Category Archives: Stuff

The monkey army arises! And other Friday things.

Beware! They’re coming for us all!

Apparently playing The Sims keeps you sane (if you’re at war). Personally, making Sim replicas of your brothers in arms sounds like a short walk to insubordination, but who am I to argue? (They have guns, after all, so I won’t disagree.)

Playing computer games is good for your visual accuity! Specifically, playing action-based games (such as first-person-shooters like Halo) trains the brain to be significantly better at discerning visual patterns than non-action-gamers and non-gamers. The study doesn’t take into account the potential for eye-strain from too long staring at the screen, but it’s interesting stuff anyway!

And finally… New York is trying to ban people from using portable gaming devices, phoens, and even mp3 players while walking:

The legislation will be introduced today to ban the use of electronic gadgets, including portable game machines, BlackBerrys, mobile phones, and iPods, while crossing the road. Those who ignore the ban could face a fine of $100.

Apparently too many people are walking into the road while engaged with other things. While it’s nasty that anyone should die that way (and horrible for the drivers) I’m sure I’m not the only one that wonders if they aren’t doing the species a favour…

Don’t forget to drop by my webcomic! It’s updated every Monday and Friday.

Explosions and knitted jubblies!

What do people do in offices? Many people have wondered this, and the answer is find videos of huge explosions.

This really is incredibly huge. I really hope that the area was cleared before it happened.

This one is funnier, firstly because no-one was nearby (a lack of fatality always helps joviality, I find) but also because the explosion was rather larger than they were expecting due to a ‘sunken WWII barge which they didn’t know was there’.

This is something else that a friend sent me: knitted chesty-bumps that are being used in hospitals. How odd!

Don’t forget, Trouble Down Pit is still being updated twice every week, Mondays and Fridays.

Mmm, yummy!

What do you do when fluffy dies? Try some mouth-watering guinea pig recipes. You’d be surprised how few recipes for guinea pigs are easily available on the web, considering that the Peruvians munch through around 65 million of the cute little rodents each year. Why am I linking to this? Mainly so that when you go home today you can tell other people that you spent the afternoon looking at recipes for guinea pigs, of course.

Top 2006 turkeys

Variety magazine has published a (very US-centric) review of the biggest movie flops of 2006. Many of these aren’t surprising, and some of them I haven’t heard of – suggesting that they might not have been released in the UK yet. On a side-note, it’s rather patronising how ‘foreign money’ is barely considered worth accounting for in the calculations, despite often being twice the US takings. Anyway…

What is it about lists of the worst performing films that always mkes them interesting? I guess it’s just that so many people had such great belief in a project and it’s strange to see them all being so wrong… Or maybe they didn’t have the belief in it either? Perhaps the makers of the films were all busy trying to convince themselves and others that they were in on a big thing and missed the chance that none of them realised the other person was only pretending too.

The emperor is wearing no clothes, and he appears to be Nicolas Cage in the remake of The Wicker Man: surely if there was ever a film that was going to be a no-brainer appearence in turkey lists then this was it. A remake of a classic British horror/thriller, relocated away from Britain, starring a man better known for his action movies and equine face than his acting range, and ill-advised plot alterations. Nicolas Cage is not Edward Woodward, but what the film really lacked was a convincing big-name enemy, someone against whom the hero could pit his wits. In the first film we had Christopher Lee, and in the second…? Do American actors play ‘evil’ as well as British ones? Can anyone compete with someone like Christopher Lee? Or Alan Rickman? Hell, even Bob Hoskins can play a completely twisted nutter convincingly.

Variety doesn’t take the ‘this was a turkey from the beginning’ view of its films, but their response to The Wicker Man is quite amusing:

Cage’s mopey face didn’t make for titillating marketing.

Another phrase that they use is more telling though:

[The Wicker Man] faced the dilemma of not fitting neatly into either the horror or thriller genre.

Do audiences really need such comfortable boundaries? In recent years films like Donnie Darko and Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind have shown that you don’t have to be in a genre, or even have the biggest stars, to work. Maybe the secret that Hollywood is missing is that audiences are getting better at spotting yet another dud remake, and that should strike fear into a lot of projects that are probably being pitched as you read this.

The Variety article is here.
Origianl source from the ever-reliable Register.

