Friday Rodent Blogging

Selene, granting safe passage to the giant hand in return for the pumpkin seed it was carrying.


Time waster

Click. Go. Waste time.

Hat tip to Captnmorgan at AP

Sick and Lost

One good thing to come from being sick, and therefore off work, for the last few days, is that Mrs Doombreed and I have begun watching the first two seasons of Lost.

For those not in the know, Lost is the story of a group of people who survive a 'plane crash on a tropical island, and how they deal with two facts: the first is that nobody knows where they are; the second is that the island would provide storylines for a whole season of The Twilight Zone.

We're about halfway through the first season, and already the show has provided the winner of the Legal Alien Award For The Best Star Trek Reference In Any Show.

Two of our heroes, Locke and Boone, are out a-scouting when Boone makes an off-hand comment about "red shirts" (and any self-respecting Trekkie knows what they are). Locke, not being much of a telly watcher, doesn't get it, so Boone explains about how, whenever the captain and his pointy-eared chum beam down to a planet, they are accompanied by anonymous people in red shirts who, inevitably, die. Locke ponders this for a second before replying:

"Hmmm.. Sounds like a piss-poor captain to me.."

Which, if you think about it, is a fair assessment of a captain who loses crew at the rate Kirk did.


Still a-coughin'

Yeah, still sick, but getting a little better. The antibiotics and the lung sucker are helping.

But before I head up the wooden hill to Bedfordshire (as my dad used to say), I just wanted to pass a comment on this story (a la Beeb) which breaks the news that GCSE maths will no longer involve coursework. This is because some no-doubt expensive committee went and looked and found that - gasp - perfect answers to mathematical questions were available on the Internet. Education Secretary Alan Johnson said there was "increased concerns" over whether or not students were doing all their own work.

Well duh!!

That, my dear Mr Johnson, is the very reason my teachers gave me as to why GCSE maths was a 100% examination subject when I took the course.

And that was fifteen years ago.

The Labour party: Tough on intelligence, tough on the causes of intelligence.


Sick report

Yesterday's "feeling sick" has turned into today's full-blown coughing and wheezing attacks, which led to a trip to see the doctor and a diagnosis of bronchitis. One inhaler and a bunch of antibiotics and I'm merely feeling sub-human.



P.s. This whole coughing and hacking came to me via Mrs Doombreed, who came down with a cold late last week and, by Sunday, had infected yours truly.

At least we're being miserable together.


Hey hey, we're the monkeys!

Feeling sick right now, so here's a quick link to an entertaining short film that points out some uncomfortable truths for those of us who haven't already taken off the rose-coloured glasses.

We're all just monkeys

Hat tip tp B-cup (and AgingHippy) at AP.

Bengals 28-20 Steelers

Well, that was sweet. Interceptions, fumbles, sacks, stupidity and a victory. Palmer and the Bengals taking revenge on the Steelers that knocked them out of the playoffs last time. Nice.

Roethlisberger, the Steelers' QB, was still looking a little uncomfortable, which may have something to do with the recent motorcycle crash and emergency appendectomy.

Houshmandzadeh, the Bengal who rivals Roethlisberger in both the hard-to-pronounce and longest surname categories, caught two excellent passes, and so did the more commentator-friendly Chris Henry.

A thoroughly enjoyable game, marred slightly by the fact that the commentators were apparently getting paid on a "per Palmer vs Van Oelhoffen reference" basis.



Gas prices, once more

Remember way back when, in the early birth pangs of this very blog, that I commented that gas (petrol) prices in the US were climbing around $2.50 per gallon?

Well, now they are finally back down to below $2.00 per gallon. Not much below $2.00 (my nearest station is charging $1.99 9/10 per gallon), but still, not bad.

For our British chums, that's 52 8/10 cents, or 27 79/100 pence per litre.


At petrolprices.com, the petrol in my old home town is hovering around the 89 1/2 pence per litre mark.


Good news for the motorists. Bad news for the Democrats, who were, it seemed, building some momentum going into this November's mid-term elections, from the average American-about-town's growing exasperation with having to mortgage the house and sell a kid every time they wanted to fill up their car.

Nicely timed, that whole "finding a massive oil pocket in the Gulf of Mexico" business, huh?


