rfbooth.com :: blog archives

Moments in time, preserved to embarrass me later.

20-8-2003 (archived)

I use Ernie Ball 10-gauge guitar strings on all my electric guitars, and have done for many years now. For me they last very very well, and I prefer the feel and sound to DiMarzios, the other religiously-popular choice; I like Ernies because they feel rough; DMs feel too slick for my taste. The DM fans tend to note the same sensations and draw the opposite conclusion.

Imagine my delight, then, to discover that Ernie Ball are an almost completely open-source shop, running on Linux, Mozilla and OpenOffice. I love it when morality matches up with aesthetics.

In other news, I just got back from seeing Pirates for the third time eight days. I am still in love and awe of it, and especially Depp's pirate-as-80s-glamster masterpiece. The sheer self-restraint betrayed by them not once using the phrase “skeleton crew” also continues to impress. I'm delighted, then, to find that September the 19th is international talk like a pirate day. Yarr. (Both via scribot.)

22-8-2003 (archived)

Last night we had a two-movie trashfest, and lo, it was good. First we saw “American Wedding”, third of the American Pie series; I did my homework by renting the other two on Sunday, and was glad I had, as I don't think it would have worked as well otherwise. It's more of the same cringe-based comedy, with Seann William Scott dominating proceedings as the semi-human Stifler. It's funny enough to be worth going to, anyway, and notable for including a rare dogshit-eating sequence (is Scott the new Divine?) and a series of jokes on the subject of scrotum-shaving.

Then came “Freddy vs Jason”, for which I did no homework whatsoever. It's a slasher movie; it lacks the gleeful, gory imagination of, say, Final Destination 2, with only one really notable (folding-bed-based) shot, but it gives you the battle of the title, plus the usual staples: everyone who has any fun at all dies shortly afterwards, scary child introduces “plot” feature, quotas met in the areas of (a) things that make you jump, (b) blood, (c) nubile young breasts. It will never be a classic, especially with the really very disappointing post-showdown sequence, but it does the job. The self-referential cleverness of the post-Scream generation is thankfully absent; the obligatory cliches are worked in all seriousness, and all the better for it.

In both cases, you probably had a pretty good idea based on their lineage of whether you'd like these, and in both cases you'll be right. Solid enough, but there's no magic.

25-8-2003 (archived)

A few days ago, I observed that Googling for if you push hard enough on your navel your ass falls off hadn't quite given me the results I'd hoped for. Well, as of today, it gives you this very site. Chalk another one up under “distorting the infosphere”.

Monkeys are ungrateful creatures, but can be caught with pitch-lined gloves. They like to ride pigs. A monkey will unfold all your papers and scatter them about the room.

The Moral Character of the Monkey, at Ftrain.

27-8-2003 (archived)

This week's film review is “Roger Dodger”, which seems, despite frequent trailers and critical adulation, to be hard to find - we ended up seeing it in the Cornerhouse's smallest screen, with a capacity of maybe sixty punters.

Campbell Scott plays Roger, a middle-aged advertising executive with wit and a knack for picking at the vulnerabilities of the people he's talking to, or indeed at. His young nephew, Nick, has heard that he's a ladies' man, and arrives in New York in search of an education. The evening starts out almost sweetly but soon plummets into horror, not least because Roger's secret relationship with his equally unpleasant boss (Isabella Rossellini) has just crashed and burned.

This is a naturalistic, closely observed character study, built from language and body language; it's very funny, uncomfortable, bitter and occasionally sweet. It's a concerto of a film, with a superlative script, brilliant performances from every single player, wonderful cinematography, and Scott's towering, virtuoso turn as Roger in the centre. It ought to be in every multiplex, but of course it's nowhere. Hunt it down and see it.

29-8-2003 (archived)

So, apparently, the BBC would like to give away their entire archive of programs - for downloaders, and in particular, reducing their bandwidth costs, for person-to-person filesharers. And why not, we've already paid for the programs... the best discussion I've seen has been by Danny O'Brien (1, 2). The BBC are in a fantastic position; they have public funding, so they can do stuff because it damned well should be done. They're doing it again.

1-9-2003 (archived)

We gigged twice this weekend, in two of my favourite places to play, and went down very well; for the first three or four songs of Friday, and just about all of Saturday, I hit a level of improvisational guitar playing that I've only rarely achieved, and I wasn't the only one who noticed. I can only hope it continues.

The reason, I think, that it didn't continue on Friday was probably that by that point it had become clear that I was really struggling with top notes and with vocal delivery in general, and I was putting this down to the two weekends off we'd just had; but then it occurred to me, after I'd got home, that I'd completely forgotten to warm my voice up (humming and quietly singing scales and arpeggios gradually stretching out throughout my range). Sure enough, on Saturday I warmed up thoroughly before soundcheck and again before each set, and gave probably the best vocal performance of my time in the band. It's not just for opera singers, kids.

