Thursday, 24 May 2007


Recently set-up iGoogle as my IE7 homepage, added a local weather forecast (useful as I don't watch TV or listen to radio), and quotes/ words of the day have become favourites. I also put a horoscope on there, just for amusement. Yes, yes, yes - I know it's all absolute rubbish... but must confess, I've always had sneaking admiration for astrologers (as writers!), capable of feeding us personal forecasts with cunningly vague advice that could be interpreted a zillion ways. Here's one nugget of fool's gold: "Forget about trying to stay between the extremes of not enough and too much, for it may be more difficult than you expect." These neat little platitudes could apply to everyone, any time, really!

Monday, 21 May 2007

Mars bozo

Critical review for Mars rover

Hard to believe they're still only talking about sending robots to Mars. Where are the big ambitious plans for space missions?

What we've been looking for is a concept that will maximise the scientific return
- Bruno Gardini, ExoMars project team

I had to laugh at that quote. When are these projects going to be rejected in favour of a manned expedition? What are these scientists, explorers, and space industry managers waiting for now..?

Thursday, 17 May 2007

Euro sat-nav

Taxpayers 'should build Galileo'

Can't help thinking such hi-tech systems overlook the inestimable value of local knowledge...

Van drivers who deliver my supermarket grocery orders have got lost in my village because their sat-nav displays no street record of the cul-de-sac where I live.

Instead of spending four billion euros to launch yet more space junk, wouldn't a map reading training-course for couriers and haulage contractors work out a bit cheaper?

Thursday, 10 May 2007


'Guessing' robots find their way...

What these robots really need, when they get stuck, is to be able to phone a friend!

Tuesday, 8 May 2007


This isn’t a proper critical review of TV mini-series Hogfather (2006), as I haven’t actually seen the whole show. Vadim Jean’s adaptation of Terry Pratchett’s novel is tagged as the first ever live-action production based on any Discworld book. If this is considered by fans to be an acceptable visualisation of the Ankh Morpork environs and its multitude of characters, then gawd help us... because I found it so tiredly predictable, lacking in originality, and ultimately boring, that I could only stomach about a third of this 184-minute piece of rubbish before nearly lapsing into a coma.

Although I’m not very familiar with the absurdly fantastical Discworld milieu, I didn’t find the pandemonium of guest stars, with veteran TV luvvies (Joss Ackland, David Jason) and former alternative comedians (Nigel Planer, Tony Robinson) rubbing shoulders in a decidedly feelgood skiffy panto, and the parade of Dickensian and/ or Dahlesque characters, each with quirky but cringe-worthy affectations, problematic. However, I admit that my instant dislike of this crudely over-ambitious, seasonal comedy-drama probably has something to do with my atheism, or intolerance for anything Christmassy.

From the babbling tooth fairy and under-bed monsters, to Death personified (voiced by Sir Ian Richardson, who promptly died after completing this Xmas tripe) and a polite assassin named Teatime (Marc Warren), this congruent reality policed by dreary ‘Auditors of the Universe’ while threatened by a wicked plot against its fashionably childish belief system is, allegedly, an evening’s treat for anyone who’s been naughty or nice, but I found its application of theatrical fantasy farce to yuletide lore unbearably dull, and tainted by a mawkish sentimentality even in its central protagonist, Death’s daughter Susan (Michelle Dockery).

Now released (or thrown out?) on DVD by Fox, in an overblown double-disc limited edition, Hogfather isn’t even pure hogwash, it’s been ghosted into pointless frivolity by ghastly commercialism.

Sunday, 6 May 2007

Dr West

Now available uncut (1st time on DVD in UK), Stuart Gordon’s directorial d├ębut Re-Animator is that rare beastie, a comedy horror flick that remains entertaining over two decades after it first panicked viewers into helpless laughter. Jeffrey Combs’ career defining performance as Herbert West, the obsessive scientist of H.P. Lovecraft’s tales, is part Frankenstein, part heroic zombie slayer.

The film is charmingly preposterous, defies all rationality with absurdly theatrical tragedy and unsettling moral quandaries, and overflows with mortuary gore. However, it’s still dramatically compelling and provocative, especially in its uncompromising tangle of sex and violence. Although the sequels (Bride Of Re-Animator, Beyond Re-Animator) merely imitate the inspired lunacy exhibited here, both narratives have moments of gleeful madness. Green-juice fans can look forward to Gordon’s House Of Re-Animator (due 2008), which reunites the original cast and finds crazy Dr West in the White House, presumably to revive a brain-dead president!