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April 30, 2008

California

My most recent traffic stats - I had been ignoring them for a year or so - indicate the Flea receives twenty times more traffic from the United States than it does from Canada, the UK and Australia combined. So, thanks to my American cousins.

On a related note: It is time for me to move to Los Angeles. Suggestions, guidance and advice would be most welcome. I do not have a green card so am after teaching, research, communications, writing or administrative work in a position which would allow me to apply for the appropriate visa. Or better yet, anything in sound design... The notion is to make a living while placing myself closer to the film industry; I have soundtrack music to sell.

Also, I have decided life should include palm trees.

Related: Theresa Duncan.

If you were to make a perfume that embodied the essence of Los Angeles, what would it smell like?

My cologne is called Santa Ana after the powerful winds that bring desert heat and faraway smell into the city.

It smells like: Celluloid and sand, coyote fur and car exhaust, contrail cloud and chlorine, bitter orange and stage blood and one bushel of ghostly, shivery night-blooming jasmine flowers like blown kisses from the phantoms of the ten thousand screen beauties who still haunt our hills every full moon because they think it's a stage light.

Also, BLDGBLOG.

L.A. is the apocalypse: it's you and a bunch of parking lots. No one's going to save you; no one's looking out for you. It's the only city I know where that's the explicit premise of living there – that's the deal you make when you move to L.A.
The city, ironically, is emotionally authentic.
It says: no one loves you; you're the least important person in the room; get over it.
What matters is what you do there.

And, of course.

Posted by the Flea at 05:53 PM | Comments (5)

Orbital: The Box

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 07:07 AM

sparth : construct

One the most important resources in learning to use my Wacom Intuos tablet lies in studying the work of accomplished artists. Take Sparth, for example. Just stunning. Breathtaking. For example, the best representation of the God Emperor I have seen.

Though I should confess this work is so good it leaves me jealous and angry. It is that miraculous translucence I have yet to figure out how to replicate...

Related: Concept artist Daniel Dociu.

Posted by the Flea at 07:04 AM | Comments (2)

Your MySpace page

I started to log in to MySpace this morning and was greeted half way through the process with a new "search your webmail contacts list for matching MySpace friends" feature. My main MySpace presence is linked in the sidebar here so no problems as this feature applies to me. But I think the new feature, while fun and interesting, is also a totally unreasonable violation of an expectation of privacy; if not, presumably, of the MySpace terms of use. I am now imagining there are a lot of people out there about to wake up in to a new world this morning, people who set up a MySpace page under an assumed name - for whatever reason - with the thought their webmail address would never connect them to it publicly. They are about to discover otherwise.

This includes at least one blogosphere celebrity; people can work that one out for themselves. Also fascinating were MySpace pages by two ex-girlfriends of the Flea. On the plus side I found a MySpace page I set up several years ago, never used, subsequently forgot and as of this morning deleted; about a dozen people on my Gmail contacts appear to have done the same, minus the "deleted" step.

Posted by the Flea at 05:39 AM | Comments (2)

April 29, 2008

Falling Down

"Watch the pretty lady sing the scary song, over and over again"

The Scarlett Johansson video, for some reason featuring Salman Rushdie. Remember when "the left" used to defend freedom of speech against death threats, fascism and Dark Ages theocratic misogyny? Now we have banned hate speech we do not need to worry about that sort of thing anymore, of course.*

But still, good times. Good times (hat tip to Agent Bedhead).

* When you outlaw hate speech only outlaws will have speech. Something like that.

Update: WWTDD comments:

... Scarlett Johansson has set the new bar for awfulness with her Tom Waits cover of "Falling Down". The only way this experience could be any worse is if the monitor grew arms and started stabbing you.
Posted by the Flea at 10:24 AM | Comments (1)

Lifeboat ethics, Part I

Ecologist Garrett Hardin suggested a metaphor of "lifeboats ethics" in the mid-1970s, one of many fathers for today's neo-Nazi "environmentalism". Somebody must starve - must never be born - for the good of Gaia. And somehow that somebody is never an undergraduate student at a top drawer university, never an ecologist. Somehow it is always brown people, people living in far away countries about whom we know little who are meant to sacrifice. Closer to home, somehow it is always the poor who are expected to do without for the common good.

There is only so much jet fuel, and only so many carbon credits, to go around.

I have two more specific lifeboats in mind. Case studies drawn from brutal human experience rather than science fiction of ecological speculation. The first lifeboat scenario is the long boat of the William Brown, a ship lost to the ice of the north Atlantic in 1841. This is depressing, dispiriting stuff.

The American ship William Brown, left Liverpool on the 13th of March, 1841, bound for Philadelphia, in the United States. She had on board (besides a heavy cargo) 17 of a crew, and 65 passengers, Scotch and Irish emigrants. About 10 o'clock on the night of the 19th of April, when distant 250 miles southeast of Cape Race, Newfoundland, the vessel struck an iceberg, and began to fill so repidly that it was evidence she must soon go down. The long-boat and jolly-boat were cleared away and lowered. The captain, the secnd mate, 7 of the crew, and 1 passenger got into the jolly-boat. The first mate, 8 seamen, of whom the prisoner was one (these 9 being the entire remainder of the crew), and 32 passengers, in all 41 persons, got indiscriminately into the long-boat. [n. 2] The remainder of the passengers, 31 persons, were obliged to remain on board the ship. In an hour and a half from the time when the ship struck, she went down, carrying with her every person who had not excaped to one or the other of the small boats. Thirty-one passengers thus perished. [n. 3] On the following morning (Tuesday) the captain, being about to part company with the long-boat, gave its crew several directions, and, among other counsel, advised them to obey all the orders of the mate, as they would obey his, the captain's. This the crew promised that they would do.

