Archive for March, 2004


Monday, March 29th, 2004

“Hello, Strangelite. Doug speaking.”
“Er, hi Doug. It’s, er, Chris.”
“Good grief, you sound awful.”
“Probably worse than I really am, but let’s stick with that thought, can we?”
“So you won’t be in today, then?”
“That’s about the size of it.”

Trouble with having a day off work is you’re always too ill to enjoy it properly.

Incontrovertible proof

Sunday, March 28th, 2004

A dialectal map of the US. More than 50% of Americans think that Mary, merry and marry are pronounced the same.

The Morning After

Sunday, March 28th, 2004

Blogmeet, yesterday, good fun, woo, yay, Gert! etc. This morning I am mostly feeling quite ill; not as a result of the alcohol, thankfully, but the cold which has been threatening to break for the last four or five days has finally decided to flatten me. Joy. Well, I suppose it’s only a blessing it didn’t break yesterday, or there’d be a few more ill bloggers this morning. But yes, yesterday was good. Huzzah.

There’s my live report and Lori’s postmeet report over on, and a couple of sets of photos here.

In other news, as a result of last night’s meet, I’ve decided that I’m not going to be a Busted look-a-like. I’m going to be Indiana Jones instead.


Saturday, March 27th, 2004

I’ve just had my hair highlighted so I can’t be Brian Blessed now. I’m going to be one of Busted instead.

New Career

Friday, March 26th, 2004

I’ve decided to become a celebrity look-a-like. I haven’t decided who I look like yet, but apparently that isn’t a barrier to becoming a celebrity lookalike. It seems that having a single physical characteristic in common with them (like, say, dark hair, or a wonky nose) is sufficient to class yourself as a look-a-like. All you need to do then is go and buy some clothes a bit like the ones your chosen celeb wears, and you’re all set!

For example – if you’re ginger, have small tits and a wonky nose, you obviously look just like Jennifer Aniston. Or, if you’re black, have short hair and big tits, you can be Halle Berry! Or maybe you just happen to have a pair of gold hotpants lying around? Bingo! You’re Kylie! A leather jacket and dark glasses are all you need to be Arnie.

Even looking absolutely nothing like the person you’re supposed to be impersonating is no barrier, it seems, as Dr Evil is only too happy to prove. Mind you, although this patently isn’t Jamie Oliver, I still have the overwhelming urge to punch him in the face, so perhaps he’s not that bad an impersonator, after all.

Best of the bunch, though, has to be the frankly terrifying Pamela Anderson, who is apparently attempting to prove that no matter how badly wrong your plastic surgery has gone, you can still make a living out of putting on a red swimsuit and terrifying small children.

So. Let’s see. I’ve got dark hair, a bit of a belly and a stupid beard – who can I be? Well, clearly: I’m Brian Blessed. I’ll start taking bookings now.

This week, I are mostly been playing

Friday, March 26th, 2004

Not talked about games much recently, so I thought I’d do a quick roundup of what I’ve been playing recently:

Game of choice in our office at the moment is Battlefield: Vietnam, the followup to the wildly succesful multiplayer Battlefield: 1942 (which I believe is still second only to CounterStrike in terms of popularity). It’s still fundamentally the same game, except with the Allies and the Axis replaced by the American and the Vietcong, and the cliffs of Dover and rolling hills of the mid-European countryside replaced by the swamps and jungle of Vietnam. Basically, it’s a glorified expansion pack for BF1942, and to be quite honest, I can’t say as I’m terribly impressed with it – a lot of the maps feel quite unbalanced, and the planes and helicopters are still damned near impossible to fly.

My preferred ultra-violent FPS of choice at the moment, then, is Unreal Tournament 2004 – which is, again, basically a glorified expansion pack. This one, however, adds a whole slew of new gametypes over UT2003, introducing vehicular warfare to the series for the first time. Whilst UT2003 disappointed in many ways compared to the original Unreal Tournament, 2K4 brings things right back on track – the new maps are stunning: well laid out, good looking, and nicely balanced; the Assault levels make a welcome return; and the new Onslaught gametype is great (a difficult-to-explain-but-easy-to-play affair involving capturing control points; it’s also the only gametype to make use of the vehicles). The Bot AI seems to have got even better, with even the lower levels providing considerably more of a challenge than the old cannon-fodder style AI in the original UT. And it’s fast. Really, really fast. And it’s only cost me a tenner, too, so it’s officially bargain of the century. Ace.

It seems that Puyo Pop has finally been released for the GBA, which is a good thing. We had the Japanese ROM going around our office for ages a couple of years ago, and I played it to death back then. I picked the UK version up for a tenner last week, and the good news is that it’s still as stupidly addictive as ever. My only complaint, though, is that the difficulty curve is too shallow – the first four sets of levels are far too easy, with only the last set of the base set of levels and the unlockable labyrinth levels providing a serious challenge. Fortunately, there’s a multiplayer mode and a single player challenge mode to make up for this, so there’s plenty of life in it, even if the story mode doesn’t last as long as it could.

The general consensus surrounding Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles seems to be that the single player isn’t worth bothering with, and that the multiplayer is the bees knees. Well, I beg to differ. I’m thoroughly enjoying the single player (although I’m yet to try multiplayer) – I’m not a big RPG player (except for my near-terminal Final Fantasy Tactics: Advance addiction) so it’s Phantasy Star Online-esque action-RPG-lite gameplay suits me down to the ground. You go to an area, hack and slash your way to the boss, have a big boss fight, and move on, levelling up a few abilities or collecting new weapons as you go. No-brainer RPGing. Oh, and did I mention that it’s the best looking game in the world ever? It’s absolutely gorgeous, and it’s almost worth buying it just to look at it and go “oooooh”. Which you will. A lot.

Lastly, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time is one of those rare games where the 3D update of an old-school classic has actually produced a better game than the original. In this case, not only a vastly better game than the original, but a vastly better game than almost anything else I’ve played in the last year. It is, quite simply, brilliant – old school platforming brought bang up to date. Sure, there are plenty of niggles (the combat feels like it’s only been introduced to make the game seem longer – without it, you could probably play through the whole game in a little under 4 hours; with it, it’s still only about 10 hours in total) but they’re forgivable, because it’s just so much fun. If you have even the slightest interest in gaming, you owe it to yourself to get this game: it’s things like this that restore my waning faith in the games industry and prove that proper old-school gameplay isn’t dead after all.


Wednesday, March 24th, 2004 – It Lives!

Best. News. Ever.

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2004

The study found that hypertensive men who drank moderately — one or two drinks per day — had a 44 percent lower risk of dying from a heart attack than nondrinkers with high blood pressure.


Tuesday, March 23rd, 2004

This weekend is the occasion of the fourth and (hopefully) biggest Manchester Blogmeet. A merry band of us shall be in Kro Bar on Oxford Rd from about 2pm on Saturday, from whence we shall proceed in a disorderly fashion by way of numerous bars into the centre of town, where, I should imagine, there will be consumption of food and further alcohol.

If you wish to join us, but will not be able to make it to Kro for 2pm, I shall be endeavouring to provide accounts of our progress either here, or on

Ah yes, Seeing as the organisation for this blogmeet via Lori‘s forums seemed to pass some people by, I made the suggestion that a more easily-remembered, centralised forum might be a better idea, and is the result – but, as usual, it currently doesn’t work, because the entire domain name system is stupidly slow. Check back on Wednesday or Thursday and there might be something there.

Chinese New Year

Sunday, March 21st, 2004

Forgot to upload this lot before. Pictures from Chinese New Year back in February.