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September 29, 2004
Whiggles.tk Daily Update #2
[Posted 07:07 PM by Whiggles]

Technical Tomfoolery

My new network card, the Genius GF100TXV, arrived this morning and was installed without a hitch. Data transfer is now lightning fast thanks to the move from 10 to 100 Mbit/sec, and because this card is full-duplex, I no longer get the infuriating system clogging and stuttering I've experienced ever since I got my previous card, slightly over two years ago. I guess you get what you pay for, although this card was only 10 smackeroons anyway.

Music Madness

I've listened to You Are What You Love all the way through now, and I must say it's every bit as good as Adam's Rib. Melanie's off-beat sense of humour, sprinkled throughout the lyrics, is as strong as ever. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that her strongest tracks are the ones that exploit this. Wilma or a Betty Man, You Are What You Love and Bionic stand out as the strongest songs on the disc, with Bionic quite possibly being her best song to date. Very few people could take lines like "It's the answer I've been looking for/I don't want to be human any more/I'm bionic/I'm supersonic/I am superhuman/I am supernatural" (Bionic) and "I love finding money in my jeans/I love that actor Matthew Modine/I love cookies, I love cake/I love some stuff I used to hate" (You Are What You Love - the song, not the CD as a whole) and make them sound sincere, but she can, and this is what makes her work stand out from the crowd. If I have any complaints about this album it is that Melanie's violin, which was one of the cornerstones of Adam's Rib's sound, is largely absent here. It does show up on occasions, most notably in Temporary and the wild instrumental piece Mayor of Melonville, but for the most part the predominant musical instrument here is the guitar - slightly disappointing, given that violins are rarely heard in this type of music.

I'm going to do a full review of all three of Melanie's CDs (I ordered a sealed copy of Shakespearean Fish from an Amazon.co.uk auction) when I get a chance. I don't know much about music so it's hard for me to write anything constructive, but the practice is good.

I also received (from Amazon, within a couple of days of ordering, surprisingly) Fumbling Towards Ecstacy and Surfacing, two of Sarah McLachlan's earlier CDs. I'm probably going to end up getting all her CDs -- I think there are five in total, not counting two live albums, one of which, Mirrorball, I already have -- which is not too bad, as they're relatively cheap.

DVD Debacle

A package arrived from DVD Times this morning, carrying two discs: a full retail copy of Home on the Range (R1 Canada), for immediate review, and a disc-only copy of Tattoo (R0 UK) that I can keep but don't need to review -- it was being given away for free as there was a spare copy lying around.

Home on the Range is the final 2D animated film from Walt Disney Feature Animation, and I must say it's something of a weak note to close on. While it's definitely better than the Florida studio's swansong, Brother Bear (not too difficult, really), it has a rather lacklustre storyline, annoying voices and some very weak humour that I can only describe as Shrek wannabe material (not exactly a recommendation, that). On the plus side, the look of the film is quite interesting and there are some entertaining action sequences... but that's it really. It's a shame Disney fell so far from grace, but I guess it can't be helped now. They had their chance, now it's time for other studios to take the spotlight.

By the way, the Ren & Stimpy Season 1/2 uncut box set is now shipping at Play.com and processing at DVDPacific.com.

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September 28, 2004
Whiggles.tk Daily Update #1
[Posted 05:00 PM by Whiggles]

Today was my first full day back at university, although perhaps "full" should be in quotation marks, given that I don't have that many classes and I had a three-hour lunch break which basically led to myself and my friends Marc, Vicki cand Claire wandering around for a good 40 minutes before deciding to have lunch at a small Indian restaurant whose name I have already forgotten. That said, I'm not going to have as much time to update the site from now on, since I'm out at university every weekday except Wednesday, and I have to fit in six hours' work a week at the library. I've therefore hit on the clever idea of organizing all my thoughts for each day into a single update, entitled, imaginatively enough, the Whiggles.tk Daily Update. Basically, unless I come across a pressing piece of news that I consider deserving of an immediate update, or if I want to announce something like a newly posted DVD review, everything will be in one big post (or small post, depending on what happens during the day).

Real-life Rambles

University first. My four classes this year are Pragmatics (basically the study and analysis of conversation techniques), Literary and Linguistic Computing (featuring cataloguing systems, text mark-up and HTML, among other things), Sociolinguistics (the study of language in a social context) and Phonetics II (a continuation of what I started last year in Phonetics I). In the past I've generally had Friday as my free day (if I've had one), but this year it looks like Wednesday will be the day of no classes, which isn't as good as Friday but at least it gives me a break in the middle.

I'm in the money! My student loan has been paid into my account, I made nearly £40 selling off unwanted DVDs, I sold my old Radeon 9700 Pro video card for £87, I'm earning money on a weekly basis once more, and my crummy Sony TFT should soon be appearing in Strathclyde University's monthly magazine for sale (for around £200 I think).

