Jamie's Blog

The ramblings of a programmer with a little too much time on his hands

Tag: Derren Brown

Too Many Books!

Those of you who visit this website quite often will have realised by now that I really like to read. Some might call me a bibliophile.

When I think about it, thought, I worry that I don’t read enough to be classed as a hardcore bibliophile. But when I looked it up in my Cambridge Dictionary of English, it turns out that I had the meaning of Bibliophile wrong.

bibliophile
noun /’bɪb.li.ə.faɪl/ [C] formal
Definition
a person who loves or collects books

Cambridge Dictionaries Online – http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/bibliophile

To that end, I suppose that I could be considered as a bibliophile.

Note to self: Choose whether to capitalize “bibliophile” for later posts.

What Have You Been Reading, Jamie?

I’ll tell you.

… In fact, I’ll show you.

Books with a nice Martial Successor Nadesico poster

As you can see, I’m currently reading quite a few books. For those who can’t pick out the names of some of these books (as I’d taken this photo from the other side of the room, without using the zoom function on my camera), here is a list:

  • Sourcery (Terry Pratchett)
  • The Last Continent (Terry Pratchett)
  • Interesting Times (Terry Pratchett)
  • Tricks of the Mind (Derren Brown)
  • Brainwashing (Kathleen Taylor)
  • Yotsubato! [in Japanese] (Azuma Kyoko)
  • The Samurai (Jonathan Clements)
  • Physics of the Impossible (Michio Kaku)
  • The Lone Samurai (William Wilson)
  • The Student’s Guide to Writing (John Peck and Martin Cole)
  • Azumanga Daioh Omnibus [in English] (Azuma Kyoko)
  • City Watch Trilogy (Terry Pratchett)
  • Nerd Do Well (Simon Pegg)
  • The august 2011 of Games Developer Magazine
  • Curb Your Enthusiasm – The Book
  • The Making of “Thriller” (Douglas Kirkland)

And that doesn’t include the books that are currently loaded onto my Kindle. At the minute, I’m reading through “The Language Instinct” by Steven Pinker. It’s an excellent book about the science of Linguistics, which is something that I’m very interested in.

You’re Reading ALL of These?

Whilst it is true that I’m reading all of these books; I’m obviously not reading them all at the same time.

I read each issue of Game Developer Magazine from cover to cover, the day that it arrives.

The Pratchett books are purely for rainy evenings when I need a little escapism and a little laugh.

Yostubato! and Azumanga Daioh are perfect for when I have a little time to spare (when waiting on a phone call, or sitting on public transport, etc.)

The Samurai and The Lone Samurai are about my favourite of all subjects: Japanese History, and I’m taking my time reading through them. In fact, I have used both of these books (and others I might list at another time) as the basis for this post.

I’m working my way through the Curb book at the same time as re-watching the entire series of Curb. I’ll usually watch an episode, then read the section of the book related to that episode.

Tricks of the Mind is my current “pre-bed” book. I’ll settle myself down in bed with a nice cup of either Oolong Tea or Hot Cocoa and read an entire section of the book before retiring to sleep.

I was given Nerd Do Well for Christmas (2010) and read it in only a few hours. Then a friend borrowed it from me (is that illegal? I can never remember)… for over half a year. Since I got it back a few weeks back, I’ve been planning on re-reading it. Maybe next weekend.

That Is All

That’s all I’ve planned on sharing with you all today. This is only because I’m in the middle of listening to the whole of 2009 series of Just A Minute while typing this, and I’m getting distracted every few minutes.

Until next time, have fun,

J

Moar [sic] Books!

As I’ve pointed out in several older posts, I’m a big fan of literature, and travelling back and forth from the West-end of London last week has told me that I didn’t have nearly enough in the way of literature (read: “I didn’t taken nearly enough books with me to survive the tedium of sitting for over an hour at a time”)

Literature is King

Stephen Fry once said this:

… all the answers are there in the work that has been done by humanity before us, in literature, in art, in science, in all the marvels that have created this moment now.

I think that, pretty much sums it all up. There is another Stephen Fry quote I like to bandy about, it was from an episode of Last Chance to See:

Rudyard Kipling said that there is nothing truer than that which can be found in literature

Whenever I have free time, I can be found with my nose in a book; be it a work of fiction or fact.

Now, I’m not going to spend time rambling about my favourite authors or subjects, because that list would by quite long…

Sorry about that, my compulsion to provide ordered lists took over me for a second there, but I managed to stop it before it took complete control.

New Literature

Yesterday (Saturday, 28-05-2011) I went into the town centre (after resting up from my journey of new Epic proportions) and took a look in the local Waterstones for a couple of books. I was looking for Code Complete and the Wagamama Cookbook.

