Thursday, January 29, 2009

Searching for my Power Animal

Inspired by Patroclus, I decided I wanted to explore the (forgive me) nonsensensical concept of the power animal. Apparently a power animal can empower me towards ever-increasing prosperity and fulfilment. It will also help me to express and embody the person I truly am.

In other words, its a steaming pile of dreamy bollocks cooked up by people too lazy to pick a proper religion and too scared to be proper atheists...

Anyway on with the fun. According to this website of twisted genius, all you need to do to find your power animal is to enter the enchanted forest, pass the mouse (a normal one not a power mouse) over the screen till said creature approaches. Following this wholly random process taught me that my power animal is a tortoise ('take a deep breath and let the spirit of the tortoise fill you'). Interestingly, if you click on the same spot more than once - you'll get a different animal every time...

I was unsatisfied with the arbitrary nature of this selection, so I tried a different website which took the more detailed approach by asking me 15 moronically phrased questions. This site told me that I had high scores in Hawk, but low scores in Cougar - I have no clue what that means, I'm just disappointed my horse score was so low.....

Click here and take the test for yourself. Do post in the comments what power animal you have been lumbered with.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Fox is both evil and stupid

Evidence, if any were needed, that right-wing America (as represented by the Fox Network) can be annoyingly dense and small-minded.

Enjoy Jon Stewart from the Daily Show getting the boot in on professional knob Rush Limbaugh.

"If you don't stick to your values when they're tested, they're not values. They're hobbies."

Hat tip to Anna

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Coffee - The cause of and solution to all our problems..

There was a marvellous story on the BBC website recently. It reported research that suggested elevated coffee intake could raise the risk of hallucinations. If you drink more than 7 cups of instant coffee in a day you could start seeing ghosts and hearing voices.
However, there are some holes in this conclusion, as the study was conducted using 200 students from the University of Durham. Can I suggest (without stereotyping) that there may be other factors (lack of sleep) or substances (off milk) causing these poor students to hear voices? My favourite nugget of information however, is that 3% of the population regularly hear 'voices'. This means that nearly 2 million people in the UK right now are talking with the pixies in their head. I could be one of them - so could you.....

Anyway, to the point. The BBC news website very helpfully lists similar stories on the same page as the current story. This led to me spending a very enjoyable hour going gradually back in time reading all the things that coffee does to our poor unsuspecting bodies.

January 2006 10 cups a day increases female sex drive.
July 2008 4 cups a day reduces fertility
January 2008 4 cups a day increases the chance of miscarriage
February 2003 8 cups a day can double chance of stillbirth

June 2008 6-8 cups a day reduces your chances of developing ME
April 2008 1 cup a day helps protect the brain from dementia
January 2008 4 cups a day makes Diabetes worse
August 2007 3 cups a day protects memory in older women

July 2007 1 cup a day protects your skin from the sun
August 2002 May cure skin cancer one day
Janury 2007 2 cups can reduce post workout muscle pain by 48%

November 2005 6 cups of decaffeinated coffee a day increases chances of heart disease compared to 6 cups of regular coffee
October 2004 1 cup a day increases chance of heart disease
November 2002 Coffee doesn't raise blood pressure.

April 2002 Coffee may keep you awake at night (Shock horror!)

So what can we learn from our journey in medical scaremongering? Firstly, if you are female you are much worse off than us men. Particularly as you get the most of the negative effects and when you do get the positive ones - it works better for us. Secondly, if you are old it will help you keep your wits for longer. Thirdly, you can make data from most research say pretty much whatever you want. And finally, its all totally pointless as coffee doesn't even wake you up in the morning.
Blood Diamond ****
King Arthur (Director's Cut) ***
The Wrestler *****
X2 ****
Eastern Promises ****

Sunday, January 11, 2009

What the.....

Having commented on the paucity of quality TV in my previous post. I wasn't planning to talk about TV again for a little while. Praise be then for Paris Hilton, who has made me seethe with righteous fury.

This pathetic excuse for a celebrity has a new programme that will be disgracing our screens shortly. It is called (brace yourself) Paris Hilton's British Best Friend. For the sake of all that is holy - how did this vile idea ever get the green light?

Here is a quote from the idiot in question.
“Everyone knows I love LA,” says the star. “But London, watch out – I’m coming to town and bringing my fast-paced life with me. I’m in the UK all the time, but of course I can’t bring all my friends, so I’ve decided to look for a new BFF across the pond. I need a best friend who is hot, who can keep up with me, and most of all, who is real and won't be a backstabber. I’m not leaving London until I find that amazing girl or guy who can meet the challenges of being my British bestie!”

The hideous trailer shows Paris cavorting with a pair of ridiculous looking dogs, one of which accompanies her everywhere. This of course could be suggesting that she is looking for the human British equivalent of her little rat-dog. A little playmate for her to swan around London with until she gets bored and jettisons them like the human waste they are. The most depressing aspect of this is that there are thousands of people who want to take part in this programme, thousands of people who will humiliate themselves to try and get a tiny slice of celebrity. Thousands of people who will essentially prostitute themselves to become a hanger on of a woman whose only talent is to be famous. Here are the cream of that particularly pathetic crop.
This apparently is a time when creative and interesting programmes that don't actually cause your soul to shrivel within you are being shelved due to a lack of money. How is it then that ITV are paying this vile woman $100,000 per EPISODE?!! Surely that money could have been better used?