Technical Tomfoolery

As usual, I've set my sights on purchases, the next major operation being an overhaul of my computer. My ASUS P4B266SE motherboard, Pentium 4 1.8 GHz processor and 512 MB of PC3200 DDR-RAM have lasted me more than three years, which is actually pretty good going given that the average system becomes outdated within 6 months. Still, the time has come to move on, and next year I hope to replace my motherboard, CPU, RAM, power supply and case. I have my eye on this bundle from Chillblast, featuring an Asus P4C800-E i875 motherboard, Pentium 4 3.2 Ghz CPU and 1024 MB of PC3700 Dual Channel DDR-RAM. I'm also looking to buy a Noise Control Stealth Tower and an Antec TruePower 550 watt power supply. The bad news is that, at the present time, this bundle of bits would set me back £782.13, but I'm hoping that at least some of the components will have come down in price by the time I actually get round to buying them.

My Mitsubishi CRT monitor is currently away being repaired by the manufacturer. For a while now it has been buzzing like mad, and over the last few days the bottom right hand corner has been getting blurry, a bit like the effect you get on a printed page when the colour and black & white plates haven't been aligned properly. Also, I get the impression that the aperture grille is being imprinted on to the display somehow, as a faint "dot" pattern is visible along the sides. It's still under warranty, thankfully, but I'm at a bit of a loss without it, since it's my primary viewing choice for DVDs and games, and my TFT is, well, pish. They're estimating a 5-7 day turnaround.

Music Madness

My order of Melanie Doane's You Are What You Love has shown up from Maple Music in Canada. With a 5-day turnaround from my ordering it on the 23rd to its arrival today, that was a good deal faster than the average Amazon.co.uk order. Amazon used to be the dog's coconuts, but over the past couple of years they've become progressively worse, especially when compared to the many cheaper options that exist for DVDs and games. I can't get enough of this woman's work. It's distinctive without being pretentious, and her lyrics have a sense of humour that you usually don't find in music (the love song in Adam's Rib, "I Can't Take My Eyes Off You", with lines like "So maybe you're not as real as the overs/But I choose you over all my past lovers/They have come and they have gone/But I can always turn you on", is actually directed at her TV). She also plays the mandolin and ukelele, so beat that!

DVD Debacle

Twitch of the Death Nerve (a.k.a. Bay of Blood, R0 USA) finally arrived today after a wait of something like two months. Not lost in the post this time, just out of stock. It awaits an audience with my eyes.

Well, that's all for now! Later, suckers!

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September 27, 2004
In My Skin
[Posted 12:06 AM by Whiggles]

I've reviewed In My Skin (R1 USA) at DVD Times.

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September 25, 2004
[Posted 04:18 PM by Whiggles]

Fed up with the crappy performance of my half-duplex 10 Mbit/sec network card, and having given up attempting to find drivers for the 100 Mbit/sec card David's friend Cameron donated to me, I decided to order a full-duplex 100 Mbit/sec jobbie myself, from Chillblast. This only sets me back £10.40 including shipping, so it's not a big deal, but it should hopefully end the problems that have plagued our network setup from day one.

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Armies of Exigo
[Posted 04:03 PM by Whiggles]

I got a demo for this game on the cover CD of this month's issue of Computer Gaming World, and it's great. It's an RTS in the same manner as Warcraft III and Age of Empires, but its graphics are absolutely phenomenal (a 3 GHz processor is recommended, although it's just about playable on my 1.8). It also adds an interesting idea to the gameplay where you can tunnel underground, meaning that the battle is fought on two different levels. Click on the images above to view full-size versions. I had to compress them quite a bit to keep the size reasonable -- in the game it looks much crisper. Maximum resolution is 1280x1024 but that's plenty, especially when coupled with 6x anti-aliasing.

Check out the official web site here. You can download the demo here.

The full version comes out on November 5th according to Play.com, and I'll probably end up getting it. I've bought hardly any games this year (DVDs and disappointing TFTs have been occupying my budget), and would like to get at least one before the year is out. I'm probably going to upgrade my computer at some point next year (I think I'll pick up this combo) so I can play all the latest eye candy demonstrations at decent speeds.

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September 24, 2004
DVD delivery extraordinaire
[Posted 06:44 PM by Whiggles]

Two packages showed up from DVD Pacific this morning, one containing the 4-disc Ultimate Edition of Dawn of the Dead, featuring the theatrical and extended cuts as well as Dario Argento's European version. Great packaging and, unlike some people, I have actually received all four discs and they seem to be in working order.

I also got the R1 USA release of In My Skin (original title: Dans Ma Peau), a French film that has caused quite a lot of controversy due to its depictions of self-mutilation. I picked this film up on DVD out of pure curiosity and found myself thoroughly engrossed in its twisted tale of a young woman who becomes fascinated with self-mutilation. After cutting her leg at a party, Esther (played by writer/director Marina De Van) becomes obsessed with cutting herself, gradually intensifying the severity of the self inflicted wounds until she is literally ripping out chunks of herself. The film works because of its bizarre correlation between sex and violence (the mutilation scenes are shot as if they were love scenes), plus the fact that it provides no easy answers to the problems is reveals. Marina is cut off from life and feels the need to hurt herself because feeling pain is better than nothing. A harrowing film that is not without its own dark sense of humour, Dans Ma Peau is not always easy to watch or instantly gratifying, but it is fascinating. 4/5

Unfortunately, the DVD features a PAL to NTSC standards conversion. PAL -> NTSC is not as bad as NTSC -> PAL, since it is easy to convert 25 fps into 30 fps than the other way around, but it's less than ideal, and it really annoys me when companies do this because there is honestly no excuse at all.

