Category Archives: Random Strangeness

70’s era J G Ballard on the X-Factor

Previously unseen archival footage, or Jim Worrad buggering around in his front room? You tell me.

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My Apple iPhone 5 Prediction

I don’t often comment on tech issues, but I’m a real gadget buff and keep a close eye on tech news. The Apple event scheduled for 12th September is creating the usual vast storm of media interest, possibly even more than usual. Most people are certain a new iPhone 5 will be announced. Some people are predicting a new 7″ iPad Mini to compete with the Google Nexus 7. Some people are even predicting a revised iPod Touch and other iPod models. Here’s my prediction:

Apple will launch a range of iPhone / iPad devices with 4.5″ / 7″ / 10.5″ (approximately) screen sizes. All of them will be phone capable.

Why? There’s clearly a convergence point upon us where a phone and a tablet are becoming the same device from the perspective of consumers. Apple’s only serious competition are from Android devices which have demonstrated a hunger for a variety of screen sizes with devices like the Nexus 7.  By providing a clear variety of screen sizes Apple will dominate the entire sector for another 2-3 years ahead.

My two cents. What are your predictions?

Questionnaire with a Dark Lord.

Éric Poindron’s Étrange (*) Questionnaire. Discovered at the Weird Fiction Review.

(*) Bizarre, extraordinary, singular, surprising. Le Robert Dictionary

1 – Write the first sentence of a novel, short story, or book of the weird yet to be written.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a Dark Lord in posession of a plot to destroy the world must be in want of a minion.

2 – Without looking at your watch: what time is it?

7:45

3 – Look at your watch. What time is it?

7:51

4 – How do you explain this — or these — discrepancy(ies) in time?

My time keeping device indicates the time via the screams of a minion, and he was a bit hoarse today.

5 – Do you believe in meteorological predictions?

Why would my weather minion lie to me, knowing, as it does, the unfortunate consequences?

6 – Do you believe in astrological predictions?

Piffling one! No aspirant may claim the title of Dark Lord without full powers of precognition and ambulatory divination.

7 – Do you gaze at the sky and stars by night?

The all seeing eye does not gaze. Glowers perhaps. Or probes. Yes, probes.

8 – What do you think of the sky and stars by night?

I am the Dark Lord of all I survey.

9 – What were you looking at before starting this questionnaire?

The dark heart of mankind.

10 – What do cathedrals, churches, mosques, shrines, synagogues, and other religious monuments inspire in you?

Only that it can be informative to study the techniques of ones forebears.

11 – What would you have “seen” if you’d been blind?

What would you have “seen” if ‘you had’ been blind. Pedantry is the pleasure of all Dark Lords.

12 – What would you want to see if you were blind?

Your mortal concept of sight means nothing to the awakened ones.

13 – Are you afraid?

*ahem* OK. A little bit. Just between us.

14 – What of?

Sometimes, when I awake from my eternal slumber, I worry that I won’t destroy the world. It’s a stupid fear I know, but it vexes me. What if I’m not evil enough? What if actually I’m quite nice, and might just be happier with a quiet job in a museum and a nice little house somewhere? Ridiculous of course. My destiny is a subject of prophecy. I can’t choose a quiet life, even if I wanted to. Not that I want to. At all.

15 – What is the last weird film you’ve seen?

After a particularly long day of dominating the mortal plane of existence I will, on occaision, instruct some among my minions to perform a popular entertainment of the day. You have not experienced culture until you have seen Avatar interpreted by terrified and highly trained minions. In 4D.

16 – Whom are you afraid of?

Paxo. Even Dark Lord’s fear a Newsnight grilling.

17 – Have you ever been lost?

I did once spend a frustrating afternoon in a service station McDonald’s near junction 8 of the M6, watching rain stream down the plate glass windows, receiving ever more apologetic text from a soon to be kept in agonising torment for eternity driver minion.

18 – Do you believe in ghosts?

Well, I am keeping you suspended between realms in order that we may continue this discussion.

19 – What is a ghost?

Describe your current circumstance.

20 – At this very moment, what sound(s) can you here, apart from the computer?

The weeping of minions.

