27 June 2007

Pierrepoint Review

Back to our regular programming. I was a mite bored the other day so #2 brunette and I meandered off to the movie Pierrepoint. Let's face it, a movie about a hangman is an unlikely choice - but it worked.

The movie detailed the life of one of the last hangmen in England, Albert Pierrepoint (AP), whose father was also a hangman. An interesting, but ultimately irrelevant point. The movie was obviously a 'made for tv' flick, and showed that - slightly. For all that, it was was an interesting and excellent watch - Timothy Spall was fantastic as AP.

AP brough a level of sophistication to the profession with charts based on height, weight and lifestyle so the victim wouldn't suffer after the drop. This 'quality service' was rewarded by AP being called on to execute Nazi's at the end of WW2. This bumped up his hanging total to 600+. Although not really setup as a social commentary as it focussed more on the individual and his life, the spectre of social change begins to haunt AP. Hailed as a hero for his Nazi killings - he's the toast of the local pub - as times change he notices attitudes towards him changing. The denouement is not unexpected, but moving none-the-less.

Yes I enjoyed the movie. Yes it could have been more doco than doco-drama. Yes it could have explored societies changing view more. But it's worth seeing, an interesting subject handled very well with a thoroughly sympathetic and well acted lead.

Go see it.

B xx

RIP The Canadian Grappler

Many of you will know my addiction for Pro-Wrestling which dates back err many years.

And in the news today Chris Benoit, the Canadian grappler was found dead.
Various news reports are around, so with thanks to Scotty-too-hotty and SmackDaddy here's some links.


Benoit was one of the few wrestlers with talent and style. The guy could actually wrestle, sold well and generally was loved by all and sundry.

This post replaces PtII anapsid/diapsid, and Pierrepoint review which will pop up shortly!

24 June 2007

It seems stupid

The America's Cup. It just seems stupid. A bunch of rich kids wafting around the Mediterranean. Tacking around to cross a start line, then jiving 'n' stuff around a bunch of inflatable buoys to hopefully cross another line first. All of which takes hours.
Sure, if you're setting yourself up for a decent drinking session it makes sense - sun, surf, babes etc etc. But really. As a sport?

I particularly like the irony of having the boats representing countries, or at least being registered in in a particular country. Doesn't Alinghi have like 11 different nationalities on it? why even bother pretending you're representing some country?


21 June 2007


My Saturday night is likely to involve beer and rugby. Actually we should drop the word 'likely'. Here's a taster of the Alternative Rugger Commentary from ActiveFM.


19 June 2007


Yeah, Richard Dawkins. Watch this. Watch it to the end. Great stuff and much respect to my co-author for this one :)


Love and graphic thoughts, B.

16 June 2007

Pirates - I knew I was right

As I said early, I thought PiratesIII was a pile of manure. It appears my favourite movie review, Anthony Lane, thinks the same.

go me.
go Anthony.
go life.


13 June 2007

Anapsid v Diapsid Pt I

As promised sometime ago here's a small series of posts concerning the Anapsida and the Diapsida. A topic I am 'mildly' interested in, and have been known to grumble about occasionally. I'm fully aware that of the readers of this blog only two (other than me) are likely to care deeply, but meh, it's my blog and I'll Diapsida if I want to.
Referencing: is likely to be a bit vague through the text as I can't be bothered, but there will be further reading type stuff at the end.

Pt I: tries to summarise the differences between the Anapsida and the Diapsida
Pt II: is likely to summarise support for various positions
Pt III: will probably be my take on it all

Four extant orders make up the Reptilia: Testudines (turtles), Crocodylia (crocodiles and alligators - the caimans have been subsumed recently see Janke et al 05), Sphenodontia (tuatara) and Squamata (lizards, ie. everything else including skinks, geckos, snakes etc). On the basis of morphology the orders are divided into the Anapsida and the Diapsida (Figure 1). By way of comparison all mammals are members of the Synapsida. Turtles are the sole members of the Anapsida, with the other Reptilian orders members of the Diapsida.