Friday Rodent Blogging

Selene, troubled by tonight's overenthusiastic thunderstorm, takes to chewing on some cardboard in order to alleviate her stress.

Whole committees have been formed in order to study what, if any, the differences are between her "chewing on cardboard in order to alleviate stress" chew, her "chewing on cardboard to keep her teeth ground down" chew, and her "chewing on cardboard for the sake of chewing" chew.

Believe me, I know a stress-relief chew when I see one.


A Very Special Day

Today is the anniversary of the day that Mrs Doombreed and I became, well, Mrs Doombreed and I.

That's right. Today is our anniversary. The anniversary of the day that I became the luckiest man alive, when the most wonderful woman in the universe became my wife.

So go find something else with which to entertain yourself.

May I suggest The Ring - In 30 Seconds (and re-enacted by bunnies)?

Or Brokeback Mountain?

Much kudos to Tain at AP for the links.


Coffin riding

Steve Irwin has been dead for two weeks, and already the ghouls are jumping on his coffin.

In a spectacularly loathsome stunt, a church in Australia is claiming that Steve Irwin "came to Christ" two weeks before he died.

Irwin was private about his faith (or lack thereof). He did have a ceremony where members of the Buddhist faith blessed his children shortly after they were born, and he did remark, often, on his work with "god's creatures", but he was also an outspoken opponent of so-called "intelligent design theory" and regularly talked about the value of teaching real science, especially to children.

This, I guess, led to his life becoming a worthy target for the "everyone believes in god whether they admit it or not" gang, and, true to form, they started this rumour.

Frankly, I don't care. Irwin brought joy to millions, advanced the cause of conservation beyond everyone's - except, I'll bet, his own - wildest dreams, enlightened and entertained us beyond measure.

But the fact that some people who are allegedly devoted to The Bible are prepared to lie about him raises my hackles.


Bengals: update

Tonight's Monday Night Football game (which saw the Jacksonville Jaguars hand a hard-fought 9-0 defeat to the Steelers) carried the announcement that Bengals' Linebacker David Pollack, injured in yesterday's game, has a broken neck.

NFL.com reports it as "a neck injury" which, they say, ends his season, though he's expected back next season.

Bengals.com goes into more detail. Pollack, apparently, suffered a fracture to his C-6 vertebra (the sixth cervical vertebra, near the base of the neck) but that, luckily, there appears to be no damage to the spinal cord.

Speedy recovery, dude.


Bengals 34-17 Browns

This was a hard game. Not the score, though. The Bengals dominated throughout, and the Browns never really looked like they were in it. What was hard was that it seemed that the Browns had decided that, if they couldn't win, they'd take as many Bengals down with them as possible.

Rich Braham, Dexter Jackson and David Pollack went out from injuries. In the final quarter, Chad Johnson was hit so hard (and, correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't deliberate helmet-to-helmet tackling a penalty?) that his helmet flew off and he was left with a gash on his chin that soaked the collar of his shirt with blood, and required stitches. Several other players received injuries of the "cuts, scrapes and bruises" variety.

Still, a win's a win.

Next, we have the Steelers. Current Superbowl Champions, and the team that knocked the Bengals out of the playoffs last year.

But, 'till then..




Y'know, I was getting used to all of the "Jesus/Mary is in my [insert material/item in which, or on which, a vaguely blobby shape has been found]" crap that goes on over here, best exemplified by the utterly stupid "Our Lady Of The Underpass" or The Virgin Mary Mother Of God and her appearance in a grilled cheese sandwich. It's curious that these mysterious "appearances" in various pieces of completely coincidental stains/reflections/grains are most often found in 3rd world countries or the US.

Well, apparently, people in England are also that stupid.

In a gift to the so-called pro-life lobby, an English couple have an ultrasound scan of their baby, with Jesus keeping watch over the lil tyke as he sleeps.

Jesus is, apparently, a goat. Or a camel. Or grotesquely deformed.

Or, it's not Jesus and it's, maybe, the baby's arm? Or part of the umbilical cord?

Still, whatever gets you through the day..


Friday Rodent Blogging

This week's FRB is going in a different direction, and Selene is a little upset at being rousted from her usual top billing.

