Sunday, 31 March 2013

A Tale Of Cocktails #39

2 oz cachaca
2 tsp sugar
1/2 lime
Taste: 4
Look: 7      
Cost: 8
Name: 8
Prep: 7
Alcohol: 7
Overall: 6.4

Preparation: Mush together lime and sugar in a glass. Fill glass with cracked ice and add cachaca.
General Comments: What the hell is going on in Brazil?  The size of Europe and this is the best cocktail anyone can knock together?  This is like tequila and lime, only even more boring and not involving a worm, which was at least something to talk about whilst you forced foul-tasting death juice into your innards.

It has the advantage of being pretty powerful, I suppose, so you don't need many of them to get to whatever level of drunkenness you're planning on (I suppose the people of Rio have to come up with something to do in-between muggings).  There must be better ways to destroy one's mind and liver, though.  A cocktail should never be so bad as to make one impatient for the hangover.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Fleshing Out

OK, fine.  Sometimes I don't see the wood for the trees. Admittedly, those trees might have zombies hiding behind them, so you can understand my choice of focus.  Even so, how did I miss this?

(In The Flesh spoilers below the fold.)

Monday, 25 March 2013


Sweet Thoth's gall bladder, how did I manage to miss my own blog's fifth birthday?  For shame, SpaceSquid!

Thanks as always to everyone who reads this particular episodic screed of uncouth madness, whether you've been here for the full half decade or just started with this post.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

BS In the US

I've been keeping quiet about the tenth anniversary of the Iraq Wars first shots, on the advice of Charlie Piece. My thinking at the time was pretty poor, and the only thing that stopped it being dangerous was that no-one (including myself) was ever stupid enough to try and get me into a position of any real power..

That said, I wasn't so utterly detached from reality and risk assessment that there aren't any war supporters I'm not fully happy to tear to pieces.  There's wrong, and there's the kind of smug, careless wrongness that's so transparently idiotic it can only have been transcribed at all as an act of revenge.  Here's John Yoo, last seen insisting that the president has the authority to crush the testicles of any young boy he damn well pleases, explaining why it remains clear a decade on that the Iraq War has turned up all aces:
Courts award damages based on the harm to the victim and the harm to society. Suppose you thought that the Iraq war was a mistake. If so, isn’t the proper remedy to restore Saddam Hussein’s family and the Baath Party to power in Iraq? If you are unwilling to consider that remedy, aren’t you conceding that on balance, the benefits of the war outweigh the costs?
If nothing else, you'd think lawyers would want to come up with arguments that don't make them look too stupid to practise law, or for that matter, practise lace-tying.  If you buy something that turns out to cost vastly more than you were expecting it to cost, and turns out to be massively defective in addition, your only choices are to give it back in exchange for no refund, or admit you're glad you bought it?

John Yoo currently teaches law at UC Berkeley.  You could play students Ally MacBeal episodes backwards in French and they'd have a better chance of grasping consistent legal thinking.  It comes as no surprise to anyone paying attention that Yoo has the moral compass of Ming the Merciless' accountant, but the idea that his opponents are can only wish to resurrect Hussein, rather than two hundred thousand other Iraqis, is proof that these ghouls not only don't care about the hideous loss of civilian life, they're unable to even remember it

Friday, 22 March 2013

Friday Paintbench

Nothing finished again this week, but it's been a little while since I had any pictures up, so here's a rundown of what's currently being worked on.  First up, a quartet of 40K models.  We've got the two warlords from Dark Vengeance:

Red Corsair, rather than Crimson Slaughter

as well as the equivalent miniature from Battle for Macragge:

A Kringrimmi Space Squid

and, just for the sake of variety, the beginnings of a Blood Angel Sanguinary Guard:

Also on display are two genestealers for Space Hulk:

the long-in-progress Bloody Reaver:

the Dark Cultist from Talisman:

a House Piper knight for my Riverlands army:

and the yet-to-be undercoated third Strike Cruiser for my Blood Angel fleet:

I hear what you're saying, internet.  Not very much, is it?  Fine.  Just to please you, I'll go out and by a Tervigon tomorrow.  Everyone happy now?

