They can ALL read my thoughts!

Spam from the Sandman.

In keeping with my current Neil Gaiman obsession I finished reading Sandman number seven Brief Lives last night. Today I come into work and find two pieces of spam waiting for me with the subject lines “destruction compromise” and “temple head”.

What is going on!?!?

(I don’t have to work this Monday so expect a decent update this weekend)

Those Rash Madmen at the Unicode Consortium

Secrets man was not meant to know and educational television.

Oh Tensor, how you consistently crack me up!

Did I mention that the ABC has started showing Time Team on Tuesdays? The archeology may be a bit slapdash (or so Helen said once anyway, and she should know) but it’s hosted by Baldrick (um… Tony Robinson I mean, obviously), it’s really interesting (for an archeology/history nerd such as myself) and it often features a rather cute Cornish osteoarcheologist. So all in all a pretty good watch. Six o’clock, Tuesday nights on ABC for those interested.

(I assume she’s Cornish based on her accent and repeated viewings of Doc Martin. She could probably be from anywhere in the West Country.)

PS: There’s a Monkey Island in the Thames!?!


A vague and unfocused update about being vague and unfocused

You know I seem to be having a bad few weeks – feeling all tired and run down, and distinctly stressed out and anti-social. At least part of this is due to figuring out a new work shedule that fits 70 hours into nine days, which is trickier than it sounds (particularly when you’re feeling tired and stressed out and simply don’t want to go in in the mornings). But I’m sure I’ll get it sorted out eventually.

This general malaise is why the blog hasn’t seen many updates lately – I can’t seem to find the energy to do much except sit around watching DVDs. On a whim (well, basically because Amazon recommended it – I’m letting computers choose my viewing now, great) I purchased the first season of Dead Like Me. It’s a curious beast, rather hard to get into at first. I seem to recall that Ali didn’t like it at all, and I can see why – it took me until about the fifth episode to even start liking the characters. But past that point it’s actually rather good, in a very weird and messed up way. I’ve got two episodes left which I may or may not get around to watching this afternoon. I’ll have to wait and see if I feel like buying the next season.

I’ve also been listening to a lot of podcasts. Well, three really. Hack (current affairs) and Sunday Night Safran (interminable bickering) from Triple J, and the incredibly geeky role-playing oriented Dragon’s Landing, which Ryan got me into. Ryan’s actually quite keen to set up his own podcast and keeps trying to to recruit me to the concept. I would actually be very enthusiastic about this except for the fact that we have no idea for a subject and absolutely nothing thing to say. We could easily set up a weekly podcast but it would just be us sitting around going “um… uh… well what about… err….” for forty five minutes, and I’m sure there’s more than enough podcasts like that out there already.

Oh yeah, I’ve also done something I’ve been meaning to do for ages and started on Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. I’ve read Dream Country, Season of Mists and A Game of You so far, and will probably power through the rest as soon as I can get my hands on them because they’re really very much like mythologically-inclined-geek crack cocaine. At the same time I’m also halfway through American Gods, which is making things slightly confusing because characters and situations from one keep leaking across to the other in my head (I keep wondering when Shadow is going to run into Morpheus).

(Oh, did I ever mention that I read Neverwhere late last year? I meant to, because it’s one of the best books I’ve ever come across πŸ™‚

In spite of all this reading and DVD watching I have managed to do a few things, which I was intending to write about, but now find myself without the energy to. I’ve also got to get the washing and ironing done so I have something to wear to work tomorrow. So I guess I’ll break off now then. I will endeavour to write about the other subjects later this week but suffice to say they involve such wonders as footwear, dragons, con-men, ewoks, mysterious disapearances and Leonardo da Vinci (figuring that out should keep you occupied for a while!).

Middle Earth – The Final Frontier

Damnit Jim! I’m a Doctor, not a philologist!

You know, I’ve been thinking about that horrible video clip for The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins and I think I’ve figured it out.

It’s actually footage from the famous, lost, season three Star Trek episode I May be Hollow, but I have Touched Gene’s Wallet. This episode starts with the Enterprise being caught in a powerful tractor beam emanating from Sigma Aldronis 6 – a supposedly uninhabited planet. Kirk, Spock and McCoy find themselves transported down to the planet’s surface where they are confronted by a beautiful Sigman woman wearing pointy plastic ears. She welcomes Spock as ‘my Lord’ and orders that the others – his ‘servants’ – be locked up until ‘the festival’. Spock protests but is knocked unconscious and carried away by guards (who are also wearing plastic pointy ears).