And this they did. His orders being to throw passengers into the Atlantic so as to prevent the vessel from being swamped; fourteen men in all and none of them from the ship's crew. Holmes, the sailor charged with physically throwing passengers to their deaths, had an enterprising attorney. He claimed his client had acted in "self defense". I am not certain whether to laugh or cry that even in a clear-headed Victorian morality could not see reason: Holmes served all of fifteen months in prison and a twenty dollar fine for manslaughter. It is one thing to understand in the abstract that people are despicable, quite another to be presented with the evidence.

Tomorrow: Another life boat.

See also: The wreck of the Medusa.
Related: These days a lifeboat joke is arguably grounds for a human rights complaint. It comes down to whether pigs use two-sided fax machine paper.

Posted by the Flea at 08:23 AM | Comments (5)

Anna Netrebko: Dvorak - Song To The Moon

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 08:22 AM | Comments (2)

April 28, 2008

After 9/11 they said irony was dead...

... and they were right!

"Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear."
- George Orwell

Update: A reminder of something Theodore Dalrymple observed.

Political correctness is communist propaganda writ small. In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is to co-operate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One's standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect, and is intended to.
Posted by the Flea at 06:55 PM

Memphis Belle

Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress (1944). One of the most astonishing things I have seen on the intertubes. At 19:20 a speech beginning "The Hun is expecting us.": The narrator explains the context of the mission with a moral clarity that is absent in our time.

The Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress is a 1944 documentary film which ostensibly provides an account of the final mission of the Memphis Belle, a B-17 Flying Fortress. In May 1943 it became the first U.S. Army Air Forces heavy bomber to complete 25 missions over Europe and return to the United States.

The dramatic 16 mm color film of actual battles was made by cinematographer First Lieutenant Harold J. Tannenbaum. The film was directed by Major William Wyler, narrated by Eugene Kern, and had scenes at its Bassingbourn base photographed by Hollywood cinematographer Captain William H. Clothier. It was made under the auspices of the First Motion Picture Unit, a branch of the United States Army Air Forces (to which future US President Ronald Reagan also belonged). The film actually depicted the next to last mission of the crew on May 15, 1943, and was made as a morale-building inspiration for the Home Front by showing the everyday courage of the men who manned these planes.

Wikipedia offers details of the documentary while the aircraft itself is currently undergoing restoration.

Posted by the Flea at 06:24 AM

Emilie Simon: Desert

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Reminder: Fleur de Saison.

Posted by the Flea at 06:23 AM

The building of London Heathrow Airport

Crown Film Unit presents "London Airport" (1949), specifically the building of. It was in April of 1944 that history came to the fields of Heathrow. The past was obliterated, along with the empire of Japan.

Posted by the Flea at 06:21 AM

April 26, 2008

Essential service

The TTC* went on strike at midnight last night leaving over one million Friday night revelers stranded downtown. The Flea, having been laid low by a hospital cold, was at home watching Harry Potter and so missed events. BlogTO has the best coverage and comments; some incidents of vandalism are reported.

Pithy:

I was stranded at work by the ATU 113s decision to strike. By the grace of a kind co-worker who was leaving an hour after my shift ended, I got home. ATU 113 could have gotten themselves a shitload mode public support if they have gone on strike as of 4 or 5 am. I am generally pro-union, and I had the urge to stop by the subway yard and throw rocks at any TTC driver that I saw. VERY short-sited move on the unions part. Piss of your supporters in the public by giving next to no notice, and stranding people downtown and shift workers at work.

Also:

A quote from Bob Kinnear (president of the union) from CTV.com

"The reports from our members of increases in threats and abuse from passengers last weekend, after we gave our original 48-hours' notice, has left us no choice but to withdraw our services immediately. We have a legal responsibility to protect the safety of our members and so does the TTC."

If he thinks it was bad last weekend, just wait until they go back to work. They just made it 10 times worse for themselves.

My thoughts exactly. The unions have intentionally stranded without warning and thereby endangered a million people. Spare a thought too for what police officers had to contend with last night. I had been arguing the unions' corner up to and beyond the 4pm negotiation deadline of last Sunday and have this week congratulated two drivers and a maintenance worker on their settlement.

The unions have lost my good will. I now have only a few words to add. These are: "Essential service", "Fire them all" and "Private transit". Not to forget, "Fuck you, ATU 113".

Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 113
812 Wilson Avenue
Downsview, Ontario
M3K 1E5

Phone: (416) 398-5113
Out of Town: 1-800-245-9929
Fax: (416) 398-4978
Email: atu113@wemovetoronto.ca

At least it's not OC Transpo.

* Take The Car.

Update: I had wondered at reports of a spontaneous demonstration outside TTC HQ last night.

As they chanted outside the TTC main office at davisville last night at 2 a.m. , FUCK TTC! FUCK TTC! FUCK TTC! FUCK TTC!

Timely: The T&C Transit Strike Survival Guide. My current option will have to factor in my competitive jerk tendencies. Fortunately, I have access to a shower, locked parking and an excellent bike that looks like a beater.

Bike. When I worked for a company that had a gym and showers in the building, I used to bike 19km from Scarborough to the financial district. It would take me about 45 minutes and was ten times as fun as waiting for a crowded bus and then packing into a crowded subway. Because I am a competitive jerk I liked to go as fast as possible, which also generates a lot of sweat. I could also park my carbon-and-titanium mountain bike in card-access underground parking which made theft a non-factor. If your company does not have showers and carded, underground bike parking then I recommend biking to work only if you have 1) an old beater of bike that you don't mind getting ripped off and 2) can rein in your competitive jerk impulses and not go fast and get all sweaty.

