pure pwnage: teh movie

This is absolutely uncommon here on xirdalium, I know … four words in a headline! But for this I’d do a lot more. Watch the video above, and then head over here. I’ll write more later on, just want to get it online in the blog as fast as possible. Just opened a beer to celebrate :D
    See also the infancy of Internet television boom—headshot!, true pwnage, fps_doug vs. f4tality, teh best day ever, first season pwned, and kyle pwned.


doom post mortem

the DOOM logo
It took them quite a while, but finally, in 2011, John Romero and Tom Hall did a post-mortem on Doom (id Software 1993). You can watch the hour-long presentation, video and slides, at the GDC Vault. If you do not readily understand everything the two guys are relating, I, for the umpteenth time, heartily recommend David Kushner‘s Masters of Doom (2003). If you already have read the book, watch the post-mortem nevertheless.
    For example, what I did not know: In March 1993 20th Century Fox offered id Software the Alien licence to make Alien the game. But the guys at id decided that they’d rather have the space marine confront demons and not merely an alien (around 00:22:00). So, the supernatural, occult dimension indeed was quite important to them.

ID SOFTWARE. 1993. Doom [computer game]. Mesquite et al.: id Software et al.
KUSHNER, DAVID. 2003. Masters of Doom: How two guys created an empire and transformed pop culture. New York: Random House.
via entry at planet romero

proto science fiction

As the faithful reader might have noticed, I am, among other things, fond of early science fiction—of course always on the hunt for elements of the cyberpunk discourse, and for entries to my according list, where I strive to furnish downlod links as far as technically and legally possible. Now, in the wake of a recent panel on Victorian and Edwardian science fiction at Chicon 7, over at Wondermark there’s a list of according science fiction with download links. The post also hints us at the fine anthology ‘Science Fiction by Gaslight’ (Moskowitz 1968), and a commenter added the two anthologies ‘Before Armageddon’ (1975) and ‘England Invaded’ (1977), both edited by Michael Moorcock.

MOORCOCK, MICHAEL JOHN (ed.). 1975. Before Armageddon: An anthology of Victorian and Edwardian imaginative fiction published before 1914. London: W. H. Allen.
MOORCOCK, MICHAEL JOHN (ed.). 1977. England invaded: A collection of fantasy fiction. London: W. H. Allen.
MOSKOWITZ, SAM (ed.). 1968. Science fiction by gaslight: A history and anthology of science fiction in the popular magazines, 1891-1911. Cleveland: World Pub. Co.
via entry at boingboing

who is cycling?

zeph’s pop culture quiz #42
Who is cycling?
Who is riding his bike through the rain?
    Just leave a comment with your educated guess—you can ask for additional hints, too. [Leaving a comment is easy; just click the 'Leave a comment' at the end of the post and fill in the form. If it's the first time you post a comment, it will be held for moderation. But I am constantly checking, and once I've approved a comment, your next ones won't be held, but published immediately by the system.]

UPDATE and solution (20 September 2012):
Roger cycling through the rain during the opening credits of 'Metropia' (Saleh 2009)
After the last one took a while we’re back to normal business and Alexander Rabitsch solved #42 immediately: It’s the character Roger (Vincent Gallo) cycling during the opening credits of Metropia (Saleh 2009). The movie is notable not only because it’s wonderful noir dystopian cyberpunk, but because an animation technique based on real life actors was employed. By computer powered alteration of real life digital video æsthetics were achieved which are somewhat reminiscent of Terry Gilliam’s ‘Monty Python’ animation sequences. The technique obviously is kin to rotoscoping and motion capture. The former has been put to fabulous cyberpunk use by Richard Linklater for ‘A Scanner Darkly’ (2006), and without the latter contemporary sci-fi movies and high-end computer games seem to be unthinkable.