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September 23, 2004
New image comparison
[Posted 11:44 PM by Whiggles]

I've done a detailed image comparison of the Czech and Italian DVD release of The Card Player.

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Music madness and other updates
[Posted 08:22 PM by Whiggles]

I received an order from the much-detested Amazon.co.uk, this morning (a.k.a. 48hours.actuallymeans.6weeks.co.uk): Adam's Rib, Canadian singer/songwriter Melanie Doane's second CD. I tried to order her third CD, You Are What You Love, from Amazon as well, but after six weeks was told by both Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.ca that they wouldn't be able to get it... Yesterday I ordered it from MapleMusic.com and it was despatched within hours. Good old Amazon, that's service for you. :| I have a few of Melanie's songs as MP3s already, but I've been having a bout of conscience woes recently, and have come to the conclusion that, if I enjoy a certain performer's music, I should probably actually buy it. I find this to be especially true of the less well-known singers who do their own thing rather than being created on the label's assembly line (in that they generally need the money and actually stand some chance of seeing the profits). I need to pick up her first album, Shakespearean Fish, too, if I can.

In other news, yesterday I was in at the university to, among other things, enroll for Senior Honours, get my student loan processed, and go out for lunch with my friends. I also started back at the library on Tuesday, and am now getting back into the swings of the incredibly tedious menial task of putting books on shelves.

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Ginger Snaps III: The Beginning
[Posted 04:22 PM by Whiggles]

I've reviewed Ginger Snaps III: The Beginning (R1 Canada) at DVD Times.

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September 21, 2004
[Posted 07:42 PM by Whiggles]

I happened to have the "pleasure" of experiencing this woeful little turd of a film after a friend of my brother lent it to him. It is a dreadful piece of work to say the least. The story is that a band of neo-Nazis attack a couple, and force the white boyfriend to watch as his black girlfriend is repeatedly raped. The girlfriend later commits suicide, and the boyfriend vows to avenge her. This somehow involves infiltrating the Nazis' ranks by posing of one of them and getting involved in all sorts of shenanigans, beating up blacks, gays and transvestites, before he finally decides to pull his gun on them. This is really just an excuse for a boat-load of laughably bad acting, awful photography, idiotic pacing and fight scenes that are not in the least bit believable. Look, I know the budget was obviously low, but this has to be seen to be believed. Everyone is a stereotype, not just the neo-Nazis but also the black characters, the gay militia that invades the Nazis' HQ armed with baseball bats and pink baseball caps, and the various drug-addled women that the Nazis butt-fuck for kicks. The film has absolutely no idea whatsoever as to what it wants to say, outside of some vague "racism is bad, m'kay" and "Nazis are dumb" messages that anyone could have told you.


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What's going on at the BBFC?
[Posted 07:40 PM by Whiggles]

Source: Melon Farmers

What's up chez le BBFC? First they pass the French self-mutilation epic In My Skin (which I have ordered... from America) uncut, and now A Hole in My Heart, "a film about amateur pornography that features humiliation with vomit and urine and unsimulated sex throughout", has passed through their dirty mits unmolested. Could this be a farewell gift to the gullible British public from former BBFC boss Robin Duval, who retired a few days ago... or is this a sign of better times to come? One can only hope, since although the BBFC's meddling has never prevented me from acquiring the proper versions of films, I know that not everyone on this blighted isle has discovered the wonders of DVD importing yet.

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Warcraft III patch released
[Posted 07:30 PM by Whiggles]

Blizzard has released a new patch for Warcraft III. Version 1.17 includes many bug fixes and adds two new neutral heroes. The patches weighs in at a whopping 36 MB, so either connect to Battle.net to download automatically or, as I would recommend, go here to download the stand-alone installer. (Next time I format my hard drive, the last thing I want is to have to download this massive patch again.)

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September 20, 2004
DVD didgeridoo
[Posted 10:39 PM by Whiggles]

The Church (R0 USA) and Spooks: Season Two (R2 UK) both arrived today. With The Church I now have three out of Michele Soavi's four movies. I just need Stagefright (aka Aquarius, aka Deliria) now to complete the collection.

I start work at the library again tomorrow, and then on Wednesday I'm in to the university to enroll in my classes, which begin for real next week.

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September 19, 2004
Going, going, gone!
[Posted 03:49 PM by Whiggles]

I'm selling my old ATI Radeon 9700 Pro on eBay. If you're interested, check it out! Please note that I post to the UK only.

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September 17, 2004
Choice quotes
[Posted 10:34 AM by Whiggles]

I was browsing through the customer reviews of Sarah McLachlan's live album Mirrorball at Amazon.ca and came across these hilarious ones that I just had to share with you:


...What couldn't be learned from reading the album information is that "Mirrorball" should be R-rated for its use of profanity, including the "F" word in "Building A Mystery." Maybe I haven't been listening carefully enough to the words on her other albums (mostly I listen to music as background material while reading), but this got my attention like a slap in the face. Apparently only one other reviewer shared my concern, which I suppose is a sign of the times. Pardon our tender sensibilities, but I still find it offensive to hear this type of language without being forewarned--I expect it if I watching an R-rated movie, but not on a Sarah McLachlan CD. I wouldn't want my 8-year-old granddaughter listening to this. Some might argue that she probably hears worse than this at school and that may well be true. Even so, I choose not to expose her to it intentionally, just as I wouldn't sit her down with me to watch an R-rated movie.