This distinction has been used for many years, and until recently was accepted as defining turtles within the Reptilia. During the 1980s and 1990s when molecular data from the Reptilia began to accumulate the (admittedly limited) base pair phylogenies suggested that rather than outside the rest of the Reptilia, that turtles placed within the Archosauria (a grouping of Crocodylia and aves) or the Lepidosauria (Sphenodontia and Squmata). Both positions cause the Reptilia to become paraphyletic, a _bad thing_ in phylogenetic terms. The limited number of base pairs used in the early molecular analyses meant few morphologists took them seriously, especially when some analyses supported a paraphyletic position, other studies were ambiguous and others supported the morphological status quo.

What began as a molecular argument, largely rubbished by morphologists, took a turn when Rieppel published work suggesting that morphologically turtles were not Anapsid. In itself this was not radical and had been suggested on and off for sometime, but the timing of the argument was important with the growing molecular evidence. Rieppel concluded by suggesting that discussion should shift from art turtles diapsid to where in the Diapsida they fit. Radical stuff. As expected this provoked a strong outburst from morphologists (Wilkinson, Lee etc). Without exploring the stats and matrices, Rieppel's central thesis was that the turtles skull hole (thus anapsid) is in the wrong place.

To explain that, precursors to the turtles were a group of extinct reptiles collectively known as the Parareptilia who lived around 300 MYA. The problems stem from the fact that the most primitive turtle skull Proganochelys doesn't possess an anapsid skull arrangement identical to the Parareptilia. therefore Rieppel reasoned turtles are derived Anapsids. The term 'derived Anapsid' implies that turtles were, at some point, members of the Diapsida and that skeletal changes have led to closing of one hole, causing the current anapsid condition.

Strange as that may sound, there are examples of skeletal changes occurring in other animals. For example the extinct Eurapsids (plesiosaurs and ichthyosaurs) were originally diapsid, then changes in muscle attachment led to bone growth causing an anapsid state.
Given molecular and morphological evidence there are three positions available for turtles within the Reptilia.
The Anapsid Hypothesis : turtles are an outgroup to all other reptiles, reflecting a traditional morphological position (AH)
Lepidosauria hypothesis: turtles are the sistergroup to the Lepidosauria (Sphenodon and Squamata) creating a paraphyletic Reptilia (LH)
Archosauria hypothesis: turtles are the sistergroup to the Archosauria (Crocs and Aves), creating a paraphyletic Reptilia.

these three positions are explored by Lee in more detail for those of you playing at home...

So that, in a very abbreviated form, is the anapsid:diapsid turtle problem.

Any questions, leave a comment. The next blog in this series will explore evidence for these positions.

Love, B.

References of interest:
Benton, M. J. (2000). Vertebrate Palaeontology. Oxford, Blackwell Science Ltd.

Carroll, R. L. (1988). Vertebrate Paleontology and Evolution. New York, Freeman.

deBraga, M. and O. Rieppel (1997). "Reptile phylogeny and the interrelationships of turtles." Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 120: 281-354.

Lee, M. S. Y. (2001). "Molecules, morphology, and the monophyly of diapsid reptiles." Contributions to Zoology 70(1): 1-22.

Rieppel, O. (1999). "Turtle origins." Science 283(12 February): 945-946.

Rieppel, O. (2000). "Turtles as diapsid reptiles." Zoologica Scripta 29(3 July): 199-212.

Rieppel, O. and M. deBraga (1996). "Turtles as diapsid reptiles." Nature 384: 453-55.

Rieppel, O. and R. R. Reisz (1999). "The origin and early evolution of turtles." Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 30: 1-22.

Wilkinson, M., J. Thorley, et al. (1997). "Uncertain turtle relationships." Nature 387(29 May): 466.

11 June 2007

I think I'm safe

An athlete was killed after she applied too much muscle cream to her legs (methyl salicylate) the NY medical examiner reported.

I think I'm safe.


