We’re Back!

It had to happen some time.

I fought and cajoled and poked and mostly forgot about it but the back archive of Stuporcollider is now back online! We might even post something again.

Perhaps.

Who am I kidding?

Images are missing all over the place, so apologies for that. I’ll try to recover what I can but moving back to WordPress.com means our lovely archive of tat now only lives on Dropbox and I’m far to lazy to go around updating links.

Advertisements

Secret Cinema

GOOD LogoDon’t tell anyone.

No, seriously.

It says so on the tickets. In big sensible writing it says TELL NO ONE.

Of course, I’m going to tell you though. I mean, keeping secrets is what you’re great at huh, Internet?

Secret Cinema is a new, different, immersive way to watch movies. Have you ever seen a film and loved it so much that you just wanted to live in that world? Secret Cinema, for one night, lets you do that. Have you ever thought about just booking a ticket for a movie, not knowing what you’ll see, but knowing that you’ll meet fantastic people and have a great time, no matter if you like the film or not? Secret Cinema gives you that too.

Last weekend Gabby and I travelled down to our fair (?) capital to attend Secret Cinema 20. After having a thoroughly good, if abjectly scary time at Secret Cinema 19, we decided to go again this year. Am I glad we did!

I’m not going to tell you what film we saw, but I will tell you that after we bought our tickets, we were sent a link to the intranet site for an organisation called G.O.O.D. and told that we’d been given new jobs and had to visit the intranet site every day. Closer to the opening day of SC20 a huge meet up happened in London, bringing with it news of a popup shop for G.O.O.D. Careers and a music video featuring Thom Yorke dancing. Closer to the day of our visit we were given our new jobs at G.O.O.D. I was to be in the Committee for Credit Creation, and was advised to bring a solution to the financial crisis and a penny (to help us get out of debt, you see). Gabby was given a different job and we both queued up at different entrances.

For the first hour we both went and did our own, odd tasks which included pointing, shouting, throwing, headdesking, drinking booze and chatting to folks. We finally met up and explored the rest of the huge Croydon office that Future Cinema (confusingly, the company that runs Secret Cinema) had rented out for the event.

I’m not going to tell you anything more, save that there were brilliant improv performances by so many actors, and you get much more out of the experience the more you put in. Going in costume is only the start. If you’re willing to engage with the actors, make a fool of yourself and get into the spirit of the thing, you’ll have an even better time.

In that way it’s a bit like D&D.

You should probably try it.

Neil The Apple Fanboy

Apple Logo

Or How I Stopped Worrying And Learned To Love The Fruit

On Tuesday I had a problem with my iPhone. The GPS had started losing tracking and the automatic brightness seemed to be doing the opposite of what it was supposed to.

Handily I was training at Leeds, the location of Apple’s newest UK store, so I decided to drop in and see if they could fix it. They asked me a few questions which boiled down to:

  1. Have you changed the way you use your phone?
  2. Have you tried resetting it?

I answered that I had tried a full wipe and restore, and I’d not done anything different with my phone. Then and there the lovely Apple Genius swapped my phone out for a shiny new one. In ten minutes I had my phone replaced, and in another ten the iCloud backup of my phone was restored and I was back up and running.

That, right there, is customer service. I walked away from that Apple store one happy customer. Happy that I’d switched to iOS from Android (although I miss some things, for sure) and happy that a week before I’d splashed out on an iPad (on which I am writing this).

Apple offers something that other tech companies don’t, and it’s hard to understand unless you’ve really jumped into the cult and culture of Apple. I can’t imagine Samsung mimicking the experience I had with my iPhone. Maybe they will with their upcoming stores, but at the moment I don’t know of anyone else who offers that similar integrated ecosystem of hardware, software, sales and support.

A Business Guide To Planning Space Missions

Prometheus

Spoiler warnings for Prometheus!

So I saw Prometheus twice last week, and as a film it’s fine but bits of it really rankled me. Some things just dont make sense, especially since the whole Prometheus mission is supposed to be a scientific one. I think Cory Doctorow (yes, I’ve a huge hard on for Doctorow, get over it) got it right when he said:

science fiction films are visually consistent, not logically consistent (the opposite of science fiction novels, which is why I’m a pain in the ass to take to sf movies)

(It’s totes worth reading the review of Prometheus Mr. Doctorow is referring to as well.)

What I didn’t realise though, is that everything entirely makes sense IF you understand the internal workings of the Weyland corporation. I’ve managed to get hold of this Weyland email which illustrates exactly why all that dumb stuff that happens in the movie actually makes perfect sense…


From: [Corporate Services] corporate@weyland.com
To: [Scientific Division Managment {SCIMAN-LIST}] sciman-list@weyland.com
Subject: URGENT: Updated Guidelines for Mission Planning
Date: 08/03/2088 10:37:15

It has come to our attention that some staff are failing to correctly implement company-wide Best Practice procedures when planning new interplanetary scientific projects. Please take 5 minutes to familiarise yourself with the following updated considerations from the new Scientific Interplanetary Investigative Venture Management Guidelines [rev: 3]:

