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20080601

iPod Random Generator May 2008

Entry 822 posted in: 9. I, Pod


Syd Barrett on position 3 - neat!

Also in 2008 my MySpace page will contain some useless iPod statistics. This year however my iPod will always stay in shuffle mode, in other words: the machine will decide what songs will be played. For more information: Random Blueß aka sucking for statistics.

At the end of each month I will publish the ten most popular songs of the year and the ten most popular songs of the past month.

For the top 10 list of the songs I've been listening to in 2008 go to http://www.myspace.com/atagong.

For the top 10 list of the songs I've been listening to in May, go to the MySpace blog section.


If you liked this post - you might be interested in this one as well: iPod Random Generator April 2008 

20080606

Picasso Power

Entry 843 posted in: 1. General Mish Mash


USS Free Enterprise This week, in the middle of the week, I found myself with a mini writer’s block, not knowing what to comment about on my blog. Professional writers have got little black books for that, with throwaway subjects when this occurs. I don’t.

A few, two, three, weeks ago I wanted to vehemently comment on one single chapter from Adrian Berry’s The Giant Leap. I have already stated here that I had started reading the book; as a matter of fact I love reading those old science books because I’m a nitpicker at heart. It is amusing to point out the errors from an old book but, if I look deep enough in my heart, it is also a cheap trick. It can also be quite embarrassing.

In my thunderous days I was (a very small) part of an illegal radio station in the city of Louvain. Now it is a widespread rumour in Flanders that if three Flemings come together they form an association of some kind. If a fourth member comes along there will be a quarrel within a week and the organization will split. So after a couple of months there were about half a dozen of local radios in Louvain, all illegal, but because the police had other things to do than to arrest young boys with a bunch of records under their arms (there were hardly any females in the illegal radio world) the radios were left untouched and everybody waited for the political world to come up with a solution.

Anyway, we were sitting in an apartment above a pub called Picasso cooking a radio show (I did the sound mixing) when the presenter started a satirical comment about a television anchor we commonly disliked. We were all so bold and beautiful and fucking progressive and we knew it. What we didn’t know however was that the television star in question was having a beer in the pub downstairs. It must have been a million to one shot (or is that one in a million?) but it happened. The celebrity jumped up the stairs, broke into the studio and asked, in fact demanded, for a live interview so that he could politely react to our accusations. The presenter became very pale and suddenly vanished from the studio. We found him later in the toilet where he refused to come out again as long as Mike Verdrengh (who would later become a founding father of the biggest commercial TV station in Flanders) was standing there. If I learned a lesson (although I was - technically - just an innocent bystander) it was that if you throw a stone at someone it might come back and double hard so.

Back to Adrian Berry and The Giant Leap, as his book deals a lot with space travel and the speed of light in a vacuum (known and more or less unchanged since the Fifties) there aren’t many errors to be spotted. These can only lay in short term predictions between 2000 (when the book came out) and now (for a quite recent discovery involving speeds faster than light you can consult Adrian Berry’s website here). Note But I completely disagree with Mr. Berry’s viewpoints concerning starships and politicians (as one of his chapters is called). Adrian Berry is (correctly) suspicious of bureaucrats and politicians but to deduce from that fact that salvation is only possible when one gives all possible freedom to economical moguls isn’t quite healthy either.

Of course some politicians are corrupt, of course some government projects cost 3, 4, 5 times more than their privately managed counterparts. But government organisations don’t build these projects; they first ask privately managed enterprises to quote for it. If these privately managed enterprises triple the price whenever government organisations are involved and even bribe the politicians behind it, who is then to blame? Take away government control and you have child-labour, even in Europe, before you can utter the words Adidas, Nike or Reebok.

But I also realize that the stone I’ve thrown towards Mr. Berry is quite useless. If this world ever wants to build a starship it will indeed be a lot cheaper if it comes out of a private group than from a government organisation. But I hope it will not be build by childslaves because there will be no more government left to prevent it.


Note: One of his wrong predictions (in 2000) was that the Euro currency would (probably) have no future (p. 46). Back to text.


