rfbooth.com :: blog archives

Moments in time, preserved to embarrass me later.

14-2-2003 (archived)

When I designed the style sheets for this site, I tested in every browser I and my friends have access to. Old Netscapes have the styles switched off entirely, using the CSS @import hack. All other current browsers I had easy access to - IE5 ,5.5, 6/Win, IE5/Mac, Mozilla (my main browser), Opera, iCab and Konqueror, I got looking and acting reasonably similarly to my planned design without any hacks or workarounds.

So, when Safari arrived, based on the Konqueror KTHML engine, I was sure it would just work. When it displayed my navigation panels but none of the content, my reaction was pretty much “choke on my fuck, Apple”; fix your damned beta, my site's fine. And, indeed, the current Safari works just fine. Hurrah, and so on.

In other news, the Ericsson P800 phone now runs Symbian Opera, a port of my second favourite web browser. As it happens, one of my friends works at Symbian, and my site's one of his test pages! Sadly, the current iteration isn't working right on my fairly-complex CSS, but I bet it will be soon...

Having cool friends is one of my favourite things <grin>.

17-2-2003 (archived)

Today I am achy but cheerful. This weekend we gigged on Friday and Saturday nights, both going pretty well, and then I spent all of Sunday wearing rubber gloves, lightly marinated in detergents, scrubbing my bathroom and kitchen. Then this morning I had my usual Monday-morning gym visit. So, I'm hurting, but I have a clean toilet. This feels very good, in a way that Paul Ford once described brilliantly. Like Paul, I have decided that I want to be able to let people into my flat again.

The Friday, Valentine's gig was much enlivened by some crowd participation. During the second set, one of the bar staff passed me a note asking if a regular could come up and propose to his girlfriend before the last song of the set. He came up on stage, took my mic, called her from the back of the pub, and, dropping to one knee on the stage, asked her to marry him.

She, visibly flustered and with a mic in front of her, stammered “I suppose I'll have to.”

I think we may surmise that this wasn't quite the response he was hoping for; but, after the first song of the encore, she came up, borrowed the mic, and explained passionately to everyone in the pub that she was just taken by surprise and she loved him lots and etc. Judging by the tearful hugs, this seems to have been accepted. True love and all that.

18-2-2003 (archived)

This is a day of random linkage.

This is a video taken in 6000 feet of water. An undersea robot is sawing a 3mm wide slit (1/10th of an inch... remember that width) in a pipeline. The pressure inside the pipeline is 0 psig, while the pressure outside is 2700 psi, or 1.3 tons per square inch. Then a crab comes along....

Curiosity killed the crab, and it's all on video. (Via jwz.)

Origami, is Japanese art of folding paper. Boulder is round rock. Origami Boulder is wadded up paper! You understand now, dumbo? Then hurry up and buy wadded paper! You see picture at top of site don't you?

This site about origami boulder very fine wadded paper artwork. I make artwork for you and you buy it now. I am famous Internet artist. You find my site didn't you?

The Origami Boulder Company. (Thanks, Martin!.)

19-2-2003 (archived)

This week's first film review is “Daredevil”. This is one of those (slowly) increasingly popular simultaneous release films, which makes life a lot more pleasant when you have many friends and news sources in leftpond.

Now, fans of the comic (such as jwz) have been pretty unhappy about certain aspects of the movie that aren't that loyal to the comic, most noticably Electra. I'm not a fan of the comic, so I'm afraid I don't really give a shit about any of that.

It was fun. Pretty much an action movie with shadings of romance and nods in the direction of character development (Daredevil actually came across as a convincing person), it works on all the levels you'd want it to. The fight scenes are good, the athletic villain (Bullseye) is stunningly entertaining and wonderfully overplayed, the intelligent villain (Kingpin) is nicely loathable, and Electra is yummy. There was even an Unexpected Plot Thing.

The Daredevil vision thing was really rather cool, but (as jwz said) some of the other CGI stuff chewed:

There were a few really bad CGI moments. There was one where DD basically runs up a wall by hopping off window ledges that looked totally fake -- and the thing that struck me most about that was, the fakeness of it made it look like this impossibly ridiculous maneuver, but I've seen Jackie Chan actually do it! Less CGI, more stuntmen, that's what I say.