  • When assessing the viability of an interplanetary scientific mission, it’s perfectly fine to accept ‘because we think so’ as
    justification
  • Unmanned preliminary missions are for losers; rubes are cheap
  • Quarantine is optional, flamethrowers are cheaper and much quicker
  • Always hire a captain that is indifferent to the mission. The longer he’s working the more expensive it is!
  • Don’t let the crew meet before locking them up together for several years, things may be boring for them otherwise
  • When picking a scientific team, make sure their UTPTWTF (urge to poke things with their fingers) rating is very high, they’ll never get anything done otherwise!
  • The buddy system is pointless, NEVER use it. The same goes for headcounts
  • Make sure women make up less than 25% of the crew
  • Encourage your employees to remove their helmets at every opportunity. Recharging those oxygen tanks is expensive
  • Always have plenty of quality classic black & white movies for your android. Abbot and Costello come highly reccomended
  • If you must leave staff in a creepy alien building overnight, make sure you do not record or monitor them, they need their privacy too!
  • If providing a high quality, expensive medical suite; make sure it only works for men. Always keep it stocked with plenty of staples
  • Do NOT tell your prospective crew anything about the mission before they head off. If partners of your crew need to know where they’re going for several years, a shrug or dunno is standard practice
  • If you are sending a high-level manager on the mission, make sure they have no interpersonal skills and no management oversight; also make sure they cannot run sideways. This is a choice position for that board member you never got on with
  • Don’t bother providing any prohylactics for the crew, they’ll probably crash or get eaten anyway so why worry?
  • Make sure your android is as creepy as possible, and make sure to install the english accent pack
  • The ship’s lifeboat need only travel 50 meters without crashing, any further is considered a bonus

We feel these procedures will produce many more profitable avenues for WEYLAND to explore. For further information I suggest thoroughly reviewing the Strategic Management Update Guidelines – General Information [rev: 7] (SMUG-GI7) umbrella documentation.
Thank you for your time.

Darren Linehold MBA MUSSBC
Head of Business Continuity
Corporate Services Division

WEYLAND Industries
x62970

A Jubilee Warning

Mmmmmmmmm, children.

Gather ’round friends, and let me tell you a tale. A tale to chill your blood. A tale of power, madness and dogs…

Recently my travails have taken me to the darkest continent of Canadia, a land of wind and ghosts and hockey. There I met a wise woman who told me of the true nature of power and of those who wield it. My friends, read on and know the terrible truth of our very own The Queen:

Born Elizabeth Windsor to unassuming parents from Bromwich, The Queen was noted as a precocious child from an early age. By age 3 she could walk in a manner most regal, and by 5 she could factorise and solve quadratic equations using her colouring book and collection of chubby chalks. It was on her 6th birthday that her parents bought her first dog. A dog that would change the fate of the little island we call INKGLANDD.

The dog’s name was Fg’hanguiw, and was one of those little-legged corgis. Young Liz and Fg’hanguiw became the best of friends, going everywhere together. Even at school the two could not be seperated, any teacher trying to do so feeling a base compulsion to let the young girl and dog be.

It was not long after her 7th birthday that her parents began to notice a certain change in Liz. A blackness to the eyes, reminding them of the documentaries they liked to watch on Shark Week. Few could now resist the commands of the girl. She had already commanded the villagefolk to craft her a hat of the finest gold and jewels, and a cloak of flowing ermine. Over the next few months three more corgis gathered around the young girl, although where they came from the villagers of Bromwich could not tell. Named Shas’yargj, Mrkufgh and Wiggles, the three joined their elder brother and were never seen apart from the young Liz.

Slowly Elizabeth’s influence grew, more and more villages falling under her thrall. Calling herself The Queen (for she had renamed herself after her favourite band), her demands grew more and more improbable: to be present at the opening of parliament, a castle in london, a tower to imprison traitors to her reign. Soon the whole country was under her control, bowing and scraping to her every whim. However, it was by this point that the citizens noticed that Fg’hanguiw was no longer present at The Queen’s side for public appearances. Some servants at the Royal palace claim to have witnessed the dog yapping at the monarch before folding in on itself and disappearing in a puff of mathematics.

Of the three remaining corgis, none were seen again. Occasional yelps, barks and the clatter of chains were said to be heard in the lowest dungeon of the Tower of London, but nothing more.

Over the next five years The Queen’s power waned. In desperation she purchased corgi after corgi, even going so far as to sell her ‘crown’ and several grandchildren to fuel her corgi addiction. Vast corgi corrals in Whitechapel held her collection, but none of the animals held the power that those first four pups did.

Without the influence of the otherworldly dogs, she could no longer command her subjects. Her power exhausted, she is now but a pale shell of a human, given an honorary position as nod to our subjugated past.

Despite what history might say, this is the true story of our monarchy my friends. Remember it well, for you are now one of the select few who know the terrible truth.

Whyfore Pony?

Ponies, Neil? Really?

Yeah, I know. It makes little to no sense, but I’ve found myself drawn into the fandom surrounding the latest incarnation of the My Little Pony franchise, Friendship is Magic.