The above picture is of a member of the small colony of chipmunks that live outside our house. As yet, they haven't been named, although there are three names that spring to mind..

Okay, five..


Revenge On The 'Rays

From Australia comes the distressing news that stingrays are turning up dead and mutilated around Queensland, in what police say may be fans retaliating over the death of This World's Greatest Bloke, Steve Irwin.

I don't know what's more ridiculous. The idea that Irwin's fans would do this - when it is the very antithesis of what the man stood for - or that the coppers so easily leaped to this conclusion.

Hat tip to 3vil g3nius.


Rock Star: Supernova

Well, another season of Rock Star is over.

And we ended up with Lukas Rossi.

Words cannot even begin to express the depths of my disappointment with this decision. Had the band picked Magni or Toby, Mrs Doombreed and I swore, we would buy their album and we would have tried to go see them on tour.

Either of the two guys would have had Supernova smashing their way onto the rock scene with a blast that would be creating waves decades from now.

We are eagerly anticipating both guy's solo (or band?) albums.

Lukas? Not so much.

I'm going to borrow from an old Kit Kat ad from the UK:

You can't sing. You can't dance. You look awful.

Seriously, he sings like someone just shoved a lemon up his arse and I've seen people on fire move better. The finale performance, where Lukas joined up with the band to sing Be Yourself & 5 Other Cliches, was the proof. Be Yourself is the all-new Supernova track first performed with Toby, and comparing the two just showed the massive chasm between the two artists. Toby's version was energetic, powerful, and exciting. Lukas' attempt was limp. It was like Talentless Fanboy Night at the karaoke bar.

At least they didn't go with Dilana. That would have been an unspeakable mess.

And a California judge says Tommy, Gilby, Jason and Lukas cannot call themselves "Supernova" until the lawsuit is settled.


Check out Toby's original song Throw It Away and and Magni's When The Time Comes.


Banksy's at it again

Guerrilla artist Banksy, fresh from taking a pot shot at Paris Hilton, has taken a pot-shot at the Bush administration.

He recently placed a life-sized model of a Guantanamo bay detainee in a ride at Disneyland in California. Some better shots here.


5 years on

I think they might yank my Licence To Blog if I don't at least mention that today is the 5th anniversary of 9/11.

Of course, mentioning such - as seemingly every blog in the universe did, and every newspaper, and every TV news show, not to mention Monday Night Football on ESPN, and a myriad of other shows on TV, radio, the Internet - presupposes that you are so dumb you don't know that today is the 5th anniversary of 9/11.

But it is.

I'm going to make no comment on the subject of 9/11. There's enough political rhetoric and opprtunistic coffin-riding being spewed all over the world on a day that should be about simple remembrance.


Bengals 23-10 Chiefs

The Bengals won their season opener against the Chiefs 23-10, in a stunning game marred by the injury to Kansas City's QB Trent Green, left unconscious on the field after what may or may not have been a brutal hit by Cincinnati DE Robert Geathers.

Green is reported to have suffered "pretty severe head trauma".

I'm sure all NFL fans wish him a speedy recovery and a swift return to the game.


Speaking of which..

I'm in love..


I went to check out the website of Triumph, Britain's second-greatest bike manufacturer (Norton, in case you were wondering).


Can anyone tell me why it's in German?!


Friday Rodent Blogging

Selene, plotting her escape. Yesterday we found wire cutters, a shovel made out of a tin can, and faked German identity papers in her house.


The Wicker Man

Y'know, our luck has been weird recently. When Mrs Doombreed and I have gone to the movies over the last few months, our choice of movies has either been excellent - The Illusionist, Invincible, Snakes On A Plane - or has been crap, like The Descent.

Well, you can add The Wicker Man to that last category.

Dire. Really, really dire.

Edward Malus (Nicholas Cage) is a police officer in California. In a bizarre opening series, Malus is involved in an accident where a mother and daughter are killed, but later finds out that no bodies were recovered from the car - and the car wasn't registered anywhere. Malus then gets a letter from an ex-fiancee of his, Willow (Kate Beahan), saying that her daughter, Rowan (Erika-Shaye Gair) has gone missing. Enclosed is a picture of Rowan. It's the girl from the car. Malus chases off to Summersisle and, though all the locals deny that the Rowan ever existed, makes his way, through an improbable series of events and weirdness, to the end of this painful movie.