Full marks to the boy Zawinski - I know exactly what he means. It looked for all the world like a LoTR outtake of Gollum, inexplicably in a city and a red devil suit.

There was, indeed, plenty of anonymous rock/metal going on, but I kind of like that. And, indeed, I kind of liked the film. It won't be anyone's pick of the year (unless you have a real Jennifer Garner in leather fetish, which would actually be fair enough), but it did its job. Less goofy than Superman, less dark (but actually more morally interesting) than Batman, and generally a fun evening.

PS: if you go, sit through the credits, or you'll miss something. We almost did.

20-2-2003 (archived)

This blog's first gig review is of Toto's gig last night at the Manchester Apollo. It will not contain details such as names of the additional musicians, because the official Toto website is so astonishingly shittily designed that I cannot face trawling through it in search of any actual information. That's five minutes of my life I'm never getting back, right there.

Anyway, as many of you will know, Toto are a band often associated with the 80s, packed full of then-first-call LA session men (Lukather, Paich, these days Simon Phillips), and best known for the songs “Rosanna” and “Africa”, flawless musicianship, and being held in contempt by essentially all music journalists (ours is not to reason why).

It was like a big, shiny chunk of 80s musicianship and showmanship. They played 2:30 or so, not counting time off stage while we called for encores. They had superb lights and had actually brought a stage setup - they had platforms for drums and keyboards, and ramps and walkways around the back, as well as split levels at the front, so Luke and Kimball could run around.

The sound started off dreadful and muddy, improved dramatically by the end of the first song, and by midway through the third was the best live sound I have ever heard. Seriously. The bass sound was especially fine, and Simon Phillips's drums were the best-sounding I have ever heard, by some distance. He also had an astonishingly cool device that (apparently; this is my take on it) triggered a bright light inside the left bass drum every time he hit it, and in the right one every time it was hit and the left one had recently been hit. The net effect was that double bass rolls (which he does quite a lot of) triggered a strobing bass drums effect. Outstanding.

The guitar playing was inspirational, cocky and brilliant, and the singing (especially the five-part harmonies) were amazing. They played a lot of early stuff, including a lot of Toto IV, and were clearly having the time of their lives. This was, apparently, the last night of (this leg of? Not going to that site to look) the tour, and they were letting off some steam. There was one sublime moment where Luke played a keyboard solo - he started off tentative and hamfisted, and then gradually “improved” until he was rattling off a piano solo almost worthy of Paich himself. Paich then came back to the keyboard, called up a lead guitar patch, and played a “guitar” solo full of Luke trademarks. Shiny.

My one, small, complaint, was that they played nothing from the utterly superb “Kingdom of Desire”; but, nontheless, it was a brilliant, pure-entertainment and muso-porn gig. They may be unfashionable, but by God they're good.

21-2-2003 (archived)

This week's second film review is “Two Weeks Notice”. It's summarised perfectly in Philip French's review in the Observer:

She plays a deeply serious liberal lawyer, a fighter for good causes. He's a frivolous, very rich property developer based in Manhattan. For rather poorly plotted reasons she becomes his in-house legal counsellor. As a result of their bickering over duty to the community and responsibility to shareholders, they fall in love and achieve a better understanding of how capitalist society might be ameliorated.

Bullock is pretty much harmless; I know some people really struggle with her attempts at light comedy, but I'm not one of them. Hugh Grant is a genuinely talented leading man for light comedy, blessed with the delivery of a certain kind of carefully educated Englishman and so capable of being astonishingly rude, extremely funny and completely inoffensive (except to those deserving of offence) simultaneously.

Grant has to carry the film, his co-star, the mediocre script and the unravelling plot almost singlehanded. Fortunately enough, he's up to the task. It's uninspired candyfloss, but it made me laugh out loud several times (always at Grant lines) and left me feeling better than I had going in. You know by now if you'll like this one; it's far from essential viewing, but if it's your sort of thing it'll do its job.

