Friday Frog Blogging

This is the frog that I drew on the front of my personal notebook during one of my revision lectures today. Tune in next Friday for another drawing of a frog!

Independent Eats the Stars

On the way home I saw a horse that was coloured like a cow. That farmer must be a millionaire. I bought the Indie today, to learn such wondrous news stories as:
But then they went and ruined it all with this article on astrology.
It's not rocket science, in fact, it's not science at all. Whether you are an Aries or a Pisces, it is ultimately about people and what makes us what we are.
That's kind of like saying "phrenology is not a science at all but it is ultimately about people and what makes us what we are." How do we know it is about what makes us what we are? There is no evidence that the bumps on your head determine your personality. Nor is there any that the position of the planets and stars does either.

The quote above actually gets at what really bothers me about astrology. The stars and planets have taught us an awful lot about what makes us what we are - not our personalities, but the environment that gave rise to us. As my idol Carl Sagan once wrote, there cannot be a bigger cosmic connection than the fact that all the elements in our bodies were forged in the hearts of stars. But I doubt many astrology fanatics know that. They are taught to think of the stars as a two-dimensional image above us. How many even realise that the constellations are arbitrary groupings of stars that are often very far away from one another - some distant and bright, others close and dim?

Astrology bugs me because astronomy, cosmology and space exploration have taught us so much, have both exalted and humbled us, have made us at once tiny and insignificant and also unspeakably precious. There are plenty of people out there looking to feel a connection with the Universe. Astrology is a trap that they fall into and which prevents them from ever seeing the stars above as anything other than symbols in the sky.


Alien Autopsy

Obviously now I have to blog about the film I saw last night while my card holder was falling out of my pocket. I'd said I'd go to the cinema with someone this week and the only thing on that looked interesting was (drum roll) Alien Autopsy. I probably would not have gone to see it off my own back.

I am aware that, as a disaffected youth, I am supposed to scorn all television, but I happen to quite like Ant and Dec. Even so, I was expecting this film to be pretty naff. I am glad I do not wear a hat. If I did, I would be eating it right now (although I would probably be choking and dying as well). The thing is, believe it or not, I really liked this film.

I'm no big fan of British films, I have to say. There are the dreary, depressing northern dramas, the crude and disgusting comedies, the comedy-dramas about people who shouldn't be taking their clothes off taking their clothes off, the Lock Stock knock-offs, and the self-consciously Americanised and over-seriously mawkish films (Richard Curtis please stand up and make your way towards the disintegration chamber where you may collect your latest award). Still, about once a year, there will be one British film which really makes me proud of my culture. 28 Days Later one year, Shaun of the Dead the next, the Constant Gardener after that… and this year, Alien Autopsy with Ant and Dec? Well, maybe not. But I did like it and it was fabulously British. Sometimes it is just nice to see a film that makes references to Basildon and has a guest appearance by Jimmy Carr.

The thing that grabbed my interest with this film is that what has been billed as just another cheeky cheery Brit-comedy actually turned out to be a quirky, visually competent little film, falling into that weird territory between comedy and light-hearted drama oft-despised by the mainstream. Most reviewers have reacted by complaining that it's not all-out funny and it's a bit odd. This BBC online review* tells us that, "All in all, it's a most peculiar vehicle for the Byker Grove duo that will probably lose them more fans than it gains." Oh my fuckness! A peculiar film! My head asplode!

Maybe I'm just too easy going. It doesn't bother me that this film is neither weighty nor all-out funny. It seems perfectly reasonable to me for Ant and Dec to want to make a film about the semi-surreal antics of a couple of losers. You know whether or not that's your sort of thing. This Empire review nicely captures the quantity of goodness in this film, even if I don't feel that it quite captures the nature of it.

*Also, shoot me, but I can't help but think that I saw a different film to the Beeb. This "romantic subplot that predictably has Ant or Dec competing for the affections of the same woman" simply wasn't in there.

Lost Cards, Little Sister

Damn it. Three years. Three years I’ve been at this uni. Now with only about two months left… I lose my student card. It looks like it must have fallen out of my pocket at the cinema last night. I called them, but they haven’t found it. What’s really lucky is that I took my debit card out of my card holder before I left the house, which prevented a whole new level of agro. It’s kind of reminded me though. Three years. And for what?

