Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Gotham by Gaslight video emerges

Gotham by Gaslight is a 52-page one-shot released in February 1989. It drops Batman into a grim, Victorian setting and pitches him against Jack the Ripper. The story became news again recently when what was initially thought to be concept art for an abandoned video game conversion made its way on the internet. Later it emerged that the images were not part of the official project, but a pitch submitted to THQ by Julie Farrell. Today IGN has posted the video below which is allegedly from the abandoned THQ project. Just like the crimes Bats faced in the smoggy streets of the 19th century, the plot thickens.


Tuesday, 28 February 2012

The Cadaver Synod

From Phantoms and Monsters:

The Cadaver Synod is the name commonly given to the posthumous ecclesiastical trial of Catholic Pope Formosus, held in the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome during January of 897.

The trial was conducted by Formosus's successor, Pope Stephen (VI) VII. The defendant Formosus, was an elderly pope who after a reign of five years had died April 4, 896 and been buried in St. Peter’s Basilica. Stephen accused Formosus of perjury and of having acceded to the papacy illegally.

The trial began when the disinterred corpse of Formosus was carried into the courtroom. On Stephen VII’s orders the putrescent corpse, which had been lying in its tomb for seven months, had been dressed in full pontifical vestments. The dead body was then propped up in a chair behind which stood a teenage deacon, quaking with fear, whose unenviable responsibility was to defend Formosus by speaking in his behalf.

At the end of the trial, Formosus was pronounced guilty and his papacy retroactively declared null. The Cadaver Synod is remembered as one of the most bizarre episodes in the history of the medieval papacy.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Robocop custom toys

Check out these excellent customs from Pack Rat Studios.

Via Toycutter

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Terrain tutorial

I have no idea what this man is saying, but I suspect he's insane.

Via fantasygames.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Want: Skullcandy Aviators

Beautiful steampunk-esque headphones.

Image from here.

More goodness on my Gimme Bar

Planning my forthcoming move has been somewhat stressful but I am glad to say I think I have secured a new secret underground headquarters from which to operate.

In the meantime, I have been adding lots of awesomeness to my beloved Gimme Bar account, so click here to take a look at what I have been amassing.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Music: Any Other Name by Thomas Newman

From the American Beauty soundtrack

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Slow posting (and one for the girls)

I just wanted to say I am not dead, but having a bit of a 'mare wrapping up my life in London and prepping for my new start in Nottingham. Currently the 'mare is taking the form of a comedy 25-page lease that my prospective landlord obviously commissioned Machiavelli to draft. Hey ho!

I am moving in mid March, so will post occasionally until then. Hopefully I'll be back to full throttle by the end of March.

To keep you entertained here's a cute little interactive inforgraphic which helps with the sizing madness we girls face when we go shopping. There is such a disparity in shops' sizing that there the only solution is to take armfuls of sizes into the changing room to test-fit. This site attempts to make life easier (and point out the absurdity of the situation) by plotting your actual stats against the benchmarks for each chain. Yay!

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Music: Lemonade by CocoRosie

Slightly mental but always awesome!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The late Stieg Larsson's grim tale of a 40-year-old murder has become my latest obsession. I have been mesmerised by the novel and the slick David Fincher adaptation which was released just before Christmas.

I was struck by how monumental the 'death' of the young, attractive women becomes in the hands of a skilled story teller. We abhore the corruption and killing of young women above all things. From the Rape of the Sabine Women, to poor Ophelia to the almost rhetorical question of 'Who killed Laura Palmer?' such tales exert a grim fascination for us. Larsson counterpoises the blonde, angelic victim, Harriet, with the fractured personality of Lisbeth, the tale's hacker-heroine. However, as the story unfolds, it becomes clear these girls have a lot in common and the book's original title, Men Who Hate Women, is wholly apt.

The material is ripe for Fincher, a veteran of the feel-bad film. Part of the reason for my adoration is the style of the package. From the surreal black-on-black credit sequence to the chilly snowscapes the film is a tour de force of iconic imagery (much of which is available on the Mouth Taped Shut tumblr). The soundtrack by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross is also superb. Hovering around all of this like a gawky, anorexic child  is Lisbeth herself. Roony Mara is unrecognizable as she peers out from behind her bleached brows, pallid makeup, facial (and nipple) piercings. Her EMO wardrobe inspired a range of clothes the designer Trish Summerville did for H&M, which sold out within a couple of weeks. There was also the stunning W Magazine shoot.

I feel a little bad typing this as a footnote, but there is, of course, the Swedish film. I saw it shortly before I watched Fincher's version. I was impressed, but I felt it was far less styled than its American counterpart.

The poster - click here for an interesting dissection of the design.