Update: The strike may well be legal, but is it moral? No, it is not.

“They did it because a weekend strike cripples. Its affects the people no one really cares about. The people who are most affected are shift workers and students - who need the money, and can’t afford to miss their shifts. They hurt the most vulnerable people with this strike.”
Posted by the Flea at 12:29 PM

WMD

Weapons of Medieval Destruction!

(via The Castle)

Posted by the Flea at 09:14 AM

April 25, 2008

There and Back Again

Once he is done filming Hellboy 2, Guillermo del Toro is to direct The Hobbit (via Slublog). Excellent news.

Del Toro’s moving to New Zealand for the next four years to work with Jackson and his Wingnut and Weta production teams. He’ll direct the two films back to back, with the sequel dealing with the 60-year period between “The Hobbit” and “The Fellowship of the Ring,” the first of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.
Posted by the Flea at 05:16 PM | Comments (1)

Sisters of Mercy: Black Planet

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 06:44 AM

A new exercise regimen

Get Fit, Fanboys! offers exercise tips from the Marvel Multiverse.

Posted by the Flea at 06:43 AM

April 24, 2008

Scarlett Johannson: Falling Down

You may ask yourself: Would the Flea link an arguably not terribly convincing Tom Wait cover because it is by Scarlett Johannson?* But you would be asking yourself a rhetorical question. Now is the time at the Flea when we dance (via Zenarchy).**

* And David Bowie, who is still not missing a trick after all this time.
** Ok, I take it back. This is awesome. Just. Freaking. Awesome.

Posted by the Flea at 06:53 AM | Comments (3)

April 23, 2008

Who knows what you've spoken to the darkness in the bitter watches of the night

EnglishNaziSalute.jpg

David Mellor's essay about England's shame deserves wider attention. Even before PRC police thugs pushed aside British citizens in the streets of London*, the "government" of the United Kingdom had warned our athletes against expressing badthought about the mandate of heaven.

It is a shame for free men to kowtow before a dictatorship; a shame made all the worse for our having made the same mistake before.

On May 14, 1938, in Berlin's Olympic Stadium, the English football team were blackguarded by the Foreign Office and the Football Association into giving the "Heil Hitler" Nazi salute before a friendly game with Germany. It was a piece of contemptible cringing rendered even more pathetic and futile because Hitler, who hated sport, didn't bother to turn up.

But that picture of impressionable footballers obeying orders from mutton-headed apparatchiks went round the world and became a lasting source of shame to this country. This was, after all, just weeks after Hitler had annexed Austria and came at a time when plans for the Final Solution were well advanced.

* A grotesque spectacle that cost a reported £750,000.

Posted by the Flea at 06:47 AM

He killed the dragon

Today is St. George's Day.

Related: Dragon Awareness Day.

This is to draw attention to the blatant slaying of a member of the dragon community by St George, several centuries ago, and to call for a more positive attitude to these mythical monsters.

We also want to highlight our demands for 1) A full apology from the Prime Minister and the Queen; 2) Back-dated compensation for all those affected by the event; 3) Legislation to outlaw the demonising of dragons; 4) A Channel 4 documentary outlining the war crimes committed by St George, possibly leading to a trial, or at least a full public inquiry.

Man Bites Dragon Update: George Brown gets something right.

For the first time in recent memory the flag of St George will be flown over 10 Downing Street to mark the day of England's patron saint.

Now back to bashing the Prime Minister: Simon Heffer says, England, arise and claim self-determination!

Try as hard as I might - and I don't try very hard - I have never been able to see the slightest problem with being English.

"England, arise! The long, long night is over!"

Call me a Three Percenter.

Dragon Bites Man Update: A craven piece at the Independent. No surprise there. Related: On St George's Day, EU wipes England off map.

Posted by the Flea at 06:46 AM | Comments (3)

Crystal Gayle: Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 06:44 AM

Is it time to remake Bladerunner?

Hells, no.

But I will entertain an argument for making another version of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.

The reason to make a new version of the novel is to try and get closer to PKD’s actual story. Blade Runner used most of the major plot, but left out most of the subplots and many fascinating themes, and it reversed the polarity of the audience’s attitude towards the androids. In the PKD novel the androids are bad and the reader ends up wanting them killed. In the movie, the audience feels sympathetic to androids and wish they could live.

It's too bad they won't live; but then again, who does.

Posted by the Flea at 06:43 AM | Comments (4)

April 22, 2008

Natividad

Yale undergraduates may not be at the bottom of the genetic sink-hole that is conceptual art. Guillermo Vargas, for some reason aka "Habacuc", took a stray dog from the streets of Managua, Nicaragua, and tied it to a short leash as an exhibit at the Códice Gallery in Managua, Nicaragua.

Vargas tethered the animal without food and water under the words 'Eres Lo Que Lees' - 'You Are What You Read' - made out of dog biscuits while he played the Sandinista anthem backwards and set 175 pieces of crack cocaine alight in a massive incense burner.

Now an on-line petition is mobilizing international opinion against Habacuc, saying:

In the 2007, the 'artist' Guillermo Vargas Habacuc, took a dog from the street, he tied him to a rope in an art gallery, starving him to death. For several days, the 'artist' and the visitors of the exhibition have watched emotionless the shameful 'masterpiece' based on the dog's agony, until eventually he died.

