectual lot down here," said Melbourne Fashion Festival director Karen Webster about our tendency to wear black. She got a few laughs at the festival's first-day lunch yesterday, but more nods of agreement. Apparently we do fancy ourselves a cut above those northern cities far more fond of colour. Now that black is back, she observed: "For a lot of us, it never went out."

Testify!

*Surely there is a German term for this feeling.

Posted by the Flea at 08:41 AM | TrackBack (0)

There is more than one way to burn a book

I have no idea if the Flea is banned anywhere. Just in case, Instapundit thoughtfully reposts a list of Boing Boing suggestions for circumventing the problem.

What's really lame is that these countries, which include Iran, are using filtering software made by a United States company to block content. Selling the rope, and all that.
Posted by the Flea at 08:37 AM | TrackBack (0)

Miss Piggy

You Are Miss Piggy



A total princess and diva, you're totally in charge - even if people don't know it.

You want to be loved, adored, and worshiped. And you won't settle for anything less.

You're going to be a total star, and you won't let any of the "little people" get in your way.

Just remember, piggy, never eat more than you can lift!


The Muppet Personality Test

Via Dr. Damian Honeydew.

Posted by the Flea at 08:34 AM | TrackBack (0)