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Archive for October, 2007

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Beetlejuice

Posted by Big Boo on October 31st, 2007

BeetlejuiceSince it’s Halloween I figured we ought to have something spooky on the site today and what better than the Tim Burton directed film Beetlejuice. It might not be particularly scary, but it is very funny.

Adam (Alec Baldwin) and Barbara Maitland (Geena Davis) are a young couple who live in a small American backwater town. One day, whilst driving home across one of those weird bridges with a sort of building on that they only seem to have in these small US towns, they swerve to avoid a dog and crash through the side of the bridge. In the next scene we see them arriving back at their house. They don’t initially realise they died in the car crash, but soon the penny drops when Barbara’s hand catches fire and it is not burnt, they no longer seem to have reflections and when Adam tries to retrace his steps to the bridge he finds himself in a strange desert land populated by giant sand worms. Final confirmation is provided when they find a book called The Handbook for the Recently Deceased.

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Adam and the Ants

Posted by Big Boo on October 30th, 2007

Adam and the AntsEveryone must remember Adam and the Ants if only for the fact that lead singer Adam Ant (real name Stuart Leslie Goddard) always seemed to have a white line drawn directly across his face, under his eyes and over the bridge of his nose. They were a punk band around during the early 1980s who dressed in a very flamboyant manner, looking like pirates who had been caught in an explosion in a paint factory, but otherwise kick-starting the New Romantic movement.

They are best known for their 1981 number 1 UK hits Stand and Deliver and Prince Charming which were both accompanied by memorable music videos. Stand and Deliver saw Adam Ant dressed as the “dandy highwayman you’re to scared to mention”, robbing stage coaches whilst on horseback, just like in Dick Turpin, a popular show in the late 1970’s starring Richard O’Sullivan as the infamous highwayman from British history. Prince Charming’s video was like some massive fairytale style dance, with Adam wooing the lovely young ladies present.

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Tron

Posted by Big Boo on October 29th, 2007

TronFor all computer geeks of a certain age (in which I include myself) one of the most fondly remembered films of the 1980’s is Tron, mainly because whilst it may well be a complete flight of fantasy from the real world of computers, it’s use of computer jargon and terminology was fairly accurate.

The story revolves around a young computer programmer named Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) who used to work for a software corporation called ENCOM. Dreaming of running his own computer games company, he would design games on the ENCOM computer system after hours. Unfortunately another programmer, Ed Dillinger (David Warner) steals his designs and presents them as his own. This leads to Dillinger eventually becoming boss of ENCOM, whilst Flynn gets fired and ends up running an amusement arcade.

Obviously Flynn is annoyed by this, and he sets out to dig up the dirt on Dillinger. He hacks into the ENCOM computer system but is detected by the Master Control Program (MCP), an AI program developed by Dillinger from a chess computer program he had written. This results in all employees with the same security clearance as Flynn being locked out of the system. This affects another programmer named Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) who is working on a program named Tron that is intended to keep an eye on what the MCP program is doing, among other things.

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Cabbage Patch Kids

Posted by Big Boo on October 25th, 2007

Cabbage Patch KidsCabbage Patch Kids burst on to the scene in 1983, and whilst not at the height of popularity they were then are still available today. They were the brainchild of American artist Xavier Roberts, who initially created hand stitched dolls that he sold at craft fairs. They were discovered by US toy firm Coleco and soon became a must have Christmas gift. In fact, Cabbage Patch Kids were probably one of the first toys to kick-start todays pester power tactics, where parents feel they have to buy their little cherubs whatever they desire for Christmas, no matter what.

The big selling point of Cabbage Patch Kids was that they were all unique. No two dolls were supposed to be alike, and to be fair this generally seemed to be the case, as you never saw two completely identical dolls in any shop. They would differ not just in the clothes in which they were dressed, but also in hair colour and style, eye colour, mouth shape, skin tone etc. Each also came with a certificate of adoption from Babyland General Hospital, which told you the dolls name. You had to fill this in with your details and send it back to “legally” adopt the doll – which also gave you the option of choosing your own name for the doll if you disliked its given one.