I have received two copies of this petition in the last 24 hours, each accompanied by upsetting images of the dog (blood pressure/humanity warning) - Natividad - tied up and in apparent distress. Both the gallery and the artist appear to keep changing their story as to the purpose of the installation - to protest against human indifference to animal suffering being the obvious rhetorical ploy - and it remains unclear if and to what extent the dog was mistreated or allowed to die.

What is clear to me is that if this travesty was displayed within a hundred miles of Flea Towers it would last precisely as long as it took to get to the gallery, punch out Habacuc's front teeth and rescue Natividad. That the patrons of the Códice Gallery did not react in a similar fashion tells me everything I ever want to know about Managua.

Posted by the Flea at 06:57 AM | Comments (9)

Gustav Holst: The Planets Op.32 Mars, the Bringer of War

For everyone joining me in celebrating Mars Day. Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 06:54 AM

The longest beaver dam in the world

Exploring beaver habitat and distribution with Google Earth. Take this half mile long dam northeast of Fort McMurray, for example.

The longest beaver dam observed with Google Earth to date (October 2 2007) is located in Northern Alberta. The dam has a length of about 850 meters (2790 ft). It has at least existed at this spot for over 15 years as it can be observed on the 1990 LandSat 7 Pseudo Color Imagery Provided by NASA World Wind.
Posted by the Flea at 06:53 AM | Comments (2)

April 21, 2008

Hands off breakfast!

Giles Coren - who subsists on a diet of wheatgrass and self-congratulation - has a go at the traditional English fry up (hat tip to a Celtic Warrior Queen). He cannot agree the outrage that has greeted the news Little Chef is to propose a healthier menu, dismissing the critics as "gastronomic reactionaries".

"Eggs and bacon were made for the breakfast table, not some poncy ice-cream,” roared The Daily Telegraph, no doubt suppressing a florid belch as its morning kippers turned in its stomach.

Hash-browns are dismissed as “ghastly manifestations of American imperialism” (damned uppity colonials), and Sir Winston Churchill himself might as well be playing Elgar in his Union Jack underpants as we read that: “A good English breakfast never lets you down.” No, it kills you. That's what an English breakfast does. The current £7.25 “Olympic” breakfast at Little Chef comprises: “two rashers of crisp backbacon, British outdoor-reared pork sausage, two griddled eggs, whole-cup mushrooms, crispy sauté potatoes, fresh griddled tomato, Heinz baked beans and toasted or fried extra-thick bloomer bread”.

Coren recommends porridge as a sensible alternative. These days they call it health and safety but they used to have a more honest term for the sentiment: Calvinism. But this is the best bit:

I'll tell you what's holding us back from finally getting rid of the fried English breakfast for ever: lack of education. You never see a person with a degree eating a fry-up, do you? Certainly not someone with a 2:1 or better in a humanities subject from a university founded before the invention of the iPod. That's because they are smart enough to know better.

This prig should be working for the Obama campaign.

Posted by the Flea at 06:43 AM | Comments (5)

April 20, 2008

Consider your cat's aspect ratio

And other fun facts with An Engineer's Guide to Cats.

(via the Armored Facilities Manager)

Posted by the Flea at 10:48 AM

April 19, 2008

And how

"I could not believe my eyes, when I first saw her. The girl has the rare combination of two qualities crucial in Rhythmic Gymnastics - flexibility and agility."
- Vladimir Putin

Agent Bedhead has a round up of Vladimir Putin/Alina Kabaeva news to which I would add the following observation. I have grown increasingly multitasky either with age or by necessity. It find it difficult to sit through a feature length film without "interruption" and even 42 minute dramatic television - Battlestar, say - is accompanied by email, writing posts, surfing and full on beat-splicing if the mood strikes me.

It is with some satisfaction, therefore, I can report sitting through this video of Alina Kabaeva training in Genova 2005 without doing anything else but watch it very carefully. I think I blinked once or twice.

Related.

Update: The most seductive woman of all time (with apologies in advance).

Posted by the Flea at 04:45 PM

Superbus: Ça Mousse

Suggested future girl-crush for Agent Bedhead. Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Related: Heart of Glass.

Posted by the Flea at 09:04 AM | Comments (1)

Hammer time

The first Hammer horror release in twenty years: Beyond The Rave. It looks promising. The name comes with enormous good will but they still have their work cut out for them if they are going to compete with Lions Gate for the loyalty and affection of today's horror aficionado.

Posted by the Flea at 09:03 AM | Comments (2)

April 18, 2008

Now I know how the guy who killed Theo Van Gogh felt

"OK, so this post may ruin your day. Sorry."

Posted by the Flea at 09:09 PM

H v. Z

John Lingan claims the Humans vs Zombies phenomenon "all but prove[s] the lack of seriousness at liberal arts colleges." Incorrect. Actual verdict: Awesome.

The Washington Post devoted 4300 words of its April 13 magazine to an article about “Humans vs. Zombies,” a small phenomenon that started at Baltimore’s Goucher College and has since spread to larger universities like Penn State and Cornell. (Read the article here.) The game is essentially a glorified version of tag—one player starts as the “Original Zombie” and the rest start as “humans” that get tagged and converted to the mock undead. The ranks of either side grow based on strategy and planning until one is declared a winner.

(Via Jonah Goldberg.)

Related: Warhammer 40k Nerf Guns.

Posted by the Flea at 04:03 PM

Sinéad O'Connor: Troy

Why, what could she have done being what she is? Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 06:47 AM

The migration of early humans

They walked. Nice to have that tidied up.

