February 29, 2012

Jodorowsky on Dune (1975)

"Alejandro Jodorowsky and Jean "Moebius" Giraud discuss the failed 1975 Dune project that was to have used the talents of HR Giger, Chris Foss, Dan O'Bannon, Pink Floyd and Salvador Dalí."

The problem was that the producer was a multimillionaire. The lesson of this experience is that one should never work with people who don't need to earn money with art because they can abandon a project just like that. For them, it's like an insect bite.

Also: Dan O'Bannon on Jodorowsky's Dune.

HR Giger: I am afraid of my visions.
Dan O'Bannon: It's only your mind.
HR Giger: That's what I am afraid of.

What might have been: Ridley Scott on Dune.

And then: David Lynch on Dune. He'd never heard of the book. Can't say I'm surprised.

Posted by the Flea at 06:48 AM

The passenger

Sailors from ice patrol ship HMS Protector tackled a deadly fire which raged through a Brazilian Antarctic research base.

Sailors from a Royal Navy ship fought for hours to tackle a fire which claimed the lives of two Brazilians in Antarctica. Twenty-three sailors from the ice patrol ship HMS Protector went with fire-fighting equipment to the Ferraz research station. They responded to an urgent call for help after the base caught fire on King George Island in the South Shetland Islands.

Which was more than I would have done for the ungrateful sods what with Brazilian ports closed to ships flying Falklands colours. Built on the site of the old British "Base G", Comandante Ferraz Base is named after Navy Commander Luís Antônio de Carvalho Ferraz, a hydrographer and oceanographer who visited Antarctica twice on board British vessels. So, a bit like commanding the Canadian space program then.

Posted by the Flea at 06:47 AM

Vangelis - Himalaya

Posted by the Flea at 06:42 AM

February 28, 2012

Gotham By Gaslight (Prototype)

Some footage from what might have been the Batman Gotham by Gaslight game (hat tip to Corey).

A few years ago, Day 1 Studios had pitched the idea of a Batman video game to THQ. It was based on the DC Comics Elseworlds one shot, Gotham by Gaslight, from Brian Augustyn and Mike Mignola. Set in a 19th century steampunk version of Gotham, the comic followed the Dark Knight detective as he hunted down the infamous Jack the Ripper.
Posted by the Flea at 06:28 AM

Denial is a river in Aichi

Nanjing has broken off relations with its former Japanese sister city, Nagoya.

Nagoya mayor Takashi Kawamura had recently denied the Nanjing Massacre happening, in front of a visiting delegation from Nanjing (led by Chinese Communist Party’s Nanjing City Standing Committee member Liu Zhiwei), arguing that his grandfather had instead been welcomed by Chinese people in Nanjing during World War II.

Chinese netizens comment at the link.

Posted by the Flea at 06:27 AM

Arse Store

Yesterday, I took my first step into an Apple assimilation unit (the one at the Eaton Centre). They looked confused when I asked for a Venti 1 pump caramel, 1 pump white mocha, 2 scoops vanilla bean powder, extra ice frappuchino with 2 shots poured over the top (apagotto style) but once I had my order they also found me the iPhone armband I was after.

Posted by the Flea at 06:24 AM

Kim Wilde - Is it over

Posted by the Flea at 06:22 AM

February 27, 2012

Tattúínárdœla saga


Himelgengærelied (Song of the Skywalkers) represents only one manuscript tradition, and a rather late and corrupt one at that (via Quotulatiousness).

Tattúínárdœla saga tells of the youth of Anakinn himingangari, beginning with his childhood as a slave in Tattúínárdalr, notably lacking the prolonged racing scene of the MHG version, and referring to the character of “Jarjari inn heimski” only as a local fool slain by Anakinn in a childhood berserker rage (whereas in the MHG version, “Jarjare” is one of “Anacen’s” marshals and his constant companion; Cochrane 2010 suggests that this may be because the MHG text is Frankish in origin, and “Jarjare” was identified with a Frankish culture hero with a similar name). After this killing, for which Anakinn’s owner (and implied father) refuses to pay compensation, Anakinn’s mother, an enslaved Irish princess, foresees a great future for Anakinn as a “jeði” (the exact provenance of this word is unknown but perhaps represents an intentionally humorous Irish mispronunciation of “goði”).

The subject at hand: The complete text of Tattúínárdǿla saga.

Related: The Star Wars Storm Trooper Viking Helmet.

Posted by the Flea at 08:48 AM

Now, where did I put those nuts...

Scientists in Russia have grown plants from fruit stored away in permafrost by squirrels over 30,000 years ago.

The fruit was found in the banks of the Kolyma River in Siberia, a top site for people looking for mammoth bones. The Institute of Cell Biophysics team raised plants of Silene stenophylla - of the campion family - from the fruit.
Posted by the Flea at 08:47 AM

Felicia Day - My Vast Tracts of Skyrim Landz

Posted by the Flea at 08:44 AM

Rammstein - Stripped

Posted by the Flea at 08:42 AM

February 26, 2012

Satan's drink


"This Satan's drink is delicious...it would be a pity to let the infidels have exclusive use of it. We shall fool Satan by baptizing it."
- Pope Clement VIII

Connected thought: Coffee: Devil’s brew or nature’s nectar?

Legend says coffee was first discovered in Ethiopia around a.d. 600-850 when a goatherd named Kaldi found that his animals became frisky after eating the red berries from the coffee tree. Kaldi ate the berries and rapidly spread the word about their stimulating properties. Local monks began cultivating the coffee tree to dry the fruit and crush it into a powder; the monks would then drink the reconstituted liquid to help stay awake during long periods of prayer. By the early 14th century, Arabs discovered the process of roasting and grinding the beans, and the rest, they say, is coffee history.
Posted by the Flea at 09:28 AM

Babbie's Rule of Fifteens

Green coffee should be roasted within 15 months, or it goes stale.
Roasted coffee should be ground within 15 days, or it goes stale.
Ground coffee should be used within 15 minutes, or it goes stale.