Let me explain a bit. There is a certain subset of the internet that has gone batshit crazy for this cartoon. If you frequent any forums, there’s a fair chance there’s a pony thread on there. PA, Minecraft, 4chan, random games and countless more have all been infected by the pony meme, so much so that a bunch of 4channers started their own site over at ponychan.net to cater for the pony fans (henceforth: bronies.)

The show revolves around six ponies learning about friendship, complete with a ‘Mork calling Orson’ moment at the end to wrap up the moral in a neat package. Doesn’t sound great so far, right? What if I tell you the show is animated in Flash? You’ll probably roll your eyes at another set of ¾ cut-out models. What if I tell you they have musical numbers? You’ll laugh that they’ll be twee and rubbish.

Pretty much everything you think the show is about is wrong. Except that there are ponies in it.
And your ideas are probably not that wrong. Sorry.

Trying to nail down what makes the show appealing is hard. The most effective way to show you is to get you to watch an episode. Go watch Dragonshy. It’ll take you about 20 minutes and if you don’t like it you’ve lost nothing. It’s from part way through the series, but you’ll be fine. There ARE cute bits, but cute can be fun. There IS pink, but we’ve got past pink being a girl’s colour, haven’t we? You will feel a bit silly; this is a natural part of the process. It may help to have had a beer or two. Watch it in secret if it helps. You wouldn’t be the first person to skip the theme tune, but I suggest you watch at least one episode all the way through…

Go on, do it for me.
Seriously, you can say it’s the new Rickroll if anyone catches you.

Did you watch it? Enjoy it? Fluttershy, amirite?

I can’t explain it at all, but I goddamn love these ponies. I love them so much I have a shelf full of My Little Pony toys (I had to import them, there is no pony in the UK!) I love them so much I’ve joined in with an event over on Equestria Daily where we draw a pony to spec every day this month. You see? I’m drawing again after a 5 year hiatus! Friendship IS Magic!

YES I did turn 30 last month, shut up!

PONIES!

Ahem.

There’s so much to enjoy about the pony fandom, and so much to be terrified of humanity for. For example NEVER read ‘Cupcakes’. You SHOULD check out the history of Derpy Hooves and DJ P0N-3 though.

Now go watch Winter Wrap Up and try to get the song out of your head (all the eps are on YouTube in HD). Read the fun little fanfic Twilight October (even if you don’t read fanfic). Listen to Not a Clever Pony’s original fan music. Read Madmax’s excellent comics. Pick a favourite pony. Catch up on season 1 and get excited for Luna’s return in season 2, or just never look at anything pony again.

It’s OK to like My Little Pony. It’s OK not to like it. It’s not for everyone, but it might be for you. Give it 20 minutes and tell me what you think.

I’m Still Here

I'm Still Here
I'm Still Here Poster
I’m Still Here is the directorial debut of Casey Affleck, star of the ill-timed Gone, Baby, Gone and controversial The Killer Insisde Me. As a first move from actor to filmmaker, I’m Still Here is both incredibly brave and shockingly misjudged.

The film is ostensibly a cinema verite take on the retirement of Joaquin Phoenix, picking up after the huge success of Walk the Line. We see Phoenix’s hedonistic lifestyle, his failing attempts to start a hip hop career, his alienation from his friends and finally a supposed catharsis.

The film is supposed to be a documentary account of Phoenix’s real life, but after watching the movie it becomes apparent that the whole thing is an act, Albeit one played out on a public stage. A fact confirmed by Affleck soon after the film’s release.

I think I’m Still Here was supposed to be a grand experiment. Phoenix created a character to act as his stand in, and played that role in public throughout the course of the film. As a piece of character acting it’s astounding, even taking his pretend persona onto the Letterman show and press appearances. This approach makes us question the role of actors, as well as taking a swipe at celbrity culture, but falls short of its lofty visions of holding the mirror up to us.

Despite whatever artistic merit it might want to posess, the end result is a hard to watch mess which just seems self indulgent. Rather than setting out to make a film with a point, it feels like the brothers-in-law are playing a joke on you and looking to make a quick buck out of filming it. I can only see two intentions behind making this movie, either as a serious film about actors and their private lives, or as a comedy.

The film fails on both fronts. Phoenix’s assumed persona is little more than an idiot, he plays a role which wouldn’t be outside of the ouvre of Jack Black. There are no moments of humanity to relate to, no tender beats to endear this invented version of Joaquin Phoenix to us. All we are left with is a fool acting up on camera, which would be fine if this was a comedy. It’s not. There are no laughs here, there’s no cringeworthy moments, in fact I can’t think of a time during the film when I felt anything but bewildered and bored.

All this leads to one final scene, without dialogue, of Phoenix walking up a stream until submerged, all the while scored by a lonely piano. At this point I was done with the film, and adding a faux meanignful moment at the end just smacked of a desperation to be taken seriously. We can’t be expected to feel empathy with a character suddenly, just because the film tells us to.

If this film had worked it could have been a game changer, instead it ends up being a character study of an unlikeable twerp, a high-concept Borat. Maybe this film could have had something to say about ‘real-life’ celebrity but it burns that bridge with sheer bloody-minded silliness. Doubtless Phoenix is a great actor, but this project was simply a waste of his time and yours.

-7 R-S