This is the basis of my 1-star rating, however unfair that may be.

If you are looking for a sampling of Sarah's work and don't mind the sounds of a live performance, but DO object to profanity, don't buy this CD.

Of course, you could consider this review your R rating and go from there. (And Yes, I will be sending a complaint to Sarah and her label.) --.

-- William D. Marsh from Gales Ferry, CT USA


I really love Sara McLachlan's voice. It is beautiful. You can feel her passion for the song when she sings. I bought this CD and was shocked when a few of the songs had objectional words in them. Yes, it is stuff you hear everyday at work and school but I don't want to pay money to hear them. I skip over the tracks rather than listen to them, but it shouldn't have to be that way. Couldn't she have just chosen some other words? --.

-- lqh from South Salem, NY United States


I was very disappointed in this cd. I knew nothing about Sarah McLachlan, but I loved the song, "Angel". I read some of the reviews here and decided it would be a good purchase.

I was shocked, to put it mildly, with the vulgar language used in some of the lyrics. There should be a clear warning on everything containing offensive material.

Plus, the main song I was interested in was performed live, so it didn't sound as good as what I've heard on the radio. --.

-- Tori from MO

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September 16, 2004
[Posted 03:55 PM by Whiggles]

Similar to what Lyris is doing, I'm giving away Gmail invites. I currently have 6 going, so if you want one, mail me. This is strictly first-come, first-served, so if you want a Gmail account, get in touch quickly.

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Il Cartaio
[Posted 12:01 AM by Whiggles]

I've updated my review of the Czech release of The Card Player to warn people about the lack of English audio and subs on the Italian version.

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September 15, 2004
ITV2: television to die for, innit
[Posted 04:58 PM by Whiggles]

My ITV2 post (see below) is now archived in the Opinion section.

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Man arrested for trying to import Thriller: A Cruel Picture
[Posted 04:48 PM by Whiggles]

Source: Mobius Eurocult

A Canadian man attempting to bring a copy of Thriller: A Cruel Picture across the border from the US was arrested and accused of importing child pornography. Even when he was acquited (the actress, Christina Lindberg, was 22 when the film was shot), he was treated to streams of abuse, was not returned the property he had legally purchased, and was told that criminal proceedings could still be brought against him despite the fact that he had not broken any laws. The most ridiculous part of all of this is the fact that the exact same version of the DVD is legally available to buy in Canada itself, for example from Amazon.ca, and in many over-the-counter stores. I feel that the man who was victimized by these customs thugs should receive a written apology and adequate compensation for the humiliation of being dragged away in handcuffs and treated to all sorts of vocal abuse. But of course we all know that such a thing won't happen, the guy will have a permanent black mark on his record, and bringing material across the border will be made all the more difficult for him.

And I thought British Thieves & Excise were bad.

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Peepshow coming to DVD
[Posted 04:22 PM by Whiggles]

Source: DVD Times

Channel 4 Video have announced the UK Region 2 DVD release of Peep Show for 15th November 2004 priced at £19.99. Channel 4’s groundbreaking comedy Peep Show is back with a DVD release of the first series including some ingenious and specially filmed extras. The show invites you into the private world of two very ordinary weirdos, where the narrative comedy is seen through the eyes of the core characters. And in another inventive twist, each character's inner thoughts can be heard - whether they be dark, stupid or embarrassingly over-blown.

At the centre of Peep Show is Jeremy (Robert Webb), a lazy man with big ideas about himself and his future music career. He has been thrown out by his ex 'Big Suze' and has ended up living with Mark (David Mitchell), his old friend, who has a completely different no-pain-no-gain view of the world. Socially dysfunctional in their different ways, Mark and Jeremy have an unhealthy reliance on one another - a dependence that can turn to frustration. And to further complicate their existence, Mark - in his cack-handed way - is in pursuit of the love of his life, co-worker Sophie (Olivia Colman), while Jeremy lives in awe of his idiotic and manipulative mate Superhans and their beautiful but brittle neighbour Toni.

The DVD also includes six specially filmed stand-alone scenes plus audio commentary over two episodes by the writers and principal artists. The fantastic line-up of character based extras are specially filmed scenes based on ‘What Jeremy & Mark did with Mark’s DV camera that he got for Christmas’.

This is one of the funniest UK TV shows in the last few years. I'll definitely be buying.

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ITV2: television to die for, innit
[Posted 01:06 PM by Whiggles]

This news post will probably not mean all that much unless you live in the UK, since it deals with a digital TV channel that, to date, has not made it outside the bounds of this fair island. American readers, however, will probably be more than familiar with some of the shows I will be talking about, so this might still be of interest to them.

Because the original terrestrial ITV channel was overflowing with such quality (!!111~), a second channel was created for digital, cable and satellite viewers. The imaginatively named ITV2 has the following excellent line-up on this bright and sunny Wednesday:

Let's go through the various programmes and discuss their artistic merit.

Coronation Street
Coronation Street is an English soap opera that takes place entirely within one street. Kind of like Neighbours, only the people are uglier, and instead of being set in a middle class Australian cul-de-sac, Coronation Street is set amid working class English tenaments. I don't know much about the show, because I feel that its themes and storylines would be beyond my meagre intellect, but I have often read about the thrilling plots that its writers generate, including homosexuality, alcohol abuse, wife abuse, child abuse, drug abuse and murder abuse.