When I left my physics degree I had no idea what to do. I entertained the notion of taking a course in creative writing, but I was frightened that I’d turn out to be no good at it. So I took up Computer Science, merely because I seemed to have something of an aptitude for it. Cue three years of doing no work and relying on my 'aptitude' to hand in half decent work right on the deadline. It’s so fun it makes you want to claw your brains out.

Enough of that. I finished The Catcher in the Rye this morning. I was thinking it was “quite good” right through it, but the parts at the end where he met up with his little sister were so lovely they made me want to cry.


On my mind today...

  • Diane E. Dees is good, I find, at picking up all the little stories that add up to a scary whole. This one should make you feel pretty sick.

  • P.Z. Myers predicts the demise of the Discovery Institute. Hooray! He then goes on to say that it probably doesn't mean much in the fight against antiscience.

  • Paperghost relates how, under new copyright laws in the US, music piracy may soon have a higher maximum sentence than assaulting a police officer.

  • Finally, ae provides a little audio/visual time-waster.


I figured a quick and nifty way to give a general idea of what kind of books I like was just to show you what books I've read so far this year. For the record I'm currently half way through Catcher in the Rye (I started it in earnest Yesterday) and a third of the way into Perdido Street Station (I've been reading that for a week or two). The rest I've read right through - and also enjoyed a lot.

At the moment I'd say that my favourites are Orlando and How to be Lost. Love as a Foreign Language also makes me fantastically happy and I've already put off picking up volume 4 for too long.


Dodgy Law Gremlin; Remarkable Visuals

Since I mentioned Kai Doh Maru a few days back, I should perhaps post about my first impressions. In my pen-and-paper diary, I wrote:
A distinctive animation from Production I.G., Kai Doh Maru is not an easy film to like. It seems to be aiming for a Crouching Tiger style 'touching martial arts epic' feel, but its disjointed narrative obscures rather than illuminates, as does, at times, the remarkable visual style.

It's certainly unique, but I'm glad I didn't pay very much for it.
Finally some links to what's on my mind (as advertised). Nothing too exciting today, but:
  • Suzi Turner writes about how all Americans are in danger of being sued for filesharing music, even those without computers. The Dodgy Law Gremlin also continues to gorge himself consuming fair use rights.

  • The Planetary Society Blog has some pretty pictures, which may also teach you some (Martian) geology.

  • At the moment I only read two comic/manga focussed blogs, so I'm a bit reluctant to add them to my blogroll, but I am a regular reader of Precocious Curmudgeon. Blogger David Welsh here posts his favourite current manga series, which I shall certainly try to remember to investigate.

  • And if the whole concept is alien to you, Welsh has also linked to this spiffy introduction to manga.



First of all, my name is not Pacian. Pacian is a name that I found in the hallowed book of 4001 Babies’ Names and Their Meanings. I thought it looked pretty cool and it means ‘Man of Peace’ which is an added bonus. It was always a name that I kept reserved for some exceptionally cool fictional character. Instead I just ended up using it myself when I needed a username to sign up to a message board.

Pronunciation… Um… I always think of it as “Pay-shun”, but “Pacy-Anne”, “Passy-an” and even “Pack-ian” all seem equally valid to me. Hell, change the ‘i’ to an ‘m’ for added catchiness. How you pronounce my pseudonym in your own head doesn’t feel like any of my business. I mean, I’m not going to hear you, am I?

Regarding the name of this blog, my conscience forces me to admit that I have been disingenuous. “All the other names were taken” seemed like a vaguely amusing subtitle and a fantastic description (in so far as it tells you both a lot and nothing at all about this blog). However, now I worry that people are going to stop making blogspot blogs because they think that there are no names left. This is in no way the case. What actually happened was that, after seeing that pacian.blogspot.com was already taken, I decided to come up with something that was both very me and extremely likely to be unique. Space Cat Rocket Ship, a random conglomeration of things that I think are pretty nifty, came quickly to mind.

Finally, let me leave you with a thought for the future. Given enough time, all the names will eventually be taken - and when that happens, I shall feel pretty smug about having snapped up the very last one long before that happened.