If you liked this post - you might be interested in this one as well:
Giordano Kazemi 
Popular science books are fun 

20080613

Solidarnosc

Entry 847 posted in: 5. The Pink Thing


Money for the poor Years ago I used to make some fun with those Iron Maiden fans who wanted to buy every piece of vinyl defecated by their favourite band. Each album contained at least four singles. Every single existed in different formats and they all had one or two unreleased numbers. Probably Iron Maiden has got more unreleased bonus material floating around than regular album tracks.

"Look.", said one of these metal (although in those days we still called it hardrock) guys when he ran to me out of breath on the schoolyard: "This single is wrapped inside an exclusive Eddie calendar. Wow, an exclusive Eddie calendar! Can you believe it!" What the fuck are you gonna do with an exclusive Eddie calendar, I thought, and my inner reflections wandered back towards that unknown island, somewhere near the Greek coast, were Pink Floyd was believed to have a villa were you could nookie all day long for free.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good chunk of Iron Maiden, especially their recent work that tends to be a bit more - uhm - philosophical. Somewhere on my cd pile I’ve got a DVD-single, and don’t laugh at me now, please, that ‘includes (an) extensive exclusive selection of tour photos’. Never bothered to put it in my player though, I was tempted just a few seconds ago but then I thought: naaah, my life will not be less miserable with or without a bunch of exclusive tour photos. Most metal fans are ugly anyway, not to speak about the Maiden themselves…

Lucky for me I was a fan of Pink Floyd in the Seventies and the band was known for not issuing singles, maxi singles, remixes and additional – previously unreleased – material in any audio format you could dream of. True? Well, as any anoraky knows, not quite…

Follows a small interlude for anoraks. Skip if you don’t want to read it.


Let’s trash a few Pink Floyd myths to begin with…

1. Seventies Pink Floyd never made any singles. Right? Wrong!

It is true that classic Pink Floyd wanted to be known as an album, not as a singles, band and refused to release singles in the United Kingdom (and the USA), but in other European countries their demand was simply ignored by the local subsidiary of EMI (Harvest). Pink Floyd singles have been released in Belgium, Germany, France and the Netherlands and a bunch of other countries.

2. Learning To Fly was the first global cd-only single. Right? Wrong!

Of course Pink Floyd started to bring out singles again in the Eighties and beyond, starting with the smash hit Another Brick In The Wall (for anoraks: Part 2). In 1987 the reformed Pink Floyd made the newspapers by stating that Learning To Fly was the first global cd-only single (with the exception of a few vinyl promo NOT FOR SALE copies for the radio stations)

If this is the case, how does it come that I could purchase a 7-inch 45RPM on pink vinyl at the local record shop? Germany, France and the Netherlands released those.

3. Pink Floyd were ‘first in space’. Right? Wrong!

When Pink Floyd released Delicate Sound Of Thunder in 1988 a copy (on tape) was given to the Soviet (and one French) cosmonauts who played it on board of the MIR space station. Pink Floyd and French president François Mitterand attended the launch of Soyuz TM-7 on the 26th of November 1988. A global press release was made to commemorate the fact that Pink Floyd was the first rock band to have its record played in space.

As a matter of fact French synthesizer composer Didier Marouani whose Space Opera cd was flown to the MIR space station by Soyuz TM-3 on the 22nd of July 1987 beat Floyd with more than a year. (This is not the entire story and I am planning to make a post about it in the future – if you can’t wait you can already check this post on alt.music.pink-floyd).

Interlude End  


But if we’re not too nitpicky one could say that Pink Floyd wasn’t a singles band. Period. The good thing about this all was that as a fan with about 100 Belgian francs pocket money per week I could easily get drunk at the pub instead of planning how to beg, borrow or steal this week’s exclusive release. That’s why these metal fans are all criminals to begin with, too many fucking releases, not enough money! (the previous is obviously a joke, I have never met nicer people than on hardrock gigs).

But recently there has been a change in Mr. David Jon Gilmour’s behaviour. Perhaps the metal polish for his CBE medal has taken an unpredicted lump out of his household budget because the man is in an urgent need of money. Our hero, whose epitheton ornans is ‘the voice and guitar of Pink Floyd’, will release his fortcoming album Live In Gdańsk in 5 different formats and or versions. A rather nice overview of these can be found on his blog.