10 June 2007


Not too much news here, but there is a new (v3) version of NetNewsWire which is my favourite RSS reader (thanks Patrick!). It's got a nice layout, it syncs your settings so you can read on various machines, and is a breeze to set up. Best of all top of their default feeds is the BBC news. I also like the browser capabilities thingy in it. Makes wandering off for more info nice n simple. I like that.

Apple have boosted their MacBook Pro range - now there's some sexy beasts. Better video cards, faster processor etc.
I mean really, all you PC laptop users out there, doesn't this look better? I know I feel superior sitting here with my MacBook as it is all about looks :)
If anyone out there wants to buy me a MacBook Pro, I won't say no...

Review of El topo coming soon.

Love, B

7 June 2007

Movies - Bgrade and proud

See you of little faith, yes I'm talking to you Chris, I'm working through that list of 'upcoming topics' which suggests the anapsid discussion may yet follow!!

I suspect I'll forget some of the movies we watched, so if other viewers can chime in I'll add in the reviews later.

We've become addicted to Joe Bob Briggs commentary, and this week watched: Hell High A movie that dealt with the traumatic childhood of a teacher and the affects of her classes stalking of her. Again IMDB reviewers miss the point of this surprisingly good b-grade horror. JB Briggs commentary definitely adds something, but even without that the movie is good. It's different, reasonably intelligent (well compared to the Jason or Kruegar franchises) there are interesting concepts in there. The double cross type behaviour with the geeks/students are quite cool. But again, JBB commentary makes it worthwhile and good and, as with all of his commentarys, highly recommended.

As fans of the Kaufmann legend (Toxie, Surf Nazi's etc) we double featured with "Werewolves on Wheels". The IMDB review claims this as a 'Z-grade', obviously the reviewer is a crack smokin' ho', the movie is great, full of far-out freaky middle aged hippies finding a satanic cult. Speaking of which, the cult had the best cheesy lines. And the music, that was 'good' too. yay for general weirdness. There weren't that many werewolves, and plot (such as it was) confused the hell out of us. For the cynics in the back, we hadn't been drinking much at this stage. Worth watching, in a hammer horror, cheesy 70s flick kinda way. Oh and there's motorbike riding hippie dudes, well before the days of Easy Rider, and much much cooler. Kinda proto-bikers we decided.

In another Kaufman release, Rapid Grannies. A Belgium release, originally, about two Aunts who get possessed by a demonic box sent by the bad boy of the family. The rest of the offspring have gathered to try and get themselves into the will and are a ncie cross-section of sycophants. But we also manage to get a lesbian couple. Great. A reasonable level of gore, and it's funny gore. Great cheesy lines, and by the time the Aunts get possessed any pretense at script writing has been dropped. We enjoyed this one, and could follow the plot even after a fair amoutn of beer, or wine in my case as I'm classy.

Some midgit wrestling was viewed. And a big thanks to Blair for supplying this top quality entertainment. More people need to watch this kinda entertainment!!!

Forbidden Zone, or the movies website here - eek. I think you lot need to see the cover art from IMDB. So here it is:
This was directed/written by Richard Elfman, along with a large proportion of the Elfman clan including the only successful one, Danny Elfman (the composer, who plays Satan). As a continuing theme we had midgits, perverts, concubines, weird flying sex people and a plot that promised nothing and delivered mind altering weirdness. It's also a musical. But in a good way. Definitely recommended, but try not to drink too much or be on acid. Or be very drunk or very tripped, I don't think a middle ground would work too well for this instant classic.

Scar II = warning contains images!

So readers will be aware I was considering getting some cutting done (or scarification). Following discussions with various people I decided to go ahead with it last Tuesday. The process itself was interesting, if not very complicated.

those of you slightly squeemish may want to skip this blog...