Related coffee lore:

The Four M's of Espresso:
1) the Macinazione is the grinder, and with it, the correct grinding of the coffee beans;
2) the Miscela is the coffee beans/blend itself;
3) the Macchina is the espresso machine; and
4) the Mano is the skilled hand of the barista.

Posted by the Flea at 09:27 AM


Sputnik8 has produced an elegant Windows Desktop UI Concept, this is what Windows 8 on the desktop should have looked like.

Posted by the Flea at 09:24 AM

Sigur Rós - Svefn g englar

Posted by the Flea at 09:22 AM

February 25, 2012

A real live soldier of fortune


Champion fencer and boxer, amateur Orientalist, student of Arabic and pulp fiction writer, E. Hoffman Price was the only person known to have met Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith and H.P. Lovecraft - the great 'Triumvirate' of Weird Tales writers - in person.

Price's relationship with H. P. Lovecraft did not get off to an auspicious start; in a 1927 letter, Lovecraft remarked that his story "The Strange High House in the Mist" was, after "grave consultation with E. Hoffman Price", rejected by Weird Tales' Wright "as not sufficiently clear for the acute minds of his highly intelligent readers".

But when Lovecraft visited New Orleans in June 1932, Howard telegraphed Price to alert him to the visitor's presence, and the two writers spent much of the following week together. The legend is not true that Price took Lovecraft to a New Orleans brothel, where he was amused to find that several of the employees there were fans of his work; the story, apocryphal or not, was first told about Seabury Quinn.

The two writers did seem to hit it off, beginning a correspondence that continued until Lovecraft's death. They even proposed at one time forming a writing team whose output would, "conservatively estimated, run to a million words a month", in Lovecraft's whimsical prediction. The joint pseudonym proposed for this ambitious collaboration—Etienne Marmaduke de Marigny—was used in slightly altered form for the name of a character in the one story that Lovecraft and Price did collaborate on, "Through the Gates of the Silver Key".

Related: The Pulp Fictioneers - E. Hoffmann Price.

And: Through the Gates of the Silver Key by H. P. Lovecraft with E. Hoffmann Price.

Posted by the Flea at 09:48 AM

The British Newspaper Archive

"Whether you are a researcher, historian or you simply want to know more about Britain's history, take this fantastic opportunity to search this vast treasure trove of historical newspapers from your own home."

Posted by the Flea at 09:47 AM

Ryan J. Woodward - Thought of You

A short 2D animated film (hat tip to Manaf).

Thought of You from Ryan J Woodward on Vimeo.

Posted by the Flea at 09:44 AM

Dead Can Dance - Song of the Stars

Posted by the Flea at 09:42 AM

February 24, 2012

Ancient Rome: Rise and Fall of an Empire - Caesar

Posted by the Flea at 08:28 AM

I tried to watch Game of Thrones

And this is what happened.

Posted by the Flea at 08:27 AM

Before it's too late

How to delete your Google browsing history in three simple steps.

Posted by the Flea at 08:24 AM

Mumford And Sons - Sigh No More

Serve God love me and mend
This is not the end
Live unbruised we are friends
And I'm sorry
I'm sorry

Sigh no more, no more
One foot in sea, one on shore
My heart was never pure
And you know me
And you know me

And man is a giddy thing
Oh man is a giddy thing
Oh man is a giddy thing
Oh man is a giddy thing

Love it will not betray you, dismay or enslave you,
It will set you free
Be more like the man you were made to be.
There is a design,
An alignment to cry,
Of my heart to see,
The beauty of love as it was made to be

Posted by the Flea at 08:22 AM

February 23, 2012

Lujiazui is falling down


As the Shanghai Tower goes up, the ground underneath it is falling down. Central Shanghai is cracking under the weight of its skyscrapers.

Since 2003, Shanghai has been sinking under the weight of tons of concrete and steel at a rate of about 1.5 centimeters per year, prompting city officials to limit the construction of some skyscrapers.

Conceptually related: How much for that Death Star in the window?

If you're looking for a better wage then you might have to start embracing evil. Students at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania worked out how much it would cost to build the Death Star and came up with a figure of $8,100,000,000,000,000 ($8.1 quadrillion!?), which is 13,000 times the world's GDP.
Posted by the Flea at 08:48 AM


"Video LAN Client (VLC), the all-powerful free/open video-player, has hit 2.0."

Posted by the Flea at 08:47 AM

Toronto Batman

Toronto. At night. My town (hat tip to Bill).

Posted by the Flea at 08:44 AM

Talk Talk - Living In Another World

Posted by the Flea at 08:43 AM

Flea formatting

I discovered a strange formatting problem with my front page as I loaded Ghost of a flea yesterday: The banner image at the top of the page slides sideways to the right and floats over the side column in a disconcerting way! I don't encounter this problem using Chrome, Firefox or Explorer in my home set up running Windows Vista or on my arguably trickier WebOS enabled TouchPad. The problem occurred on a Mac bootstrapped to run Windows (it was the same problem whether browsing in Explorer or Chrome).

Has anyone else encountered this problem? And, if so, does anyone have any stylesheet tips to fix it?

Or, better yet, does anyone have a quick way to migrate 17,000+ entries to WordPress so I can leave behind my ancient MovableTyple set up behind? My contact email is in the sidebar...