Emmerdale is another English soap opera, only unlike Coronation Street, it is set in the northern English countryside. Instead of going on the dole, the characters lift bales of hay and talk like retards. This is another show that I am not overly familiar with, but I assume that storylines frequently involve stolen cows, pregnant sheep and people stepping in cowpats.

Airline is a "docu-soap". Focusing on the British budget airline EasyJet, it follows the trials and tribulations of the company's employees as they tackle unruly customers and (a recurring concept in every episode) cancellations and delays. The highlight of this show, for me, was hearing a senile old man screaming "I couldn't give a SHITE!" at 1.30pm on free-to-air TV.

Trisha is an attempt to cash in on pre-scripted US talk shows like Jerry Springer (see below). Trisha, a rather short, rather stupid-looking woman in her 50s who dresses and acts like she is 20 years younger and tries to be "bling bling" with the "youngsters", invites various members of the public on to the stage to discuss their traumatic lives, which frequently involve overweight, orange-faced young women accusing their slack-jawed, Burberry-clad boyfriends/husbands of adultery and spectacled mothers lamenting that their children might be "turning gay". What makes the show so hilarious is the fact that the whole thing is clearly pre-written and designed to encourage as much shouting and screaming as possible. Trisha doesn't help matters by taking sides and acting like a veritable retard, but hey, it makes good ChavTV.

Jerry Springer
Jerry, Jerry, he's our man, if he can't do it, no-one... will. Jerry Springer is an icon of trash TV, and he admits it himself. Oddly enough this makes him strangely endearing, as he himself finds it impossible to take this ludicrous programme, with its obviously scripted storylines, seriously in the slightest. Jerry will frequently be seen to have difficulty stifling his guffaws as the latest overweight southern woman in a thong and sparkling bikini marches on to the stage to profess her love for some poor schmuck with a massive overbite. Jerry is a former politician, which leads me to wonder if, once he's all washed-up, the likes of George W. Bush will present similar garbage. One can only dream.

The John Walsh Show
John Walsh is a short, grey-haired man with an annoying voice. He used to present America's Most Wanted, but he now makes a living hosting a right-wing "victims' rights" show that is borderline offensive given that its stance seems to be to punish even the most trivial of crimes in the most extreme way imaginable. Walsh's son was murdered, and he is at great pains to REMIND US OF THIS AT LEAST ONCE PER SHOW. The subject of his son's death seems to crop up every time he decides to demand a change in law or label various groups of people as "perverts" (amusingly ironic considering the number of times he refers to children of both sexes as "beautiful" and gets dangerously too touchy-feely with them).

Sally Jessy Raphael
Sally is an obnoxious old fossil who dies her hair an offensive shade of tangerine and hosts a talk show covering a wide variety of subjects. The most common topics include (a) health and safety, (b) makeovers, (c) unruly teenagers and (d) right-wing pseudo-feminism. Sally herself has an incredibly annoying voice and seems to think the world owes her a living for being a "celebrity" (a cancelled celebrity, thank Beelzebub). She also seems to have a rather skewed opinion of what matters in the world, frequently telling us that nothing is worse than a sexually active teen. Sally is backed up by the hilariously-named Pat Ferrari, the show's "after-care specialist" (i.e. big-nosed busybody), who spews her own personal brand of morality and crams it down the throats of the people stupid enough to appear on the show.

Judge Judy
Make way for the judge! People in Europe, Australia, Asia and the rest of the world have a saying: "Only in America..." I'd like to think that this is merely a case of good-natured ribbing, but in this case I think it's a valid statement. Only in America could a show exist where people are tried in a civil court for entertainment value. Judge Judith Scheindlin, a scrawny-necked raspy Jewish lady, belittles plaintiffs (as if they needed any more belittling after choosing to appear on such a show) to the point of insanity and, as is seemingly the case on most US "reality" TV shows (note the quotation marks), uses her position as the star of a trashy cable television programme to preach her own patented brand of morality. The most amazing aspect of this show is the shock derived from watching the good judge assigning arbitrary rulings of innocent or guilty, seemingly without taking any time to consider the matter. I sure wouldn't want to cross her in a dark alley!

Movies Now
Movies Now is a 10-minute piece of fluff where the latest blockbusters are summarized in what barely constitutes a review. The fact that commercials and credits take up nearly as much time as the show should speak for itself. No further comments necessary.

Well, there you have it: British television -- it's the best in teh world!!111~ (TM) So what if nearly half the shows are US imports -- I challenge you to find any other network that has such an uninterrupted line-up of pure garbage. And if you thought ITV2 was great, guess what's coming soon? That's right, ITV3! They had so many great shows they couldn't fit on ITV1 and 2 that they just HAD to create a third one! I can hardly wait!

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Il Cartaio Italian DVD - confirmed, no English audio or subs!
[Posted 11:49 AM by Whiggles]

Got my Italian Il Cartaio (The Card Player) DVD in the mail this morning, and I can confirm that there are no English subs or audio options: just Italian 5.1 and Italian subs. This is a bit of a bummer, and if I were an Italian customer I would be exceedingly pissed off that a film made in the country I lived in was not being provided in its original language!