Live In Gdańsk will be the second complete live release from Gilmour’s latest solo album. On An Island isn’t entirely a bad album, but it isn’t groundbraking either. I quite like it, other’s don’t. But does one really need two live versions of it? When I attended a Gilmour show (with Richard Wright on keyboards) a couple of years ago the audience politely applauded after each of his Island songs, that made the first part of the show. When the axe, for the second part, played a hitbox selection of his Pink Floyd tunes the crowd went berserk. Some fans were even spotted dancing without holding tight to their rollator.

Alexis Machine, a member of the Echoes mailing list, describes the On An Island continuing story as follows. It is an excellent overview so I won’t pretend I made this one myself (I have added some comments here and there):

It's amazing how much David Gilmour has been able to generate from one album! While we can say he is generous, would someone else interpret it as greedy? Here's all that I found that is available related to this release:
1. On an Island CD (FA: the green spine cd)
2. On an Island with bonus CD of "Island Jam", available through Best Buy (FA: Island Jam could also be downloaded at Gilmour’s website)
3. On an Island LP
4. On an Island CD + DVD package (FA: the red spine cd)
5. On an Island Single
6. Smile 7" Single
7. Arnold Layne 7" Single (FA: sung by David Bowie)
8. Arnold Layne 10" Single (FA: sung by David Bowie)
9. Arnold Layne CD Single (FA: sung by David Bowie)
10. Remember That Night DVD
11. Remember That Night DVD with bonus CD, available through Best Buy
12. Remember That Night Blu-ray
13. Live at Gdansk 2 disc set
14. Live at Gdansk 3 disc set
15. Live at Gdansk 4 disc set
16. Live at Gdansk 5 disc set
17. Live at Gdansk 5 LP set (FA: to add insult to injury, this one will contain one track not included on the other formats. The official reason is, and I quote the Gilmour blog: "There wasn't enough room for it on the CD". Yeah, sure.)
(.../...) ...removing all the different formats, I still have 2 live shows coming out of one album. Even Pink Floyd were never given that luxury!! I loved Remember That Night and I'm sure I'll enjoy Gdansk as well, but it's just that I HAVE to get everything, so having to buy the 5 different variations of Gdansk, along with the vinyl version is really irritating.

With some of the Gdansk versions comes a Web Pass to download 12 additional live songs (one per month) although 83% of the fans voted against it on the official blog. But here is a fine opportunity to offer other downloads at supplementary rates later on…

So hold on tight, cause gravy train is coming and it is going to hit your wallet very hard. Big man, pig man, charade you are.


If you liked this post - you might be interested in this one as well: Pink Floyd Mini-Vinyl Studio Box Set 

20080621

EUlogy

Entry 854 posted in: 1. General Mish Mash, 6. Self-Made Monsters


I even didn't have a clue what picture to put here What follows is a rather boring post, but I've spent a lot of time writing it, so I'll publish it anyway. Sorry for that.

My country, although you probably won’t believe me, was one of the founding dwarfs of the European Union. Belgium itself is an amalgam of three different nationalities that, due to several historical atrocities, were cut off from their original fatherland, whether they liked it or not. Because Germany, Holland, France (and even England) had better things to do than to quarrel who would take care of that ungrateful lot a job search was done for an unemployed member with royal blood. Because they couldn’t find any they settled for a German duke who would become the first king of Belgium. His son Leopold II, still a hero in our official history books at school, would create his own little playhouse called Congo, where he could rape and murder and become immensely rich (and a while later very poor again).

At the end of the Second World War Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg created an economical entity called the Benelux (a Belgian-Luxembourg treaty already existed in the Twenties). A couple of years later France, Germany, Italy and the Benelux-3 signed a treaty that was known as the European Coal And Steel Community. One thing lead to another and today we have a political and economical community with 27 member states and a population of nearly half a billion. Hurrah!

But there is a strange thing going on: the bigger the EU becomes the less popular it is with the actual inhabitants of the Union. There are a couple of reasons for that. You’re not going to escape from my reasonings!

EU devours money by the quintillions

Because the principal members of the EU couldn’t agree to have a single headquarter they created two. A couple times a year they switch from one headquarter to another, meaning that files and papers have to be physically moved from one place to another. This cost about 200 million Euros a year.