Christmas songs…

I can handle Christmas songs during the summer, but by December they mainly want me to go on a rampage with a blunt chisel. Maybe this is because I’ve worked in shops where Christmas songs are on a loop…

There’s one in particular that could push me over the edge into the sea of despair, it’s called ‘The Happiest Little Christmas Tree’. The sonic vibrations of that track have emanated throughout the known universe. It is the reason why aliens have not contacted us to join in the heavenly galactic community and instead choose to probe various parts of our anatomy to discover how our species could have created such an aural abomination. The trouble is, now I’ve posted this, there are probably people out there who will be intrigued, and the cycle of devastation will begin again.



Instant anagrams, ‘tea gazing ash om’ is ‘Matazone Haggis’, and Doctor Who’s anagramatical spin-off ‘Torchwood’ would have been very different if they had gone for ‘Hot Rod Cow’. Anagrams of ‘Matazone The Other Side’ bring up ‘threesome’ in the jumbles, so that amused me greatly!

How to draw lips: some good tips

Over in my webcomic I’ve introduced a female character called Kitsune. One of the things that I discovered when I was drawing her is that I didn’t have a systematic approach to drawing lips. This was a pretty odd experience for me, because I’ve been drawing and painting all my life, but suddenly I’m working in the static cartoon style and my old approaches just don’t work for the medium.

I had a look around for some inspiration on the net and found three really nice pages:

for creative style and inspiration, I love Funny Cute’s lips. Katie Rice, who’s worked on for people like Spumco (best known for Ren & Stimpy), did a really good post showing lots of close ups of different lip styles. She has some really nice tips in there for how to achieve a similar exaggerated look to her own. The images don’t all work as well as each other, but the number of them gives you the chance to compare and decide what you think is best.

if you’re looking for something more realistic or manga styled then try this tutorial from PolyKarbon. The images are pretty clear, but there are some nice tips in the text as well so it’s worth taking a few minutes to read.

finally, there’s this one from SheezyArt. It’s not the best bit of drawing in the world, and it’s very light on technical details, but it was actually a big help in thinking about the process of drawing in the cartoon style. I come from a background where I mix a load of paint then create the lips with a sculpted stroke of the brush, so it was useful to see the cartoon style broken down into simple steps like this.

‘Hope some of you find these useful!

Yeehaw etc.

So, there was a US soldier in Iraq who was annoyed that Hewlett Packard’s customer support didn’t extend to telling him how to fix his scanner/printer (probably because it was beyond warranty, and most likely because it wasn’t designed to function in deserts).

What does a solider with time on his hands do while he’s busy ‘defending freedom’? He makes a video of himself complaining about the printer, then using some very heavy artillery to shoot it.

I’m not really interested in the HP printer side of this video, what makes me link to it is just how damn awful the guy’s aim is. He’s standing from around 5 metres away from the printer and doesn’t manage to hit it for the first twenty shots. Fortunately for him, one of the bullets hits the barrel that the printer is sitting on, knocking it over, which makes it look slightly more like he can shoot straight, but his pattern is clearly leaning to the right of the target. In the next shot he fires another 20-or-so rounds at the printer and it looks like he hits with one or two bullets.

If there was ever a video to give confidence to Iraqi insurgents then it’s this. Not only is the US army allowing their soldiers to use high-calibre weaponry in an enitrely pointless, and moderately dangerous way (no eye protection when firing into a non-organic target five metres away?), but the guy couldn’t hit the side of a barn from arm’s reach. He might as well be handing out pamphlets for all the good his use of military hardware is doing… Oh… Maybe that’s what the printer was for?

See the video here.

Happy memories

When finishing work with my girlfriend one night we left the building by the back and found a huge box. Obviously, I immediately put it on my head. We then added a face, and arm holes. We then found another one that we put on her and decorated in similar fashion. We then waltzed for a little while.

We left the boxes side by side, with a little matchbox-child next to them and a sign saying ‘Gerald and Lola: boxes in love’.

Things to do in Paris when you’re bored AKA, yes, French drivers are nuts

Yes, the French are completely insane, we all know this, but that doesn’t make them bad people. It does make them legendarily bad drivers, or should that be ‘inconsiderate’. Perhaps they are beaten by the Italians for legendarily bad driving, and I’ve been in a coach going around clifftops in Majorca as a child with some quite, quite death-wish laden drivers, but this wins over everything I’ve seen so far.

On an August morning in 1978, French filmmaker Claude Lelouch mounted a gyro-stabilized camera to the bumper of a Ferrari 275 GTB and had … all ยป a friend, a professional Formula 1 racer, drive at breakneck speed through the heart of Paris. The film was limited for technical reasons to 10 minutes; the course was from Porte Dauphine, through the Louvre, to the Basilica of Sacre Coeur.