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Life Imitating Art

Secret Service: Just one question, Mr President. Is your car diesel or petrol?
President Obama: Leave it alone, Secret Service!
Secret Service: Oh no no no no, this is just curiosity, Mr President. Diesel or -
President Obama: It's petrol, it's petrol!
Secret Service: Right.  So it's not diesel?
President Obama: No, it's not diesel.
Secret Service: Right. So it'd do a terrible amount of damage if I put diesel in?
President Obama: Yes it would. It would completely ruin the car's engine.
Secret Service: Well, hahaha! I certainly won't be doing that, then!  HAHAHAHAHAHA!

It's a surprising career change for Mrs Doyle, but then no less strange than that exploding milk-float, I suppose.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

The Whole "No Drinking" Thing Is Still Stupid, Though

I'm not sure this is necessarily popular with the whole congregation, and maybe there are couples who belong to this church who'd rather not be denied a wedding in the sight of God, but the cause itself is entirely worthy, so good on them for that.

If nothing else, this is another useful reminder that when people attempt to prevent the legalisation of gay marriage on the grounds of religious freedom, they actually mean they want to block religious freedom to any faith or denomination that disagrees with them.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Brains Both Malfunctioning And Delicious

Well, that was interesting.  With the seemingly endless avalanche of recent zombie-themed fiction showing no signs of slowing, I suppose any real variation on the template is worth a look, and the idea that zombies really can be restored to coherency, albeit not life, is worth looking at.

The mechanism by which this could be done - in this case it's spinal injections of MacGuffin - leads to all sorts of questions, of course, but then the central conceit of zombie fiction is so absurd as to make detailed study of the idea pointless.  Besides, SpaceSquid's Fifteen Minute Rule applies here; nothing a work of fiction introduces in the first quarter hour should have its logic questioned; set-ups can be as mental as the writer desires.

So let's just run with the "recovering brainsaholic" angle.  What does In The Flesh look like it wants to do with the idea?

Spoilers below the fold.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

The Best Things Come...

My birthday cake was somewhat delayed this year, purely because the birthday celebrations in general had been delayed; a week in which the snow fell so thick that my village was all but cut off and my car ended up wrapped around the number 82 bus not really being appropriate for assembled friends and funtimes.

We finally got round to acknowledging the (near) conclusion of my first third of a century yesterday, and with two months of build-up, the Other Half concluded that a ramp-up of her (already considerable) cake-making skills was called for.  I therefore present: Talisman: the Cake!

Clearly this is not only one of the greatest cakes ever consumed by squid, but it's arguably an improvement on the original game as well, being far more compact, and tasting of vanilla.  There are also two expansions (three including Anthrax the red dragon), the Dungeon and the Highlands (the Other Half must have been very glad I haven't bought the City yet), which taste of lemon and coffee, respectively, and which again represent improvements over the original.  Who could remain interested in fighting the Lord of Darkness when they could fight the abominable red bear-bull-dolphin?[1] What fear does the Eagle King inspire when compared to the giant orange Death-horse?

It takes great skill to improve upon a classic game.  It takes still greater skill to make it taste so delicious at the same time.  All hail the Other Half!

[1] It's clearly a bear, as far as I'm concerned, but one of our more eccentric guests yesterday insisted it was the product of unholy union twixt bovine and cetacean.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

D CDs #489: Coracle

There's an old story that goes like this: an author walks in to his publisher's office. "What do you think of my latest manuscript", the author asks. "It's both good and original" responds the publisher, "Unfortunately, the parts that are good are not original, and the parts that are original are not good".

It's probably not hard to think of examples of this phenomenon.  But let's not forget that it could be worse.  I can imagine no response the Casablanca executives could have had to listening to Destroyer than to say "It's both horribly derivative and uniquely awful."

If only the intersection wasn't so large...

It's not often an album can piss the listener off before it's made it to the second bar.  Making you wait more than ninety seconds for the opening chords to "Detroit Rock City" manages that job splendidly, however.  It's not a disaster of a song - indeed the album rarely does any better; who doesn't like recursive lyrics, after all? - but as a hymn to high-speed hedonistic joy, it's flabby and stilted. Most unforgivable, though, it lacks the one ingredient every call-out to balls-out rocking needs; a sense of including one's audience.

