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Me Made May 2013 – Local Man Wears Shirt, Looks Shifty…

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Oddly enough, I’ve never modelled…

Never underestimate the influence of your better half.

Mrs Rolling Eyeballs – for it is her work – has enlisted my help in spreading awareness of Me Made May (Yes, it’s the fifth month of the year already.  Let’s try not to think about what this means for the increasing flow of sand cascading remorselessly through our personal egg timers and beckoning ever closer the dread fingers of Death…).

Mrs RE has been taking part in this celebration of upcycling, clothes fabrication and fashion-based frugality for a few years now and has been decent enough to make me clothes and accessories of a hand-made and artisan nature, so it seems only fair that I do my bit to show that you don’t have to buy expensive brand names and stoke the fires of globalisation.

Henceforth, for one month only, please expect a smattering of pictures of your humble blogger looking awkward and wondering why the camera appears to add not only ten pounds but a whole mess of existential angst to boot…

The garment depicted above is a baseball-style jersey, which comes replete with bespoke tag at the collar and is superbly comfy.  There’s also lovely sewing details at the collar and cuffs which adds subtle visual interest.  I really do like it – and you’ll be seeing similar entries rendered into being by my wife’s DIY sewing talents in posts to be named later…

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Neptune HS Pirates B-ball Rules!

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 Watch your noses, 09ers – Veronica Mars is back.

Yep, the erstwhile snarky private eye, mama of Backup and SLR-wielding bad ass was reborn yesterday when series creator Rob Thomas and star Kristen Bell took to crowd-funding site Kickstarter to raise funds for a low-budget “Veronica Mars” movie to wrap up stories from the show left hanging so egregiously when the CW dropped it after the third series.

In a result which perhaps points the way forward for beloved geek properties felled in a untimely fashion by uncaring corporate masters, the hoped-for $2 million baseline budget for the project was joyously reached in a mere ten hours.   Creative people being able to take their niche wares to an audience who wish to back them?  It’s Beethoven-era artistic patronage rendered feasible by digital connectivity, so it is!

Somewhere, a Browncoat’s ear has begun to twitch…

 

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Hagrid’s Holiday

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Hagrid, being the considerate Doggie lad that he is, has just taken us on holiday to the Isle of Arran – which has led to a disagreeable downturn in blog productivity of late.  Many apologies, but the perambulatory requirements of a splendid Saluki/Standard Poodle mix must be taken seriously, I’m sure you’ll agree.

As you can see from the image above, he was very taken with Scotland, this being his first visit since coming to live with us last Spring.   Lots of beaches, very few other dogs out for walks at the same time as him and weather which was mostly on our side – what canine could ask for more?

Hagrid and Mrs Rolling Eyeballs on Kildonan Beach, Isle of Arran, February 2013

Hagrid and Mrs Rolling Eyeballs on Kildonan Beach, Isle of Arran, February 2013

He was very taken with the scampering opportunities offered by the likes of Kildonan beach, Sannox and Blackwaterfoot Beach on Arran – as any doggie of distinction and taste would be.  If your dog likes to stretch their legs and go for a good old run, Arran is a fine place to consider for their next family break – if they are sufficiently generous, they might even allow you to tag along.

Word to the wise - if Hagrid is running like this at you, getting out of the way is a given...

Word to the wise – if Hagrid is running like this at you, getting out of the way is a given…

It was a particularly lovely holiday, especially as living in a city doesn’t allow you to let a big dog like Mr H. off his lead every day – particularly as some of his more challenging behaviour traits mean that he’s on a lead for the vast majority of his time.  It’s inspired us to be braver with him and find places local to us where he can have a run and stretch out his paws to the fullest of their capabilities, as well as investigating dog-appeasing pheramone collars to see if they can stop some of his overly reactive behaviour to every dog he sees.

Wish us luck, won’t you?

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This is an “Iron Man 3” poster…

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As you may know, Sunday 3rd February 2013 will see devout fans of rugby with padding sit down across the US to watch the Superbowl.  This, for the still uninitiated, involves a great deal of theatrical fuss and sportsball-based pageantry before the real point of the day arrives – advanced trailers for summer movies.

To which end, that most inexplicable of modern marketing trends rears its ugly crown anew – trailers for trailers.  We’re through the looking-glass, people – ads for ads.  What a strange world we find ourselves residing in, and no mistake.

You’ll be able to see new spots for “Iron Man 3”, “Star Trek Into Darkness”, “The Lone Ranger” and “Fast 6” amongst others – and I’m reasonably sure that they’ll be more interesting than lots of financially well-remunerated chaps thanking variously unfortunate deities for intervening in the success or otherwise of their Hand Egg-centric shenanigans.