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Stocking Fillers - Suppliers to Father Christmas
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Parma Violets

Posted by Big Boo on October 24th, 2007

Giant Parma VioletsParma Violets are one of those foodstuffs that you either love or hate, a bit like Marmite which is probably the best example of this phenomenon. Not that Parma Violets taste like a sticky brown yeast extract of course! Personally, I’m on the “love them” side of the fence (I’m on the “hate it” side for Marmite though). The image here shows them in their giant variation, which are approximately the size of a UK one pound coin, but as a child I remember them better in their smaller form.

So what are they? They are hard candy sweets made by Swizzels Matlow, that taste of, erm, well, violet. That is they taste of violet the colour, if that makes sense! If you were to close your eyes, and put one in your mouth, the taste of them immediately makes you think that they must be violet in colour. The flavour may well have something to do with the flower called the Violet, but having never personally eaten flowers I really don’t know for sure.

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The Great Egg Race

Posted by Big Boo on October 23rd, 2007

The Great Egg RaceThe BBC’s Great Egg Race was a precursor to todays Scrapheap Challenge, but on a slightly smaller scale. Three teams of university boffins would be challenged to solve a particular problem in as ingenious a way as possible. The kind of problems the team had to solve were usually of the “useless” variety. In early series the challenge was to get an egg from point A to point B without breaking, but in later series they deviated into a much wider variety such as creating a device capable of generating electricity by flapping your arms, or something equally stupid.

The show was presided over by Heinz Wolff, a wild haired, bow-tie wearing German professor. If you think of a sterotypical friendly German scientist, you’re close to what Heinz Wolff was like. Co-hosting was Lesley Judd, a former Blue Peter presenter and also co-presenter on the BBC’s computer show Micro Live. This worked out quite well, with Lesley asking teams the sort of questions we all wanted to know the answer to, and Heinz being the egghead who could then translate the teams answers into something we could understand.

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Innerspace

Posted by Big Boo on October 22nd, 2007

InnerspaceLt. Tuck Pendleton (Dennis Quaid) is your typical sterotype American movie soldier, full of bravado and a little maverick, but at the end of the day a good guy. Tuck volunteers to test pilot a new scientific breakthrough – a pod named the Kraken II that can be shrunk to microscopic size and injected into living things to aid in medical procedures and the like. Unfortunately, on the day of the test, a group of terrorists attack the lab where the research is happening, and instead of being injected into a rabbit, Tuck finds himself accidentally placed inside unwitting civilian Jack Putter (Martin Short).

Tuck makes contact with Jack by hooking the Kraken’s radio up to his ear drum, as Tuck realises he will need to get out before he runs out of oxygen. Jack is a massic hypochondriac and initially believes he is going mad hearing voices, but soon calms down enough to accept the situation. Just in time, in fact, to be kidnapped by the terrorists who insert their own shrunken pod into him in order to try and flush out Tuck.

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New Site Feature – Amazon.co.uk Links

Posted by Big Boo on October 21st, 2007

This weekend I’ve been working on a new feature for the site – integration with Amazon.co.uk!

You’ll now find that some posts will have an extra link at the end of them (when you view the entire post) that will either take you to a relevant product page on the Amazon.co.uk website, or alternatively a list of search results relevant to that post.  Well, that’s the idea, but if you browse the web with Internet Explorer the search version probably won’t work!  The links work fine on Firefox however, so I think something is going wrong with Internet Explorer or Amazon themselves.  I’ll keep looking though, in case it’s something I’ve done wrong! :-)

I’ve also added a handy search box for Amazon in the side bar of the site that lets you quickly do a search of Amazon’s catalogue.  This box does seem to work OK with Internet Explorer!

Let me know what you think of these new features, I hope you’ll find them useful.  Since we are based in the UK we’ve initially concentrated on integrating with the UK Amazon website, but if there’s enough demand then we might consider adding links for the US site too, as it appears we do have plenty of readers in the States too.