This self-absorption is a recurring problem here, particularly in the first half of the album.  On the rare occasions these songs move beyond Stanley and Simmons explaining how awesome they are ("I'm the king of the night-time world!") it's purely to check whether or not a pretty girl is prepared to fuck them.  Often the two themes are combined. Simmons's "Great Expectations" is the ultimate nadir here, a hideously discomforting song in which Simmons informs us that we've seen what he can do to songs with his tongue and guitars with his hands, and don't we wish we were being played like that, huh?  It's the kind of song you can imagine a forty your old fat man singing tunelessly in a mosh pit as he looks for women he can grope and pretend it was accidental, which makes the children's choir pressed into service in the (not entirely bad) chorus all the more disturbing.

What doesn't come drenched in the flop-sweat of lust is marred by trying too hard along a different vector; what we might term the Marilyn Manson "I'm dead evil, me!" effect.  There's no other way to explain the dreadful "God of Thunder", in which we learn that the aforementioned deity is also the God of rock and roll and, just by coincidence, takes the form of one Gene Simmons (before whom you're commanded to kneel, by the way, because obviously).  Marrying lyrics about slowly stealing girl's souls (and wouldn't you want steal a girl's soul quickly, like ripping off a plaster, or a facehugger?) with panto clown make-up and knuckle-dusters makes it clear that the whole enterprise is designed to ride the same frisson Elvis had already mined out in the '50s, only with no idea whatsoever about how it's supposed to be done. Glam was a movement founded in the superficial, yes, but the idea was to track how twisting the superficial could reveal what lay underneath.  Destroyer is just surface all the way down.  It's not even a very attractive surface.  Is it any wonder "Beth" did better than it's bargain-basement Rod Stewart impression would suggest it ever could?  At least it sounds like the lyrics condense a wider picture, rather than simply flashing genitals pierced with cheap silver plastic skulls.

Things begin to pick up as "Flaming Youth" leads us into the disc's second half, though that's only because a pale Who imitation welded to an unwieldy chorus at least sounds like it was written for other to enjoy rather than to try and score some hot ass whilst a cat plays drums.  You've got the aforementioned "Beth" - vacuous but well intended, and a string part that hovers so close to the original Battlestar Galactica theme that it's impossible to criticise - as well as lead single "Shout It Out Loud", which still sounds pretty good 37 years after it was recorded. Doubtless this is in no small part because it finally deigns to make a connection with the listener.  Exhorting a crowd to "shout it out loud" is only one step removed from rhyming "hands in the air" with "don't care", but at least the band have finally realised someone else has shown up to the party.

And then we hit the last track proper here [1] , "Do You Love Me".  As it's title suggests, this song manages to match the depths of self-regard and self-absorption that blight the rest of the album, and add in enraging lashings of self-doubt. As if it wasn't bad enough hearing these buffoons boast about being kings and gods, we've got to suffer them fretting that maybe their women are only with them because of how stylish and rich and sexy they are? 

Yes, there's room for, even a need for, songs and albums that explore the contradiction between one's confidence and paranoia.  But self-obsession must come with at least a spoonful of self-awareness, or it's simply impossible to swallow.  Demanding fellatio whilst impersonating an ancient deity and then demanding your girlfriend prove she's not superficial is hardly going to cut it.

So it's glam without the motivation, The Who without the connection or talent, and Marilyn Manson without the nifty artwork, all clumsily garnished with Kiss's own apish testosterone-drenched preening and the occasional panicked realisation that none of this is really worth a damn anyway.

Maybe it's not quite as devoid of self-awareness as I thought...

Three tentacles.

[1] The 85 seconds of instrumental closer "Rock and Roll Party" hardly counts, given its length and the fact it's a collage of previous Kiss tracks rolled into one.  How fucking hard is it for you to write a new Kiss instrumental piece, Kiss? Three obvious chords and a half-hearted guitar lick and you can fuck off down the pub, Kiss. 


Friday, 15 March 2013

Bipartisanship Just Means Both Sides Are Wrong

Busy around here today, isn't it?  Just one of those occasional confluences of idiots and idiots with an addiction to cheese, I guess.