Seriously, the plot has more holes than the PGA, the dialogue is stilted and horrible (Beahan, especially, seems constitutionally unable to complete any sentence), and our hero is about as dumb, arrogant, and unlikable as most people around the world assume all Americans are.

This is a remake of a classic British movie. The original, by the same title, was made in 1973 and is widely hailed as one of the most disturbing films ever made, and is a supremely agile tale of religions coming into conflict. The new version is widely hailed, by me, as a piece of crap not worthy of a footnote in any book that describes the original.

Doombreed rating: 1/2

Another milestone

And that post, the review of The Illusionist, was my 500th post.

Woo hoo, and all that.

The Illusionist

The Illusionist is, sadly, the kind of movie that will, in all likelihood, be spoiled for you if you don't go see it soon.

With this in mind, there will be two reviews. One in plain sight, one that you'll have to highlight to read.

Here's the first:

Awesome movie, just awesome. This is one of those movies that you will have to be prepared to suspend your disbelief if you're going to enjoy it. Go in with an open mind and you'll love it.

Eisenheim (Edward Norton) is an illusionist, plying his trade in early 20th century Vienna (that's Austria, not Virginia). His show brings him into conflict with Crown Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell) and reunites him with his childhood love, Duchess Sophie (Jessice Biel). What follows is a twisting tale of illusion, romance, and revenge.

Beautifully done.

Okay, now for the second one.

This movie has a twist. A BIG twist. The reason why I consider this information to be a spoiler is because foreknowledge tends to lead to far too much scrutiny. The only reason I was able to figure out Unbreakable and Sixth Sense was because everyone made such a big deal about them and I was watching for the twist from the opening credits. The clues, in this movie, are there, but you're not supposed to put them together until the very end.

Too many reviewers are scoffing about how they figured it out early. Personally, I think that's crap, but if they want to believe that, it's their bag.

The twist is elegant. Clues exist, especially with hindsight. We never see Leopold strike Sophie with his sword. We see Eisenheim conversing with the man who later identifies himself as Sophie's family doctor. We see this man prevent the police from performing an examination of her body. The "spirit" kids that Eisenheim "raises" in the theater are the kids he did tricks for earlier in the movie. They even show you how the trick is done, albeit in a very crude fashion. And then, of course, Eisenheim promises Sophie that he will make them both disappear. There are many more clues, but many are subtle, most are too subtle to spot without knowing the ending.

The scene at the end where Chief Inspector Uhl (Paul Giamatti) finally puts it all together is one of the most breathtaking pieces of cinematography I've seen in a long time.

No, I did not see this one coming.

Doombreed rating: * * * * *


What Have You Been Reading?

I was recently tagged by Notorious Apostate to partake in the "What Have You Been Reading?" meme. I have been strenuously avoiding anything approaching hard typing, but I can't put it off any longer. Here's a glimpse into The Horror That Is Doombreed:

1: One book that changed your life:

Billions & Billions by Carl Sagan.

This was Sagan's last book, in fact, he died before he could properly finish it and the afterword was written by his widow. From a lightly humourous look at our global ecosystem in The World That Came In The Mail, to a deceptively simple look at very large numbers in The Persian Chessboard, from a darkly worrying treatise on global warming in Ambush: The Warming Of The World, to a surprisingly hopeful piece on cooperation called Religion and Science: An Alliance, Sagan weaves his magic over science in an eye-opening book of this great man's last thoughts.

The afterword, though, is almost the most powerful part of all. Ann, Sagan's widow, writes a heart-wrenching account of her husband's last days, his courage against adversity and and the simple, overwhelming love they shared, and I, unashamedly, cried the first time I read it.

2: One Book You've Read More Than Once:

Night Watch by Terry Pratchett.

I read most books more than once, but Night Watch probably counts as the one I've read the most. Certainly, it's one of Pratchett's best.

3: One Book You'd Want On A Desert Island

This is a toughie. My first instinct is to cheat and think of a compendium, like The Lord Of The Rings, or The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, or something. Then I think of something silly, like Building A Boat And Getting The Hell Off Of A Desert Island For Dummies. Okay, then I think of being typically me and asking for The Bible so I'll always have firelighters.

