Archive for the Stuff Category

Cool stuff I want, Part 100,000,017: Nike Air Max 1 (Sunset)

Posted in Stuff on August 10, 2013 by thebigsmoke

I like all the Sunset editions, but the Air Max 1 are my favourite.  I wish I had bought them at the start of the summer.

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Cool stuff I want, Part 100,000,016: Stephen King’s Joyland (Signed Lettered Limited Edition in Traycase )

Posted in Books, Stuff on June 21, 2013 by thebigsmoke

That hoodie I liked is back in stock, but now I’m not so keen.

Anyway, Stephen King’s Joyland is out and Hard Case Crime has brought out a beautiful limited edition hardcover with a cover by Robert McGinnis.  The regular paperback has art by Glen Ortik and looks great, but the hardcover is something special.  Unfortunately, the signed and numbered versions of the limited edition were completely sold out by the time I found out about it.

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I had to settle for the standard limited edition (limited to 1,500 copies).  I’ll probably read it this month.

Cool stuff I want, Part 100,000,015: Vault 101 hoodie

Posted in Stuff, Video Games on May 19, 2013 by thebigsmoke

The very first “Cool stuff I want” which I posted was Fallout-related.  Here’s something new which I like from Bethesda, the Vault 101 hoodie.  Not sure about the quality of the “101” on the back, but otherwise I love it.

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All the Write Moves

Posted in Stuff on May 2, 2013 by thebigsmoke

You seriously have no idea how many shitty puns on the word “write” I went through before I finally said to myself, “Fuck it, nobody cares the way you do.  Just give your post a damn title, write it and go to bed.”  It was many puns and I probably spent more time thinking about that than it will take me to write what I have to say.  Sadly, in the end I saddled myself with “All the Write Moves”, which is terrible but whatever.

What I wanted to say is that I have noticed over the last few months that my blog actually gets some decent traffic.  Not only does almost every post I make get a “like” from some random blog browser, but I have amassed a fair number of followers.  I’m pretty sure that the majority of these poor, lost souls only came to my blog to promote their own sad ramblings.  However, I’ve done enough detective work to establish that some of them are real people with, in a few cases, interesting things to say.  I sometimes feel bad for the followers I don’t already know offline, because they don’t know what they are letting themselves in for.  They might be fans of books or comics, but they probably don’t care about my vinyl purchases.  Or else maybe they like obscure rave music, but probably they don’t care about hard boiled detective fiction.  Not many people share even close to the same tastes as me, but this blog is an entirely selfish collection of comments about things which excite me.  I do enjoy entertaining people if possible, but I update it for my own amusement ultimately, because I like collecting my thoughts and writing dumb lists.  The end result is pretty schizophrenic and I apologise to anyone who has been forced to endure some pretty random updates.

Most other bloggers seem to take a different approach to me.  Either they have a specific thing they write about (books or movies or religion or, well, you get the idea) or else they treat their blog like a public journal, writing about themselves and their own particular brand of armchair philosophy.  This is not always completely boring and I can understand the temptation, but that’s never really been what I’ve wanted to write about.

Browsing through the blogosphere, I have also noticed that the vast majority of bloggers have creative aspirations.  Hardly surprising, I guess, but it’s interesting to me to see people go about unleashing their creative urges.  And it’s inspiring to me.  Not in the way that looking out at the cosmos is inspiring, but inspiring in that I see other people’s attempts and it makes me think about how I would do it.  What I would would write about.  Which brings me to my conclusion.

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My thoughts about the limitations of blogging, combined with all the reading I have been doing recently, have given me the urge to write something substantial myself.  I’m not sure what exactly, but something.

Personally, I like giving myself nerdy challenges and in the last couple of years that has been watching vast numbers of movies.  This year, I’ve set myself the task of reading a minimum of 52 books.  Next year I’m going to set myself a writing challenge and I’m already excited; excited and motivated enough to blog about it; exited enough to add wording to an image from Cronenberg’s Naked Lunch in order to better express the sentiment.  That may not be such a good thing and I will now decide whether to nip any further introspection in the bud.

Cool stuff I want, Part 100,000,012: Cthulhu Idol

Posted in Books, Stuff on March 2, 2013 by thebigsmoke

I have started a disturbing trend of just buying the “cool stuff I want” which I post up on here, and this entry is sadly no exception.

As an ardent Lovecraft fan, I had been looking for a nice-looking Cthulhu idol for a little while when I stumbled on David Kirkby’s site.  He casts them to order in a range of finishes.

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Cthulhu fhtagn!

Cool stuff I want, Part 100,000,011: Cactus Jack T-Shirt

Posted in Stuff, Television on January 25, 2013 by thebigsmoke

Bang, bang! This entry may or may not fall into the category of “cool”, depending on how you feel about wrestling. I am unashamedly a big fan of Mick Foley (A.K.A. Cactus Jack, Dude Love and Mankind) both in the wresling ring and out. I am currently enjoying his first autobiography, Have a Nice Day (I have already read the second, Foley is Good) and it’s making me want to wear one of these t-shirts. I might even get a red flannel shirt to go with it and take to wearing it all the time. Here’s the get-up in action:

And some of Foley’s wrestling highlights, for you poor, poor uninitiated:

Media frenzy

Posted in Books, Comics, Film, Music, Stuff, Television on May 7, 2012 by thebigsmoke

First with all the publicity surrounding SOPA, and now with BitTorrent site The Pirate Bay blocked by many ISPs, a lot has been written recently about file sharing. I don’t delude myself that any contribution I make to the debate will be especially insightful, but there are a few things which have been bugging the hell out of me.