After cleaning the skin with presumably an antibiotic wash, a template was put on from my design - same as a tattoo. From there the cutting began. Using a scalpel meant it was always going to be reasonably painless (those of you have sliced your fingers with scalpels in the past will understand this), even without anaesthetic. Anyway it makes me seem more manly. No really. The cutting itself took about 40 minutes, didn't feel too bad, no worse than a tattoo - which felt a lot like multiple mosquito bites. Apparently there was a reasonably amount of blood - so I was informed by my adorable photographer S. Good plan to take an ex-ambulance officer along :) even if she found it a bit odd, probably cos it was someone asking to be cut!

After cutting he rubbed in the ashes, and that was by far the most painful part of the whole exercise.

So about an hour total, and then I was on my way. The cutting was done by Intensive Care, who I'd definitely recommend.

Ok, so the pix. First up, cuttting general and close-up.

This is what the cutting looked like before the ash was rubbed in:

And finally, the ash rub.

When it's all healed I'll post another picture.

Love, B.

4 June 2007

Cowboys, religion and movies

As readers of the blog have probably realised, I like Alejandro Jodorowsky - a lot, and Richard has just pointed out his early 70's film El Topo has just been released on DVD.

that makes me happy. And Richard happy. But probably scares a lot of other people...

Love, B

Gabriel, Genesis and music

After reading that Peter Gabriel was awarded the Ivor Norvello lifetime award (thanks RSS and the BBC) it reminded me how damm good PG is. Particularly after spinning 'Us' which is, imo, one of his lesser works. Although it does have Secret World on it. Actually the more I think about it, it's probably cos half of the tracks got thrashed as singles that I'm a bit bored with it. PG '3' and 'Up' are my two favourite albums of his.

And in a wonderful segue, that brings me to Genesis. Hmmm now as people keep telling me I'm a prog fanboy. And I can't argue with that. But as I keep telling people I'm not a big Genesis fan (although it's growing...dammit), Floyd - hell yeah, Bowie (is Bowie prog? eh who cares) yell yeah. Genesis, nah not so much. I've got a few albums lying around, and occasionally spin Lamb on vinyl - as I'm waiting for the remaster to come out. But leaving Genesis was the best thing Gabriel could have done, his solo stuff just kicks Genesis...I know there's a few of you out there who are going to complain 'but without Genesis breaking the mould Gabriel wouldn't have been able to do wot he's done' - and yes, I agree with you. But isn't his solo stuff so much better!

And in yet another segue, with thanks to Psychochicken, the new BBC series on music Seven Ages of Rock is bloody marvellous. Yay the internet!! Hopefully Ep3 will be floating around it soon.

Well I'm off for coffee now!!!

Love, B x

Meme alert!!

With thanks to Psychochicken and HippeDave.

1. Marillion
2. Tom Waits
3. Porcupine Tree
4. Muse
5. Pineapple Thief
6. The Mountain Goats
7. Bob Dylan
8. Mew
9. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
10. Dredg

What was the first song you ever heard by 6?
Not so much a song as I'd heard bits of the 'Goats on ActiveFM's Americana show and managed to miss their first Wellington gig. Which, typically, had stunning reviews and made me bitter, so very very bitter. Thankfully they turned up again and I made it to that one. Wow. One of the best gigs I've been too, the Goats are very very funny onstage, and their songs are great. Quirky, black and twisted songs.

What is your favorite album of 2?
That's a tricky question as Tom has had a *long* and very diverse career. I think, depending on mood, it's going to be a tossup between Small Change, Mule Variations, Alice and Bone Machine. If i'm after a jazz vibe it'll be Small Change and Alice, if I'm after a more alt vibe it'll be MV or BM.

What is your favorite lyric that 5 has sung?
Little Man

How many times have you seen 4 live?
Sadly never, again one of those almost stories. I had organised a trip for the gig but then I got a permit for some research and got stuck on an island instead.

What is your favourite song by 7?
Tricky question - again. But I absolutely love Blind Willie McTell which is found on the Bootleg Series 1-3 and the bonus disc to the stunning Time Out of Mind. Which, coincidently, is my favourite Dylan album.

