Saturday, February 10

SHAME ON ET3! BAN ANIMAL CIRCUSES!

I am sitting here with the TV on mute in the background, by chance on channel ET3. As usual on a Saturday evening, they're showing footage from a circus... you know, the kind you usually sit in a big tent to watch, but on TV instead. Who watches this show every week I don't know, cause it's deathly boring - just people doing lame stunts and tricks and the like, but today is different; I just glanced over and saw that they've got THREE TIGERS and a guy FORCING THEM TO DO TRICKS with a LONG ROD on. I am so #%&*$#% furious right now I can't express it. It's bad enough that they give permission to the animal circuses (most of them from Italy) to even perform in Greece - just yesterday I saw a truck drive by advertising YET ANOTHER one, and thoroughly cursed it to hell - but now they are being SANCTIONED and essentially advertised on STATE TELEVISION.
Have we learnt nothing? Do the people taking their kids to watch these things not realise what is happening to these animals behind the scenes? Things that would make their kids have nightmares for weeks if they were to see them?
AAAAAAAGH.


On a more positive note, yesterday I attended the (wonderful) Thanassis Papakonstantino concert, which was being held to raise funds for the 'Steki Metanaston' - a group for immigrants' rights and support. The place was packed and full of high spirits, and hopefully lots of money was raised... will post at greater length tomorrow or Monday on the show/collective. There was also a protest today at Omonia for immigrant rights, but I'm afraid that after standing for 5 hours last night and getting up early for a greek lesson my poor body couldn't face it... If anyone else attended let me know how it went...

Sunday, February 4

IT'S MY FUNERAL AND I'LL PLAY WHAT I WANT TO

I’ve been tagged (cursed?) by toomanytribbles! For the top five songs I’d play at my own funeral. Wow. And no I’ve never considered this before. But it’s very High Fidelity – which is a great book and movie – so I’ll do it.
It’s REALLY tempting to come up with the 5 funniest titles I can think of (eg Queen’s ‘Another One Bites the Dust’, The Jam's 'Going Underground', or The Pixies ‘Monkey Gone to Heaven’) but I’ll resist the urge and try to take this semi-seriously.
Problem is, I really don’t want a typical funeral, people crying and blabbing on about what I was like… just dump me in the ground or cremate me thank you very much, show’s over – no service, definitely no church, and no dumping a huge bill for the ceremony on those I leave behind.
Hmmm. I may have been watching too much Six Feet Under of late.
However, I suppose the loved ones I’ve left behind will want to get together to mourn me somehow, and how better than a party? So, the top 5 songs that I, as DJ, would play at my hopefully-not-too-weepy funeral party:

1. The Beta Band – Dry the Rain
Manages to be melancholy and uplifting at the same time. And always a favourite of mine.
[alas no video available]


2. Baz Lurhman – Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)

My last chance to dispense words of advice to any youngsters I might have left behind. Especially appropriate if I’ve died of skin cancer – but then, of course, it might be considered a bit tasteless.




3. INXS – Never Tear Us Apart

For my significant other. Unless he’s managed to beat me to the punch. In which case, what the hell, play The Pixies ‘Monkey Gone to Heaven’.




4. Cousteau – Of This Goodbye

Well there’s gotta be ONE "go on and have a good cry, then" number, right?
[alas no video available]


5. Paul Weller – Long Hot Summer (live)

Has that melancholy ‘it’s all over’ feel. Also hopefully my life will have been like one long hot summer. Also – I've got my reasons… let's just say this one’s a must. And it's gotta be played last.


[NOT the right version, but will have to do.]

Now... mwah ha ha... who to tag... definitely teacher dude, cause I like his taste in music and he'll probably figure out a way to turn this into a neat-o lesson... documentarist - who wants to bet that a song by The Cure will make its way onto her list? And, lastly, emilyz cause I think it's about time she got tagged for something!

Thursday, February 1

THE BEST OF INTERACTIVE FLASH ART, FLASH TOYS & FLASH GAMES

It’s been a slow couple of weeks at work so I’ve had plenty of time to fiddle around the Net finding fun things to do – all under the pretext of ‘conducting research’, if anyone asks. And what I’ve been looking at is stuff made with the program Flash.
Of late, I’ve become increasingly interested in the potentials of flash, and especially interactive flash art, which, in a world where sliced cow is heralded as a masterpiece because everything else has been ‘done’, may just be the last ‘real’ art left for us to discover. And there truly are some insanely gifted people out there. Moreover, thanks to the web, their art is instantly and easily accessible to us, within the comfort of our own homes, so long as we can afford the cost of Internet.
So, rather than keep this plentiful entertainment to myself, I’ve decided to compile a list of my personal faves – the crème de la crème of what flash artists have to offer - from interactive art and toys, to games where the point is to enjoy the process rather than experience the dubious glory of shouting “I won, I won!” to an empty room after hours of nail biting action. Are you ready to become glued to your screen for at least the next week? Sure? Have you got a recent version of the flash plug-in installed? Your headphones and mic plugged in? OK then, here we go!


