Thursday, November 30, 2006

Altman tribute

Lindsay Lohan
Rather good film director Robert Altman died last week. The last film of his I saw was Gosford Park which is very watchable indeed. In it, Kristen Scott-Thomas says "I'm bored to sobs", which is now widely quoted in my house.

Lindsay Lohan, the busty Hollywood party-goer and sometime actress released a rambling and incoherent tribute press-release which is hilarious:

“He left us with a legend that all of us have the ability to do.
Life comes once, doesn't 'keep coming back' and we all take such advantage of what we have.
When we shouldn't..... '
Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of yourselves' (12st book) -everytime there's a triumph in the world a million souls hafta be trampled on.-altman Its true. But treasure each triumph as they come.
Thank You,

I couldn't have put it better myself. "12st book"?


Sunday, November 26, 2006

HDTV - Is it rubbish?

I was looking at some HDTV specifications the other day and I can't help thinking there's some shady practices going on here. For the uninitiated, HDTV is new television standard for better quality television pictures. It comes in two forms: 768 lines and 1080 lines. Rather like the number of "megapixels" on your digital camera, the higher the number, the better the quality (to a certain extent).

Why are HDTVs so large?

If you go into a TV shop, you will be faced with a vast array of LCD and Plasma televisions, some of which support only the 768 line standard (they will show 1080 line content but have to scale the picture down, with an intevitable loss of detail). The only 1080 line models that are currently available are 40" or above. Why is this? There doesn't seem to be any good reason why LCDS of smaller dimensions can't be made with enough pixels and electronics to display the full 1080 line HDTV pictures. After all, computer monitors like Apple's 23" cinema display packs 1920x1200 pixels (more that 1080 vertical lines) in a 23" box.

I don't want a 40" television in my front room. About 32" is about right, but I don't see why I should have to put up with the 1366x768 displays that are currently on offer. A £70, 15" computer monitor has a 768 line display, so why are HDTVs so expensive? Surely there is a gap in the market for a 27-32" HDTV that supports 1080p.

Source of HDTV pictures

Another cost is the source of HDTV pictures. We already know that DVDs are rubbish (720x480 in the USA or 720x576 in the UK), so where are the HD pictures to come from? In the UK you have a few options:
  • Sky-HD - a £300 box plus and extra £10 per month gives you HD versions of Sky One, Sky Sports and Sky Movies. You also get a small amount of BBC HD content
  • The X-Box 360 provides an HD output
  • An £800 Blue-Ray player will let you play BlueRay high definition films
  • A £600 HD-DVD player lets you play HD-DVD discs
There are experiments underway to broadcast HD television pictures on Freeview, but that is some way off and when it arrives, you'll need a new set top box.

Is it worth it

Full high definition television is still in its "early-adopter" stage in the UK, with few sources of true high definition pictures, but HDTVs are selling like hot cakes and the pictures you get when putting standard DVD or TV pictures into them are less than ideal. When done properly, HDTV is stunning to look at but you need the content, i.e. BBC 1 and 2, ITV and Channels 4 and 5 all in full HD. This won't arrive for some time.

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Friday, November 24, 2006

Wonder pets are on their way

Wonder Pets - There's an animal in trouble somewhere
There is a show on Nick Jr called Wonder Pets that describes the antics of three domestic pets when the humans leave. After the door closes, the pets, a duckling, a turtle and a hamster, answer the phone. The phone call announces that an animal is in trouble, such as a Crane stuck near a volcano, a skunk tangled in a hedge or a unicorn with its horn stuck in a tree.

The pets decide that the endangered animal needs assistance so they don their superhero costumes, assemble a flying boat from some bits of old toys and fly out to help the creature. The beast is saved after some problem solving and teamwork is brought to bear. The Wonder Pets then return in their flying boat to their house where their discard their superhero disguises and return to their pet confinement.

This sounds a little surreal, but you have to factor in that the whole programme is delivered like an operetta with children singing the roles of the three key animals to a operatic score. Often their singing is off-key and one of the children can't pronounce her Rs - "there's an animal in twouble somewhere".

It is, however, a brilliant programme. The songs are completely catchy and you find yourself humming them all day.

Wonder Pets, Wonder Pets are on their way

To help a baby unicorn and save the day.

We’re not too big and we’re not too tough

But when we work together we’ve got the right stuff

The Wonder Pets!