24-2-2003 (archived)

My friend Paul Creedy has now got a website for his guitar-building, and has kindly linked to this place, describing it as “film reviews, wit, music, experimental cookery and pointless drivel in varying amounts”.

Which is fair enough, though you may be wondering about “experimental cookery”. Yeah, I've mentioned frying eggs and cooking socks, a diet of banana smoothies and semen, extraordinarily huge burgers and japanese restaurants, but never cookery as such.

However, I have been talking about it in a chatroom we frequent. Like many men, my diet for the last many years has consisted mostly of sandwiches, things taken out of the freezer and put under the grill, and things taken out of tins and put into the microwave. Oh, and things brought to my door after a 'phone call mentioning credit card details. There have been occasional forays into Szechuan cooking, but mostly it's been convenience foods.

As part of my self-improvement program, I'm trying to go back to eating proper, interesting food, rather than just reading about it and watching it on TV. (There are also other motives, connected to my larger-than-ideal waist size, too.) So I've been cooking actual food, and making proper sauces; today liver and bacon with a Dijon and cream sauce (never made before), yesterday steak with a Hollandaise (not made for ten years or more) and a many-flavoured chinese-ish lunch, and the day before chicken with a mushroom and Dolcelatte cheese sauce (invented on the spot, worked brilliantly). It's great.

So, for your delectation, here's the recipe for the Dolcelatte sauce:

Melt a knob of butter in a pan, preferably one in which you've just finished cooking the main event. Roughly chop a rasher of bacon and a couple of mushrooms, and fry until the bacon is crisp. Pour in enough boiling water to just cover the base of the pan, and add about 75g of Dolcelatte cut or torn into pieces roughly 1cm on a side. Stir until the cheese is completely dissolved, simmer for a minute or two, add black pepper to taste.

It is now a beige colour, and very good indeed. Pour over the chicken (or whatever you're having it with), and try not to actually lick the plate <g>.

Oh, and if you think there may be a connection between this outbreak of cooking and my recent outbreak of cleaning, you're probably right; I'm domesticity boy all of a sudden. I await the next personality swing with some interest.

25-2-2003 (archived)

I seem to be unwell; it may be salmonella in my Hollandaise, it may be something making the rounds. Hey ho. It has left me incapable of creativity, anyway, so for your amusement I offer up the Collected Lies of the Day.

That is, I fear, all.

26-2-2003 (archived)

I still seem to be unwell, though arguably less so. I've been reading Teemings to take my mind off it, and I recommend you do the same. Especially The Horror of Blimps.

28-2-2003 (archived)

This week's film review is “The Ring”, a reworking of the Japanese horror movie “Ringu”. I must admit that I haven't yet seen “Ringu”, but I'm informed by people I trust that it is the better of the two. This should surprise no-one.

You doubtless know the premise, since it's been trailed so heavily in the many months since this film came out in America (bastards. Will you please do simultaneous release so we can avoid having to killfile half our favourite newsgroup threads?). Video tape, spooky, watch it, die in a week.

It's not a bad urban chiller myth premise, and the film mostly works well - the acting is fine, the tape extract is genuinely disconcerting, the scary bits are, and so on. On the other hand, it isn't going to leave you genuinely disturbed in the way I'm told the original does.

And now to the complaints. Enough with the spooky kids already, please? Almost every horror film I've seen recently has featured either worryingly calm and unhuman central kids (Ghost Ship, Resident Evil, many more), calm and prescient central kids (The Sixth Sense; I only saw it for the first time recently, but I suspect this is all Shyalaman's fault. Bastard. Still, that really was a stunning film), or some equally annoying child-centred motif. Stop it. At once.

This film features one heroic (and deeply irritating) central kid, who could well be straight out of Sixth Sense but for the lack of emotional depth, and another spooky kid comes in later. Arrgh.

Nontheless, this is a clear cut above the typical Hollywood horror flick, and is well worth seeing for the tension, genuine unease in places, and artful ending. Recommended.

The last word on this must, however, go to Sinfest.

I actually saw this on Wednesday night, but there was no post yesterday. Sorry, I just wasn't up to it. I hope that normal service will resume (for the blog and for myself) from next week.