Let’s first put aside all issues surrounding copyright law. I’m not looking for argument about the ethics of file sharing and am willing to accept the simple truth that file sharing copyrighted material is, for the most part, illegal. I think it’s right that artists and publishers should own copyright and receive some form of remuneration when an artistic work is distributed, so really I have no reason to gripe about the law in principle.

What drives me crazy is that publishers have floundered for the better part of a decade to understand the realities of legal downloading and consequently the possibilities. Even now, I think publishers are incapable of applying common sense in the way they market and sell their product.

For example, browsing on Amazon I can see that the first Game of Thrones book is currently selling for £3.86 in paperback. The Kindle edition is £3.99. It’s actually more expensive to buy it for Kindle than it is to own the paperback. It’s a bit of a kick in the teeth if you have already spent between £89 and £149 on your Kindle. I think Kindle editions are cheaper in many cases, but how many books would you have to buy for your Kindle before you actually clawed back the cost of the Kindle itself? And don’t forget there’s no resale value to your Kindle editions. You might be able to put your old books on eBay, but you can’t do that with the books you bought for your Kindle.

Another thing I have noticed with the Kindle is that Amazon currently doesn’t offer a discount on purchasing the Kindle edition with the paperback. If you could get the Kindle edition for an extra 50p or something, it might be tempting to have it in dual formats and switch between the two. Personally, I feel like the digital copy should be thrown in with the paperback, but maybe that’s expecting too much.

I don’t mean to single out Amazon and the Kindle, but it highlights how the value of legal downloads are perhaps slightly inflated. There is a disparity between the cost and what you actually get for your money, because the publishers are disinclined to significantly differentiate between types of media format when it comes to pricing; even though we do as consumers.

It’s not only book publishers which are out of touch. All the major comic book publishers now have apps which allow you to easily access their catalogue and download comic books at will. It is only quite recently that the comic book publishers really got their act together and started shilling their wares in a digital format. For many years before, comic book fans shared scanned copies of popular series and the comic book industry was initially reluctant to counter this piracy in an intelligent manner. Now they have at least started making high quality digital downloads available, but I am struggling to find a good rationale for switching to digital. Yes, I know it’s cheaper. It’s actually also more convenient, because the digital copies take up less space and it’s so easy to pick up the comics you’re interested in, drop titles, and try new things. There’s no reason for you to miss another issue ever again.

However, there’s something very satisfying about leafing through a physical comic book and in owning a set of comics you love. I suppose I am a collector, but owning printed books carries a particular type of appeal for me. Also, again, we should consider resale. Sure, I might save a dollar an issue, but I’m really not saving anything if there’s a good chance I could sell the printed comic for a dollar or more at some point in the future.

I’ve talked about books and comics, but the same issues seem to affect other types of media, like music and movies. You can, for example, download movies via iTunes, but they’re the same price as they are on DVD. Actually, browsing right now, I’ve noticed Source Code is £6, but I paid £5 for it on DVD a few months ago; so I guess in some instances it’s cheaper to just buy things on DVD.

I go through phases of purchasing lots of movies on DVD (and inreasingly also on Blu-ray). I like to purchase things which I might not necessarily watch again and again but which I will be happy to have displayed on my shelves. I like good quality releases from companies which take pride in putting together definitive editions. Many times I find that buying a particular edition is quite expensive and I will really only get a few hours of enjoyment from it, but I don’t mind if it’s something worth supporting.

Publishers often quantify the cost of illegal file sharing on the basis that the people who downloaded a particular piece of media would have purchased the DVD or the CD had they been able to get the thing for free. This is of course a fallacy. When people are given access to an infinite amount of media, they become undiscerning. Just because a person will watch a film for free, it does not mean under different circumstances they would choose to pay to see the same thing.

I can’t afford to buy everything I want and often cannot really justify buying things which interest me, but I buy what I can and spend my disposable cash on things like comic books and DVDs. If you made those comic books and DVDs cheaper, I would just spend the same amount of money but buy more of what I like. This is probably true of most people to some degree and I think there’s a sort of equalibrium in which people spend what they are comfortable spending, then they purchase as much as they can within that bracket.

If this is the case, lowering the price of legal downloads might encourage more people to legally download the things they enjoy. If I could purchase back issues for about 50 cents or less (as you often can in comic shops), I would be inclined to purchase and read entire runs just for convenience of not having to track things down. If new comics were significantly cheaper in their digital format (perhaps $1 per issue), I might make the switch with some titles. If I could download a new film for £5 or rent it for £2 or £3, I would do that. Until publishers start thinking in this way and making more of their content easily accessible to people with average incomes, there’s too much incentive for people to stick with physical formats for things they really like and illegally download everything else.

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