Image quality works out as slightly weaker than the Czech release: a bit more edge enhanced, perhaps a bit better encoded, but similar overall.

The Italian disc does have some nice menus, though, and a 15 minute interview with Dario about how Il Cartaio fits into his filmography (again, in Italian only).

Bottom line, buy the Czech DVD or wait for the UK release. This film needs English audio, let alone subtitles.

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Thriller: A Cruel Picture
[Posted 11:47 AM by Whiggles]

I've reviewed Thriller: A Cruel Picture (R0 USA) at DVD Times.

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September 14, 2004
DVD deluxe delivery
[Posted 02:23 PM by Whiggles]

Three DVDs turned up this morning. Package #1, from my good friends at Xploited, contained Stimme des Todes (The Cat with the Jade Eyes, R2 Germany) and La Setta (The Sect, R2 Italy), while Package #2, jettisoned over from DVD Soon, contained Ginger Snaps III: The Beginning (R1 Canada). First of all, I've only glanced at the first two, but I can already say that none of these three DVDs has a decent transfer. Even Ginger Snaps III, just released a few days ago, is non-anamorphic and hazy!

Anyway, I've watched Ginger Snaps III and I must say I'm not exactly impressed by it. It has very nice photography and a decent score, but that's really it. Some of you probably know this already, but this third installment in the werewolf franchise is a prequel of sorts, taking the same two characters from the first two films, Ginger and her sister Brigitte, and placing them in the 19th century. It's an odd idea, but it could have worked. Unfortunately, the film takes itself far too seriously. The first two films were filled with one-liners and well-observed satire, but this one plays it straight when the subject matter is anything but. The film is filled with anachronisms, especially in the dialogue, but presents itself as a serious story. It also doesn't help that, for the most part, it is incredibly boring, suffering from the problems that plagued the first sequel during its second half. Characters wander about and talk, but nothing much happens. Sure, the performances of the two leads are great, but what does that matter when the script sucks?


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September 13, 2004
The Name of the Rose
[Posted 12:01 PM by Whiggles]

I've reviewed The Name of the Rose (R2 UK) at DVD Times.

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September 12, 2004
Spam filter for Outlook
[Posted 11:46 AM by Whiggles]

If, like me, you use POP3 email and are sick of unsolicited junk mail cluttering up your inbox, the simple solution is to create a rule that sends any email not directly addressed to your own email address to a separate folder for spam. This catches a surprisingly large number of the viagra and penis enlargement ads and consigns them to outer space. Then, at the end of the day (or week, or whatever), you can simply root through it for any items erroneously flagged as spam (there won't be many, since the vast majority of legit emails will be addressed directly to you) and delete all the crap.

BlackViper has an excellent guide on how to do this. It pertains to Outlook Express. Outlook (as in the one that comes with Microsoft Office) is a little different, but you should be able to figure it out.

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Jesus the Man, Jesus the Myth
[Posted 10:45 AM by Whiggles]

Source: Debate Unlimited

Martin Willett, editor and webmaster of Debate Unlimited, has written an interesting article surrounding the whole Jesus debate. Was he real or not? Mr. Willett, a staunch atheist, explains why "there is not one single piece of archaeological, forensic or documentary evidence that shows Jesus was ever alive".

As for my own opinion, I don't think it very much matters whether or not there was a guy called Jesus, although I am becoming more and more convinced that the character is completely fabricated - mainly due to the fact that not one single piece of writing exists referring to him that actually originates from the time period in which he was believed to be alive (and for a guy who supposedly created so many spectacles, I find it highly unlikely that NO records were created if the events). Let's think about it this way: preacher, believed himself to be connected to god (or at least said he was), got a little following, was killed by the authorities who thought he was becoming dangerous. It's not exactly the most original premise, is it? Throughout history there have been hundred of figures to which many or all of these characteristics could be applied, and in the grand scheme of things whether one of them was a crazed rabbi called Jesus doesn't strike me as being something worth losing any sleep over.

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September 11, 2004
Telly-v madness
[Posted 11:48 AM by Whiggles]

On September 9th, Lyris ordered a new TV: a 26" Sony KLV26HG2 widescreen LCD. It arrived yesterday.

Whatever my opinions are of Sony and their poor manufacturing quality and LCDs with their weak black level, I can't deny that this is a decent display. It's great to finally have a non-interlaced TV with component inputs capable of accepting progressive scan signals. The ability to watch DVDs like this does, in my opinion, offset the fact that black is now replaced by dark grey. In an ideal world, it would be possible to buy non-interlaced CRT TVs with component inputs, but I'm not sure if that's feasible or possible.

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September 10, 2004
AMD vs. Intel rant
[Posted 02:12 PM by Whiggles]

I came across this informative and well-worded rant by Black Viper about why he will only ever use Intel systems. Worth reading, but it's unlikely to turn any AMD zealots against their ways.

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RIP Frank Thomas
[Posted 08:46 AM by Whiggles]

Source: Sketchbook Sessions

Frank Thomas, one of the two remaining Nine Old Men from Disney's golden age, has died. This leaves his cohort, Ollie Johnston, as the soul survivor.