Speaking of the former, there are days when studying basic logic can lead you to be very depressed with what passes for political thought.  Step right up, Barack Obama:
Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb., said Obama appeared "conflicted" on the pipeline, saying that many of the promised jobs would be temporary and that much of the oil produced likely would be exported. But Terry said Obama also indicated that dire environmental consequences predicted by pipeline opponents were exaggerated. "He said there were no permanent jobs, and that the oil will be put on ships and exported and that the only ones who are going to get wealthy are the Canadians," Terry said.
So, to sum up: the US should allow their country to be bisected by a foreign company's pipeline because although there is no upside whatsoever, the downside might be smaller than some people are saying. 

There's no reason to build it, but there's only some reason not to build it.  To the JCBs, lads, and if you run over any spotted owls on the way, have the decency to pretend they were environmental protestors, if you'd be so good...

OhMyGod OhMyGod OhMyGod!

The competition that is cuisine has been won forever: a bacon double cheeseburger with the bun replaced with more cheese!

This is the greatest leap forwards in foodstuffs since the Court Inn in Durham gave us the Liontamer, a bacon, cheese and mushroom sandwich with the bread replaced with steak.

When I die, I want it to be because I've eaten that.

(Via Rising Hegemon)

Everybody Do Miss America

This is me doing my part by passing along Scott Lemieux's passing along of Mark Schmitt's complaints about "'Miss America' compassion", since it pisses me off too.  Rob Portman is one recent example, but you've also got former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, who's harrowing experience following the discovery of his extra-marital affair has taught him to have more compassion... for those rich people who are found to be having extra-marital affairs. To everyone else, he's the same callous bastard that he always was.  Because of "principles".

The prime example for this kind of desperately limited thinking is Dick Cheney, of course, who like Portman became a passionate champion of gay rights following his daughter coming out as a lesbian, and who's also the most evil and vicious prick imaginable by any other conceivable progressive metric.

Schmitt, at the end of the day, is fairly polite and restrained here. I feel markedly less charitable. I find it impossible to give much credit at all when selfish, grasping men like Portman or Cheney start doing the right thing because it will benefit their own families. If Cheney had been shot in the face by Harry Whittington, rather than the other way round, he might have started making noises about firearm legislation, and that wouldn't have been worthy of praise either.

If Will Portman and Mary Cheney were suddenly transformed into the gay-hating straights that Michelle Bachmann insists they could be if they only tried, there's just nothing in Portman and (especially) Cheney's make-up that makes me think they'd continue to support basic human decency.

In short, prioritising one's family above one's commitment to making the world a worse place is not a principle one should have even limited appreciation for.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Having Been Human

Well, hang on...

OK.  Before I go any further, let me just say; I've seen much, much worse finales to a TV show. And some of what went wrong last night has more to do with the ending not quite having the effect it should because of the total absence of the original cast, which can't have made things easy for anyone.  It was imperfect on it's own terms, too - the middle sagged somewhat, the show's overarching theme suddenly reappeared after at least a year's absence and rubbed uneasily against what's happened this year - but, really, it was at the very least a B- finale.

But because I'm me, just because I enjoyed the finale and the finale season overall doesn't mean I don't have questions about just what the fuck was going on, anyway.

Unterfold, ueberspoilers.

The Git That Keeps On Giving

If I'm being entirely honest, I probably don't have too much of a point to explore in this post.  Mainly, this is here because a) I like the title, b) I wanted to put up another post before returning to the subject of Being Human, and c) John Bolton is a terrible human being, and being rude about him is always something worth doing.

Just about every neocon is pretty much by definition a bully.  For some though the bullying is an unintended consequence of their foreign policy preferences.  Not John Bolton.  John Bolton likes being a bully.  It's not what follows from his positions, it's a deliberate life-style choice.  Simply put, Bolton just wants to be a cunt to people.

This is obvious to anyone who's seen footage of him in action at the UN.  It's obvious to anyone who caught his appalling performance during the UK coverage of the 2008 US elections (I believe he was on the Beeb, but I might be wrong in that) in which he took great pleasure browbeating a young female reporter by insulting her knowledge and questioning her coverage - by misrepresenting what she'd actually siad, naturally - all the while relying on her being to professional to call him out for the vainglorious, snorting turd he so clearly was.