Code Complete

What can I say about this book? Only that all aspiring programmers should buy this book, and that all professional programmers should have (at the very least) read this book at some point. It’s the best source for coding design information. Here’s a link to the wiki page on the book.

Anyway, so I went out to find out how much these books where, and whether my local Waterstone’s stores had these titles in stock. It turns out that my local Waterstones had neither, but I was told that I could order them online.

I decided that I’d take a quick look in my local W.H Smith store.

There’s a chance that W.H Smith could have the Wagamama Cookbook, but I’ll be very lucky if they have Code Complete

Before I left Waterstones though, I ended up taking a look at the area of the store that I call “the science fiction/horror corner” for reasons that should be obvious. Not only do they have all of the science fiction and horror titles in this particular corner, but they have the graphic novels and translated manga here, too. It was here that I decided that I wanted to get the Azumanga Daioh omnibus.

I didn’t end up getting the Azumanga Daioh omnibus, but I did end up getting 3 more Discworld novels (They can be seen in the picture at the end of the article)

Then I wandered into my local W.H Smith store, they had the Wagamama Cookbook and a few other’s that I’d wanted to buy for a while.

All in all, I’ve spent around £60 on books so far this bank holiday weekend.

The New Titles

Here, I’m going to dump a (slightly blurry) photo of the new pile of books I have. I bought all but one of the books in this pile yesterday, see if you can guess which one it is

New Literature, as of 29th May 2011

Anyway, I’ll leave you with that, as I’m off to read more of Mort (at the top of that pile)

J

Tricky, Sticky Ducks, Ancient Warriors and Mind Tricks

Note: this post contains Japanese characters that might not render correctly with your browser. So if certain parts appear as a succession of boxes, that’s why. Don’t worry though, as I’ve put the reading of these characters next to them (mostly actor/character names).

This Weekend

Throughout this past weekend, I’d decided that I would venture out into the world – seeing as the weather was awesome round here – and spend time getting to know this thing called ‘Fresh Air.’ For the most part, it went well, too.

I travelled all the way out to a local seaside town and spent the day with my younger brother and a friend of mine, cruising around the arcades. It’s a shame that all of the rail shooters where positioned to catch as much glare (on the screens)  as was possible. I really like playing certain rail shooters on sunny day, pedestrians stopping in awe of my skills, setting the high scores safe in the knowledge that they wont be on there tomorrow.

We spent a stupid amount of money at the many arcades, and bought a bucket full of fudge…

There’s an awesome shop were you can buy fudge with different confectionery baked into it. For instance, I ended up with 100 grams of each of the following: Baileys and Cream Coffee, Run and Raisin, Milky Way, Coconut, and Mars (I think). The first two were gifts, the rest for me. Yum yum

We travelled home, tired and full of fudge to the idea of ordering pizza and watching a DvD. After the DvD had been watched, and the pizza’s (plural) had been eaten, it was time for my friend to go home.

Trick

The next day, I decided to re-watch a favourite Japanese TV show of mine. It’s a comedy show called Trick.

Actually it’s called トリック, but I decided that most people either wouldn’t be able to read that, or their browsers might not render it properly. So, I’ve simplified it to ‘Trick’ for the rest of this post.

Trick: The Movie DVD Cover Art

It stars 由紀江仲間 (Nakama Yukie ) and 阿部寛 (Hiroshi Abe) as a magician and physics professor (respectively) travelling the length and breadth of Japan solving crimes and mysteries related to spiritualism.

Hiroshi, being 6 feet and 2 inches tall, plays the role of a bumbling professor of physics at Japanese University of Technology and Science called 上田次郎 (Ueda Jiro), who owns a tiny car (I forget the model/make, but it looks like a classic mini). Ueda is a confirmed sceptic of all things magical an spiritual, however when things get too much for him he usually screams like a little girl and loses consciousness.

Nakama, being just over 5 feet tall, plays the role of 山田奈緒子 (Yamada Naoko), she is the the daughter of a talented magician and a famous calligraphist. Yamada is, in her own right, a very talented magician however she only has one die hard fan. Well, a stalker really.

She  doesn’t like the work that Ueda brings her, as her real passion is for magic and inventing tricks, not disproving ‘fake spiritualists’ but she really needs the money that such jobs bring.

The few jobs she gets during the shows run that are not related to Ueda, performing magic to pedestrians or shoppers in a mall, aren’t held for very long, as she is replaced with ‘edgier’ or stupid acts. For instance, one replacement is a man who stands on one leg in the Tai-Chi ‘Dragon’ position for extended amounts of time without falling over.