Related Tomfoolery:

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Rogue Failure. Or ‘How I Stopped Worrying and Learned To Love the Paragon’

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I am not and never have been a rebel.  In life, as in gaming, I tend to follow a path of general decency and behaving unto others as I would wish for them to treat me – it isn’t cool, it rarely yields great rewards and marks you out to others in the world as being even more of a nerd than they expect you to be.  Thankless existence, unto eternity?  You said it.

I am, dear reader, a Paragon, a Paladin, a White Hat – and I’m ok with it.

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My current favourite gaming experience, the omnipresent “Kingdoms of Amalur”, gives me the chance to play as a rogue class ranged fighter and what I’ve discovered from my now 52 hours of game play is that I’m absolutely useless when given the choice to exercise bad behaviour in games.  ‘Amalur’, for example, gives your levelled-up Rogue class the chance to use your stealth ability to sneak up on adversary and ally alike and either shank them assassin style or simply pickpocket them for nifty loot.

Curiously, I find it more morally acceptable and preferable to sneak up on humanoid aggressors and slice them six ways to Sunday than to go creeping around the game world and cut purses or rifle through wallets – how’s that for a bizarre reaction to choices that a game designer provides you with?   I’d like to think that it doesn’t prove that I’m a sociopath-in-waiting but it does give you pause.

It’s this odd disconnect between real world personal conviction and the options inherent in a video game environment  which has kept me from playing sandbox gangster titles like “Saints Row”, “Mafia” and the grand-daddy of them all, “Grand Theft Auto”.  If I can’t envisage ever wanting to be the characters or inhabiting their world, there’s no way that I’m going to play the title – it’s probably a Boy Scout reaction to the criminal anti-hero archetype but there you go.

That’s not to say that I require characters in-game to be Peter Pureheart and impossibly, impractically noble as that option offers as much of a game-breaking flaw as glitch code or poor design decisions but I don’t want to play games where the protagonist’s raison etre is slaying innocent bystanders and arbitrarily causing car crashes.  It’s just not how I’m wired, folks.

I suppose the point that I’m grasping towards is that I like being offered choice about what I do in games – perhaps I should make 2013 the year that I start to take advantage of those choices and see where they take me in games?

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Hagrid’s Feeling For Snow…

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We took Hagrid for a walk in the overnight snow which blanketed the UK on Monday morning – he wasn’t that keen, you’ll be surprised to learn.

Sure, he pads about in the curious white carpet which has unceremoniously deposed his normal pavements and parkland, and he has a sniff about, but he’s just not that into it.

Where are the smells?  And why do his paws not have as much traction as normal?  What’s this cold stuff on the end of his nose?  And why is it drastically reducing my daily walks from two to one longish one?  So many canine questions, so very few answers…

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Snowpocalypse? Nopocalypse.

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At the end of what is best described as a changeable week for plucky Brits, it’s good to know that some things are always the same.

The threat of a couple of inches of snowfall is sufficient to plunge the UK into a frenzy of addled speculation about the dire consequences of of a wholly predictable spate of wintry weather, with even the likes of your self-flagellating blogger having to confess to frequent F5’ing of his weather site of choice despite common sense indicating that nothing much is going to happen.

At present, Sheffield is witness to a couple of inches – tops – of snow, with more light flurries predicted during the weekend – not exactly the new ice age which most UK tabloids would have us believe is inbound with extreme frosty prejudice.  I imagine Canadian readers of this post must be chuckling into their Tim Hortons cup at the very idea of our January snow panic and wondering just how we would react to an actual outbreak of real weather.

As always, when it comes to scenarios like this, I have to think that Charlie Brooker said it best…

 

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To Stream or not to Stream?

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I have always been a fan of quality.

Now, that’s something which is in the eye of the proverbial beholder – what’s perfectly fine to me might be intolerable to you and the reverse is true, too.   When it comes to things like entertainment, I have always been a fan of the best reproduction that I can get my hands on, even if that means inconveniencing myself slightly – carrying a CD Walkman when many of my peers had moved on to smaller, lighter MP3 players, hankering after a Laserdisc player when everyone I knew was more than happy with VHS.  You get the picture, I suspect.

In recent years, I’ve begun to see the advantage of relaxing my self-imposed high standards just a tad.  I now carry a Sansa Clip Zip Mp3 player armed with a capricious flash card filled with songs and podcasts and I get on fine with it (albeit with my music ripped in Flac format and a funky little FiiO headphone amp to boost the output a little) and I’ve begun to play about with the streaming services available via my Xbox 360, thanks to a slight contretemps with my local branch of Blockbuster Video (I don’t want to verify personal data in a queue every time that I rent films, their bizarre corporate policy apparently insists on it.  Enjoy your soon-come obsolescence, boys).