Posted by the Flea at 08:42 AM

February 22, 2012

A stitch in time


With 300 hundred years of ceremonial dress and forensic wig making to their name, Ede & Ravenscroft has had the privilege of acting as robe maker to Sovereigns of the United Kingdom and its territories since 1689.

Ede & Ravenscroft are the oldest tailors in London, established in 1689. They have three London premises, on Gracechurch Street, Chancery Lane and Burlington Gardens, very close to the famous Savile Row. They make, sell and hire out legal gowns and wigs, clerical dress, civic and municipal robes, academic dress and other ceremonial and formal dress, and have shops in Oxford, Cambridge and Edinburgh.
Posted by the Flea at 08:28 AM

Fur knickers & snobbery

Why British fashion is giving itself a bad name.

I turned up early to number 13a North Audley Street, a glorious building in the heart of Mayfair. My invitation said enticingly: ‘9pm sharp. Cocktails and dancing.’

‘You’re too early,’ said the beautiful young woman with the walkie-talkie. ‘But Simon Le Bon and Suzy Menkes have gone in,’ I said. ‘Yes, but your space isn’t ready. Come back at nine.’

Alarm bells went off. I’m going to be herded into an unheated pen, I just know it, I thought. My fears were well founded. I was eventually exported upstairs, to a balcony area, where the press were able to gaze down at the real guests as they were eating. For two hours.

And while it was fun to study Rihanna’s dark roots and watch Anna Wintour move her saffron risotto around her plate (a Stella-clad model — Amber Valletta, Yasmin Le Bon, Shalom Harlow and Kate Moss — was installed at each table: I can’t imagine anything that would put me off my food more), I began to get more and more angry. My job is to report on this collection, which would have just about been possible had I packed a telescope. This was an expensive affair: hire of the building alone was £15,000, plus the cost of the orchestra, catering, champagne, flowers, security and, of course, models.

But as a public relations exercise, it was a disaster: as one man next to me in our ghetto quipped: ‘You know that the people having dinner would be the only ones in the lifeboats.’

With apologies to Liz Jones and The Daily Mail for the long quote; there is much more at the link.

Posted by the Flea at 08:27 AM

Act as if all the world were watching

This iPod Nano pocket watch and fob is just the thing for keeping track of the time should I ever resolve my loathing of Mac products. With a tip of the hat to Mr. Ash, who observes:

Not a bad effort, I think. If they could have designed it with a side button that both popped open a front cover and turned the iPod on at the same time, I'd have been truly impressed. Adding Bluetooth functionality would have been extra gravy.

I still dream that Apple introduces a round iPod designed from the get-go to be worn as a watch or inserted into pocket watch enclosure. Preferably with an E-Ink display so that it could run days or weeks without charging.
Posted by the Flea at 08:24 AM

Well fit

The Flea endorses this product and/or service (hat tip to Bedhead, who perceives accurately).

Posted by the Flea at 08:23 AM

Bryan Ferry - Don't Stop The Dance

Posted by the Flea at 08:22 AM

February 21, 2012

Historic present

A fragment of a first-century copy of the Gospel of Mark may have been uncovered (via Hugh Hewitt).

It would be the earliest-known fragment of the New Testament, placing it in the very century of Christ and the apostles.

The claim by Dallas Theological Seminary's Daniel B. Wallace took place during a debate with University of North Carolina professor Bart Ehrman, an author whose popular books claim the New Testament cannot be trusted because the original manuscripts aren't in existence.

The Mark fragment has yet to be made public, but Wallace provided a few more details on his website, saying information about the fragment would be published in the form of a book in "about a year."
Posted by the Flea at 07:27 AM

Unknown treasures

The excavation of a new Jamie Oliver restaurant in Manchester has uncovered rare Joy Division and New Order master tapes (hat tip to Kathy).

A haul of £1m of jewellery, Joy Division master tapes - and even a gun - were allegedly discovered in the basement of the site of Jamie Oliver's new restaurant.

They were found in hundreds of safe deposit boxes - some of them dating back to 1935 - in the vault of the old bank site, which the celebrity chef has converted into a restaurant.
Posted by the Flea at 07:24 AM

Cher Lloyd - Want U Back (Acoustic)

Posted by the Flea at 07:22 AM

February 20, 2012

The Memes of the Fathers

Richard Dawkins responds to the latest smear.

Yesterday evening I was telephoned by a reporter who announced himself as Adam Lusher from the Sunday Telegraph. At the end of a week of successfully rattling cages, I was ready for yet another smear or diversionary tactic of some kind, but in my wildest dreams I couldn’t have imagined the surreal form this one was to take.

The rest of his letter to the perplexed at the link.

Posted by the Flea at 08:48 AM

Fearsome asymmetry

Nature Genetics publishes work by researchers from King's College London showing how how biological patterns such as tiger stripes or leopard spots are formed.

The findings provide evidence to support a theory first suggested in the 1950s by famous code-breaker and mathematician Alan Turing, whose centenary falls this year. He put forward the idea that regular repeating patterns in biological systems are generated by a pair of morphogens that work together as an 'activator' and 'inhibitor'.
Posted by the Flea at 08:47 AM

A planet-sized tornadeo whirls on the Sun's surface

Posted by the Flea at 08:44 AM

One does not simply walk into Mordor

Posted by the Flea at 08:43 AM

Tangerine Dream - Nebulous Dawn

Posted by the Flea at 08:42 AM

February 19, 2012

Henry & Aaron - It's a Snap!

Now considering my career options at Perth's Central Institute of Technology.

Posted by the Flea at 06:48 AM

Oh no logo

Seven horrifying historical origins of famous corporate logos.