Like any other country Europe has a set of ministries, commissions, workgroups, you name it. As every state likes to have its share these centres are based all over Europe. The EU can be easily be categorized as being Europe’s biggest travel agency.

EU is the perfect scapegoat for local mismanagement

For years local (national and regional) politicians used Europe as the perfect scapegoat to cover up for their own mistakes or to put unpopular laws into place. All over the European Union decision were taken, not because politicians, in their own words, deemed it was necessary, but because it was ‘ordained by the European Union’.

This created the image of the EU as an overzealous police officer, harassing the local neighbourhood, instead of dealing with the real problems (whatever these real problems might be).

EU is more concerned with its democratic appearance than with democracy itself

When the European parliament was founded (in 1979) nobody seemed to care that the institute had less power than their Soviet Russian counterpart. Although big shots from all over Europe wanted a well-paid seat they didn’t bother to show up anymore once the press attention had diminished. Slowly the parliament got more power, real power, but the real decisions are still taken outside the parliament. One of the most important items of the European Union, its budget, is totally out of control, literally and figuratively speaking.

EU loathes real democratic decisions

One of my unfinished projects, and I’ve got this idea for a novel over twenty years now, starts when the communist government of a further unspecified country in the east of Europe wants to inundate a historic site because the great Bozo who is in charge has decided to do so. Then the Berlin wall starts crumbling down and a couple of months later a democratic government is in charge. And guess what? Nothing has changed. The damming project will still go through because the communist decision makers have all turned into democrats and businessmen. Of course a lot of interesting things happen after that, larded with a lot of sex, drugs and rock-and-roll. Dan Brown and Stephen King may be happy that I never wrote the novel to begin with.

And I just thought up the following while writing this post. The European Union is the modern equivalent of the Papal States. Although the pope was a ruler of his own independent country (part of it what we now call Italy) his word was also law in the other countries of Europe. If, for instance, the French king wanted to take a decision and the pope said no - it was no. No reasoning with the pope. That is why every papal election was such big fun, with all European countries lobbying to have their pope elected; cardinals eliminating other cardinals to influence their chances and if a pope wasn’t really up to par for a certain party an antipope would be elected as well.

Anno 2000, when the European Union speaks the parliaments of the member countries jump. No questions asked. The main problem arises when some countries start to get difficult and really want to involve the democratic process by ways of a referendum. Then the results tend to differ a bit.

1972 - Norway refuses to enter the EU
1992 - Denmark votes against the Maastricht treaty
1994 - Norway refuses to enter the EU (for the second time)
2000 - Denmark refuses to join the Eurozone
2001 - Ireland votes against the treaty of Nice
2003 - Sweden refuses to join the Eurozone
2005 - France refuses the European constitution
2005 - Netherlands refuses the European constitution
2008 - Ireland votes against the treaty of Lisbon

Instead of finding a way to diminish the democratic deficit of the EU and to make the Union more attractive to its citizens the EU moguls choose the easy way out.

A referendum was negative? Change the treaty in such a way that for a second vote you don’t need a referendum anymore but just a vote in parliament. Satisfaction guaranteed (a few days ago this was proposed as a solution for the Irish problem).

A referendum was negative? If the no-votes only had a slight majority you can always try to organise a second referendum, hoping the weather will be better and the population is in a slightly better mood (Denmark, 1993 and Ireland, 2002). The strange thing is that consecutive referenda are sometimes held to switch the decision from negative to positive, but never the other way around.

So how does it all end? Well in my unfinished novel some committee decides to relocate a historical church to an open-air museum somewhere in America and the vampire that is freed per accident becomes the next president of the United States. Nobody notices the difference. “All’s well that ends well”, to quote Will the Great.


If you liked this post - you might be interested in this one as well: Just like Belgium 

20080627

European Frontal

Entry 859 posted in: 7. Star Trek - The Original Sucker


Zombie Lake On Sunday mornings all is dull and quiet. Some people go to church; I take a cup of Italian coffee, start the computer and surf a bit. Sunday is the day I visit those sites I usually don’t visit very often, except on Sundays that is.