LINKLATER, RICHARD. 2006. A scanner darkly [motion picture]. Burbank: Warner Independent Pictures.
SALEH, TAREK. 2009. Metropia [animation]. Stockholm: Sandrew Metronome.

william gibson interviews

Earlier this year his collection of non-fiction texts, ‘Distrust That Particular Flavor’ (Gibson 2012), was published—now there are some fresh interviews with William Gibson around: the one with io9 above, and a three-part interview at Wired.

GIBSON, WILIAM FORD. 2012. Distrust that particular flavor. New York: Putnam Adult.
io9-interview via entry at kueperpunk

assassin’s creed framework

Assassin's Creed
Although the main plots of the ‘Assassin’s Creed’ games have historical settings—during the Third Crusade (Ubisoft Montreal 2007), the Renaissance (2009), and the American Revolution (2012)—the narrative as a whole bows down to the cyberpunk dicourse. The story which delivers the framework decidedly is cyberpunkish: In the present day, or 20 minutes into the future, the evil corporation ‘Abstergo Industries’ abducts one Desmond Miles. In a secret appartment hideaway he is made to connect to the ‘Animus,’ a computer able to revoke ‘genetic memory.’ That way Miles is able to experience the lifes of his ancestors as interactive virtual realities bridging the gaps of time and space. One nice consequence of this narrative strategy is that all ‘artificialities’ of the gameplay, like e.g. the HUD, are perfectly explained within the ‘Assassin’s Creed’ universe.
    Just recently I hit on Jack London‘s novel The Star Rover (1915). I haven’t read it myself yet, but the synopsis from Wikipedia strikes me:

A framing story is told in the first person by Darrell Standing, a university professor serving life imprisonment in San Quentin State Prison for murder. Prison officials try to break his spirit by means of a torture device called “the jacket,” a canvas jacket which can be tightly laced so as to compress the whole body, inducing angina. Standing discovers how to withstand the torture by entering a kind of trance state, in which he walks among the stars and experiences portions of past lives. [...]
    The accounts of these past lives form the body of the work. [...]
    The jacket itself was actually used at San Quentin at the time and Jack London’s descriptions of it were based on interviews with a former convict named Ed Morrell, which is also the name of a character in the novel. For his role in the Sontag and Evans gang which robbed the Southern Pacific Railroad in the 1890s, Morrell spent fourteen years in California prisons (1894–1908), five of them in solitary confinement. London championed his pardon. After his release, Morrell was a frequent guest at London’s Beauty Ranch.

LONDON, JOHN GRIFFITH ‘JACK’ (aka JOHN GRIFFITH CHANEY). 1915. The star rover (aka The jacket). New York: Macmillan.
UBISOFT MONTREAL. 2007. Assassin’s creed [computer game]. Montreuil: Ubisoft.
UBISOFT MONTREAL. 2009. Assassin’s creed II [computer game]. Montreuil: Ubisoft.
UBISOFT MONTREAL. 2012. Assassin’s creed III [computer game]. Montreuil: Ubisoft.

who is approaching?

zeph’s pop culture quiz #41
Who is approaching?
Who is coming towards us through the fog?
    Just leave a comment with your educated guesses—you can ask for additional hints, too. [Leaving a comment is easy; just click the 'Leave a comment' at the end of the post and fill in the form. If it's the first time you post a comment, it will be held for moderation. But I am constantly checking, and once I've approved a comment, your next ones won't be held, but published immediately by the system.]

UPDATE 1 (18 September 2012):
The silhouette in close-up
All right, I won’t solve the riddle today, although it’s overdue—it’s just to much fun for me that for once you don’t solve it at once. Here’s a recap of what has been found out till now: The silhouette approaching is the impersonation of a Western hero of days gone by. You may be able to identify the impersonated by the close-up above. The plot of the movie has something to do with what we are doing here: Playing a movie quiz … now go ahead!

UPDATE 2 (19 September 2012):
In the cinema
This proofs to be an incredibly hard one :) But this new screencap should give it away—who is sitting in the cinema, done up as a vampire Bela-Lugosi style? It’s the same man who impersonated Hopalong Cassidy above.