No streets were closed, for Lelouch was unable to obtain a permit.

The driver completed the course in about 9 minutes, reaching nearly 140 MPH in some stretches. The footage reveals him running real red lights, nearly hitting real pedestrians, and driving the wrong way up real one-way streets.

Upon showing the film in public for the first time, Lelouch was arrested. He has never revealed the identity of the driver, and the film went underground until a DVD release a few years ago.

Highlights are the Arc Du Triomphe at 1min 20sec, into oncoming traffic at 4mins 15secs, and on cobbles from 7mins 35secs onwards.

I’m not sure whether ‘enjoy’ is the phrase, more likely ‘fear’.

Have you seen better online? Let me know!

(Thanks to my friends at Ladybird’s for the link.)

The Science of Cute

The Warner Brothers came up with a formula for cuteness, a graphical version can be seen here.

What I find interesting about this is that I don’t really respond very well to Warner Brothers’ characters. I find them ingratiating, like they are trying too hard to be cute. Maybe that’s not so much about the visual style as it is the movements and the personalities that they are given; they are usually quite mature in their cynicism, which potentially clashes with their cute styling, making the appearence seem false.

Does anyone here think that the Warner characters are cute?

Best dog toy ever

This has got to be the best dog toy ever. Essentially it looks like a huge tongue sticking out of your dog’s mouth.

It’s a fun idea, but it’s worth visiting the page for the photos at the bottom. Just scroll all the way down and click for happy-dog goodness. If these photos don’t make you smile then you have a cold, cold heart (or an intense phobia of dogs).

When armed robbery combines with aerobics

I’m sure a few people have said ‘spare me my life!’ during an aerobics class, and everyone else just has (sensibly) not gone to an aerobics class; however, I feel it’s slightly less likely that people have chanted ‘I was robbed by two men’, and ‘take anything you want’ could perhaps be misunderstood when chanted by three women in lyotards.

What am I on about? It’s the Zuiikin Girls, who have been trying to find an interesting way to teach English and get fit at the same time, producing what is one of the most bizarre things I’ve seen for a long time, and makes my idea for Thesercise seem positively sensible.

Cannibal pelican!

Actually it’s not a cannibal and it’s a heron, but ‘cannibal pelican’ had such a nice ring that I wanted to type it, though the truth of the matter is equally disturbing to those of a sensitive nature.

In the Netherlands a heron has been seen catching a rabbit, holding it under water to drown it, then swallowing it whole.

This type of heron has been known to eat frogs and rats, it is true, but the photographer Sprang Vianen couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw the bird creeping up on a young rabbit. The rabbit captured, it shrieked and struggled while being hung from its ear in the pelican’s mouth.

The bird the flew 50 metres to a ditch where he drowned the rabbit and, against all feeling of proportion, easily swallowed it whole.

This is just a warm up. They’re coming for us next. You have been warned.

You can see a couple of rather distressing photos of this odd moment in nature here.

Link initially found here, my translation of the article was aided by this and this.

Try this later…

Next time you’re brushing your teeth, try holding your hand still and moving your head instead. It helps if you get some good nodding music playing in the background; I suggest ‘Here Comes Your Man’ by The Pixies (UK link US link) but most things would probably work.

For bonus points you could also try using your non-favoured hand to hold the brush.

Go on, try it!

In other news, is nearing 350 puzzles now. Go play!

Zombie cheerleader rampage!

Hurrah for Lordi (US link UK link), the barking mad rockers from Finland who are representing their country at this year’s Eurovision ‘Song’ Contest.

Any band that releases an album called ‘The Arockalypse’ gets my vote.

For people in the US who might not have heard of the Eurovision, it’s a big song contest where each country pretends to try and win, but actually only wants to give that impression because it costs millions to host and if you win then you host it next year. Ireland learnt this the hard way after winning three years in a row; their entry the year after was so bad that there was no way they were seriously trying to take part. The usual result is a bunch of below-average song-writing, passionate performances, and lots of dancers to make the whole thing seem more impressive. Every year someone (usually a country from northern Europe, who have developed a bleak sense of humour after several centuries of living in northern Europe) will put in a novelty act for a bit of a laugh. This year we have Lordi, but I’ve got a feeling that they stand a good chance of winning!

The Eurovision defintely needs more zombie rampages, and Lordi might just be the people to provide them.