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September 08, 2004
DVD clear-out
[Posted 08:33 PM by Whiggles]

I'm punting a few unwanted DVDs on eBay. Have a look and see if any are of interest:

- Rush Hour (R2 UK)
- The Nightmare Before Christmas (R2 UK)
- Asterix Conquers America (R2 France)
- Trauma (R0 UK)
- The Stendhal Syndrome (R2 Netherlands)
- The Cat O' Nine Tails (R2 Italy)
- What Have You Done to Solange? (R2 Japan)

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Howl's Moving Castle
[Posted 04:26 PM by Whiggles]

DVD Times has an exclusive review of Hayao Miyazaki's latest masterwork, Howl's Moving Castle.

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DVD dance of death
[Posted 03:22 PM by Whiggles]

Three DVDs showed up this morning: Thriller: A Cruel Picture (R0 USA), Single White Female (R2 UK), and a review copy of The Name of the Rose (R2 UK).

Thriller first. Despite featuring hard-core sex scene inserts, despite alluding to this on the cover, and despite customs opening and inspecting the package, my DVD arrived unmolested. Considering that it is illegal in the UK to buy hardcore over mail order (which is what this film technically is, thanks to a handful of silly close-ups of cocks being shoved into various female orifices), I'm surprised this got through the inspection process. This is my second order in a row from Xploited Cinema to bear a "Customs & Excise Examination" stamp, and I'm beginning to get a little fed up with the pirates at Mount Unpleasant opening up and investigating my property. Anyway...

I really enjoyed the film. I was struck by how well-shot it was. I was expecting cheap-ass photography like in The Last House on the Left but instead I got a film that was carefully composed and very artistic. There are a number of really beautiful shots in it, my favourite being the one where Christina Lindberg emerges from the shed after sawing off her shotgun, and the autumn leaves are blowing everywhere. This is quite possibly the only example I can think of where an exploitation shocker doubles up as an art film. Don't get me wrong, some moments are pure schlock -- and I think the hardcore inserts were unneccessary, although they don't explicitly harm the movie as such -- but I enjoyed this film a lot more than I was expecting to. The film's colour palette is friggin' gorgeous too. I also like the way that, as the film progresses and Madeleine's revenge gets closer to completion, the sky becomes more and more blue. Vibenius certainly had some skill behind the lens. Ultimately, though, Christina Lindberg was the best part of the film. You don't get many images that are sexier than a hot girl with an eye-patch wielding a sawn-off shotgun. :D


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September 07, 2004
Happy birthday, Dario Argento!
[Posted 02:03 PM by Whiggles]

Dario Argento is 64 today! Buon compleanno, signore!

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September 06, 2004
Profondo Argento
[Posted 01:39 PM by Whiggles]

This morning I got my copy of the latest Dario Argento book, Profondo Argento by Alan Jones. This hulking great 335-page hardcover tome contains loads of interviews, reviews, anecdotes and accounts of actual on-set visits, as well as scads of black and white and colour photos from behind the scenes. I've only read a few of the interviews so far, but it looks like a great resource, although whether or not it will be better than the previous benchmark Argento chronicle, Chris Gallant's Art of Darkness, remains to be seen.

By the way, mine is a limited edition signed by Dario Argento, number 17 out of 100.

Order your copy now from FAB Press:
Paperback (due for release September 15th)

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[Posted 12:08 PM by Whiggles]

I've reviewed Torso (R0 USA) at DVD Times.

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September 05, 2004
[Posted 11:58 PM by Whiggles]

I've reviewed Shock (R0 USA) at DVD Times.

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Karaoke funtime
[Posted 08:46 PM by Whiggles]

Last night there was quite the hilarity aboard the HMS Whimsy as much fun was had by all shipmates with Singstar, a ridiculously stupid yet ridiculously fun karaoke game for the Playstation 2 provided by former Whimsy host Graham. Shipmates, Cameron and Grant dropped by to participate in the histrionics as some of the worst songs of the 80s, 90s or indeed any decade were sung in the most dulcet of tones. Below are some photographs of the crew of the HMS Whimsy getting down to BOOGIE!

Sailor Graham and Captain Whiggles.

Sailor Graham and Cabin Boy Grant.

Rear Admiral Lyris and Landlubber Cameron.

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September 04, 2004
Final Cut Films/Live for the Moment
[Posted 05:14 PM by Whiggles]

Rik Booth, a fellow DVD Times reviewer and on-off correspondent with me, asked me if I would mind making a post about his independent feature film, which he wrote, directed and produced. From the EPK:

After a young woman, Rachel Jackson, is knocked down and killed one summer night, it sends shivers down the local community.

The driver of the car, David Fowler, is found to be drunk at the wheel and is promptly arrested and interrogated. The previously-respected local doctor breaks down and admits to being obsessed with Rachel and secretly in love with her. At the same time, young Miles Anderson is trying to battle with his own demons. A sufferer of the mental condition Tourette's Syndrome since birth, Miles is plagued by nightmares and uncontrollable twitching. Miles shared a close bond with Dr Fowler, who had helped him try and finally beat the condition through music: to their amazement, whenever Miles sang the symptoms of his Tourette's vanished and he became a different person. However, with Dr Fowler under arrest and out of reach, Miles must struggle on without him.

Meanwhile, Rachel's husband Sean swears vengeance against Dr Fowler...

A powerful tale of tragedy, grief, loss and redemption, Live for the Moment is an "unforgettable drama" (YMDb) that is an "emotional tour-de-force" (Xenon Movies).