Kirk and McCoy are grabbed by more guards. McCoy’s medical tricorder (which he happened to have on him when they were abducted) is confiscated and they are locked in an underground dungeon (where they are forced to wear plastic pointy ears). They begin plotting an escape and while attempting to recruit some of the Sigman prisoners they encounter talk of ‘baggins’, ‘the shire’ and ‘hobbits’. They quickly conclude that the planet’s culture has been contaminated at some point in the past. Kirk suggests that they could use this fact to help them escape and asks McCoy for any ideas. “Damnit Jim! I’m a Doctor, not a philologist!” he replies. Undaunted Kirk uses his knowledge of elementary chemistry to fashion a primitive firework from convenient rocks and a short section of metal pipe, and announces to the other prisoners that he is ‘the Wizard Gandalf’. When they doubt him, he sets off the firework, convincing them and winning their loyalty.

Meanwhile Spock regains consciousness to find himself in a luxurious bed chamber. His attempts to leave and find Kirk and McCoy are blocked by several guards who state that he cannot leave the room until ‘the festival’. Examining the room he finds his tricorder (which he happened to have on him when abducted) and then a copy of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien on a lectern. He quickly reaches the same conclusion as the others about cultural contamination.

The woman who initially greeted them enters the bed chamber. Introducing herself as ‘Beorna’ she explains that the Sigman people are truly honoured to have a Elf visit them just in time for the festival. Spock protests that he is not an Elf, but she refuses to listen, indicating his pointy ears as proof. She insists that he sing ‘Rivendell style’ at the festival that afternoon, and implies that if he does not agree both ‘his servants’ and his ‘Elven sky-ship’ (the Enterprise) will be destroyed. Spock continues to debate with her, but surreptitiously scans her with his tricorder as he does so.

Kirk and McCoy’s plotting continues. Kirk finds just enough convenient rocks for one more shot from his firework. Bard – the leader of the Sigman prisoners – agrees to stage a fight to distract the guards.

Spock reluctantly gives in and agrees to perform to save Kirk and McCoy. He is dressed in ‘Elvish’ clothes consisting of white slacks and a navy sports blazer and marched out to the festival grounds. Just before he leaves however he slips a disc from the tricorder into his pocket.

The prisoners stage a fight as arranged. As the guards rush in to break it up, Kirk sets off his firework, stunning them. He and McCoy lead the Sigman prisoners out of the dungeon and into the crowd heading for the festival grounds. They are closely followed by several other guards who weren’t stunned by the pyrotechnics.

At the festival grounds Beorna announces to the crowd that this year’s celebration of Durin’s Day is especially blessed by the presence of an Elf who will sing Elvish songs for them. Just as she is about to hand over to Spock, Kirk and McCoy burst from the crowd. They are quickly surrounded by guards who move in to finish them off with spears…

Spock intervenes with a loud “Halt”. He demands that ‘his servants’ be spared. Beorna objects, but he announces that he will only perform if his servants are unharmed – reminding Beorna that this is part of their deal. She reluctantly agrees. He also insists that McCoy be given back his medical tricorder so he can ‘record the performance’. On seeing this done he ascends the stage (a large pile of rocks) and launches into his song, a musical re-telling of The Hobbit accompanied by a group of dancing Sigman teenagers in brightly coloured shirts and plastic ears.

Beorna encourages him to ‘smile’ and ‘look happy’ by threatening Kirk and McCoy with spears. He does his best and although his smile and cheery demeanour are obviously very forced, the crowd seems to be enjoying the show. The guards remove their attention from Kirk and McCoy, enchanted by his performance.

Halfway through the song, on the line ‘a magic ring he stole’ Spock produces the tricorder disc. He twirls it around his finger a few times, and then throws it to McCoy. McCoy slips it into his tricorder and finds a complete bio-scan of Sigman physiology. He quickly analyses it for vulnerabilities and discovers that a refracted semi-theta wave sequence will knock the Sigmans unconscious. He programs the tricorder to generate one, and sets it off just as Spock’s song finishes.