Random Time Wasting

I'm debating whether I should stick random links like this in their own posts, but I think that might get a little bit silly given just how disparate my interests are. I'll just cram 'em into my posts as I find 'em.
  • Twitch have put up a review of Silent Hill and there's discussion worth reading in the comments.

  • Bad Astronomy Blog has belatedly posted about this breathtaking video of the images the Messenger probe took while leaving Earth. See that round spinning thing? That's where you live. The images were taken over 24 hours, so you get to see it spin through a full 360 degrees while shrinking away.

  • Wandering through Wikipedia I find that I am a fan of New Weird and I didn't even know it.

  • My new favourite word: heteronormitivity. Every time I say it, it has a different number of syllables!

  • Finally, also from Wikipedia, here is a photograph of an honest-to-goodness samurai.


Silent Hill (Silenced)

Well, attempting to watch Silent Hill turned out to be rather interesting. Starting to watch it was easy enough. Some way into the film, however, just as the story was getting into gear, the film stops. The lights go up. Cries of “What?!” rise from an audience which is behaving very nicely for a group of young people watching an offbeat film with arty pretensions on a sunny Saturday afternoon. The film restarts, but then later stops again. At this point the cries of “What?!” are accompanied by cries of “Refund!” and about half the audience leaves, the rest of us being told that we will not get refunds if we don’t leave now. This is of course assuming that we will actually go on to see the rest of the film in its entirety. We see a little more of it. Then it stops for the third and final time. At this point we are told that the film stock is faulty and we are all to be given a refund. Most of us left are of the opinion that we’d rather see the film, but what can you do? A few people wonder aloud if they’ll be able to download it (ie. illegally - oh noes!!!!).

So, I have seen about forty five minutes of Silent Hill, for free. My opinion of what I saw is largely positive. At some point I'll have to write about what I look for in films, but it feels too vague to write down without having thought about it. I was expecting the script to be rubbish and the visuals to be striking. I wasn’t disappointed in either respect. I wasn’t expecting it to be scary - and it wasn’t really - but I was gratified with an evocative and creepy atmosphere that managed to pull me in even through the technical problems. Sean Bean’s attempt at an American accent was also very interesting.

It remains to be seen if I will be able to catch the rest of Silent Hill at some point. In part because I should be focussing on uni work (although experience suggests my mind will wander as usual) and in part because I’m not sure if I want to sit through the “Yeah, yeah, yeah, skip to the surreal bit” beginning of the movie for a second time (even if it does start with Radha Mitchell running around in a rather attractive set of pyjamas).

Anyway, in the end I took my refunded money and bought Kai Doh Maru on DVD, another (short) film which I also expect to have a poor script and striking visuals. I will watch it at my leisure, sprawled out on my sofa and hopefully interruptions will be limited to my cat getting up to mischief. This may turn out to be the best way to watch Silent Hill, as well...

Update: Silent Hill gets quite a positive review from Empire, my second favourite source for film reviews.

A step in the right direction for console-to-screen transitions and a twisted masterpiece of set design. Ultimately, though, it's a little too much like watching someone else play the game.

Or not watching, if the film breaks. :-(


Buying New Shoes from Joan Miró in Silent Hill, Aged 22

What’s on my mind today? Certainly not succinct titling. At the moment I’m reeling from the discovery that Jill at Feministe is the same age as me. Personally I think that this is ridiculous. In the future I hope she will consider being older.

This morning I went on the modern mystical journey known as shoe shopping, where I bought two new pairs of shoes. I really like buying new shoes, but I don’t think that I like the actual shoe shopping bit very much. This is probably why I hadn’t been shoe shopping for two years.

This blog is probably going to be rather silly for the foreseeable future. For a start I have the scariest deadline in the course of my degree looming over me. Much as I might like to be posting seriously about all sorts of relevant and heated political stuff, I am perhaps more in the mood to be avoiding reality and writing comically unwieldy prose.

I should just post a couple of things that have garnered my interest. First, the advanced critics’ screening of Silent Hill was cancelled. Ominous black birds have been seen circling overhead, but I’m still going to go see it tomorrow. I am considering taking a pair of goggles, lest they try to peck out my eyes. Hopefully that will not turn out to be preferable to watching the movie.