Posted by the Flea at 06:47 AM

The Seventh Seal (Det Sjunde Inseglet) - Confession

I had the same problems before I heard the good news about Thor.

Posted by the Flea at 06:44 AM

Eths - Crucifere

Posted by the Flea at 06:42 AM

February 18, 2012

Charlie Le Mindu - Spring/Summer 2012

Just in time for Family Day 2012: Charlie Le Mindu presents a film by Chris Sweeney.

The interesting thing about fashion is it used to involve wearing clothes (nsfw due to nudity, Le Mindu, Rossy de Palma).

"Burka Curfew", Charlie Le Mindu's Spring/Summer 2012 collection (nsfw).

Charlie Le Mindu Burka Curfew SS12 from Charlie Le Mindu on Vimeo.

Charlie Le Mindu Models Backstage - Paris Fashion Week Spring 2012.

Posted by the Flea at 08:48 AM

Russian peasants, tzars and insects

It must be London Fashion Week.

Design duo Fyodor Golan opened fashion week with a bang this afternoon as they showed an outlandish collection modelled by girls with green glittery skin, tribal-style piercings and hair slicked into intricate designs.

Also featured: Corrie Nielsen (formerly of Vivienne Westwood) and Bora Aksu (w. see through pockets).

Posted by the Flea at 08:47 AM

Face recognition

A wooden sarcophagus has been unearthed by archaeologists at the necropolis of Qubbet el-Hawa in Aswan, Egypt.

Encased in soil, this extraordinarily delicate face emerges into the sun for the first time in thousands of years.
Posted by the Flea at 08:44 AM

Sidilarsen - Retourner la France

Posted by the Flea at 08:42 AM

February 17, 2012

Lauren Abbey


Ralph Lauren meets Downton Abbey as NY fashion week ends.

A well-worn but beautifully laid parquet floor, illuminated by chandeliers, ran the length of the Skylight Studio in the Soho district where Lauren sent out 57 outfits that brought the British period drama Downton Abbey to mind.

Into this whimsical English country house by the Hudson River appeared Fair Isle sweaters in green or taupe cashmere, brown ocelet-print shearling coats and dark brown plaid jodhpurs.

Fashionista has more.

Posted by the Flea at 08:58 AM

What's past is prologue

Updated maps of London's poorest areas demonstrate an epidemic of junk food diabetes in the same streets where Victorians died of malnutrition.

A century ago it was the pioneering 'poverty' map which charted starvation and deprivation across London and the squalor of Victorian Britain. Now a modern-day version of social researcher Charles Booth's influential health map has painted a similar picture of sickness and disease, but with very different 21st Century causes.

While many of the poor in London 100 years ago were suffering from starvation, the same areas in the capital today are rife with deadly Type 2 diabetes, caused not by malnutrition but by an excess of junk food.
Posted by the Flea at 08:57 AM

Love is not love, without a violin playing goat

Young goats learn new and distinctive bleating "accents" once they begin to socialise with other kids.

Posted by the Flea at 08:54 AM

Susumu Yokota - Long Long Silk Bridge

Posted by the Flea at 08:52 AM

February 16, 2012

Engineering An Empire: Carthage (2006)

"After its founding at the end of the seventh century B.C., Carthage soon grew into one of greatest civilizations of the Ancient World – a remarkable city-state that dominated the Mediterranean for nearly 600 years. Over that span of time, Carthaginian engineers harnessed their extensive resources and manpower to develop some of the ancient world’s most groundbreaking technology. Like the Egyptian masters before them, they built colossal structures able to withstand the ravages of time and man."

Posted by the Flea at 08:32 AM

And now a word regarding our sponsor

How to hide from Google.

...there are ways for heavy users to keep a low profile so that, should Google turn decidedly evil, you won't be completely at their mercy. If you are concerned about the amount of information that Google knows about you for whatever reason, here are some techniques you can use to guard your privacy online.
Posted by the Flea at 08:29 AM

Dial-up sound 700% slower

Posted by the Flea at 08:27 AM

Boards of Canada - Music Is Math

Posted by the Flea at 08:24 AM

February 15, 2012

Adam Adamowicz, R.I.P.


Adam Adamowicz, Bethesda Games concept artist for Fallout 3 and an important contributor to Skyrim has died.

Seeing Syd Mead lecture in SF was an incredibly profound lesson on design. During the Q&A I asked him how far he went on a design to make it technically believable. His advice was ‘to design with the story in mind and stay consistent with it’. Hence I learned that the Sulacco from Aliens is essentially a massive gun in space with a big nuclear reactor at one end which beautifully fits the theme of space marines exploring a planet infested with deadly hostile aliens. That answer freed me obsessing over minutiae that diverges story-wise, and focus on the broad strokes that propel the story. The addition of ensuing consistent minutiae would give it richness.

Images and video at the link. Bethesda has a tribute page with more.

Posted by the Flea at 08:48 AM

Perfect fifth

Bear McCreary explains why many science fiction theme tunes rely on the perfect fifth.

There is something fundamentally natural about that octave, and then a fifth relationship, that happens in sound. This is not something that composers came up with this, this is something that happens in the physical universe as we know it. So that makes it feel very strong... because you play a note and then you play the octave above it, you're reinforcing overtones.
Posted by the Flea at 08:47 AM

Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter - Official Trailer

Posted by the Flea at 08:44 AM

Týr - Hold the Heathen Hammer High

With lyrics!

"This how i used to sing this song:
HOLD THE HEATHEN HAMMER HIGH asdfasdflsgowjdcn ppq i
HOLD THE HEATHEN HAMMER HIGH ledgine fgminroc wijwfirnwor

Posted by the Flea at 08:42 AM

February 14, 2012

Would you like to play a game?