Thursday, November 23, 2006

Polycystic Kidneys

Polycystic Kidney Disease is a hereditary condition that results in the loss of kidney function at some point between the ages of 30 and 70. I'm not a doctor, but that's what I believe to be the case. If a parent has the disease, their offspring have a 50-50 chance of getting it. A few weeks ago my mother was diagnosed with it and I had to troop off to get tested myself.

Today I had an ultrasound scan of my abdomen and it showed I have Polycystic Kidney Disease, which is a bit rubbish. What does this mean for me? Not much really. I have to cut down on salt intake, get my blood pressure checked regularly and have my kidney function monitored periodically with blood tests. All I know is that in the next 10-40 years, my kidneys are going to pack in and I'm going to end up on dialysis and need a kidney transplant. There's no immediate urgency because, at the moment, I'm otherwise perfectly healthy.

The big downside, for me, is that I've passed the 50-50 curse on to my son. He'll have to wait until his twenties before his test.

On the positive side, scientists are always coming up with crazy new ways of mending people, so hopefully they'll invent a marvellous new cure which will only involve taking three pills or perhaps a course of light massage. Another positive, is that research into lifestyle factors that can slow down the progress of "PKD" show that my twenty years of vegetarianism may have been worthwhile.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Pimp my Smart

I had a birthday this weekend and was suprised and gratified to receive a selection of clothes, a bass guitar, some books and a hand-made video from the flat lands. The biggest shock, however, was to find that my beloved Smart car had been "pimped", Westwood stylee.
Pimp my smart
I'm off to tear down our street at sixty miles per gallon to catch the attention of the girls. Once they're watching I might demonstrate the Electronic Stability Control, airbags and other safety features in my 600cc pussy magnet. Failing that, I might pump up the tunes: I think early Belle & Sebastian b-sides should do the trick.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Kylie returns

Kylie and Bono in Coloured Pencils
Kylie Minogue returned to live action this weekend in Australia, after a prolonged absence due to ill health. Her live show was embelished with the guest appearance of U2's Bono too.

Kylie is all over the media at the moment mainly because her cancer diagnosis was a big deal; it was a story that everyone new about and that produced a world wide interest. She has an extensive interview in this month's Elle Magazine where she is interviewed by the always annoying Kathy Lette, whose inane punning and rampant self-promotion pretty well spoils the article.

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Friday, November 10, 2006

Anti-Affair Badge Repels Women

I am living proof that marital fidelity is genuinely possible, with the help to the Anti-affair badge, available for $2 on The Ape Online Store. A recent trip to homebase proved its effectiveness as I was entrapped by diminutive, Aussie nymphette, Natalie Imbruglia, while perusing their selection of strippers.

Comic Strip Art #2 - Imbruglia is beaten off

Comic Strip Art #2 - Imbruglia is denied by Anti-Affair Badge

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Mackem Firework Stunt

A man from Sunderland came to grief after trying launch a rocket from his arse on bonfire night. The imbecile was found by paramedics with extensive anal injuries after the firework had unexpectedly burnt him, an eventuality that the moron had not considered.

Unfortunately, no photographs seem to have been published of the Mackem in question so I am left to interpret the incident through the medium of felt-tip pen art:

Felt-tip pen art #2 - Mackem Firework Stunt

Felt-tip pen art #3 - Mackem Firework Stunt

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Monday, November 06, 2006

The Ape Store - Now online

The Ape - Mini-badge
I have created an online store for The Ape. It contains t-shirts, mugs and badges all resplendent in the Ape original artwork.

Show you are a proud reader of The Ape by adorning yourself in branded tat.

The shop was created by uploading a few images to Cafe Press which is jolly clever. The only downside, fellow Europeans, is that the produce comes from America, so the shipping costs are a bit steep.

I particularly like the Anti-affair badge, guaranteed to avoid infidelity when worn.


Saturday, November 04, 2006

Our Mutual Friend

Keeley Hawes - Plays Lizzie Hexam in Our Mutual FriendI've started watching the 1998 BBC adaptation of Dickens's Our Mutual Friend on DVD from the nice people at Amazon DVD Rental. I watched it first time round, probably because it had Anna Friel in it, but I was pretty well hooked. On second watching it's still as good. David Morrissey is brillant as the tortured psycopath Bradley Headstone, playing against the languid cool of Paul McGann as Eugene Wrayburn.

This time it's Keeley Hawes (pictured) who is catching my eye. Perhaps it's because we've both been professional spies in our time.