Posted by the Flea at 06:44 AM

The big gamble

After years of existence "only as promises and PowerPoint presentations", the DDG 1000 destroyer, the CVN 78 carrier and the LCS (Littoral Combat Ships) are all underway. The production line for the DDG 1000 is about to start, the first CVN 78 is being built and the first LCS is only months away from putting to sea. Writing for Armed Forces Journal, Christopher Cavas calls this "The big gamble"; an excellent summary of past risks taken and the scope of the risk these concurrent programs pose to the fleet.

That the Navy is depending on so many untried designs at once is historically epic. And these new ships do not represent modest leaps: the Zumwalt-class DDG 1000 destroyer in particular is one of the most technologically advanced ships ever built, combining at least 10 major new technologies into one 15,000-ton package.

The introduction of new technologies often is incremental to minimize risk. The first nuclear-powered warship, Nautilus, for example, added a nuclear reactor to an otherwise conventional hull design in the early 1950s. The first Aegis combat system ships were based on an existing 1970s destroyer design then in production. The Navy’s first vertical launch systems for missiles replaced external launchers on the sixth ship of the Ticonderoga-class cruisers.

That step-by-step approach meant that teething problems with a new system didn’t negatively affect the entire design and provided a buffer in case a new technology failed.

Not so today. Better hope these designs work and the PRC designs do not.

Posted by the Flea at 06:43 AM | Comments (2)

April 17, 2008

For your edification

A number of interesting sights and sounds that have been bumped by recent ranting:

The Táin and the Ulster Cycle... Kathleen Howard describes Paddy Brown's The Ulster Cycle as "a terrific blend of the Iron Age and the modern."

The Moving Pyramid (2001)... The Moving Pyramid is "a charming animated short that tells the story of corruption, power and revolution." My favourite idea is the carrot. That is old school Hermetic motivational magick.

The Archangel Grimoire, representing the Enochian End of Days... Paul Tronson discusses bookbinding with Maybe Quarterly. One book in particular stands out.

The book that Paul Tronson calls the Archangel Grimoire is 14.5 inches in height, by 10 inches in width. Inside are 320 pages with hand-marbled endpapers, and it is bound in vegetable tanned virgin calf leather that has been colored by the use of two separate vegetable dyes. As the reader can plainly see, the cover features some intricate design elements, which are incredibly time consuming, as they are handmade and hand-tooled. However, the end-product is striking and beautiful, and would be a welcome addition to any serious magician’s library.

And last but not least, the official trailer for The Chemical Wedding. Bruce Dickinson's Aleister Crowley extravaganza is sure to be the feel good movie of summer 2008 (via Dodgeblogium).

In a secret laboratory at Cambridge University, ground-breaking experiments are afoot to fully integrate a computer program with the human brain using a state-of-the art ‘interactive suit' linked to the biggest super-computer in the world – the Z93. One of the Cambridge boffins is an obsessive follower of the turn of the century occult leader, Aleister Crowley, and has reduced Crowley's occult rites to a series of equations and entered them in to the Z93. Bumbling academic, Professor Haddo (Callow) is the willing volunteer, desperate to get inside the mind of the long-dead Crowley, in this ultimate ‘virtual-reality' computer game experience.
Posted by the Flea at 06:47 AM

In-Grid: Tu m'as Promis (Tu es foutu)

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 06:44 AM

Cloverfield after action report

Taylor & Company reviews Cloverfield (spoiler warning). Your suggestions for feature films that would be improved by adding a 200' monster might be appreciated in the comments.

Tangentially related: Six formerly kickass creatures ruined by evolution. Though this awesome raccoon suggests otherwise.

Posted by the Flea at 06:43 AM | Comments (1)

April 16, 2008

Dead Can Dance: The Carnival Is Over

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 06:54 AM

April 15, 2008

Desiderii Marginis: My diamond in the rough

One of the most beautiful things I have ever heard. Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 06:24 AM

The Fish Movie

Found web surfing... Why Alfred Hitchcock refused to meet Steven Spielberg.

"I said, 'You're his idol. He just to sit at your feet for five minutes and chat with you' . . . He said, 'Isn't that the boy who made the fish movie? . . . I could never sit down and talk to him . . . because I look at him and feel like such a whore,' " Dern relates. Completely puzzled, Dern, who appeared in two Hitchcock flicks, finally pinned the director down: "I said, 'Why do you feel Spielberg makes you a whore?' Hitch said, 'Because I'm the voice of the 'Jaws' ride [at Universal Studios]. They paid me a million dollars. And I took it and I did it. I'm such a whore. I can't sit down and talk to the boy who did the fish movie . . . I couldn't even touch his hand."
Posted by the Flea at 06:21 AM | Comments (2)

April 14, 2008

Haro, Haro, Haro! À mon aide mon Prince, on me fait tort!

While still picturesque, the Isle of Sark is to become a good deal less quaint as feudal government is set to come to an end.

Sark, a car-free island about 10 kilometres east of Guernsey, off the coast of Normandy, has broadly held onto its political and judicial systems since Elizabeth I bestowed them on it nearly 450 years ago. The island has been governed by a mainly unelected parliament called the Chief Pleas, traditionally made up of members of landed families. It meets just a few times a year. The seigneur, effectively the lord of Sark, or head landlord, appoints the judiciary and has until recently been entitled to a cut from any property bought and sold on the island, and even to the ancient system of tithe levies. In return, he must maintain an army to keep the island "free of the Queen's enemies".

But locals and modernisers want a fully elected 28-member chamber, and the 600 residents opted for the change in a poll at the end of 2006.