"This 1960 IBM ad touts the capabilities of SAGE, a massive Cold War-era automated system for tracking and destroying incoming enemy bombers. The heart of the system was the IBM AN/FSQ-7 computer, which at 275 tons is still the world’s largest computer. Each computer had 55,000 vacuum tubes, required a half acre of floor space, and operated on punch cards. There were 52 AN/FSQ-7 computers around the country. SAGE was retired in the early 1980s."

Posted by the Flea at 08:48 AM

None of them are named "Greedo"

Four realizations that will ruin science fiction for you.

Posted by the Flea at 08:44 AM

EVE Online Incursion : New character

Hat tip to Felicia Day.

Posted by the Flea at 08:43 AM

Mass Effect 3: Interactive Storytelling

Posted by the Flea at 08:42 AM

Kate Bush - Hello Earth

Posted by the Flea at 08:41 AM

February 13, 2012

Celebrity Story Time: George R. R. Martin

Game of Thrones author George R. R. Martin reads nursery rhymes (hat tip to Bill).

Posted by the Flea at 05:48 AM

I missed one

The Intercollegiate Studies Institute Full Civic Literacy Exam. I did alright with 97%, and yet I don't have so much as a Green Card.

Are you more knowledgeable than the average citizen? The average score for all 2,508 Americans taking the following test was 49%; college educators scored 55%. Can you do better? Questions were drawn from past ISI surveys, as well as other nationally recognized exams.
Posted by the Flea at 05:47 AM

Dragonette - Hello (Mark Lampert Remix)

Footage from Todd Howard's keynote address at DICE 2012 shows possible Skyrim DLC or Mods produced during the Bethesda Game Jam after The Elder Scrolls V: Skryim shipped in 2011. I especially like the mudcrabs.

The soundtrack is great too.

Posted by the Flea at 05:44 AM

Minecraft - Mines of Moria (no haxz srsly)

Hat tip to Adam.

Posted by the Flea at 05:43 AM

Vox Vulgaris - Stella Splendens

Posted by the Flea at 05:42 AM

February 12, 2012

Men are terrified of me now


Michelle Dockery says that while she plays a posh character on TV, she's actually from Essex.

There is almost nothing else that would make me watch David Letterman.

Posted by the Flea at 10:58 AM

What is a weekend?

Fodor's offers suggestions for a weekend visit to Highclere Castle and nearby estates. Think of this as Downton (Casual mode).

With its self-confident Edwardian grandeur, Highclere Castle provides the perfect setting for Downton Abbey. Series writer Julian Fellowes knows the house’s owners, the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon, and had the house in mind when creating the series.

The commanding tower and pinnacles are the work of Sir Charles Barry, the architect of London’s Houses of Parliament; the third Earl of Carnarvon commissioned Barry to transform the family’s Georgian house into a stylish neo-Gothic manor in the 1830s.

For true fans, there is also the opportunity to Die Hard your way through Downton Abbey (Challenge mode).

Fans of English history will leap at any chance to tour the country's stately homes - but a private one-on-one with a real-life Earl and Countess might just be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Of course, any such experience comes with a price. For GBP 7,900, guests can step into the shoes of a Downton Abbey cast member with a private day trip to Highclere Castle...

Your $12,500 day at Downton Abbey starts with tea and coffee in the morning room, where the eight Earl and Countess of Carnarvon. The Lord or Lady of the house will then give you a private tour of the house, treat you to lunch with wines from the Earl's cellar then it's off around the state in the Earl's 4x4 (I am assuming it's a Range Rover). I confess, as naff as it sounds, if I won the lottery last night, I'm in.

The Downton Abbey soundtrack is a good deal more affordable.

Interiors: Ten facts about Highclere Castle.

The current Lord and Lady Carnarvon (Geordie and Fiona to their friends) have discovered that allowing the cast and crew to infiltrate their home and grounds provides gains that are not merely financial.

“The best part has been sharing this romantic castle and home with so many people from around the world,” Lady Carnarvon said. “And ‘Downton’ has helped revitalize an interest in history.”

Also: England's best stately homes.

Posted by the Flea at 10:57 AM

Cultural necrophilia

Simon Schama, who has never got round to replying to my letter, says Downton Abbey panders to cliches about English history, serving up a "steaming, silvered tureen of snobbery."

Which is a bit rich, coming from him.

Posted by the Flea at 10:54 AM

John Lunn - Downton Abbey (Soundtrack Suite)

Posted by the Flea at 10:52 AM

February 11, 2012



Vivien Leigh starred as Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Old Vic Theatre in 1937.

Related: Living Famously - Vivien Leigh (2003).

Posted by the Flea at 09:28 AM

Fantasy locations

Five places plucked straight out of fairy tales.

Posted by the Flea at 09:27 AM


Bedtime calculator.

Waking up in the middle of a sleep cycle leaves you feeling tired and groggy, but waking up in between cycles lets you wake up feeling refreshed and alert!
Posted by the Flea at 09:24 AM

A Muppet Wicker Man

Hat tip to Mr. Edge.

Posted by the Flea at 09:23 AM

Kate Bush - Running Up That Hill

Posted by the Flea at 09:22 AM

February 10, 2012

To think they hesitated


Black Milk Clothing offers the dernier cri in Hellraiser couture.

This is an idea that we have been thinking about for a while. A few people encouraged me to do it but I never quite got around to it. Then I got a spare afternoon one day and decoded to have a good go at making it work. It worked…. perhaps a little too well!
Posted by the Flea at 08:28 AM


With the disappearance of the Arctic Ocean and the Caribbean, a new supercontinent will appear in the wake of her predecessors: Amasia.

