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What a time to be alive!


Calooh! Callay! Just Cause 3 was released today!

The (wafer thin) plot to the Just Cause games goes like this: you’re CIA agent Rico Rodriguez. You are dropped on a tropical island ruled by a tinpot dictator. You will best serve the cause of Great Justice by fucking up as much shit as humanly possible. You have a powerful wrist-mounted grappling device (like unto Spidey’s web spinners), a flying suit, a parachute and the ability to hijack any vehicle on the island, including jets and helicopters.

The only change from game to game: it gets bigger and prettier. This one is on an island chain of over a thousand square kilometers, with downright cinematic go-booms, flying sequences and — I shit you not — car chases through fields of sunflowers and lavender. Watch the trailer!

You know, you guys, computer games are the one area of popular culture where our team has prevailed. Big time. Rough justice, x-treme individualism, and lots and lots of lovely boom sticks and explosions. No kid who grows up playing this stuff will ever vote for gun control.

December 1, 2015 — 9:49 pm
Comments: 3

Oh, wait…I thought it said sub*lingual*


Here’s an interesting stinker we ran across while searching for a good ol’ atmospheric Saturday night flick: 1958’s My World Dies Screaming, AKA Terror in the Haunted House (link goes to full movie; be warned). We only sat through the first ten minutes, which seemed stupid and forgettable. Except for the psycho-rama part, which was stupid and slightly amusing.

It means subliminal images. The movie starts with a dream sequence (or a narration of a dream sequence), one that is dotted with still pictures, each on-screen for a fraction of a second. The year makes sense:

The birth of subliminal advertising as we know it dates to 1957 when a market researcher named James Vicary inserted the words “Eat Popcorn” and “Drink Coca-Cola” into a movie.

The words appeared for a single frame, allegedly long enough for the subconscious to pick up, but too short for the viewer to be aware of it. The subliminal ads supposedly created an 18.1% increase in Coke sales and a 57.8% increase in popcorn sales.

Vicary’s results turned out to be a hoax.

Okay, here’s the thing: Uncle B was only aware that the screen flashed in an odd way. Me, I was able to see the pictures clearly. Or, actually, I thought I could see the pictures clearly. When I slowed down the film and extracted the individual frames, it turns out I only really saw the top half of each. The bottom was a complete surprise.

Whoever wouldn’t mind sitting through the first three plus minutes, I’d be very interested to hear what you see, if anything.

I’ll give you some hints: the opening sequence has seven instances of two different pictures, A, B, B, B, A, A, A (per the IMDB entry, other pictures happen later in the film. I didn’t sit through the whole thing). In the version I linked, the pictures appear at 1:34:22, 1:42:20, 1:54:27, 2:06:27, 3:00, 3:06 and 3:09:12, each for about one one-hundredth of a second. Feel free to back up and try again (we did, several times).

When you’ve done that, if you care to, I’ll save you the trouble of firing up your video editing software: Picture A and Picture B.

What did you see?

November 30, 2015 — 10:10 pm
Comments: 9

Oops! Lookit the time!


So I’ve totally figured out how to drive the Chromecast, which means (among other things), any video I can find on YouTube I can share with Onkle B on the big screen.

We’ve done Ninja Kitty, Cats are Assholes, Cats versus Cucumbers, badger cubs, stoaty fun, happy snow leopards, the One Of Us scene from Freaks, the entire Thanksgiving episode of WKRP in Cincinnati (funny, but not p’raps the gut-buster I remembered), the puMAman theme…and I’m wearing the bastard down at last!

What are some of your favorite ‘tubes? No need to post links, just enough of a description that they turn up on a search. If I make him sit through just a few more choice hits, I feel sure we can turn him ‘Murican.

Good weekend, all!

November 27, 2015 — 11:41 pm
Comments: 43

Happy T’day!


We got our Chromecast thingie going! MST3K for Weasels! (You too — click the pic).

Chromecast works fine, but we have rights issues with lots of streaming content. Sometimes I think the people selling stuff on the internet don’t get the whole ‘internet’ thing.

Enjoy your tryptocoma!

November 26, 2015 — 8:57 pm
Comments: 7

Everybody do the Glitch!


What’s a big game without a big glitch? I’m coming to the end of Witcher 3, sadly. Here we see Geralt of Rivia levitating three feet in the air with his legs tucked under him. He has just fought off a whole company of witch hunters, all of whom were also levitating three feet in the air with their legs tucked under them. nee-walked their way through the whole damn thing. It was like playing Marco Polo without the water.

Dude in the back there is dead and just hanging around in midair for no reason.

Known bug. It got better.