Anyway, some linkage. A while ago I recommended Cory Doctorow's freeware novel Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. He's just put up a new short set rather later in the same future, called Truncat and it too is well worth the time of anyone who doesn't knee-jerk hate SF.

To read it you'll probably have to get a Salon Day Pass, which I think is pretty much advertising-supported-internet done right. You get a teaser paragraph for free, then (if you're not a member) you can sit through a thirty-second or so interactive (so you do have to sit through it, ish) advert to get the rest. Sure, I'd rather not have the ad, but this stuff needs paying for somehow, and I don't mind somewhat intrusive ads if I know it's coming and I get something I want in return. Here, I sit through this one ad and then I get membership-level access for the rest of the day, without being harangued any further, giving up any personal details, and so on. Makes sense to me, and I cheerfully and fairly frequently go through the process, whereas I normally just stop and turn back at the sight of a registration page.

2-9-2003 (archived)

Periodically I have a day where I try to organise my life. I go through all my correspondence and put it in little files and sort out my receipts so I can send them to my accountant and fill in the little "to do" lists at the front of the filofax that I otherwise never use.

Every time it strikes me how much easier this would be if I simply spent two minutes each day doing it. But inevitably I always keep up my keenness for two days maximum and fall back into my old ways, where my only major filing cabinet is the floor.

Richard Herring perfectly sums up my life. Again.

Actually, the pattern seems to be that every few times I have one of these periodic bursts of virtue, one or two pieces of good behaviour stick. I go to the gym regularly now, I put my laundry in the laundry bin rather than on the floor and get it cleaned regularly, I put bank statements and bills in a neat pile and every so often file them in a sensible place. I even wash up. All of these are vast improvements over two or three years ago.

On the down side, I still seem to be incapable of regularly throwing out read newspapers, shelving books, filing things that aren't statements or bills, picking up things that have fallen to the floor, throwing away anything that in the imagination of the most deluded paranoid might one day be slightly convenient to have, wiping surfaces that aren't actually going to have food, or me, placed onto them, etc. I have high hopes that within the next five years I may be properly housetrained, but that's probably overly optimistic.

3-9-2003 (archived)

This week's first film review is “Confidence”, in which a series of confidence tricks are played on all and sundry, not least the humble audience.

Dustin Hoffman's sleazy, almost but not quite overacted performance was what drew me to this film in the trailers (speaking of which, this is perhaps the first film I've seen where every trailer preceding it was for a film I want to see). That and the compelling, gifted and gorgeous Rachel Weisz, whose presence is reason enough to see any film at this point in her career. I'm not quite sure why this is showing in arthouse theatres; presumably because it's got Luis Guzman in a supporting role, and thus is Cinema.

It's pretty, slick and accessible, and rattles along with pace and plenty of, well, confidence. The ending, revealing the last con of the film, comes as no surprise to anyone who's paying attention, but that's OK; the performances and script are good enough, along with the precision-instrument plot, that I don't really care. Always leave the mark happy, and I am.

4-9-2003 (archived)

This week's second film review is “Angelina Jolie being vigorous in tight and/or skimpy outfits 2”, or “Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life”, as the producers have mystifyingly chosen to bill it.

Having explained the only conceivable reason that anyone might choose to sit through this film, let me now say: don't. Ms Jolie, while still very watchable, is not nearly as deliciously, frothingly deranged as we, her fans, have come to expect; she seems to be tottering on the verge of sanity. The rest of the film does not match the standards of the first, rather enjoyable, Tomb Raider, either; it's peculiarly lacking in energy, far too long, and the “plot” has become so ludicrous that even experienced bad-film-enjoyers such as we crumple under the crushing weight of disbelief like a hamster under a safe.

This is a very bad film; as every bit as ludicrous as Charlie's Angels 2, but taking itself seriously. It reminds me of nothing so much as Highlander 2, but it is inferior in every respect.

This is not a joke, astounding though that may seem.

Don't go and see this. Rent the first one and watch it twice instead. Or scoop out your eyeballs with spoons; at least that way you get a free Labrador for consolation.

8-9-2003 (archived)

Today's collection of livejournal-sourced links: there's a new (well, mid-August; I hadn't noticed) Get Your War On. I think he's right; Coke does taste like robot sweat. (Via jwz.)

One of the most interesting writers working at the borders of horror fiction, Poppy Z Brite, has a reputation as a New Orleans gourmet. Judging by her choices for her putative last meal, she could pick from the menu for me any time.

Hungry now. Must eat cheese.