Given this life-long dedication to the craft of bullying, then, his piece discussed by Dan Larison amused me greatly:
I think the entire Republican party has spent four years making a huge mistake really retreating from its historic role as the main advocate of sound national security policies. And in that sense the [Romney] campaign’s unwillingness to take on Obama’s failed foreign and defense policies was symptomatic of the problem of the party as a whole.

This is just the perfect encapsulation of Bolton's worldview, a worldview he is by no means unique or even particularly unusual amongst neocons in holding.  As Larison points out, you'd have to be functionally insane to believe Romney didn't spend enough time banging on about alleged flaws in Obama's foreign policy.  Anyone remember Romney's disgracefully inaccurate op-ed on the revised START treaty?  The repeated insistence that Obama wasn't sufficiently enslaved to the desires of whomever happened to be in charge of Israel at any given time?  Or how about this infamous photo snapped just seconds after Romney held a press conference to insist Obama was sending messages of support to terrorists through White House tweets, or something?

The problem the Romney campaign had wasn't that they didn't attack enough. It's that their attacks were utterly and obviously ridiculous, the reductio ad absurdum that inevitably sprang from thirty years of screaming "traitor!" at every Democrat who didn't want to blow up everything east of Martha's Vineyard.

This, of course, simply cannot be processed by the mind of John Bolton.  Above the bushy 'tache and behind the squinting, angry eyes, there lies nothing but the most simple of flow charts.

I promise you, a copy of that chart was hanging on Mitt Romney's wall during the campaign, though whether it was carved from gold or inked upon the flayed skin of his Mexican former gardeners, we may never know.  Lack of dickishness was never Romney's problem. Except in John Bolton's mind, apparently, the only place in the world "insufficient dick action" can appear as a phrase outside test screenings of hardcore gay porn.

This is the man George W Bush thought best qualified to talk to the rest of the world.  A man so scabrous and vile-hearted he thinks Mitt Romney pulled his punches too much whilst acting the asshole.  There are occasions when the only sensible thing to do is marvel that any of us are still alive.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Friday Video: The Certainty Of Chance

Something slightly different this week, since I've still not finished any of the ten models I'm currently painting.  This video (found on Youtube whilst checking a link from old internet buddy RtR) made me giggle, though tragically it's all too accurate a version of what happens when I try my hand at 40K.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Just For The Record...

...It would be a lot easier to cheer Rand Paul for insisting the US President shouldn't have the hypothetical power to kill US citizens without due process if he didn't also believe the US President should actually exercise his actual powers to let tens of thousands of actual US citizens actually starve, choke or bleed to death.

I mean, fine, the dude's right about that first part.  Just don't expect us to be leaping out of seats to congratulate the guy who's planning to make the death toll in his own country spike upwards, is what I'm saying.  Hell, give the average Joe on the street a choice between being blown up by a overhead drone, or having their brains attacked by viruses escaping vast lagoons of pig-shit, I'm not sure the answer will go the way Paul and his business lovin' buddies might hope it would.

Like I say, it's not that I disagree with him on his latest stand.  But when someone comes to the right destination by walking down a terrible, terrible road, it's a bit much to be told you should be applauding the guy's map-reading.

"There Are Many Similars"

While we're talking about similarities, how impressive is R Scott Bakker's impression of George R R Martin?

Not because of the relentlessly horrible nature of his fictional world, or the idea that a terrifying ancient evil from the North long considered myth is about to return to destroy the world, of course.  Because he wrote three awesome books, didn't wrap things up, wrote a fourth book in which nothing happened, wrote a fifth in which a whole bunch of people marched to battle and didn't really get there, and keeps promising a book with a publishing date that keeps slipping further and further away from sight.

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, of course.  Maybe Bakker's hoping The Prince of Nothing gets a TV deal.  Though you'd think even HBO would shy away from a prologue which concerns itself mostly with pederasty...