All the Sigmans fall to the ground, and a team of Enterprise security personnel beams down – explaining that the tractor beam holding the ship and disabling the transporter has turned off. They beam back up to the ship and Kirk orders them away from the planet.

McCoy asks Spock why he demeaned himself and his Vulcan logic by performing a song and dance about a children’s book. Spock replies that it was the only logical way to get the tricorder disc to him. McCoy agrees, but suggests that he seemed to be enjoying it all just a little too much. Spock denies this at which point Kirk suggests they settle the matter by examining the recording. “Recording Captain?” queries Spock. “Of course Mister Spock” replies Kirk with a grin “As your loyal servants we had no choice but to obey your every command”. McCoy presses a button on the tricorder and the rich tones of The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins float out of the speaker. Spock says nothing. “I’m sure we’ll enjoy your performance for many years to come Mister Spock” smiles Kirk. He and McCoy walk off, leaving Spock looking slightly disgruntled.

(The episode was due to be screened on July 8, 1969, but Paramount Executives thought it was too silly and repeated Spock’s Brain instead.)

Enough is enough! I’ve had it with these mofo hobbits!!

Enough is enough! I’ve had it with these mofo hobbits on this mofo plane!!

Another small, pointless update…

Now I was aware of the song previously, but this has to be just about the most heinous thing ever put on video.

Mind you, come August it’ll have some pretty stiff competition πŸ™‚

The Joy of Support

Selected support emails show that the idiots really are taking over.

Selected support emails from the past week and the replies they really should have got…

Customer: I am trying to order some flowers, and the webpage is not giving me any choices re: shipping options?? The destination is Hocking. I cannot proceed to the final steps??? – M

Reply: M – Thank you for alerting us to the unclear nature of our checkout messages. Based on your feedback we will be adjusting the message Sorry, we do not deliver to the suburb you have selected to read SORRY!! WE DON’T DELIVER TO THE PLACE THAT YOU WANT US TO DELIVER TO!! SORRY!! THIS IS NOT AN ERROR!! WE DON’T DELIVER THERE!! WE’RE REALLY SORRY AND FEEL REALLY BAD ABOUT IT!! SORRY!!.

Customer: Please stop having these errors. I am trying to order the product i have been unale to match since leaving Austalia and i need them!!!! – Josie

Reply: Josie – Thank you for letting us know that you aren’t enjoying out errors. We’ve turned them off, and you shouldn’t have any more problems.

(note that the text quoted was the entire email – there were no details of what site they were on, where the error was occuring, or what the error said)

Client: Denys – Base do I assume rhis will be pickd up ince you alter teh default – Adam

Reply: Adam – Please explain what the hell you’re talking about?

Proper update coming soon!

Region 4 Encoding? We don’t need no steenking Region 4 Encoding!

The sad sad life of the DVD geek.

No updates for a while, I know, but I had a rather busy long weekend and my latest Amazon order arrived on Tuesday meaning that all my spare time has been spent mainlining season two Battlestar Galactica (I finally got sick of waiting for the networks to put it on down here and bought it). Wow, so (SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT!) my favourite minor character goes nuts and kills my favourite major character (or at least one of her). And then just gets 30 days in the brig, which seems fair enough πŸ™‚

I’ve just got three epsiodes left (I’ve been watching two or three each night – how sad am I?) so I should rejoin the land of the living soon πŸ™‚

Waiting for the Mashiach

Free Hasidic Dub!

Some years ago (we’re talking like, twelve maybe?) the Simpsons featured a scene with some “Rapping Rabbis” – three stereotyped Hasidic Jews with sunglasses, microphones and bling-bling doing a rather poor rap about Kosher dietary laws (Don’t eat pork, don’t put it on your fork – you can’t touch this! if memory serves). Proving the adage that no concept is so ridiculous as to be impossible in this crazy, mixed up world of ours there is now a real rapping Hasidic Rabbi. He goes by the stage name of Matisyahu and by all accounts he’s actually pretty damn awesome.

What’s more, for a limited time (so don’t come complaining to me if the link doesn’t work in six month’s time) you can download a live version of his song King Without a Crown from Amazon. You do have to have an account with them and log in to get it, but it’s well worth the hassle. Jewish reggae/dub rap rules! πŸ™‚

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