From this point onward, I’ll refer to Yamada Naoko by her given name (Naoko), to avoid confusion since her mother is also a main character.

Yamada’s mother 山田里美 (Yamada Satomi) is a famous calligrapher who claims that there are great powers in written characters. Satomi sometimes gets involved with the mysteries, as Naoko and her have a very strong emotional bond and each can feel when the other is in danger of some sort.

She, along with most of the main characters believe that Naoko and Ueda make a cute couple. This is remarked upon to the great chagrin of Naoko as she, seemingly, has no interest in Ueda (although, she worries for his safety at several points in the show).

The final main character is 矢部謙三 (Yabe Kenzo), an incompetent investigator from the Tokyo branch of the Metropolitan police. Yabe wears a wig, but tells everyone that it his natural hair. He is very touchy about this follicular matter, to the point that he beats up his assistant and his hair dresser.

He spends a lot of his time avoiding doing work whenever he can (telling people, over the phone, that he’s chasing a suspect while riding a roller-coaster for instance), and can only solve crimes due to utter stupidity and sheer luck.

The show has been described as a mixture of The X-Files and Scooby Doo. While that is a very concise description, I’d add “Derren Brown” in there somewhere. This is because of the fact that Naoko uses her training and insight as a magician to solve the mysteries and expose the, often quite simple, tricks used by the charlatans. That, and she often explains the magic tricks she (and other characters) uses to bamboozle everyone.

Anyway, I’ve managed to watch most of it so far. When I decided to embark on this not-so-epic quest I all three seasons, one of the films and one of the specials. In chronological order (of release) this is the entire series:

  1. Season 1
  2. Season 2
  3. Trick: The Movie
  4. Season 3
  5. Trick: The Special
  6. Trick: The Movie 2
  7. Trick: The Movie 3
  8. Trick: The Special 2

As of yesterday, though, I now have all of these. I’m looking forward to watching the specials and movies I didn’t have before. Also, I’m looking forward to watching the most impressive, and action packed fight scene in martial arts cinema history. It’s in the first special, and it’s between Ueda and a body guard.

If I could find a clip I’d post it, because it’s the best fight scene I’ve ever witnessed. Remember: the show is a comedy and I’m using a hefty dose sarcasm to explain the scene, here.

I’d seriously recommend watching this one if you get the chance. Although I can’t endorse it, it’s available for free streaming (with subtitles) on many, many websites and is well worth watching. Or you could (again not endorsing this at all) download the show, most of it – minus the second special and second and third films – are available in one form or another out there with subtitles. I’ve got the DvDs, and they’re a joy to watch.

Brentalfloss’ G-Rated Karaoke Track Pack

After I got home, today. I found a small cardboard box with my name on it waiting for me. Inside was my pre-order copy of Brentalfloss’ G-Rates Karaoke CD. For those who don’t know who brentalfloss (“And yes, his name is officially uncapitalized” – direct quote from his website), I’d recommend going over to his site and checking out his work if you like either:

  • Video game music or
  • Comedy

The man is an absolute wizard on the keyboard, and exceptionally funny.

brentalfloss during his famous “Zelda with Lyrics” video

Anyway, this CD is just his first CD but with completely re-written G-Rated lyrics. As he says on Track 1 (“Boring Parental Disclaimer”)

Hello. This is brentalfloss, thanks for listening to this CD. I made G-Rated versions of the tracks so that kids, like my nephews Evan and Jackson, could enjoy it too, without their parents having to turn down the volume at key points during most of the songs. I also did it for people who wanted a version of the CD they could listen to anywhere, with anyone.

What results is a CD that is, as funny and entertaining as his first CD, but with family friendly lyrics. It’s fun to listen to, and contains ‘Karaoke’ versions of his tracks for people to sing along to, or make their own lyrics up for.

I’ve only listened the G-Rated songs so far (as I’m guessing that the karaoke versions might be slightly less entertaining, but I could be wrong). It’s definitely worth getting if you bought the first CD.

Miyamoto Musashi

I’ve been reading about the amazing 宮本武蔵 (Miyamoto Musashi), often called the greatest swordsman in recorded history. He really is a fascinating person, and I’m planning a whole post about him soon. He was a martial artist in all sense of the word. He studied weapons, the Tea ceremony, Art and poetry.

Derren Brown

I’ve also been reading “Tricks of the Mind” by the often imitated, but never duplicated Derren Brown.