What is a good memory you have involving the music of 10?
Probably the excitement of finding a new band. Someone had mentioned them on a mailing list I was on and since I was ordering some stuff from the US I threw Catch Without Arms on the list. As you can see from its position on the list, I like the band a lot (I only have two albums which says something that its at #10). Great prog-pop, is that a genre? I dunno, but they are definitely poppy, but there is quite a lot more going on in their music.

Is there a song of 3 that makes you sad?
Feel so low from Lightbulb Sun. Ok so there aren't that many lyrics, but the music rips me everytime. This would be followed very closely by Lazarus, from Deadwing.

What is your favorite lyric that 2 has sung?
No. There are to many that I like, although Tom's recent tirade against the war is good.

How did you get into 3?
Three ways, firstly through Marillion mailing lists who started raving about them which at least made me aware of the band. Then a local pirate radio station, called PirateFM, played something off The Sky Moves Sideways which hooked me as I was listening a bit of Floyd around then. And when I was chatting to Richard Stockwell of Delerium records in Hamilton and discovered he was the NZ stockist - well it all came together. TSMS was my first purchase which I liked - alot - then Signify was released and I was utterly hooked. It's been a long and expensive trip since then - although the value of the collection now makes up for that :)

What was the first song you heard by 1?
Script for a Jester's Tear and The Space by a sad arse loser guy called Trent. That led me to borrow Script and Season's from GrizzledDog. And the rest has been expensive history.

What is your favorite song by 4?
Absolution or Black Holes and Revelations

How many times have you seen 9 live?
None. I couldn't afford it when Nick came here last time. I was utterly guttered. Guttered I tells ya!

What is a good memory you have involving 2?
Drinking bloody good Scotch, smoking a cigar on our front porch with Grizzleddog, back in Mt Cook. Remember that Mr Andrew...

Is there a song of 8 that makes you sad?
Nope, thats what I like about Mew, they are happy cheery music! Go them! Not that typical for my depressing-prog tendencies

What is your favorite album of 5?
Variations on a Dream. The first album I heard by TPT and its still my favourite. Although the emotionary engagement of the next two is probably higher, the music of VOAD works so much better for me.

What is your favorite lyric that 3 has sung?
Can't even begin to answer that one, mainly cos it's too difficult to isolate music from lyrics. Particularly for this band. There's so many to chose from. So I'm giving up. There, it's a cop out!

What is your favorite song of 1?
I have no idea! But thinking about it, which was always going to happen at some point, the title track to Afraid of Sunlight rocks my world. So yup that'll be it. I get shivers down my spine everytime Mark Kelly's keyboard kicks

What is your favorite song of 10?
Hmmm probably Sang Real off Catch Without Arms

How many times have you seen 8 live?
Never. Well that was a quick answer.

What is your favorite album of 1?
Afraid of Sunlight. Simple!

What is a great memory you have considering 9?

Wandering around town when Abbatoir Blues/Lyre of Orpheus suddenly clicked, great album.

What was the first song you heard by 8?

I'm an album kinda guy, so the first track off And the glass handed kites which is "Circuitry of the Wolf". And I owe it all to Neil :)

3 June 2007

ginga go home


it appears no-one likes ginga's...


Pirates III

A recap: Pirates I - very good, original and enjoyable; Pirates II, still OK, not great but enjoyable.

So Pirates III, which I saw today. Bluntly - wait for DVD if you must see it. The movie itself is bloated clocking in just under 3 hours, and the script - such as it is - is missing the vital ingredient, plot. The scenes with Depp are great, but sadly one man who isn't in every scene doesn't a movie make. The first 30-40 minutes are painfully slow, then Depp turns up and things look up. Sadly they slow down again. Dramatically slow in fact. Jeez you'd think Besson was directing its so fuckin slow. As per usual the boats look good and convincing out-act Keira and Orlando. But that shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. But I get feeling the money was spent on special effects without much concern for how the scenes link together.
Keith Richards is sadly underutilised - but is a bit of a highlight in a movie sadly missing highlights of any type.
Plot holes abound, but possibly the worst is the single-minded controlling East Indian Co. Admiral dude guy who at a critical moment freezes. Thats totally out of character from all the rest of his actions. Basically I was *that* close to walking out of the movie. And I don't do that. So that puts it in Matrix III level and Royal Tenenbaums which I wanted to leave, but was stuck in the middle of a row.