Now I have to wait for Disc 2 to arrive before I can watch the final part. Here are some fascinating "Our Mutual Friend" facts:
  • OMF was Dickens's last complete work
  • During the writing of it, he was nearly killed in a train crash. Not only that he nearly lost the manuscript too. See quote at the end.
  • OMF features a character Jenny Wren, which Paul McCartney later used as a title for an album track and single
  • The Divine Comedy had a track called Our Mutual Friend on their album Absent Friends
  • OMF is mentioned in the TV series Lost by Desmond who carries round a copy so that it can be the last thing he ever reads

Dickens wrote in the postscript:

On Friday the Ninth of June in the present year, Mr and Mrs Boffin (in their manuscript dress of receiving Mr and Mrs Lammle at breakfast) were on the South Eastern Railway with me, in a terribly destructive accident. When I had done what I could to help others, I climbed backinto my carriage--nearly turned over a viaduct, and caught aslant upon the turn--to extricate the worthy couple. They were much soiled, but otherwise unhurt... I remember with devout thankfulness that I can never be much nearer parting company with my readers for ever, than I was then, until there shall be written against my life, the two words with which I have this day closed this book:--THE END.

September 2nd, 1865.

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I bought some coasters

Pretty CoastersI was pressing the "Next blog" button on the Blogger toolbar the other day when I came across this blog. As an artist myself, I could appreciate the great beauty in the sketches and prints that were displayed here. Further research uncovered a Flickr account and an online store.

The shop is operated by Cafe Press who print company logos and custom artwork on keyrings, posters, mugs, t-shirts for just about everyone. I could even open up an Ape store with a choice of fuzzy-felt art, felt-tip art, post-it note art or, my latest innovation, comic-strip art.

Anyway, I digress. So I ordered some coasters (cermaic with artwork glazed on), they arrived in the post and they are very pretty. So there.

A bit on the side

Glynn and Kylie Comic Strip 1I love my wife and I am keen to maintain a faithful relationship. But there are temptations out there and I would like to share with you my tips for resisting them. The simple rules are:
  1. Say "No. I love my wife" to the seductress
  2. Use the "raised palm gesture" towards the coquette - the international sign for stop
  3. If all else fails, use simple self-defence tactics to restrain the oncoming home wrecker
  • Practice your technique with your wife-stroke-girlfriend to make sure that you can follow the procedure under duress
  • Always be on your guard because there are would-be Mata Haris in every walk of life.
  • Stay calm at all times. Think "loose and limp"

Glynn and Kylie Comic Strip 2The trouble is that celebrities are the worst. I am pestered for illicit congress on a daily basis from pint-sized, Aussie sex-pot Kylie Minogue. She has taken to hanging out at my local convenience store in an attempt to ambush me when I'm buying eggs.

A text-book rebuttal is reproduced on the right through the medium of Comic-Strip art.

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Friday, November 03, 2006

Adrienne Shelly found dead

The actress Adrienne Shelly has been found dead in New York at the age of 40. She was the star of a couple of Hal Hartley films in the early 90s, Trust and The Unbelievable Truth.

I saw these films at an impressionable age and Trust, specifically, stayed with me. I haven't watched it for years but I seem to remember it being a rather good indie film about dysfunctional families and a relationship between two mis-fits.


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

I need a Wii

Nintendo WiiAs Sony and Microsoft slug it out over the next generation of their Playstation and X-Box, respectively, it's Nintendo that is the only games console manufacturer showing any real innovation. Their Wii (pronounced 'wee') console is out soon for £179 and is substantially different from the usual games clap-trap of 3D fighting games and driving simulators.

The Wii is slim, attractive model which connects wirelessly to your existing domestic internet connection. Its controllers are Bluetooth remote control devices with built-in speakers and motion sensors. You control the on-screen action by wafting the Wii remote around in the air; playing tennis involves making real tennis strokes in the air. The Nintendo people are trying to get the whole family involved so that demonic youngsters aren't staring into the TV sets on their own until they are dragged to bed, kicking and screaming. Nintendo want the whole family to prance around their living rooms, waving their magic sticks, prodding and swishing their controllers.
Nintendo Wii Controller
The Wii also allows you to browse the Internet on your televsion using a really cool, zoomable interface which can be seen in video form, here.

They also have a completely mental Japanese game called Wario Smooth Moves which makes you contort yourself into performing ridiculous and surreal tasks.

While Sony and Microsoft battle it out over who has the best graphics, the fastest processors or the best online game system, Nintendo have opted for a genuinely different approach to gaming, undercutting their rivals by price at the same time.