If you're interested, visit Final Cut Films' web site here. The DVD is released on September 27th and is available for £8.50.

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September 03, 2004
John K interview
[Posted 11:06 AM by Whiggles]

AWN.com has a great interview with John K. about his upcoming retrospective screenings at Egyptian Theater in Hollywood on September 7th and 8th.

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September 02, 2004
Random brainfart
[Posted 10:40 PM by Whiggles]

As you may have noticed, the disclaimer has been moved to the top of the page so that I could incorporate some additional links to kewl sites on the left-hand column.

It seems that, after a long period of low activity, my posts-per-day count is finally building up again.

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New FAQ question
[Posted 10:30 PM by Whiggles]

I've added a new question to the FAQ:

Why don't we hear about your family, friends, etc?

Although I do sometimes mention friends or members of my family, I generally prefer not to discuss matters pertaining to them since they have no control over what I put on my site. I am firmly of the opinion that it is wrong for me to discuss matters that I have been told in confidence, or reveal details about people who have not given me permission to broadcast information about them on the internet, or to defend themselves. The exception is my brother, since he is active on the net and has his own web site, so is therefore able to respond to anything I might say about him. Generally, though, I won't say anything about him that he hasn't already said himself since, despite the fact that I can be an arrogant little bastard at times, I do respect others' right to privacy.

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Lyris @ ECTS
[Posted 10:22 PM by Whiggles]

Lyris and his pal Adam somehow managed to lie their way into ECTS (the European Computer Trade Show -- essentially a European version of E3) in London, and he has all the scoop (and some dodgy videos) over at his site. Of course, before leaving early on Wednesday morning, he managed to fuck up my computer, I suspect by throwing in a music CD infested by the C-Dilla spyware/copy protection scheme from Macrovision. As a result, I've spent the last 24 hours formatting my machine and reinstalling everything. Mark my words, when he returns home I shall have strong words with the little miscreant.

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Credit card
[Posted 10:18 PM by Whiggles]

My new VISA card showed up today. Now I can begin buying things again. :D

Interestingly, it comes with a PIN number, which I am told will soon become standard for credit card transactions. Replacing the signature, it is a 4-digit code that you enter into a keypad whenever you use it to buy something in a store, restaurant or whatever. This has been standard throughout much of Europe for ages now, and in my opinion is far more secure than a signature, which can easily be forged. Of course, with this being Backwater Britain, you can always count on useful technological developments lagging somewhat behind the rest of the civilized world.

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5,000 posts
[Posted 10:02 PM by Whiggles]

I just hit 5,000 posts at The DVD Forums. I need a new obsession.

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I've been quoted...
[Posted 06:52 PM by Whiggles]

... on the cover of the upcoming UK release of Dario Argento's The Stendhal Syndrome! Both it and The Card Player are being released in the UK on 18th October 2004. I hope this release of Stendhal gets resubmitted and passed uncut (the current UK release is pre-cut by nearly 3 minutes), because I'd hate to think that my writing was being used to sell buggered material.

Source: DVD Times

Too bad they didn't actually put my name on it. :(

EDIT: It's also a misquote, and as a result renders the entire phrase gramatically nonsensical. "Alternates from the harrowing and the beautiful"? Eh? It should be "alternates between the harrowing and the beautiful". If they had to change it, "alternates from the harrowing to the beautiful" would have been just as good. Colin at DVD Times is contacting Arrow Films about the mistake to see if they'll correct it, but I'm not holding my breath.

EDIT #2: I'm told this is the first time DVD Times has ever been quoted on a DVD cover.

EDIT #3: Arrow have been notified and are correcting the quote for the final release.

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New ATI control panel released... to mixed opinions
[Posted 06:08 PM by Whiggles]

ATI has just released its brand new control panel, entitled the Catalyst Control Center. It requires Microsoft's dubious NET 1.1 framework in order to run, it connects to the internet every time you use it, and it consumes upwards of 50 MB of memory. Ugh. For me, there's no chance of me using it anyway, since it requires the latest Catalyst drivers (4.8 at the time of writing), and I'm stuck with the 4.6 drivers until they fix an infuriating bug that's been present since 4.7 onwards whereby switches from interlaced to non-interlaced during hardware DVD playback cause a slight frame skip.

Land of Whimsy BBS

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September 01, 2004
The Wes Craven Collection
[Posted 10:49 PM by Whiggles]

I've reviewed The Wes Craven Collection (R2 UK) at DVD Times.

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[Posted 04:27 PM by Whiggles]

I've reviewed Aladdin (R2 UK Platinum Edition) at DVD Times.

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DVD debacle
[Posted 09:39 AM by Whiggles]

My Possession/Shock double pack (R0 USA) and Videodrome (R1 Criterion) both showed up this morning. I'd been waiting on Possession/Shock for nearly three weeks now, which is somewhat more than DVD Pacific's 5-day norm, but from what others have told me, I'm apparently not the only one suffering from erratic delays regarding DVD imports. Supposedly there is a backlog at customs headquarters (Mount Unpleasant) due to massive numbers of people importing DVDs rather than buying them here (GEE, I WONDER WHY), so it's a toss-up as to when they actually arrive. Some make it through without problems, others get held up.

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