INTERACTIVE ART
Yugo Nakamura, at yugop.com, is the most out-there and ‘arty’ of the bunch. The pieces have a relaxing and meditative quality to them - in contrast to the site, which is alas rather hard to navigate - but here are the highlights as I see them.
I can’t find a direct link for the first one, but it should come up automatically as you enter from the main page. If not, click on number 06 (at bottom left) to access JAMPACK, set it to ‘semi-automatic’ and click to create bubbles, then click on one and move it to bounce them all around. The longer you hold down the mouse button, the bigger the bubble you create.
Fun, no? Also try:

BORDERS
Click on the screen to change the type of waves, and move your mouse around to make them undulate.

BLACK RIBBON
Click on the screen to start your ribbon, then move the mouse around to make it grow and spin. Ooooh. Hours of fun.

He’s got TONS more neat stuff in the archives section – well worth sifting through it to find what you like. Some downloadable stuff too, like CLOCKBLOCK, which is a clock screensaver where each digit is represented by video of a hand stacking blocks.


Next, from the no-doubt twisted mind of zefrank, who 'likes you the best', no less, come a collection toys, art and games guaranteed to satisfy your urge for interactivity. Here is some of the artier stuff - scroll on down for the toys and games.

MEDITATION FLOWERS
Lovely. That's all I've got to say. Oh, and you'll need a mic hooked up to your computer.

SOUNDMAKER
For those noisemakers out there. With psychedelic images to boot. I tried to get a rhythm going, then just gave up and enjoyed bathing in the random sounds and looking at the images, which is why this goes under 'A' for Art.

WHAT WE WANT
An interactive, ever shifting collage of facial features, crossed with personal ads. Click then browse over to change the parts. Weird, but thought provoking.


Last in the Art section, a little something from westykid, who gets my vote for being the most personable-sounding of the bunch. More on him further down; for now just enjoy...
WINDMACHINE MONSTER
Insane, but too cool. Just keep clicking the machine thing, and get a… ummm… treat.



TOYS
NEW! FEED THE HEAD
Undoubtedly thought up by someone on heavy doses of drugs, Feed the Head is nonetheless undoubtedly cool. Although the swallowing your own eyeball bit is rather gross. And the animals in the brain are just plain weird.

NEW! ACROBOTS
Help piles of colourful acrobots perform gravity-defying stunts.

As promised, more stuff from Mr Ze:
SCRIBBLER
Turns your chicken scratchings into works of art.

YOUR MAMA
Record a prototype mother's facial expressions separately and try to get them to sync up. Is yo mama pissed or pleased?

SEQUENCER and CAROL MAKER
For all wannabe composers. Your choice – chirpy elves or groovin’ drum beats.

FROG
Hope you kept that mic handy! Here you can animate a frog to speak… with your voice. It's freaky how fun this is.


And one more entry from westykid:
TANK DRESSUP GAME
The coolest dress-up game on the Net.


Then, once you're all dressed up and ready to go, throw on your dancing shoes and head on over to www.globz.net. Click on 'all our games' and then on MICRO-DANCERS, where you get to choose your music and line up as many funky little dudes as you like, then animate them to get down to the beat - in sync or solo. You can record their dance number, too, then play it back and check out your skills as a choreographer. A trick I figured out – if you click on 'play' straight from recording, then reselect the little dudes and do another move at whichever point in playback you like, the second move will be added on after the first, and so on. Much easier than trying to get them to do a whole sequence live!



GAMES
Some more from zefrank...
SIMON SAYS
Like that game you used to play when you were a kid, where you had to memorise sequences of sound and colour and play it back in the same order as the machine... But with funny video faces. Of course.

ATHEIST
I won’t ruin the joke.


Now, here is where westykid, aka Adam Westerman, comes into his own. This guy is, like, 18 years old, but I think he’s a budding genius. His work is still rough, but damn, it’s got STYLE!!! ,
UNDERLAND
Part of a game ('the' game?) in progress, but I really love the graphics and style of it as is - even if there's not much point to gameplay. Anyway, that's what we're aiming for here, right? Aimless fun.

ROCK ROCK GEM
Fun game, for those who like things more fast-paced. Same great graphics.

NEVERMORE 1 and NEVERMORE 2 are his more developed games. FANTASTIC artwork. Soooo original. Neat storyline being developed. I can see these all coming together into something really fabulous in the near future. And then he’ll be a millionaire. Clever little bugger!


And now for something completely different. If cute n’ fuzzy is your cup of tea, check out www.ferryhalim.com, where you’ll find a plethora of sugary games, most of which are centred on themes like teamwork and friendship and cute little animals. Great for kids, and great for you, too, if you’re having 'one of those days' and need a little pick me up.
AMONG THE CLOUDS
Float along in your hot air balloon, enjoy the wind in your face, and collect little green round things… that is, if you feel like it. Otherwise, just bask away - but don't forget to keep clicking every now and then!

A DAILY CUP OF TEA
Help a cute duo of mice collect sugar cubes for their tea while avoiding bouncing balls, falling books and the like.

WAKE UP CALLS
You’re falling falling faaaaalling on a floating leaf, and liberating butterflies from their cocoons as you go. Strangely therapeutic.

THE POND
Click to create ripples and send the acorns in the ducks’ direction. How many can you feed?



Well, that's about it for now. If I find anything else interesting I'll add it on as an update, but really I've sifted through tons of sites and these were the only ones which met my standards - keeping in mind that my criteria excluded anything needlessly violent or stress-inducing. If you've got any other ideas or favourite sites that follow in this vein, post them in the comments. Happy playing!

UPDATE: More surreal fun at Modern Living. A interactive take on... well, modern living!