The geological record reveals that in the past 2 billion years or so, there have been three supercontinents, says Ross Mitchell, a geophysicist at Yale University. The oldest known supercontinent, Nuna, came together about 1.8 billion years ago. The next, Rodinia, existed about 1 billion years ago, and the most recent, Pangaea, came together about 300 million years ago.
Posted by the Flea at 08:27 AM

The singularity is near

With retro Apple iPhone cases, Mac cultists can now breach the event horizon and disappear up their own asses.

Posted by the Flea at 08:24 AM

Follow the gourd

Han shot first. That's all you need to know.

Posted by the Flea at 08:23 AM

Amanda Jenssen - Happyland

Posted by the Flea at 08:22 AM

February 09, 2012

Navis oneraria magna


The National Laboratories of Gran Sasso recently received 120 Roman lead bricks, recovered undersea twenty years ago. The material's very low original radioactivity, and two thousand years to decay, makes it handy for shielding the sensitive physics involved in the CUORE experiment (Cryogenic Underground Observatory for Rare Events).

Recent developments in fundamental physics have stressed the importance of experiments carried out without accelerators on rare events, like the interactions of neutrinos or other slightly interacting particles or rare nuclear decays. One of the challenges of these experiments is the reduction of the natural background coming from interactions of cosmic rays with the consequent need to install the detectors in an underground laboratory. In addition one has to reduce the background produced by natural radioactivity present in the environment or even in the detector itself.
Posted by the Flea at 08:58 AM

Hack like me

Kathy Shaidle understands.

Posted by the Flea at 08:57 AM

Legendary Biru

Hat tip to the Father of the Flea!

Posted by the Flea at 08:54 AM

Zaho - C'est Chelou

Hat tip to Alex.

Posted by the Flea at 08:52 AM

February 08, 2012

John Christopher (1922 – 2012)


John Christopher, died February 3, 2012 in Bath England aged 89. He was best known as the author of the young adults Tripods trilogy, which scared the hell out of me as a young adult.

The story of The Tripods is a variation on post-apocalyptic literature. Humanity has been conquered and enslaved by "the tripods", unseen alien entities (later identified as "Masters") who travel about in gigantic three-legged walking machines. Human society is largely pastoral, with few habitations larger than villages, and what little industry exists is conducted under the watchful presence of the tripods. Lifestyle is reminiscent of the Middle Ages, but artifacts from later ages are still used, giving individuals and homes an anachronistic appearance.

Humans are controlled from the age of 14 by implants called "caps", which suppress curiosity and creativity and leave the recipient placid and docile, incapable of dissent. The caps cause them to worship the tripods. Some people, whose minds are broken (instead of successfully being controlled) under the pressure of the cap's hypnotic power become vagrants, who wander the countryside. One of the books contains a discussion among Masters that "We should cap humans sooner, to reduce the risk of precocious people getting independent-minded soon enough to try to evade being Capped, but we cannot, because we cannot Cap them until their braincases have stopped growing."

To some it's a dystopia. To others, an election platform.

Related: The book covers of Roger Hane.

Also: The Cult of the Tripods.

"The Tripods is a mid-'80s television adaptation of Samuel Youd's (writing as John Christopher) The Tripods series of novels. It was jointly produced by the BBC in the United Kingdom and the Seven Network in Australia."

Posted by the Flea at 08:58 AM

This is the correct procedure

In 1995, New Mexico voted on a bill requiring psychologists to dress as wizards when offering expert witness testimony in court.

"When a psychologist or psychiatrist testifies during a defendant's competency hearing, the psychologist or psychiatrist shall wear a cone-shaped hat that is not less than two feet tall. The surface of the hat shall be imprinted with stars and lightning bolts. Additionally, a psychologist or psychiatrist shall be required to don a white beard that is not less than 18 inches in length, and shall punctuate crucial elements of his testimony by stabbing the air with a wand. Whenever a psychologist or psychiatrist provides expert testimony regarding a defendant's competency, the bailiff shall contemporaneously dim the courtroom lights and administer two strikes to a Chinese gong [...]"
Posted by the Flea at 08:57 AM

When White guys listen to Daler Mehndi

This is pretty much what I do first thing every morning.

Posted by the Flea at 08:54 AM

Troll Bends Fir - Beer Mantra

Posted by the Flea at 08:52 AM

February 07, 2012

Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana


Dennis Wojtkiewicz explores the sensitive nature of time in his oversized oil paintings of fruit and flowers.

The transitory nature of his subject matter is encapsulated, transfixed and glorified with heightened photorealism. Light and translucence make these paintings glow.
Posted by the Flea at 08:48 AM

Baise-moué l’ail

As it happens, I have only one goal in my forthcoming Montreal trip: To stuff my face at Schwartz’s as many times as possible (hat tip to Blazing Cat Fur).*

Rumours have circulated for days that the Montreal restaurant was changing hands, a development that brought a degree of concern to legions of fans. Schwartz’s is less a restaurant than a religion, its devotees ranging from prime ministers to Hollywood actresses to legions of tourists who are happy to wait in line in the cold for the chance to bite into a smoked-meat sandwich while crammed at a worn table with strangers.

A guide for the perplexed: Montreal-style smoked meat.

Bad timing: Smoked Meat Pete's.

* Ben's: Gone but not forgotten.

Posted by the Flea at 08:47 AM

8bit Zardoz intro

"While on the subject of games we wished really existed..." (hat tip to Paul)

Posted by the Flea at 08:44 AM

Lama - Don't fail me

Hat tip to Beautiful Atrocities.