I would have thought Nazi occupation might have demonstrated the piss poor job the seigneur was doing keep the place free of the Queen's enemies and put an end to his feudal privilege sharpish. But such would be to cede the floor to reason.

Related: Old photos of Sark and the world's smallest prison.

Update: More local colour. Particularly eager to ride the Toast Rack, a passenger trailer attached to the back of a tractor.

The tractor (the sole public transport) is tolerated only because life on Sark exists 100ft above sea level, on the plateau above its jagged cliffs. The view of the island from the water is forbidding. But, arriving at the Toast Rack's terminus, the scene is unnervingly bucolic. It is all one can do not to check for television crews hiding behind the low-built stone cottages, so idyllic, so Truman Show is the island.

To the deafening sound of no traffic - transport on Sark is restricted to tractors, bicycles and horse and cart - Guernsey cows moo by picket fences. Under a toy-town, turreted branch of NatWest bank, a signpost points to a variety of exotic-sounding locations with distances given in walking minutes (Little Sark, 50 minutes; Dixcart Bay, 15 minutes; L'Eperquerie, 30 minutes). Cherubic children on bicycles weave along unsurfaced roads, saying "hello" to complete strangers.

According to Wikipedia, Jersey - much as the Isle of Man - is not part of the European Union. This being the case, and assuming Sark does not fall under a different kind of arrangement with the Crown, I fail to see how European human rights law has anything to do with the governance of these polities. Our transnational conventions of thought have come to something when feudalism looks good by comparison.

Posted by the Flea at 06:38 AM

Lene Alexandra Øien: My Boobs Are OK

Let us all cultivate a positive self-image. Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 06:04 AM | Comments (1)

Zooglers

Google's European engineering headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland suggest the '90s may now officially be considered retro. Office photos and video leave me wondering whether to hate/envy them more for the fireman's pole, slide or free ostrich lunch.

Posted by the Flea at 06:03 AM

April 13, 2008

Hoodwinked

Trying to hoodwink you. Would that everyone in Pennsylvania could see this.

Posted by the Flea at 03:00 PM | Comments (1)

April 11, 2008

Skinny Puppy: Tin Omen

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Related: I am headlining tonight at Savage so should be on about midnight.

Posted by the Flea at 07:03 AM | Comments (3)

The Embedded Video of Erised

I very briefly dated a woman who strongly resembled this Quidditch keeper. In some parallel universe we are married and I have a proper goatee.

The Amherst College Acromantulas played host to the Middlebury College Mollywobbles on Friday. This was the Acromantulas's first match as part of the Intercollegiate Quidditch Association.
Posted by the Flea at 07:02 AM

Beyond the Big Crunch

Notions of a "quantum bounce" suggest our universe may have its twin on the far side of the Big Bang. Until Alejandro Corichi from Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and Parampreet Singh from the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Ontario revealed their simplified* Loop Quantum Gravity (LQG) theory, "no observations of our current universe could have lead to any understanding of the state of the pre-bounce universe, as nothing was preserved across the bounce."**

Their work is to appear in a forthcoming issue of Physical Review Letters.***

“The significance of this concept is that it answers what happened to the universe before the Big Bang,” Singh told PhysOrg.com. “It has remained a mystery, for models that could resolve the Big Bang singularity, whether it is a quantum foam or a classical space-time on the other side. For instance, if it were a quantum foam, we could not speak about a space-time, a notion of time, etc. Our study shows that the universe on the other side is very classical as ours.”

* This word "simplified". I do not think it means what they think it means.
** Excepting Galan of Taa, sole survivor of the Big Crunch.
*** "Moving physics forward" and, in this case, backward.

Posted by the Flea at 07:01 AM

April 10, 2008

Is John McCain a Cylon?

The evidence.

It doesn't help when he's seen with his wife, since Tigh's wife was a younger blond as well (at least McCain hasn't poisoned her because she was a traitor).

Every time I see him, I wonder where his eyepatch is.
Posted by the Flea at 11:35 AM | Comments (4)

Fan Service Announcement

BattlestarBarbarella.jpg

Babes of Battlestar as Barbarella. That is all.

Posted by the Flea at 06:47 AM | Comments (4)

Kylie Minogue: In My Arms

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 06:44 AM

Hinterland Who's Who

Nostalgia warning for Canadian Flea-readers: Hinterland Who's Who. With my apologies for the person I should hat tip this too... too many links today and I lost track.

Chipmunk!

Related: Mouse in the Bottle.

Posted by the Flea at 06:37 AM

April 09, 2008

Now shrunken heads for all occasions

flyer_friday2.jpg

Pressman's Witch Doctor Head Shrinker Kit: Give them to your witch doctor friends!

Related: The Ghost of a flea British Iron Age project stomps all over Savage this Friday night (these ads always say 9pm but I would not expect much going on before 10:00 or 10:30). I picked up the first run of the new album yesterday and should have copies on sale. Flea-readers who for whatever reason cannot make the show need only be patient a little longer; I have some figuring to do with the PayPal shopping cart for the new website. Details to follow...

Posted by the Flea at 06:27 AM

Mónica Naranjo: Europa

The following critical communication from the elusive Beautiful Atrocities arrived at Flea Towers at some point in the small hours. I am forwarding it to your attention at once.

Flea!

Enough Eurodreck! Here's the arresting video of Europa, the sensational anthem by over-the-top Spanish diva Monica Naranjo, which shot to number one last week in Spain. Check out her latest avatar, a sort of Kiss of the Spider Woman look perhaps inspired by the title of her new CD, Tarantula. Sample lyrics from Europa, which begins as an aria & turns into a pummeling dance anthem: "La decadencia, la solucion final. En tres mil banderas, cruces y calaveras, simbolos de quimeras, te perdere..."