Then I settle on The Hunt For Red October by Tom Clancy. I could, and have, read that book over and over and over again.

4: One Book That Made You Giddy:

The Messianic Legacy by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh & Henry Lincoln.

This book made my head spin. The incredible evidence for a 2000 year coverup of the truth about Christianity's origins is just breathtaking.

5: One Book You Wish Had Been Written:

U.S. Road Cav.

In the late eighties, a British company called Games Workshop started to publish novels based around their table-top roleplaying games. Several were printed for Warhammer, Warhammer 40,000, and some were published for a now-defunct game called Dark Future.

The game, set in the near-future, dealt with a blasted, wasted world, ruled over by gangs and the big corporations. The books were, originally, Route 666, Daemon Download, Comeback Tour, and Krokodil Tears, and traced the gathering of forces towards some massive apocalyptic End Of Days style final battle type of thing.

The fifth book in the series was supposed to be U.S. Road Cav, but GW dropped the Dark Future line before it was published.

6: One Book That Wracked You With Sobs:

Apart from Billions & Billions (see above), I would have to say The Sapphire Rose by David Eddings.

Kurik's death, and Talen's subsequent revenge. 'Nuff said.

7: One Book You Wish Had Never Been Written:

The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit.

It's not a bad book, per se, it's just that I was forced to read it at school, and then forced to watch the BBC TV version of it. And now this supremely useless crap is taking up space in my already overtaxed brain.

8: One Book You're Currently Reading:

The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

Is there any need for explanation beyond that fact that this is the greatest five-book trilogy ever written?

9: One Book You're Meaning To Read:

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk.

I'm told that the book differs considerably from the movie, so I'm interested in picking up a copy, if I can ever find one.

10: Now Tag Five Bloggers:

(who will hate me for doing so)

3vil g3nius

And.. I'm out of ideas..


Steve Irwin, RIP

Well, I see the news has spread all over the world. Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, was killed whilst swimming off of Australia's north coast.

He was filming a documentary on tiger sharks when a stingray speared him with its barbed tail. He was dead by the time he reached hospital.

This is weird news. I always thought Irwin would go out with a crocodile, or some venomous snake. Stingray attacks are so rare that this marks only the third time in recorded history that a human has died this way.

Contrary to the opinions already being spouted all over the Internet, Irwin wasn't aggravating the stingray in anyway before the incident, according to Australian police who have viewed the footage being filmed at the time. Sadly, it cannot be long before this footage is "leaked" and finds its way onto the Internet, if it hasn't already.

Irwin did for conservation what Carl Sagan did for science. He had an easy way of making things simple, and getting his point across in the clearest possible terms.

Irwin was so loved in Australia that he will receive a state funeral, if that is what his family wants.

A sad loss for the world.

Banksy's at it again

Meet Banksy.

He put a caveman rock drawing of a guy with a shopping trolley in the British Museum and it stayed there for 3 days before anyone noticed.

Then he daubed pictures on Israel's Berlin Wall Mk II.

Now he's gone after Paris Hilton and her debut album by swapping the CDs for his own remixed versions.

Quick! Someobody buy that man a beer!


Snakes On A Plane ... Reality Show?

I was listening to the local radio station yesterday when the DJ made mention of rumours of a new reality show based around the movie Snakes On A Plane.

So, I checked it out and, indeed, Craigslist is sending out an apparently genuine casting call for just such a series:

Synopsis: 20 contestants (10 male/10 female) travel by commercial aircraft to 10 different cities around the world. With the crew and pilots secure, the contestants will share the cabin area with 200 snakes. 5 of the 200 are poisonous. Each flight will be between 5 -12 hours in length. The reward at the end of each flight will be a day spent in luxury visiting the exotic destination city. Contestants can then choose to fly 3 friends out and extend their visit for week, all expense paid OR get back on the flight for the next leg of the competition. If at any time a contestant is bit by any of the 5 poisonous snake, antivenom will be administered and they will be eliminated.

This is either the dumbest idea in the history of television, or the smartest (or, it's a hoax). I can't decide which.


Friday Rodent Blogging

Selene is trying out for the World Box-Chewing Championships. That box was intact thirty-five seconds before the picture was taken.