Posted by the Flea at 08:42 AM

February 06, 2012

Sofia Jannok - Gáhkkor

This blog is now about Sofia Jannok.

This isn't a high traffic track so you might find you need to pause it and give the video a moment to load.

"Gáhkkor" by native Sami Swedish singer Sofia Jannok, is a mystical and serene blend of melodic sound. It is dark and uplifting, yet delicate and powerful all in a masterful arrangement. According to the title list, "Gáhkkor" means 'the black-throated diver' also known as a loon. The lyrics tell of her grandfather pulling in his fishing net one day to find that the bird had been caught in his net and was mortally wounded.

You can find out more about Sofia and her amazing music at sofiajannok.com

Footage is from Nature 2010 by Rahael and Jonathan Forsthuber, and The Aurora by Terje Sorgjerd.

Lyrics from lyrics.com/sofiajannok

son čuorvu nu čáppa jienain
Šerreš jienain

De áddjá fierpmui
Juohke eahkeda earet bassi

Go de iskkai daid firpmiid árrat
gáhkkoraš lei nu [darvánan]

Ja nuppi gáhkkora gulaimet
morašteame juohke ija
Guoimmi váillahii nu

Gáhkkor čuorvu

English Translation:

The black-throated diver She cries with the most beautiful sound
A clear sound

Then my grandfather put out his fishing nets
Into lake Vuolvojavri
Every night except on Sunday

When in early morning he emptied his nets
the little diver was caught
was mortally wounded

And we heard her beloved
mourning every night
Sadly missing her other half

The diver is crying

House of Sweden: "Sofia Jannok possesses the exceptional – and enchanting – ability to combine song and yoik. Her lyrics are a mix of English, her mother tongue Sami, and yoik, a wordless form of expression that comes from the mouth, through the senses and into the heart."

Joik: "A joik, (also spelled yoik), luohti, vuolle, leu'dd, or juoiggus is a traditional Sami form of song. ... In northern Sami areas, most joiks are personal, that is, tied to a specific person. A joik is often made for a person at the time he is born."

Posted by the Flea at 06:28 AM

Sofia Jannok - Assogattis

Posted by the Flea at 06:27 AM

Ára w. Sofia Jannok - Visalingo

This track is why YouTube needs a loop button.

Posted by the Flea at 06:24 AM

Sofia Jannok & Familjen - Rissájávri

Posted by the Flea at 06:23 AM

February 05, 2012

A blueprint for a mustard seed


The Old Time Radio section of the Internet Archive hosts a 15-part adaptation of A Canticle for Leibowitz, produced for NPR and broadcast in 1981 by WHA radio (Madison, Wisconsin).

It is beautifully done.

A Canticle for Leibowitz is a post-apocalyptic science fiction novel by American writer Walter M. Miller, Jr., first published in 1960. Set in a Catholic monastery in the desert of the southwestern United States after a devastating nuclear war, the story spans thousands of years as civilization rebuilds itself.

I borrowed the image from 100 sf where A Canticle for Leibowitz clocks in at #30.

While clearly a positive portrayal of the Catholic Church (and it’s unusual for sf literature from this time being positive about religion at all), there are few moments of outright apologism in the book. Though perhaps the most blatant comes in the third section when the Abbot of the Leibowitz abbey physically advances the belief that euthanasia for nuclear fallout victims is abominable. And as for myself, I find the suggestion that the Catholic Church is a vessel of scientific knowledge--whether in the future or the real past of the Middle Ages and Western Renaissance--more complex than Miller portrays in this novel. Nonetheless, this is one of the great books of speculative fiction--I believe this is the fourth time I’ve read it--and it deserves to be read by everyone.

Homage: "The Deconstruction of Falling Stars" is the final episode of the fourth season of the science-fiction television series Babylon 5.

"Faith and reason are like the shoes on your feet. You can get further with both of them than you can with just one."

Posted by the Flea at 10:08 AM

Co Cdr Strummer

Peter P. at Boardgamegeek notices something odd about the character names in his copy of Cityfight (hat tip to Pocket War Comics).

Cityfight: Modern Combat in the Urban Environment was an incredibly innovative tactical wargame published by SPI in 1979. I played it a lot when I was in high school, but it is only now in my mid-40s, and thanks to the magic that is BGG, that I finally got the biggest in-joke in wargaming that I've ever seen.

I happened to be perusing the City Fight countersheets tonight, looking over the NATO leader counters, and this one caught my eye...
Posted by the Flea at 10:07 AM

Andrew & Trey - A Helpful Guide

I realize this is a Google ad for the Canon EOS 5D Mark II (<--- see what I did there) but I think it's also an ad for how - and what - to teach.

Posted by the Flea at 10:04 AM

Razorlight - In the Morning

Posted by the Flea at 10:02 AM

February 04, 2012

Lino Villaventura Winter 2012 São Paulo

Lasombra couture.

Lino Villaventura was inspired by dark images from the painter Francis Bacon for his Fall/Winter 2012-2013 collection at Sao Paulo Fashion Week.

MOMA: Francis Bacon (British, born Ireland. 1909-1992).

The South Bank Show (1985): Francis Bacon (1909-1992).

David Hinton directs this BBC documentary about British painter Francis Bacon, known for his horrifying portraits of humanity. The program consists of a series of conversations between Bacon and interviewer Melvyn Bragg, starting with commentary during a side-show presentation at the Tate Gallery in London. Later in the evening, Bacon is followed through various bars hanging out, drinking, and gambling. In another segment, Bacon provides a tour of his painting studio and a glimpse at his reference photographs of distorted humans. The artist discusses his theories, influences, and obsessions. This title won an International Emmy Award in 1985.
Posted by the Flea at 10:28 AM

With a soundtrack by John Carpenter

Russian scientists drilling into Lake Vostok, buried under the ice for 20 million years, have been out of radio contact for six days.