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 06:19 AM

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

Or at least look like a rose. One year out from the theatrical release of the film on March 6th, 2009 and four (revised) Watchmen costume images are released in an attempt to generate buzz in the general public and throw a bone to those of us who would finally pay proper cinematic homage to Alan Moore (hat tip to the Armored Facilities Manager). First Showing comments:

To ease the pain of waiting another 12 months to finally see the film, Snyder has released complete costumed photos of five of the main characters: The Comedian, Nite Owl, Ozymandias, Rorschach, and Silk Spectre. These may be the most downright incredible photos I've seen in the last six months from any comic book movie. It's time to begin the 12 month process of showing you how amazing Zack Snyder's Watchmen is actually going to be!

But wait, there is more hand-job where that came from.

Don't let anyone fool you. If you hear other webmasters or critics out there railing on these photos, it's because they can't handle a movie being so good. They've got to tear it apart at any cost and can't just sit back and appreciate something truly amazing. Don't listen to them. These are amazing and I hope you can respect the work that Zack Snyder and his team have put into this.

My verdict on the photos: They are ok. But then so was the costume for V. If Watchmen is also turned into nihilistic agit prop for the enemies of civilization the costumes are not going to save the project for me. Call me a hater.

Posted by the Flea at 06:17 AM

April 08, 2008

Rush: Tom Sawyer

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 04:44 AM | Comments (3)

Eleventh God

Band Name Maker would most probably also work for blog naming.

Posted by the Flea at 04:41 AM | Comments (5)

April 07, 2008

Golden Earring: Twilight Zone

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance (hat tip to Agent Bedhead).

Posted by the Flea at 06:23 AM

Hieroglyphics

Having foolishly abandoned a copy of Alan Gardiner's masterpiece, Egyptian Grammar: Being an Introduction to the Study of Hieroglyphs on the shelves of the archaeology section at Blackwell's impressive Oxford location*, it was only recently I could start my study in earnest having come across another copy at The Monkey's Paw here in Toronto. Flea-readers seeking a more succinct introduction may turn to Ronnie Barker.

* Thereby disobeying the Moscow Rule of Shopping.

Related academia: Mastermind.

Posted by the Flea at 06:21 AM | Comments (1)

April 06, 2008

W

Thandie2.jpg

So on the one hand it is an Oliver Stone propaganda film. On the other hand it is to feature Thandie Newton. Who, like Condoleezza Rice, is brutally, brutally hot. Advantage: The other hand!

Related: SondraK covers W's farewell summit with Vladimir Putin. Misty water-colored memories...

Posted by the Flea at 05:07 PM

Leaders of Scientology

The Chanology Project releases a statement regarding criminal charges against Anonymous participant, Sean Carasov; these have now been dropped. Epic win.

The decision not to prosecute was made before I had emailed the existence of a video/audio report of the entire incident. This, or the CD copy, is now needed immediately by the LAPD. I said we would try and have it there tomorrow.

From the LAPD’s perspective the video/audio might indicate that the offense of filing a false police report had been committed. From Sean Carasov’s perspective it may support a law suit seeking damages for false arrest and imprisonment.

It is still a matter of conjecture who poisoned Sean Carasov's cat, Mudkip.

Related: Operation Reconnect is April 12th. In light of the above, Anonymous' advice seems entirely sensible:

For months, a group calling itself Anonymous has been running giggling circles around the Church of Scientology. At the same time, caution is always advised - masks are worn, everyone is named Anonymous. People are advised to park far away or take public transit, and use the buddy system to avoid being followed home. The precautions seem almost a little over-the-top.

According to the latest from Anonymous, the precautions are needed, and the backlash has already begun. Anonymous members are being publicly outed, and emails warn of threatening letters and DVDs being sent to Anonymous members by the COS.

After the jump we are printing the letter from Anonymous warning of the threats, along with the story of one "outed" Anonymous organizer who has permitted LAist to publish his story.

Please read the whole thing.

Posted by the Flea at 01:51 PM

April 05, 2008

hAFfi hAff hAff: The Wiggle Wiggle Song

Eurovision 2008 is upon us! Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Related: Ireland is entering a singing turkey. It is almost as if they are not taking it seriously this year (via Beautiful Atrocities).

Also in Europe: Greece, Poland, Germany and the Netherlands considered entrants singing in European. As did Azerbaijan singing a traditional Nightwishian folk-tune. Armenia submits a song as sung in the original Caprican. Baffling but true: The Latvian entry is worse than Ireland's. Also, Spain. New life goal: Take my show on the road to San Marino; I shall be a Rock God. Also, Andorra: Time to start issuing collectible Flea-postage. Bulgaria, also singing in European, needs to look up the word "genre". Finland shocks by considering a hair metal act singing in Finnish. The United Kingdom also shocks by submitting an entrant singing in English. Funky.

Astute Flea-readers will have noticed Eurovision has a certain "camp" quality. Take Greece again, for example. Or Russia (best cover ever). All I can say is there is Eurovision gay and then there is Man Meadow Eurovision gay. Related: Polish Kylie. Also related: Poland is making me feel funny inside. In a good way. And no need to for a dodgy line on the monthly credit card statement.

Second look at... Natasza Urbańska!

Update: And Sandra Oxenryd.