My findings were mixed.  LoveFilm, arguably the market leader in the UK thanks to the muscle offered by corporate parent Amazon, had a limited selection not assisted by smudgy video quality and frequent buffering issues which rendered films unwatchable (this is on a 60 mb connection, mind you).  Netflix UK was similarly hit-and-miss with video quality and I really can’t get on with the recommendation engine, which works about as well (i.e., not at all) as most recommendation engines seem to do for me.  They’re fine if you’ve somehow only just found out about the existence of films and the cinema, but not really a serious consideration for anybody else.

Microsoft’s own films on demand service is apparently aimed at Russian oligarchs, so is really not for me as I don’t want to pay the cost of a new DVD movie to rent a streamed version.  So, it was to evil corporate overlords Sky that I went for a free trial of their ‘Sky Now’ service – an offer boosted somewhat in my estimation by a tagged-on 800 Microsoft Space Bucks if you watch at least 90 mins of the service in a month.

Do not spill this lady's Chablis.  Seriously.

Do not spill this lady’s Chablis. Seriously.

Having viewed the 2012 McG spy-fi action comedy, “This Means War“, and Steven Soderbergh‘s “Haywire” on the service, I’m now able to suggest that it’s actually…okay?   Not a match for a decent sd DVD transfer, as the sound is resolutely stereo-based, but perfectly watchable quality which should allow you to check out a movie and then double-down on the Blu-Ray, say, if you really like a film.  No buffering whatsover to report, either, which is a nice change – many of the streaming services that I’ve tried have offered image and playback quality so prone to glitches, drop-outs and other annoyances that they become less the experience of watching a film and more akin to glancing at still photographs and listening to a CD skipping in the background.

I don’t know that I would continue to subscribe to the service – the selection is pretty limited, which seems to be true of every such offering available to UK consumers – but it’s certainly worth looking at if you can take up this current Xbox offer in the UK.

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Season’s Greetings

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I hope that you’re enjoying your holiday season – whichever form it may take.

Our own not-Christmas celebration has been slightly postponed to the happy arrival of a new niece (it’s a long story which I won’t bother you with), so the traditional December 25th meal is probably going to happen for us nearer to the New Year than normal.

Enjoy your holiday – and the company of those you love. Even if they are grumpy cats.

 

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Hypocrisy? What hypocrisy?

We’ve barely had time to try and process Friday’s tragic events in Newtown, Connecticut and UK tabloids are up to their usual tricks.

Oh look - one of those hyper-detailed murder simulators that the kids all love...

Oh look – one of those hyper-detailed murder simulators that the kids all love…

Rupert Murdoch’s wholly above reproach UK tabloid newspaper The Sun today has a headline story skirting around the idea that Adam Lanza’s rampage is somehow connected to his ‘obsession’ with Activision’sCall of DutyFPS franchise.

You know the kind of thing before you read it – no real evidence to speak of, a few splashy pull-quotes and amateur psychology aplenty conspire to deliver the kind of schlock, predictable, cynically hand-wringing story we usually see after a tragedy like Newtown, all the while trying to inspire an emotional, “Won’t Somebody Think About The Children?” type reaction in the kinds of parents who are (whisper it quietly) probably buying “Black Ops 2” as  a Christmas present for their kids (if they’re not already playing it themselves).

Did Lanza play “Call of Duty”?  Who knows – who cares?  He was a young American adult.  The bigger story would be that he didn’t play “CoD“, “Battlefield” or “Medal of Honor”.

If he did play video games, why does it automatically follow that he was being somehow desensitized or made more susceptible to violent power fantasies?  I’ve played “Call of Duty” instalments in the past and all that I can point to is an increasing lack of desire to engage with that franchise.  Am I somehow miraculously unaffected by the otherwise corrupting, pernicious influence of these games?  Is it down to my living in a different country without easy access to guns?  Am I too old and set in my ways to buy into such shock and awe pyrotechnics?

Just as a matter of curiosity – is the “Call of Duty” game series being raked over the coals by The Sun today any relation to the “Call of Duty” game lauded in breathless prose in a story tied to the launch of “Black Ops 2”?  Or in this feature about how ‘SAS hero (TM)’ Andy McNab believes that the game teaches morality to kids?  Or is that a different series of blockbuster action FPS titles from Activision, Infinity Ward and Treyarch?

When it’s going to sell copies or connect The Sun in a positive way with a blockbuster, generation-defining pop culture entertainment brand loved by their demographic, the paper will happily get into bed with Activision in a mutually beneficial relationship.  When there’s a sliver-thin line of particularly smelly, easy answer bullshit to peddle, that partnership gets swiftly forgotten about in the rush to sell papers or get page impressions.

Hypocrisy?  Surely not.  Not on Rupert’s watch.

No violence here, eh, Rupes?

No violence here, eh, Rupes?

It’s a good job that Twentieth Century Fox doesn’t make violent, gun-heavy entertainment isn’t it?

 

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