Don't go.

Save yourself, rewatch the first one, or better still go watch Captain Blood or Sea Hawk (both Errol Flynn and both how action boat flicks should be made).

Love, B x

2 June 2007

Guilty Pleasures (musical!)

I've had a soft spot for the Alan Parsons Project for years now. It all began when I was still in Wanga's, and stumbled across the vinyl for Tales of Mystery and Imagination. Since I'd just been reading a collection of Poe's short stories I decided to buy it (well it was cheap and second hand). Voila I was hooked. I also found the CD - which had more Welles narration on it - cheap second hand. It's still probably my favourite APP album. Although interestingly the most recent, A Valid Path, and in particular the 5.1 mix of it comes very close, I like the techno-ish vibe AP went for on that one.
Most of the APP albums are based loosely on a concept, E.A.Poe for Tales, surveillance for Eye in the Sky, I Robot should be self explanatory, Vulture Culture from the me me me 80s (culture vulture), Gaudi on Antoni Gaudi etc. Although they aren't concept albums per se (aside from Tales), more a thematic focus.

Anyway what prompted this admission is the current re-releases of the albums: Tales of Mystery and Imagination; Eye in the Sky; I, Robot and Vulture Culture which I've recently picked up.

It's interesting to see how they've dated since release. Obviously these CDs are brilliantly recorded as thats one thing AP does very well, and there has been a great deal of care involved in these releases. The bonus tracks are good and the long track (kind of a mix track) on each CD is excellent.

Eye in the Sky still sounds great, nothing too dated on here. The use of orchestra, particularly trombones and swirling it between the speakers is still very cool. I don't care how much rubbishing they get, I like the proggy goodness of Silence and I, and everyone knows the title track - and recognises Sirius. I'm currently listening to the orchestral 'eye pieces' which definitely reinforces how good the tunes were. The brass band section of Silence and I is gorgeous.

I, Robot. I hadn't heard a good version of this as my vinyl is pretty crappy and the tape died years ago. Most of the album holds up quite well, and there are some great tunes in there. It does get a bit widdly and meh in places, but I like it. Anyone who doesn't start tapping away to Genesis Ch.1 V32 needs to be shot.

Vulture Culture. Again another tape of mine so I hadn't heard it for sometime. Actually I'm not sure if I had VC on tape at all, I had a kinda BestOf Vol2 which was largely drawn from VC and Ammonia Ave so I knew most of the tracks. Again the songs are great, and the opening three tracks are very strong. This album is the one that has dated tho', the music is good the tunes are strong, but the heavy 80's synth dates it. I like the album, but somehow it doesn't have the freshness of the other two. VC has always been regarded as the lesser sibling of Ammonia Ave (VC was supposed to be a companion piece to it). Don't get me wrong, its very good 80s synth pop/rock, but it's not APP best work.

Tales hasn't arrived yet, but its got a whole bonus disc on it which should be nice!

Love, B xx

1 June 2007


Wandered along to this the other day as it has Robert Downey Jr, and to a lesser extent Jake Gyllllllenhallll. I'm a big fan of RDJr, and he was pretty damm good as a burnt out drunk news-reporter (so sniggers about method acting from the back thanks!). Concerns the innocent wee cartoonist, Jake, and the hard-bitten crime reporter (Robert) and their hunt for the serial killer 'Zodiac'. It's long (over 2 and a half hours), but I really enjoyed it. Nice character development, nothing was rushed and it was a very pleasant way to spend the time.
It's not overly graphic for those of you of a squeemish nature, and the acting is great.

Upcoming blog subjects:
* B grade watching evening a week ago
* Scar II (or is it III?)
* Anapsid discussion - no really, I will write it!!!

B xx