However, there is a glimmer of hope. The following paragraph has been posted on the show's website.
"The ambitious wannabes will share a house and will gradually be eliminated until one of them will be inaugurated as Paris Hilton’s British Best Friend."

This may mean that instead of being merely evicted, the 'wannabes' will actually be executed in a Doctor Who Bad Wolf style. (Watch it here, if you aren't familiar with the Doctor's exploits)

We can but hope....

The Hive *
Miracle on 34th Street **
Thank you for Smoking ****
Airplane *****

Friday, January 09, 2009

In 2009 I will mainly be angry...

For 2009 I have decided to be more angry about things. The gentle therapeutic effect of bitterness and bile will ease my soul thoughout 2009.

Here are the three things that exercised my ire the most through 2008:

1) Banks
While I understand that I'm no economic expert, the sheer arrogance of financial sector was astonishing. In my really simplistic view, its seems the banks have been gambling with our money for years and they've finally lost. Years of appalling excess, greed and enormous salaries have made bankers some of the most unpopular people on the planet. And when global economics came around to bite them on the arse, they moaned and whined and demanded our help with a complete lack of humility. When the goverment bailed them out with our taxes, they strutted around as if they'd done nothing wrong. These people are the slime of the world (along with reality TV show producers) and you can bet the heads of the banks in question are not out of pocket - unlike many of the people whose money they pissed away.
2) Fashion 'Nazis'
I wrote a terribly grouchy post back in July 08 about fashion and the endlessly annoying Gok Wan. Read it here.

3) Cheap and stupid TV involving cheap nudity
Like any other year, 2008 saw an endless stream of cheap and easy TV programmes designed to make brains dribble out of your ears. According to several articles, one of the depressing minor side effects of a global economic crisis will be a decrease in the number of good TV programmes. As quiz shows and reality TV shows are relatively cheap to produce, we can expect many more of them. Therefore, we should look back on 2008 as a relative high point in TV and film.

One of the standout features of the TV schedules this year has been the stream of programmes using the flimsy excuse of 'empowerment' to create gratuitous shots of naked people. The sheer hypocrisy of some of these shows was breathtaking. Trinny & Susannah, Gok Wan and Dawn Porter should all be very ashamed of themselves. For a better skewering that I could ever deliver of these type of shows watch this episode of the gloriously angry Screenwipe.

Watch Part 2 here
Be warned - there is some bad language and some clips from the shows concerned.

I'm looking forward to many things making me grumpy in 2009....

Van Helsing ***
Fatherland ***
The Recruit **
Young Frankenstein ****
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull ***
Independance Day ***
Castle of Cagliostro ****
Wanted ****

Friday, January 02, 2009

9/10ths Full of Penguins Review of the Year 2008

I apologise for my lengthy absence. I have been pondering the purpose of this blog and took something of a furlough to consider whether I should keep going or not. I never wanted my blog to be a 'today I had my breakfast and then went to work' type-blog and felt it might have been slipping slowly that way. However, I'm now back and raring for more blogtacular action in 2009...

2008 has seen some extraordinary moments. Barack Obama's huge victory in the US presidential elections, global economic meltdown and two pensioners making jumpers out of their dead dogs' hair.

Best Moment
November 5th at the Empress Ballroom in Blackpool. I finally got to see the peerless Sigur Ros live in concert. It was simply the most extraordinary gig I've ever seen and leapt straight to the top of my all time gig list, unseating Iona at the Royal Festival Hall in May 1999.

Best Film
The year's best film was an easy choice in the end. Nothing even came close to the dazzlingly bleak Dark Knight - brilliantly written, directed and acted. However, my favourite film of the year was the marvellously entertaining Hellboy 2.

Worst Film
The Happening. For the sake of all that is holy - please lock M Night Shyamalan in dark, windowless room until he promises to stop making films this terrible. It was a film with nothing going for it at all.

Best TV
Battlestar Galactica was once again the best thing on the goggle-box in 2008. I have also discovered the wonders of the West Wing. I'm about half way through season 3 and I'm reluctant to carry on watching it as the further I go throught the seasons, the closer I am to never having a new episode of the West Wing to watch....

Worst TV
I was subjected to a few episodes of Strictly Come Dancing in 2008. I was truly astonished by the level of self-importance and vanity oozing out of most of the contestants and judges. The fact that the judges continued complaining that the public kept saving John Sergent demonstrated that they thought far too much of themselves and their dance show than the fact that they were part of a reality TV show that asks for public opinion. What they told the viewers was that they (the judges) were right and the great unwashed of the British public were incorrect because they had the temerity to disagree with them.The truly magnificent John Sergeant
Best Album
Dial M - Starflyer 59

Best Book
The Separation by Christopher Priest - a pleasingly complex and intriguing book of alternative fiction.

Best Penguin related story of 2008
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Do people need rescuing? Nah - its just two inflatable penguins. Read all about it here

Blogs of the Year
Here are my 3 favourite blogs of the year in no particular order.
Fat Roland
Cultural Snow

On a personal level, I decided to follow the example of a good friend and start trying to lose weight. In the last 5 or 6 weeks of 2008 I lost over a stone in weight and have set myself the goal of losing enough weight to start playing cricket properly again before the end of 2009.

In 2008 I also rediscovered an old friendship that has blossomed into somewhat more over the course of the year which has made me very happy.