The Trish Sumerville collection for H&M

The W Magazine cover image, sans text

Monday, 6 February 2012

Cinema rant

This is a short rant: I love cinema. I really got into films when I was a teenager and I just adore movies and all the press material, websites and posters which surround them. But two things have happened recently which have annoyed the hell out of me. First I made the poor decision to buy the Ridley Scott Robin Hood film. This was a bad move because a) it's a really turgid movie and b) the DVD doesn't allow you to skip almost five minutes of copyright warnings and adverts before you can get to the main menu screen.

I have also just come back from a cinema in Central London where I saw The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (more on that soon). Because it was Leicester Square I paid £17.50 for a ticket. I was then treated to 25 minutes of adverts and trailers before the film began.

I hear the film and cinema industry is loosing money hand-over-fist. If only they would stop trying to squeeze every last drop of cash from the audiences (and the associated advertisers) and start giving the public what they want. The film they paid to see.

Rant over. Now here are some of my favorite movie posters. Which ones do you like? Have I missed any?

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Memories of Satan

Of late I have become more interested in the history of witchcraft and its place in Western history. Here’s a nasty little story I came across recently.

An abiding memory from my youth is Dear Dad describing the hysteria the press whipped up in the early 90s for cases of ‘ritual’ or ‘satanic’ abuse. These were stories alleging that remote communities were practicing satanism and sexually abusing children as part of the rituals. These stories, it transpired, were based on nothing more than hearsay, speculation and, most importantly, the assessments of some excitable psychologists and counselors who had ‘uncovered’ memories of abuse from ‘victims’. The allegations were exposed as baseless and the accusers were left rather red-faced. It emerged that the memories ‘recovered’ in therapy and counseling were highly dubious and often extracted with some coaxing from the clinician.

I was appalled to read an article in The Guardian which seemed to indicate that this rather horrible form of over-zealous persecution has reared its head again. Carole Myers was clearly a troubled woman who had become estranged from her family. She appears to have had contact with therapists before her death, some of whom have rather a keen belief that things were erring on the side of ritual abuse. Her family are not only having to come to terms with her death, but are also fending off faceless (and, if history is indeed repeating itself, baseless) accusations of cult-ish behavior.

The point of this post is twofold: first it seems  we are never far away from the urge to accuse, purge and purify. Any hint of witchcraft (or, as it has become, Communism, pedophilia or terrorist sympathies) provokes wild overreactions. Second, our faith in the infallibility of ‘experts’ is probably slightly misplaced. Today we put trust in scientists and doctors while in the past it was priests and astrologers. They can prove as culpable, gullible and credulous as the rest of us and their testimony should not be taken as gospel.

Alas it seems witch hunts, rather than witchcraft, seem to be alive and well even in the modern, developed, secular world.

 Photograph: Will Storr for the Observer

Friday, 3 February 2012

Razer Blade gaming laptop

I don't know massive amounts about computers, but I do know engough to recognise this thing is pretty powerful. But the main reason I am posting Razer's gaming laptop here is because of its design. It's got prgrammable LCD keys and a similar trackpad. How awesome is that?


Thursday, 2 February 2012

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

The Persepolis celebrations

When we Westerners learn about antiquity we naturally focus on those nations who had the most bearing on our present situation. We therefore scrutinize Ancient Greece as so many of our cultural concepts, conventions and customs originate from this nation. We are prone to marginalize the other great cultures simply because they are just that - other. The Persian Empire was arguably as sophisticated, advanced and progressive as its Western neighbors, but it is often portrayed as a brutal hoard of barbarians.

As many readers know, I am a keen reenactor and am a member of The Hoplite Association. We portray life in 5th century BC Greece and the surrounding lands. Many of us choose to be Persians and consequently I have learned more about their culture. In my reading I would occasionally come across grainy 70s photographs of an enormous parade of Ancient Persians and had frequently wondered where these photos had been taken. I discovered, after some time, that in 1971 the Iranian monarchy held a massive celebration of the 2500th anniversary of their culture. The event was the talk of the year and was, according to Wikipedia, "the most notable international social event in the 20th century involving royalty and heads of state." The event was contentious at the time due to its cost - variously quoted at between $22m and $200m. 1,724 men dressed as members of the Iranian armies from various periods including some in wonderful costumes from Ancient Persia. They were accompanied by cavalry and chariots and paraded around the impressive ruins of the great city of Persepolis.

Perhaps the reason this event is not more widely known is that it was described in less-than-glowing terms after the Iranian Revolution. The event is regarded as the swan-song of the Iranian monarchy and was cited as evidence of the monarchy's excesses, and therefore contrary to the spirit of the modern Islamic Republic. The photographs demonstrate that it was a stunning event and it is a shame it's not more widely publicized. Orson Welles, most famous for his portrayal of the sort-of-fictional tycoon and partygoer Charles Foster Kane,  summed up the celebration by proclaiming, "This was no party of the year, it was the celebration of 25 centuries!"