Archive for February, 2005

Four pictures

Monday, February 28th, 2005

A naked ladyA bottle of amusingly named beerA snowy carpark in DerbyshireSnow in Derbyshire

Top 100 Cartoons

Monday, February 28th, 2005

Okay, so number 1 was kind of inevitable, but it’s an utter disgrace that The Greatest Cartoon Ever only game in at number 24. In fact, Cosgrove Hall were criminally under-represented in the whole top 100, with Jamie and the Magic Torch (Best Theme Music Ever) being their only other entry. I’m also at a loss to explain how Pinky and the Brain failed to get an entry.

Very happy to see that Belleville Rendezvous got recognised, but where was The Cat Came Back, eh?

A recipe

Thursday, February 24th, 2005

Chris’s sort of Thai-style chicken thing


  • 1 chicken breast, cut into thin strips
  • 2 shallots or half a medium onion, diced
  • 1 red chilli, diced

  • 1″-ish piece of ginger, grated or diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Black pepper
  • About 50g creamed coconut dissolved in about 100ml of hot water, give or take.
  • Sesame oil
  • Vegetable oil


  1. Put about 1tbsp each of sesame oil and vegetable oil into a wok over a low heat.
  2. Add the chopped shallots, chilli, garlic and ginger and gentle sautée until soft.
  3. Add the lime juice, sugar and about half a teaspoon of coarse ground black pepper and stir well. Cook for a couple more seconds.
  4. Remove from the heat and allow to cool in a pyrex bowl or similar.
  5. Put chicken in pyrex bowl and allow to marinade for a bit whilst you prepare some rice or something.
  6. When your rice or whatever is about 5 minutes from being ready, return the wok to a medium heat, and once it’s hot, chuck the chicken and marinade back in .
  7. Once the chicken looks like it’s mostly cooked (should only take a couple of minutes), add the creamed coconut and stir. Cook for a couple of minutes more, and then serve.


You could try adding some chopped coriander leaf towards the end of cooking, or some chopped lemongrass at the same time as the shallots/chilli/ginger/garlic.

Just a little googlebombing

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2005

B&Q Customer Services

Eye drops

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2005

The aircon in our office makes my eyes really dry. So I bought some eyedrops. They don’t seem to do very much, although my eyes do feel less dry – a product, no doubt, of having just squirted a load of water into them. But I’m always intruiged by what’s in these things, so let’s have a look at what goes into my Boots Reviving Eye Drops:

  • Purified water – no great surprise there. Doesn’t specify the relative quantities, but I’m prepared to bet it’s a good proportion, given that all the other ingredients are white powdery substances.
  • Sodium Chloride – also known to you and I as good old fashioned table salt. Interestingly, one of the potential health hazards of sodium chloride is eye irritation.
  • Potassium Chloride – a particularly versatile chemical. Mainly used in the production of fertiliser, but it’s also popular in the US as the chemical used in judicial executions. Toxic when ingested orally.
  • Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose – ah, at last, a chemical with a proper scary name. This appears to be the main active ingredient in the eyedrops – it goes by the name of “Artificial tears” in the US – and it appears to have some sort of film-forming property which is used to stablise foams at warm temperatures.
  • Borax – No, not one of Sacha Baren-Coen’s alter egos; this is actually an alternative name for hydrated sodium borate, which is an inorganic herbicide and pesticide. Nice.
  • Boric acid – another pesticide. It seems Boots are trying to poison me.
  • Benzalkonium chloride – An antiseptic agent, thankfully nontoxic when applied to skin or mucous membranes. Well, that’s a relief.

So, whilst my eyedrops could cause eye irritation or poison me in one of three different ways, but they certainly don’t seem to be making my eyes feel any less tired or sore. Chalk one up to experience, I guess.


Monday, February 21st, 2005

I seem to have bought, like, all the albums in the universe this month. So I guess it’s probably worth reviewing a couple of them.

Athlete: Tourist – kind of disappointing compared to their first album. I mean, it’s not a bad album by any means, but it lacks that quirky charm of Vehicles and Animals. Gone are the bleepy Casio-style synthesizers and fun production tricks, and instead we’ve got a collection of fairly middle-of-the-road soft-rock tracks. A shame; here’s hoping they can recapture a bit more of their quirkiness for the next album.

Feeder: Pushing The Senses – Well, it’s definitely Feeder, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing; but they seem to be standing still. After the emotionally charged angst-fest that was Comfort In Sound, they seem to have chilled out a bit, and lost some of their edge. The result is something that you can’t exactly criticise on its own terms – it’s a fine rock record – but compared to their previous material, is a bit, well, bland.