The scientists had been battling conditions of minus 66C at Lake Vostok, as they raced to drill into a lake buried two miles beneath the ice before the weather closed in. The scientists hope the lake's untouched water will reveal more about life on our planet 20 million years ago.

The lake, in the most inhospitable region of the planet, is kept liquid by geothermal heat under the ice and its conditions are often described as 'alien' because they are thought to be akin to the subterranean lakes on Jupiter's moon Europa.

Popcorn related: "The Thing is regularly viewed by members of the winter crew at the Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station after the last flight out, usually in a double-feature with The Shining."

Posted by the Flea at 10:27 AM

Ouija board play

RPGs, social activities and Don't Be A Dick rules.

Bart has something Martin does not. Social intelligence. Or what we might call, in this here D&Dish context, Charisma.

Bart intuitively grasps how to handle other human beings in such a way that he can accomplish his goal of fucking around on the bus.

Martin does not. Martin needs the rule written down.
Posted by the Flea at 10:24 AM

Anselmo Ralph - Não Me Toca

Posted by the Flea at 10:22 AM

February 03, 2012

Renée Fleming - Song to the moon

Antonín Dvořák, Rusalka - Sir Charles Mackerras, Praga, 1998.

Though Czech opera has often had questionable export value due to linguistic barriers, this first truly international recording of Dvorák's most viable opera--inspired by Wagner's love of mythology and Verdi's melodic drama--suggests that non-Czech artists can be more than just credible. As a water sprite who becomes human for love of a prince, Renée Fleming gives her best recorded performance so far with a dramatic heat and theatrical dimension (plus her customary vocal luster) that her Czech predecessors haven't always mustered.
Posted by the Flea at 08:48 AM


A structure has been found in some Roman ruins in Norfolk that "has no known parallels."

Professor William Bowden from the University of Nottingham and the Norfolk Archaeological and Historical Research Group, have uncovered a strange ‘winged’ formation of rooms near the ancient town of Venta Icenorum, or modern-day Caistor St Edmund.

It was built around 1,800 years ago and the researchers believe that it’s totally unique.

Unusual, yes, but not unique, not even for Roman Britain. A triangular temple, assuming it was in fact a temple, was excavated at Veralamium by modern St. Albans in 1933.

I expect the design has more to do with street planning than anything else.

Posted by the Flea at 08:47 AM

The Mighty Thor (S1E1, 1966) - Loki/Vengeance of Loki/ Defeat of Loki

Posted by the Flea at 08:44 AM

Wardruna - Bjarkan (Live at the Viking Ship Museum)

"Wardruna performing 'Bjarkan' at their first concert, which took place on April 9 2009 in the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo, Norway as a part of the Inferno Music Conference."

Posted by the Flea at 08:42 AM

February 02, 2012

Colony Collapse Disorder

Bees have been dying off around the world for more than a decade now, and unscrupulous vendors have taken advantage by selling honey tainted with lead and antibiotics (hat tip to the Father of the Flea).

In a new report by Food Safety News, more than 75 percent of the honey on American supermarket shelves may be ultra-processed—to the point that all inherent medicinal properties are completely gone—and then smuggled into the country by the barrel drum. Nearly all of this fake honey is made in China. Some of these brokers will even create bogus country of origin papers. All 60 jars of "honey" tested by FSN came back negative for pollen (including Sue Bee and Winnie the Pooh brands), which is a clear sign of ultra-processing.
Posted by the Flea at 11:28 AM

This is the way the world ends

A swarm of nano-quadrotors put through their paces.

"Scary to think about; almost as scary as this."

Posted by the Flea at 11:27 AM

Five reasons Star Wars actually sucks

"Seriously: isn’t there some cancer you could be curing?"

Posted by the Flea at 11:24 AM

Kristen Bell's sloth meltdown

I would still give rubies to date this woman.

So, fuck you, me.

Update: Hat tip to Damian.

Posted by the Flea at 11:23 AM

Mari Boine - I Come From The Other Side

Posted by the Flea at 11:22 AM

February 01, 2012

Felicia Day - Vaginal Fantasy Hangout Bookclub!

I can't decide if I am more turned on or more irritated.

So, like life then.

I held a "Vaginal Fantasy" Book Club Hangout On Air with my friends Veronica Belmont (@veronica), Kiala Kazabee (@kiala) and Bonnie Burton (@bonniegrrl) on the 30th! This was our first try, and we read "Grave Witch" by Kaylana Price. But clearly we talked about a ton of stuff (and for the record I'm at 101 hours of Skyrim I just checked!!! Why I have the need to tell this to everyone is the real problem).
Posted by the Flea at 08:58 AM

HMS Belated

If not for the Falkland Islanders, if not for British sovereignty, if not for their manhood, I am pleased to see the prospect of oil and gas is enough to press a "Tory" cabinet into action.

Dauntless will set sail for the Falkland Islands in the coming weeks armed with a battery of missiles that could "take out all of South America's fighter aircraft let alone Argentina's," according to one Navy source.
Posted by the Flea at 08:57 AM

Props for this. Also, kudos

PunishedProps was commissioned to build a replica of Mehrunes’ Razor from the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim video game.

Related: Inkscape is an open-source scalable vector graphics editor.

Posted by the Flea at 08:54 AM

Omnia - Morrigan

Posted by the Flea at 08:52 AM