Also, I have invented a new game!  I accidentally forgot to use Google to find a picture for this post, instead using the terrible search engine my computer came with as standard.  The image above is what the image search came up with for "Prince of Nothing".  The game involves finding the most ridiculous image possible from the first few hits, whilst keeping some kind of link between what's found and what was sought.  I may well employ this in the future, just to keep things interesting.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

We've Been Human Here Before

(Spoilers throughout)

So, let me see if I get this straight. A woman who died as a result of terrible taste in men has fallen for a vampire, only to feel horribly betrayed when said vampire turns out to have fed in secret. Meanwhile, a shadowy agency of well-connected humans attempt to combat the supernatural by turning it against itself, only to find itself in trouble when a woman in the organisation falls for a supernatural being.  The goals of these antagonists are then complicated by interaction with a third party, nominally an ally but with what prove to be incompatible plans, which leads to a confrontation with the ghostly heroine. Sadly, the ghost is then banished by her foes, with the forces of the afterlife itself determined to bring her in.

None of this however is as concerning as the fact that a massively powerful leader amongst the supernatural who happens to live nearby is planning global domination, with the coming horror repeatedly prophesied. This enemy has a direct creative link to the vampire protagonist, but it’s still a surprise when the threat returns. The enemy then constantly fretting about the combination of a ghost, a werewolf, and a vampire in the same house.

Meanwhile, a ghost has to look after a socially difficult member of the undead, a precocious child causes trouble despite no longer having a heartbeat, a seemingly simple werewolf proves to have hidden depths, and a comedian from a show no-one cares about anymore shows up and tries not to look miscast.

We’ve seen this all before, haven’t we?

Don’t get me wrong; this final series is perfectly respectable, even if I’m not sure how they’ll manage to wrap it all up satisfactorily next week.  But damn, that’s some fairly major recycling going on right there

Plus of course there’s the fact that every damn episode in this entire show seemed to involve the housemates having hyperbolic fallings out over ridiculous misunderstandings and obvious manipulations.  They really could just have called this thing Being Thick As Shit.

(Also, while we're on the subject, I reckon my brother looks an awful lot like Michael Socha.  Observe:

"I fear tonight the moon will be full"
"I fear the night will be full of Muslims"
Uncanny.  Well, a bit. There's pictures of my brother that look more like Socha, actually, but none with such a brilliant caption right beneath him).

Monday, 4 March 2013


Gosh, it's gotten a bit quiet around here, hasn't it?  Don't worry, I'm still alive.

Not everyone else is, though.  I was saddened to learn of the deaths of two men, one who influenced my childhood, the other my first steps into playing board games more complicated than those one is liable to break out at Christmas.

There can't be many more instantly recognisable piece of music to my increasingly battered brain than the Roobarb and Custard theme; just this ridiculously joyous mix of filthy synth and manic harmonica.  I watched the show every week as a kid and I can't tell you a thing about it, but I can whistle the theme note for note, and remember the sight of Roobarb's delighted expression as he ran towards the camera.  Bob Godrey - who animated the show and who passed away a little under two weeks ago - insisted that animation should always fundamentally be about fun, and few things make the point more economically and directly than Roobarb's grin. The mechanisms of fun are truly known only to children and to dogs.

My main memory of Godfrey's work, though, isn't a green mutt trying to make peace with a pink cat, but the mellow yellow feline who knows everything about nothing. Again, the fact that the theme song is so catchy certainly helps, but it's Godfrey's own drawled narration and theshifty kohl-lined eyes of Rum Baa Baa, most evil sheep in all the world, that stick in the memory.  Was there no end to his ovine outrages? It takes a particular kind of wonderfully strange mind to reimagine silent film villains- complete with top hat and pencil moustache - as depraved farmyard animals.  Godfrey, we salute you.

Spare a thought too for Allan Calhamer, inventor of Diplomacy, the genesis of which he describes in detail here, but basically seems to have been born from the desire to remodel chess so you could invade Tirol.  I have fond memories of this game from my misspent youth, particularly the occasion when we used drinking straws to fashion the tools used to push models around maps seen in basically every WWII film ever.  That was almost as much fun as ganging up on one poor guy, reducing him to a single army, and forcing him to write "Paris stands" as his only order whilst the rest of us vied for European supremacy.  Calhamer passed away one week ago, with his reputation amongst gamers secure.