Derren Brown using his mind tricks on a parrot

For those who don’t know, Derren is an English magician and mentalist (in fact, the main character in “The Mentalist” is based, rather loosely, on him). He is famous for his TV shows and specials that “mix suggestion, psychology, showmanship and misdirection” and his investigative reports into things like ghost hunting, the paranormal, and most recently faith healers.

Among his most daring tricks where a live interactive seance, a live Russian Roulette game (with actual live ammunition), predicting the national lottery draw with 100% accuracy and a plethora of other mind and card tricks based around magic and gaps in our psychology and perception of reality.

The book is a selection of tips and tricks that Derren has used in his shows. They’re all excellent described (although I struggled with the peg system, initially) and are provided with simple examples. The memory tricks work so well that I scared myself. I was able, using a combination of linking and loci to remember a list of 20 random objects a month after being set the task of memorising them.

And I have a terrible memory. Seriously, I have trouble recalling much of 2009- Jan 2011.

Don’t worry though, I wont be using any of the hypnosis or suggestibility trick on anyone… at least not until I’ve perfected them. Even then, it’ll only be for silly things, like making people cluck like a chicken or making me invisible.

I need to get that book on Neuro-Linguistic Programming

So, that’s what I’ve been up to recently. I’ll put a whole bunch of links down here at the bottom of the article, should you make it this far, you might find them useful for expanding on some of the topics I’ve talked about.

Ciao,

J

Links

Trick on the wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trick_(TV_series)
Trick on the D-addicts wiki: http://wiki.d-addicts.com/Trick
Brentalfloss’ home page: http://www.brentalfloss.com/
Brentalfloss’ Youtube page: http://www.youtube.com/user/brentalfloss
Derren Brown’s homepage:http://derrenbrown.co.uk/
Derren Brown on the wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derren_Brown

Interviews, Homework, Literature and Music

Today I’ve been having a relaxed day. It started with a phone call about an interview on Friday, followed by Enchilada’s, some DvD entertainment and some light reading – so far, that is.

It seems that I’ve got an interview, for a job I know nothing about, on Friday afternoon at 2:45pm. Because I’ve been unemployed and claiming unemployment benefits for six months, they (the benefit people) have decided that they’re going to apply for jobs on my behalf – maybe they think I don’t know how to apply, or something. Either way, they passed on my details on Thursday, and the company managed to get in contact with me this morning. Because this job was applied for on my behalf, I have no clue what the job entails. The gentleman I talked to this morning said that he’d send me some information on the role, in the post. That was nice of him.

My brother had decided that we were going to have Enchilada’s for lunch.  He’d even been out and bought the ingredients while I was on the phone with the gent about the job. So, we made them together – as we always do – while chatting about this and that. Although we see each other everyday, we always have something new to talk about. It was about this time I received the classic film ‘Network’ in the post. Naturally, I was enthused and my brother, not so.

We retired with our food, and sat down to watch a little Ultimate Force, and amazingly well done British TV series about the S.A.S. It stars Ross Kemp (of TV Soap Eastenders fame) as the hard bitten but loveable Henry ‘Henno’ Garvie, the leader of Red Troop. My brother has been a fan for a long time, but I’ve only just started watching it. It’s very good.

After we’d finished watching a particularly good episode – wherein Red Troop are sent into a post Soviet Era country to rescue two little girls who have been kidnapped by Russian loyalists – I streamed the new Michael Jackson song (‘Breaking News’), as my brother had not heard it yet. I’d recommend listening to it, even if you’re not a fan. Here is a link. However, I’ve been having trouble streaming it since it when live yesterday. I figure that they’re having bandwidth issues, as everyone and their mother have been trying to stream it since it when live.

After that, I decided that I would partake in some reading. The only question is, What to read?

 

Some of the books, I have to read

As you can see, dear readers, I have quite a few books to work my way through. I concede that the top three are DvDs, though. Still that’s a quite a few books to get through before the years end. I wouldn’t mind, but I’ve had the Charlie Brooker ones since May/April time, after a friend of mine lent me them (‘These’ll keep you busy till you find a job’, he’d said). I’ve only managed to get half way through the first of his (Screen Burn) so far. I’m on my second read through of ‘Moab is my Washpot‘, and I frequently re-read sections of Oscar Wilde’s Complete Short Fiction.

That’s not all, though, dear readers. I’ve a stack of comic books to read through, too. I’ve recently gotten my hands on the classic Shadowman and The Mask comics. The first thing I noticed about The Mask comics is that they’re completely different to the film that was based on them. I wont spoil anything for anyone who wants to read them, though. The same with the Shadowman comics. Except it wasn’t a film that was based on them, it was a very dark video game that was based on them.

Right, I’m going to sign off. I’m not sure what I’m going to read, but there you have it.