Posted by the Flea at 11:08 AM | Comments (7)

This is 63% LESS than other websites who took this test

The Blog-O-Cuss Meter - Do you cuss a lot in your blog or website?
Created by OnePlusYou

I am surprised it is as high as 3%... not certain what they are counting as cuss words. This via the relatively curse enhanced Drink Soaked Trots.

Posted by the Flea at 10:23 AM | Comments (3)

April 04, 2008

The Lord sure makes some beautiful worlds

Watching Forbidden Planet again for the first time in ages, I was struck by a line from the opening scene (screenplay here). Approaching Altair, and their destination, the ship's doctor observes, "The Lord sure makes some beautiful worlds."

The future has changed since the 1950s. Everything from the ship's interior design to the uniforms suggested rationality and efficiency but more than that a self-confidence and a certainty about who we were as a civilization. I enjoy Blade Runner's tech noir as much as anyone - more than most - but am at a loss as to how we decided the future was no longer something worth fighting for.* And there was the Captain's seemingly off-hand observation, made all the more remarkable for its being an off-hand observation. "The Lord sure makes some beautiful worlds." I could not remember another time such an explicitly Christian sentiment was expressed in a major science fiction film. Is there something in the genre, or sf writers, antithetical to expressions of faith?

It is a happy coincidence SF Signal has been thinking along the same lines (via Technoccult).

Q: Two of the most highly regarded fantasy authors - Tolkien and Lewis - were also Christians, whereas the fathers of science fiction were atheists, and SF itself, it could be argued, grew out of Darwinism and other notions of deep time. Is science fiction antithetical to religion?

Fifteen science fiction authors address the question. Best to read carefully lest ye vanish in a puff of logic.

* If anything, we are now enjoined to "fight the future".

Related: The weather on Arrakis and at the Mountains of Madness.

Posted by the Flea at 06:47 AM

Corvus Corax: Hymnus Cantica

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 06:44 AM

God's Angry Man (1980)

Speaking of Protestantism... I suppose if someone had asked me if Dr. Gene Scott had parents I would have reluctantly conceded he must have done. Still, nothing prepared me for the reality. Werner Herzog's God's Angry Man also features some awesome organ playing.

Here are Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V.

Posted by the Flea at 06:43 AM

April 03, 2008

The Smiths: How soon is now?

For Lilana, wherever she might be. Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 04:44 AM | Comments (2)

Classify your beard

Gentlemen, classify your beard using this handy late Victorian facial hair type chart. I would love to sport a "Franz-Josef" but my genetics do not support one. According to Jeremy Piatt's updated facial hair chart I have grown a "Backstreet".

Posted by the Flea at 04:43 AM | Comments (9)

April 02, 2008

Kylie Minogue: Confide In Me (Showgirl Homecoming Tour)

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Related: Kylie in Paris for Eurostar.

Posted by the Flea at 07:03 AM

April 01, 2008

Veterans of the Flame Wars

Mike Reed's Flame Warriors presents a useful typology.

Some years ago a minor spat ignited a searing flame war that threatened to consume a once-placid discussion forum. While the forum burned I amused myself by caricaturing the chief antagonists. Confounded at seeing themselves thus revealed, the combatants fled the field in disarray.

I can think of at least one Furious Typer whose ass has been banned from the Flea under at least two TypeKey IDs.

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

Z-Day

You are 18% likely to survive
 

You have an inkling of what Z-Day might hold, but overall you are going to be Zombie chow. Remember, Z-Day won't be what Romero and Synder portray it to be.

Real Zombie Survival Quiz
Create MySpace Quizzes

Helpful: What To Do In A Zombie Attack (Complete!). They are laughing now but ask yourself the following. Who do you want as your neighbour when the zombies attack: Al Gore or George W. Bush? There is a certain grim fascination at the realization people will prepare a bug-out bag, survival gear - including weapons, and multiple emergency plans on the off chance of zombie attack but would never dream of doing the same as a precaution against natural disaster or the latest mass atrocity by the enemy.

The technical term for this is displacement. This psychic logic suggests some substantial portion of the population is waiting for things to hit the fan if only for the chance to think - and act - with clarity. I am including myself in this category. Many of us find horror fiction to be reassuring; things may have gone very badly but at long last they make sense. Having just read World War Z, I cannot say I am completely opposed to this state of affairs, either our collective repression of the horror that faces us or the liberating prospect of removing the bandage. If we are haunted it is not by the imperfectly repressed images of September 11, 2001 - or all its kindred horrors - but by the specter of the world as it was that morning just before 8:45 EST.

Update: Related... Zombie Strippers.

Posted by the Flea at 06:47 AM | Comments (14)

The Boggs: Arm In Arm (Shy Child Mix)

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 06:44 AM

Better to die than live a coward

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"Ultra-rare pics: Indian Army Regimental Boot Camp -- 9 Gorkha (Gurkha) Rifles" at MilitaryPhotos.net (via John Frum commenting at Rantburg).

It is extremely rare to come across any pics of Indian army regimental training. Imagine my surprise when I found all these pics of the 9 Gorkha Rifles regiment enlisted boot camp. The Indian army is incredibly diverse, and as such is divided into relatively regional/ethnic/linguistic homogeneous infantry regiments comprised for ease of communication. As such, depending on where a Jawan (soldier) is recruited, he goes to boot camp run by the regiment he is assigned to.

Most of these Regiments date back to the British Indian Army with roots and traditions dating back to pre-British Raj armies and formations. Each regiment has its own unique traditions that reflect their cultural make up that is seen in its uniform, training styles, choice of weapon, martial art and physical training. There is immense pride attached to the history, glory, battle honors and accomplishment of the regiment.
Posted by the Flea at 06:44 AM