21 – What is the most terrifying sound you’ve ever heard – for example, “the night was like the cry of a wolf”?

Joyous laughter.

22 – Have you done something weird today or in the last few days?

*raises eyebrow*

23 – Have you ever been to confession?

What full blooded Dark Lord has not been tempted to employ the services of a Man of the Light? But it’s not something we talk about at the dinner table.

24 – You’re at confession, so confess the unspeakable.

‘Damn me father, for I have done good! I have fed and homed a number of kittens, and allowed my minions moments of peace and freedom!”

25 –Without cheating: what is a “cabinet of curiosities”?

Why would I not cheat?

26 –Do you believe in redemption?

ahahahahahaha

27 – Have you dreamed tonight?

Only of power.

28 – Do you remember your dreams?

No. I make them real.

29 – What was your last dream?

Destroying the world. Then I woke up and destroyed the world.

30 – What does fog make you think of?

Fog.

31 – Do you believe in animals that don’t exist?

I must be careful what I believe in, as it will automatically come to pass.

32 – What do you see on the walls of the room where you are?

Let’s just say it involves numerous minions in various states of discomfort.

33 – If you became a magician, what would be the first thing you’d do?

Reverse Paul Daniel’s and Debbie McGee’s costumes.

34 – What is a madman?

Someone who believes in an objective reality that does not conform to their every whim.

35 – Are you mad?

I bend reality to conform to my every whim.

36 – Do you believe in the existence of secret societies?

They make an excellent entree.

37 – What was the last weird book you read?

Every now and again a writer or two dedicates their being to my service as a minion. They amuse me with the contents of their puny mortal minds which I have them labour for year upon year to record in words. At least, watching the manuscripts burn is amusing. I would never read one. How funny! Reading the hopes and dreams of a minion. Ha!

38 – Would you like to live in a castle?

Funny you should say that…

39 – Have you seen something weird today?

*raises eyebrow*

40 – What is the weirdest film you’ve ever seen?

Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker. Creepy or what?!

41 – Would you like to live in an abandoned train station?

I…have never considered the issue.

42 – Can you see the future?

I can see your future.

43 – Have you considered living abroad?

If by abroad you mean in parallel tiers of reality, then, no.

44 – Where?

The problem with pan dimensional travel is that wherever you go you find British people. I mean honestly, if you make it to the eighth tier of transcendence do you really need a traditional english breakfast and a pint of lager? Apparent you do if you’re from Essex.

45 – Why?

oh all right then. I’ve always quite fancied a backpacking trip to Valhalla. Satisfied?

46 – What is the weirdest film you’ve ever owned?

Ah ha! I am indirectly responsible for the Transformers movie franchise and Pearl Harbour, following the transfer of Michael Bay’s soul to my possession. ouch! stopping kicking me!

47 – Would you liked to have lived in a vicarage?

I had much more fun living in a vicar.

48 – What is the weirdest book you’ve ever read?

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. A post-modernist satire on the absurd impossibility of writing an epic fantasy in the 21st century, surely?

49 – Which do you like better, globes or hourglasses?

Globes of course, to better peruse my possession. And hour glasses make me nervous. Like I’m always late for something.

50 – Which do you like better, antique magnifying glasses or bladed weapons?

Ah ha! The former, because they allow me to better see the impact of the later.

51 – What, in all likelihood, lies in the depths of Loch Ness?

You do not wish to know, I assure you.

52 – Do you like taxidermied animals?

heh heh heh heh…that made me think of something I did with a few minions last week. *snort*

53 – Do you like walking in the rain?

That…oh my…my memories are flooded with the aroma of fresh cut grass after a thunder storm in late summer. Walking across the open fields of an idyllic countryside hand in hand with a young maiden who loved me with all her heart as droplets of moisture tumbled from the sky on to her beautiful, upturned face. Then sacrificing her. So, yes.

54 – What goes on in tunnels?

You…don’t really want to ask me that, do you?

55 – What do you look at when you look away from this questionnaire?

My favourite minion Tony. He seems…agitated.

56 – What does this famous line inspire in you: “And when he had crossed the bridge, the phantoms came to meet him.”?

*blank expression*

57 – Without cheating: where is that famous line from?