Secondly, you may have noticed the Google logo change the other day celebrating the birthday of artist Joan Miró. I for one was very interested, especially since I’d never heard of him before. However the “Artists Rights Society” have objected to Google’s use of an image emulating Miró’s style (even though they have done similar logo changes for Escher and Van Gogh among others). Sunbelt Blog has a nice post on it. Above all else I have to wonder how exactly this is serving the interests of Miró’s estate.

Paperghost has written an angry defence of Google claiming that this kind of behaviour is against the spirit of art itself. And two consecutive comments in a thread he links to express two further opinions:

A fellow called CelticCowboy writes:
Google wasn't selling unauthorized Miro prints, it was paying tribute to an artist likely to be forgotten or unknown by younger generations.
*cough* Yes, those ignorant youths... *ahem* Another poster, dclowd9901, answers:
[C]ould it be possible that Miro's family simply didn't want Joan's work to be bastardized into something as corporate as Google?
Finally P.Z. Myers has a post here, which I find particularly amusing having recently been exposed for the first time to the idiocy of anti-contraception advocates. And that’s one hell of an ugly final sentence on my part.


About Me

This is where I tap away at the keyboard and hope that I stumble upon a pithy self-description to throw into my profile. I was born an Englishman, with a significant portion of Irish blood, in November 1983. I grew up an only child with a divorced parent. I have always loved reading. I have always loved films. I have always been imaginative. I have always been rather shy. I’m usually polite, if sometimes inadvertently insensitive through sheer absent-mindedness. Like most shy people I worry a lot that people hate me. I have a very melancholy temperament and something very small can send me plunging into the blackest mood (but don’t worry, I have a pen-and-paper diary to write my depressive screeds in). On the other hand, it only takes something very simple to fill me with childish glee (something like this).

Ah, none of this is pithy at all. How do you encapsulate a whole person? Especially yourself. It’s like trying to draw the seat that you’re sitting on. Arguably I should focus on the parts that I intend to emphasise in this blog. For example I could just write, “I am a no-nonsense yak herder!” and people would know that this was a very serious blog about the trials and tribulations of herding yaks. “When milking a yak, it is very important that there is no nonsense…” Unfortunately, I am not a no-nonsense anything. I am a timid and aimless human being with eclectic interests and a weird mix of passions of varying intensity.

Perhaps I should just get someone else to write my profile. Then it would probably look like this:
I am extremely cool and all the kids want to be just like me. Sexy ladies looking for a good time should call [my mobile number].
Or perhaps a description of a person is just a list of facts and anecdotes such as: I am just finishing a Computer Science degree. I don’t know why I did a Computer Science degree. I tried a physics degree before that, but it didn’t work out. And soon I’ll find that I have to get a job that is the kind of job you get with a Computer Science degree. What kind of job is that? Would it be anything that I can be passionate about? Am I even capable of being passionate about something in the everyday world of ties and paperclips? How does this constitute a list of facts and anecdotes?

Right, fuck that. When Disillusioned Kid wrote in his profile that if you wanted to know what he’s like you should read his blog, I thought it was a huge cop out. But you know what?


About this Blog

I don’t intend for this blog to become an institution unto itself. Much as I might like to walk down the street and see people pointing at me and whispering, “Is that the guy with that blog?” I- Actually, no, I’d hate that. At the moment I’m just not feeling confident or strong enough to express and defend my opinions at great length. Instead I intend this blog to amount to a kind of ‘What’s on Pacian’s mind today?’ kinda dealie, where I’ll post links to whatever’s currently got me smiling or grimacing.

I may throw in a few posts where I write about things that are important to me; I may try and compile a number of links that I like regarding a news story and provide commentary; I’ll almost certainly post about the books that I’m reading and the films that I’m watching. But the best thing that I hope this blog will do for anyone who finds themselves here, is to send them somewhere much better. Wait, I meant to say: to send them somewhere even better. It’s also a place where I hope those that know me may find things that interest them, or at least get a better idea of what interests me.


And There It Was

And he looked upon his blog and he said, "What have I done?"