My favorite is still the Skyrim bug that made all the chickens in Whiterun repeatedly leap fifty feet in the air and then drift earthwards slowly. I finally worked out that the variable for #chickenheight somehow got crossed with the variable for the height of a stone loosed from a catapult just off screen.

And no, I’m not playing Fallout 4 like all the cool kids. My machine is under spec’ed.

November 25, 2015 — 10:14 pm
Comments: 15

Don’t get too excited


“What were you doing when the War broke out, Stoaty?”
“I was reading about some pretentious publicity stunt of an advertisement of a movie, child. Now shut up and eat your Alpo.”

This just came across the transom. It’s a film financed by Remy Martin. When their current batch of cognac is ready for sale, this movie will be released. That’s in a century, that is.

They dropped a few francs on it, too — it was written by and stars John Malkovich (who wasn’t told when he signed on that it wouldn’t be released in any current person’s lifetime).

There’s a little teeny part of me that thinks this is cool. I think it’s an indigestible fragment of leftover art school. I’m hoping the more grounded parts of my brain gang up on it and beat it to death.

First comment wins: “meh, it’ll be on Pirate Bay sooner.”

November 24, 2015 — 10:15 pm
Comments: 6

A long way from home


A long way from home and on the wrong side of the road. Periodically, there are antique car rallies in our area, heavily weighted to big-ass American cars. It’s cool when they get routed past our front door along the way, in a great long parade of vehicles (my brain forever pronounces that vee-HICKLES).

A little engine rumbly is all the warning we get, but it’s enough. I usually walk to the end of the drive and wave, in my capacity as America’s representative on earth.

That was this weekend. Today, we did a luncheon thing with friends. We don’t do a lot of socializing (translate: we couldn’t really get out of this one). The wine flowed free and I feel pretty crap.

How’s your capacity doin’? Mine seems to have nosedived in old age.

November 23, 2015 — 9:33 pm
Comments: 18



Behold, the Crooked Forest in Poland, where every tree is bent 90° at the base, facing due North. It’s believed to have been bent by the hand of man in the Thirties, possibly to aid boat or furniture building. Which doesn’t explain the due North thing. Photo by Kilian Schönberger.

It’s worth following the link and clicking around some of the other pitchers. I know, I know…it’s all very artsy-fartsy, but there’s some very cool things to look at.

Link via iamfelix, who was pointing me to this picture set she saw at the Hostages. Thanks, felix. I was fresh out of blog juice this evening. Good weekend, everyone!

November 20, 2015 — 11:08 pm
Comments: 9

Happy World Toilet Day


Happy World Toilet Day! Yeah, it’s another stupid made-up UN holiday. I think we’re supposed to spend the day feeling bad that brown people shit in holes. And then send money. But, hey, am I supposed to ignore something called World Toilet Day? Heh. Nah.

Hey, does anybody know if I’ve screwed up? We have Office 2007 at work (speaking of shit). I’m working on a long publication in Publisher *spit* and I wanted to bring it home for the weekend, so I’ve just installed Publisher using our serial number on my home machine.

Is that kosher? If not, am I likely to go in tomorrow and find our whole Office is buggered? I want to do everything clean and legal, but Microsoft is so damned opaque.

It’s an academic license — perfectly appropriate for us — and I tried and failed to find out if I’m allowed to use it on more than one seat. Their help files are useless about licensing issues.

Turns out, no other desktop publishing software will open Publisher files. Publisher itself — even an academic license of an old version via eBay — is more money than I felt like spending. InDesign (still the leader, it seems) has gone to that hateful monthly fee model, like all Adobe products. QuarkXpress is £800. I didn’t like the open source alternatives.

Really, the desktop publishing world seems to have contracted and ossified since I stopped doing it professionally, like, a decade ago. What gives?

November 19, 2015 — 8:26 pm
Comments: 14

do YOU believe in fairies?


I’ve unfollowed so many people on FaceBook lately, all the news I get any more is local For Sale and some beer I like.

The prevailing opinion seems to be that terrorism happens when the West doesn’t lurv Muslims hard enough. God, how do I know so many stupid people?

The worst are the committed Christians, quoting scripture and arranging visas. Christians, deliberately importing Muslims. Some fucking crusade this is turning out to be.

No, actually, the worst are the Imagine-singin’ hippie-types. They have a do-you-believe-in-fairies? attitude to the whole thing: it’s not enough that they believe. Any time even one cynical bastard out there says he doesn’t like Muslims, a terrorist is born.

I don’t like Jehovah’s Witnesses, and nobody’s getting on my tits about it.

November 18, 2015 — 10:50 pm
Comments: 17