One site I visit from time to time is Snopes that is dedicated to urban legends. Is or isn’t there a penis on the cover of The Little Mermaid home video? Is it true that Jessica Rabbit doesn’t wear underwear on four frames of the Who Framed Roger Rabbit movie (who are the people who have the time to go hunting after these things?). And can one really read the letters S-E-X in a dust-cloud during The Lion King?

(I really should quit writing these posts; I have just lost half an hour browsing the Snopes site again. And speaking about penises, is this warning label true? It comes from another minute muncher of a site that I just discovered a couple of days ago.)

Another of my favourites is Badmovies that lists a series of reviews of so-called B-movies. This is another one of those click-and-read & click-and-read-a-bit-further sites. Once you start you can’t stop and to add another cliché to the hopeless bunch of clichés I have already used… Badmovies.org is like a box of chocolates. Barf.

One of the movies that has recently been reviewed is Zombie Lake, aka Zombies’ Lake, originally Le Lac Des Morts Vivants (literally: the lake of the living deaths). The plot of the movie is simple enough. Somewhere near a small village in France lies is a lake and although it is forbidden to have a swim it takes victim #1 about 30 seconds to completely undress only to get devoured by an undead Nazi soldier who happens to be living, although living is not exactly the right word, under the water surface.

Normally an incident like that should discourage other skinny-dipping enthusiasts but alas, the French have their own way of reasoning and that is why a complete volleyball team, do I have to stress the fact that it is an all-female volleyball team?, jumps in the water a while later. The movie is set about a decade after the end of the Second World War, anyway in a period when textile was very scarce or during those odd years when all swimming suits were prohibited in France. So were razor blades. For the younger readers of this blog, who shouldn’t be reading this at all by the way, the black triangles you can see on certain regions of the female body are not the artistic product of an overzealous censor but the main reason why these body parts used to be addressed as beaver, muff or pussy.

But I just don’t want to publish another review, as there are already a few circulating on the web, and I’ve just spent most of the last Sunday morning (and afternoon) reading those. To get rid of the uncanny feeling that I ruined an entire day I present you hereafter…


Felix Atagong’s entirely useless review of 9 Zombie Lake reviews.

(Skip immediately to The Zombie Lake Movie First Five Minutes Faq if you are not interested.)

Bad movies (9/10). I like the reviews at this site. They are funny, witty with a touch of irony. The reviews are so well written that you actually want to have a look at the movie in question, even when it reads that this is the worst movie ever. The Things I Learned From This Movie rubric makes one chuckle, as it tends to demystify the ever-growing list of movie clichés.

Pro: every review contains a character overview, the plot, stuff to watch for, some sounds, images and a (short) video clip of the movie in question.

Cons: Almost every B-movie, even this one, carries a danger sign scene that is instantly disregarded by the person who is going to expire a few seconds later. Although this site has a warning that reads: “There are currently ZERO bare breasts on this website.”, this is actually the truth. Pictures that do contain a certain amount of pixels that could arouse the odd couch potato have been censored with a banner.

Antagony & Ecstasy (7/10). The thing I like about the review on this blog is its title: Zombies & Tits. As an appetizer this can count. Also the fact that reviewer uses a Belgian movie poster speaks in favour for him. Thanks to him I now know the Dutch title of this tiny masterpiece that is nothing more than a word for word translation of its French title.

The article contains some interesting titbits (I know I just can’t resist that word) about the creator of the movie (who was apparently so ashamed that he changed his name on the credits). The pictures have been chosen to illustrate the film’s cheapness and not its scarcity of textile. I would like to point you to the fact that the author uses a neologism I happen to like a lot: vaginidyll. If more blogs would use this word it could grow into 2008’s new big googly thing!

All Things Zombie (5/10). What is wrong with these people? Don’t they have a sense of humour? First their website takes as long to load as an average zombie needs to cross the road and then they simply trash the movie? Probably the reviewer didn’t have his brains for breakfast.

Realm Of Horror (6/10). A short review that is indecisive whether it should stay serious or not.

Bad Movie Planet (7/10). This review tries to describe the complicated (complicated as in incomprehensible) plot in much detail with an eye for the many flaws in the script. There are a few pictures, including one with the famous volleyball-team-skinny-dipping scene. The author is a weird person though, because he uses red rectangles on the pictures to hide the black triangles. What’s wrong with triangles?