Lemon Jelly: ’64 – ’95 – “It’s different to our last album” says the sticker on the cover; yes, that’s true – whereas Lost Horizons was full of twinkly acoustic guitars and chilled melodies, ’64-’95 samples everything from heavy metal guitar tracks to 70s disco, although the regimented drum loops and lush string parts are still very much in evidence. The result is a bit of a mixed bag – some stuff, like the final track “Go” (featuring William Shatner on vocals) is fantastic, but others – “The Slow Train” in particular – seem directionless and peter out without really building on the ideas. Overall, though, it’s well worth getting hold of.

Rilo Kiley: Take-offs and Landings – American indie-pop with jangly guitars and female vocals. So what? There’s something a little bit special about Rilo Kiley, and it’s hard to put your finger on it. This album was their first and is a little more lo-fi than their recent release, “More Adventurous” (featuring the fabulous single, Portions for Foxes) – a little bit country, a little bit slowcore, a lot of good stuff.

The Go! Team: Thunder Lightning Strike – Crazy mashed-up funky electronic breakbeat groovery. Quite reminiscent of The Avalanches in places, and utterly impossible to listen to without grinning widely. There are no excuses for not liking this album; quite simply brilliant.

Grandaddy: The Sophtware Slump – Yes, I know you all bought this years ago, but I only just got round to it, okay? Lo-fi American indie at its best, this collection of musings on the effects of technology on people is poignant, clever and utterly beautiful.

The Fiery Furnaces: Blueberry Boat – I don’t even know where to begin. This is utterly bewildering stuff – as if John Cage listened to a lot of The Who records and then decided to produce a Flaming Lips album. Veering between multiple styles over the course of even a single verse, as if mixed by a hyperactive child with ADD, it’s hard to keep up with this brother and sister duo as they explore a bizarre, abstract, but compelling world of sound. This is an album to sit down and pay attention – background music it is certainly not.


Friday, February 18th, 2005

Chris linked to this site, which has some of the prettiest Processing demos I’ve yet seen, and it inspired me to give it a go myself. The results aren’t quite so spectacular, but they are quite pretty nonetheless.

CityWander renders the paths taken by people as they walk across an empty square of land. If two individuals are about to collide, they will attempt to avoid collision by sidestepping. The starting points and directions are random, and the more a particular path gets walked along, the darker it becomes. The results depend on the number of individuals – but it generally produces a curiously organic looking texture which gradually fades to black. Click on the applet to restart it with a different number of people – the results will be quite different each time.

FractalPath was inspired by one of the examples on the Complexification page, buddha.brot. It renders familiar fractal sets – Mandelbrot and Julia – by tracing the paths of points leaving the set under the iterative functions of each set, again using an accumulative buffer. There are quite a few options on this one; the applet describes what you can do – play around with the options and you’ll get quite a wide range of very pretty pictures.

(if you’ve got a big, fast machine, you might like to try the bigger version of FractalPath)


Thursday, February 17th, 2005

One for Adrian to get wound up about: 10 Things that could land your Vicar in trouble.

Mercury Rev

Thursday, February 17th, 2005

There’s a new Mercury Rev album out, which I managed to resist the temptation to buy (having picked up albums by The Go! Team, Grandaddy and Rilo Kiley in the last couple of days already). However, it did prompt me to listen to Deserters Tales again and it occurs to me that if Opus 40 doesn’t make you feel happy and warm inside then you may actually not have a soul.


Monday, February 14th, 2005

There’s a dirty great big advert outside the Palace Theater in Manchester:

Diana – The Princess

Underneath is a picture of what looks a bit like swan lake, except where there’d normally be some guy with furry legs on, there’s some girl dressed in a flowy white dress who looks a bit like that one who was shagging the son of the guy who owns Harrod’s.

I somehow get the feeling there won’t be a car crash scene in it. The Torygraph has a review.

And, in other Diana related news, the Express are leading with the story: “CAMILLA: SHE MUST NEVER BE QUEEN – Shock poll reveals the nation’s opposition to her ever being crowned”. Now, call me cynical, but was the poll anything like this:

Do you believe that the dear, precious memory of our Princess of Hearts and True Queen of England, Diana, should be insulted, destroyed, ridiculed and mercilessly defecated upon by that horse-faced marriage-wrecking cow by allowing her to take the position of Queen?
[ ] No, of course not, I am a perfectly rational human being
[ ] Yes, of course she should, and I also kill babies for fun