I do not appreciate your attempt to outwit me, for which you will suffer in agony for eternity.

58 – Do you like walking in graveyards or the woods by night?

See question 53. Replace maiden with gentleman.

58 – Write the last line of a novel, short story, or book of the weird yet to be written.

He loved Dark Lord. (Inspired by Orwell)

59 – Without looking at your watch: what time is it?

9:08

60 – Look at your watch. What time is it?

9:08

How will writers make a living in the future?

Printing press from 1811, photographed in Muni...
Image via Wikipedia

It’s worth considering the idea that we won’t.

We are living through miraculous times. Knowledge, once a scarce resource, is being made freely and universally available to all. To understand how miraculous this is, consider the Dark Ages. For somewhere in the region of a thousand years, Europe was held in the iron grip of the church by a complete embargo on knowledge. An educated priestly elite dictated that the only true knowledge was the bible, which was written in latin which, low and behold, only they could read. that scarcity of information aloud the complete suppression of the entire European population for millennia. It’s no coincidence that as knowledge began to flow again, and then blossomed with the waves of information technology that took us from the printing press to the  internet, society became progressively more free.

It’s very likely, in fact I would argue almost certain, that the freedoms unleashed by the internet will bring almost unimaginable benefits to every person alive today and every person that comes after us. The society that emerges from today’s information revolution will be as far advanced from our society today, as our society is from the Dark Ages.

In that future society, it won’t be possible to make a living from writing. Even the idea of making a living from writing will seem strange. In much the same way we might think making a living from talking a little odd…although it seemed perfectly natural to the priest who read from the bible only he could translate to his Dark Ages congregation. But then, if we make it down the rocky road of change that leads there, the idea of making a living itself will seem a little odd…

Which ebook reader should I buy?

Waiting alone at a dark, midlands train station and typing this post to keep circulation going through my fingers and and because the light from my phone seems to be the only illumination. The battery is running low though and I don’t want to know what happens around here when the lights go off…

…if you don’t hear from me again the assume the people of Wellingborough have done for me. If someone could gather together all of my unfinished stories and give them a posthumous publication that would be great.

Assuming I make it back to civilisation eventualy, I am starting to covet an e-reader. The problem is that none of the current models seem to have established a real foothold and I’m not confident that whatever I buy won’t be defunct by next year. Anyone have any buying advice?

Pedants’ cumupence

Stephen Fry delivers a long deserved slap down to pedants everywhere in the latest episode of his podcast series. My favourite moment is when Fry compares pedantry to sins like sloth and gluttony; a natural human response but one to be roundly discouraged. Also listen out for Fry’s cal for a new term for CCTV. I’ll be very surprised if we aren’t all calling it the SS (Security System) in a mater months. So much more appropriate.

You must be f@$king joking

Anyone who has my opinion on _poets_ will see the irony in my ‘What writer should you be’ test result…


You Should Be A Poet


You craft words well, in creative and unexpected ways.

And you have a great talent for evoking beautiful imagery…

Or describing the most intense heartbreak ever.

You’re already naturally a poet, even if you’ve never written a poem.

No More Wrath for Khan

Ricardo Montalban, who played Khan Noonian Singh in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan passed away today. The Wrath of Khan has for many years been my absolute favourite film of all time. From the opening sequence of the Kobayashi Maru, through the mind control ear wigs to William’s Shatners greatest moment screaming ‘KHAN!!!’ in the genesis caves, WoK is simply the greatest pulp adventure movie ever made. But there is more. The moment in thclimatic battle between the Enterprise and the hi-jacked Reliant when Spock hacks the opposing ships sytems and lowers her shields is a moment of cinematic brilliance. And I’m not ashamed to say I’ve cried multiple times over the death of Spock in the radiation chamber.

Mr Montalban. You will be missed.

George Pelecanos…

…is one of my favourite authors at the the moment, and there is a great feature on him over at the NPR website. I discovered Pelecanos through the HBO series ‘The Wire’ and have picked up a coupke of nis novels since. I don’t tend to read crime fiction, but I love his work for the depth of character and the amazing dialogue. Well worth a read for anyone interested in really well done contemporary noir.