B-Movie Graveyard (8/10). Man, this is a big review, and with big I mean BIG. Reading it takes about the same time as watching the entire movie, but reading about it is of course more pleasant than viewing the whole thing.

Pro: Many, many subdivisions and extras: the credits, the plot, a more elaborated plot, a character map, several downloadable video scenes, the many mistakes (wrong type of Volkswagen used, for instance), some pictures, an extensive review, a content breakdown, movie statistics (containing a dead bodies, boobs and bush count!), downloadable dialog excerpts, theme music, more photographs, more video clips, extra comments, unanswered questions and WTF moments containing a real pair of uncensored yummy boobs! B-Movie awards, trivia listing, the Final Word.

Cons: You need a lot of time to read this.

Bad Movie Dimension (6/10). Well, one of the serious reviews about this very unserious movie. Well worth the read and the fact that I only give it a 6 out of 10 could come from the fact that I have just been reading half a dozen of reviews before…

Movie Mistakes (4/10). A list of 27 mistakes in the movie, but most of those have been spotted in the other reviews as well. Pity for the annnoying ad in between pages.

But if you are more or less in a hurry you can watch the online video review of...

The Cinema Snob (8/10). The cinema snob doesn’t mind telling us what this movie really is about, so if you are not offended by quotes as ‘this movie has officially urinated on my face and told me it is raining’(3’33”) this is the review for you.


The Zombie Lake Movie First Five Minutes Faq  

1. In the beginning of the movie you see a swan on the lake. Why don't the zombies attack it?
Have you ever seen a restaurant with swan on the menu? Duck yes. Goose yes. Swan no.

2. Why does the brown haired beauty remove her clothes?
Topless sunbathing is a national sport in France. As a matter of fact it is considered anti-French NOT to sunbath topless. Just like it is considered anti-American in some circles to eat French fries, although that is rather stupid as a: the French in French fries has got nothing to do with France; and b: French fries originate from Belgium anyway…

3. Yeah but the brunette removes more than her blouse.
Technically she is still sunbathing topless. Ask Bill Clinton.

4. Come on, she is stark naked!
Sunbathing naked is perhaps not a national sport in France but if you wander around at the French Riviera you will count a respectable minority of nude sunbathers, even on public beaches. God, I love that country!

5. Why do the zombies suddenly decide to attack the girl after they have quietly lived at the bottom of the lake for a dozen of years?
Probably nobody ever had a swim before in the lake, as the whole village is apparently dimly aware of the curse.

6. Here is a small village in France. There is a lake nearby; did the children never go for a swim then? It must be very tempting, especially when parents forbid!
Perhaps only sexually mature maidens will arouse the zombies. If one single drop of blood can turn a handful of dust into a full-grown vampire, then the pheromones of a woman, swimming in a lake, might wake the zombies as well. Call it a zombie puberty catalyst.

7. Not all zombies are green, some have normal skin color, especially in the neck and behind the ears. Surely this is a case of (very) bad make up.
What if these undead only change skin color when they turn into – what I call – zombie puberty, triggered by the female pheromones (see faq question 6). A bit like black babies that are (often) born quite pale and only turn dark after a while (and some body regions of black people, like their hand palms, will always be lighter in color).
On the other hand they could suffer from a mild case of cupper oxidation as well.

8. That still doesn’t explain why the brunette jumps into the water.
Probably because the girl is not only pretty, but stupid as well.


And if you have enough of reading all this, you can have a little fun with the Zombie Tower Defense game. Its simple, its dumb, its addictive.


If you liked this post - you might be interested in this one as well: Popular science books are fun 

20080630

iPod Random Generator June 2008

Entry 871 posted in: 9. I, Pod


Big changes this month...

Also in 2008 my MySpace page will contain some useless iPod statistics. This year however my iPod will always stay in shuffle mode, in other words: the machine will decide what songs will be played. For more information: Random Blueß aka sucking for statistics.

At the end of each month I will publish the ten most popular songs of the year and the ten most popular songs of the past month.

For the top 10 list of the songs I've been listening to in 2008 go to http://www.myspace.com/atagong.

For the top 10 list of the songs I've been listening to in June, go to the MySpace blog section.


If you liked this post - you might be interested in this one as well: iPod Random Generator May 2008