UPDATE 3 and solution (19 September 2012):
Detail from a promotional poster of 'Fade to Black' (Zimmerman 1980)
Seems like the last screencap indeed gave it away, and Alhambra solved the riddle—congratulations! It is Eric Binford (Dennis Christopher) who impersonated Hopalong Cassidy and who sat in the cinema as Count Dracula in Fade to Black (Zimmerman 1980), which meanwhile has cult status.
    Binford is at the fringe of society and has a lowly-payed job within Hollywood’s movie industry. Nevertheless he lives for the movies, or in the classics of American cinema, knowing virtually everything about them. He is unbeatable at movie trivia. When his hope for personal happiness shatters, or seems to, something snaps within Binford’s soul. He begins to murder those who tormented him and stages every homicide as a famous scene from a silver screen classic.
    As a teenager I saw the movie on late night television and for once was satisfied with the title the German distributors cooked up: ‘Die schönen Morde des Eric Binford’ [The Beautiful Murders of Eric Binford].
    By the way, in the middleground of the first screencap, the one with the silhouette coming through the fog, you can see two black figures. A minute later one of them is shot by Binford as Cassidy, because he always bullied him at work. The bully Richie is played by Mickey Rourke.

ZIMMERMAN, VERNON. 1980. Fade to black [motion picture]. Los Angeles: American Cinema Releasing.

tommy flowers’ diary

Thomas Harold Flowers (1905-1998)
At least parts of the personal diary of Thomas Harold Flowers (1905-1998) soon will be on display at The National Museum of Computing (TNMOC) at Bletchley Park, reported the BBC two days ago. Flowers was crucial in constructing Colossus—for the whole story see Randell 1980 and the excellent book edited by Jack Copeland (2006) including texts by Flowers himself (2006 [1998]a, b).
    The story of the Colossi—all in all ten of them were at work at Bletchley until the end of the war—not only illustrates the outstanding relevance of electronic computing technology, but is also an example for the needed fusion between formal mathematics and the hands-on applied science of engineering. Mathematician Peter John Hilton (1923-2010), during the war also on duty at Bletchley Park, wrote:

Alan Turing contributed to the thinking in developing these machines, as did Max Newman and several others, but an enormous part of the credit for designing Colossus, and all the credit for building it, goes to Tommy Flowers. Jack Good pointed out that in a 1998 article I exaggerated Turing’s role in the designing of Colossus. I am happy to have this opportunity to do full justice to the contribution of Flowers. (Hilton 2006: 192)

The ever-modest Flowers in turn:

In our war-time association, Turing and others provided the requirements for machines which were top secret and have never been declassified. (Flowers cf. Randell 1972)

COPELAND, B. JACK. 2006. Colossus: The secrets of Bletchley Park’s codebraking computers. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
FLOWERS, THOMAS H. 2006 [1998]a. “D-Day at Bletchley Park,” in Colossus: The secrets of Bletchley Park’s codebraking computers edited by B. Jack Copeland, pp. 78-83. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
FLOWERS, THOMAS H. 2006 [1998]b. “Colossus,” in Colossus: The secrets of Bletchley Park’s codebraking computers edited by B. Jack Copeland, pp. 91-100. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
HILTON, PETER. 2006. “Living with Fish: Breaking Tunny in the Newmanry and the Testery,” in Colossus: The secrets of Bletchley Park’s codebraking computers edited by B. Jack Copeland, pp. 189-203. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
RANDELL, BRIAN. 1972. “On Alan Turing and the origins of digital computers,” in Machine Intelligence 7 edited by B. Meltzer and D. Michie, pp. 3-20. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
RANDELL, BRIAN. 1980. “The COLOSSUS,” in A history of computing in the twentieth century: A collection of essays edited by Nicholas Metropolis, Jack Howlett, and Gian-Carlo Rota, pp. 47-92. New York, London: Academic Press.