Monday, 24 August 2009

Trojan Invasion

Apologies for the lack of recent posting, my computer has been invaded by a Trojan Horse or some other class of animal, my IT team reliably informs me.

Normal service will resume soon, once the laptop doctor does his thing.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

From the front of this weekend's Globe and Mail in Canada. Hilarious!

I noticed this hilarious story on the front page of the Globe and Mail newspaper this morning over here. It'd be interesting to see if this prank could work anywhere else in the world besides America.

"Last February, a frantic call came through to a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant in Manchester, N.H., at the height of the lunchtime rush. It was from corporate headquarters and it was urgent: A toxic chemical had been released through the restaurant's sprinkler system.
Employees were told to strip down and urinate on each other to neutralize the chemical.
If they did not, everyone would die.

“I need you to be strong, I need you to be brave,” a man named Jeff Anderson told his panicked staff in Manchester.
“You need to do exactly what I say,” he urged, in a faint Southern drawl.
And so they did.

Police pulled in half an hour later to a bizarre scene: Naked women, doused in each other's urine, milling about the parking lot. There was no trace of the chemical. As it turned out, there was no Jeff Anderson. The entire call had been a hoax, orchestrated by “Dex,” a twentysomething Canadian prankster, who now finds himself at the centre of a controversy that highlights how our definitions of humour are evolving in a digital age, where the Internet provides anonymity and encourages an inflated sense of importance and extra distance from the consequences of action.

Increasingly, this is becoming less of a philosophical debate. This week, a Quebec father thought it was amusing to post a video of his seven-year-old son driving on YouTube until police and child services stepped in. Only then did he acknowledge his mistake.

Dex is the founder of Pranknet, an online chat group where members devise hoaxes and broadcast them live. Members can listen in, and rate the prank as it's being pulled, with the most popular attaining the status of “epic.”

In Pennsylvania, Pranknet called a hotel guest and told him there was a gas leak. The man was told to smash the window and television screen with a toilet tank lid to prevent an explosion. Another man in Nebraska was persuaded to drive his truck through the door of a hotel lobby to deactivate a fire alarm. A front-desk clerk at another hotel drank a guest's urine, after a Pranknet caller convinced her it was cider, and that the man who brought it – who thought he was providing a urine sample for the hotel doctor – was the representative of an apple juice company.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Movie Review: Gonzo; The Life and Work of Dr Hunter S Thompson

A part of me would love to live like Hunter S Thompson.

But having neither the talent, the constitution nor the testicular fortitude to follow a path like the father of Gonzo journalism, I have to settle for the odd glimpse into his life through his articles, books and - most recently - this gem of a movie.

Told by a variety of different voices, including that of Thompson himself and his close friend Johnny Depp (who played the writer in the movie adaptation of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and takes on the role of narrator here), Gonzo details the life of journalism's truest rebel from his humble beginnings in Kentucky up to his suicide in 2005.

Thompson first gained fame and notoriety with his book 'Hell's Angels' which was written after he spent a year living and riding with the motorcycle gang, an experience which culminated in a savage beating for the writer following a disagreement with a member. After experiencing and enjoying that first taste of literary stardom in 1966, he would rarely step out of the limelight for the rest of his life.

Video and audio clips along with both dated and recent interviews are used to recall the Great Doctor's many escapades, from his running for and almost winning an election to be Sheriff of a town in Aspen to his birthing and development of Gonzo journalism. A highlight of the retrieved footage is several of Thompson's many dictated recordings, more than a few of which were made during his legendary but all-too-common benders.

It's more than a little saddening for those working in journalism now to get a glimpse at a time when reporters could run up expense bills without a worry in the world. At one stage Thompson refused a Volkswagen hired for him by Rolling Stone while in Las Vegas. Only a Cadillac would do for a man writing a story on the American Dream, he had reasoned.

Throughout the feature, Thompson's anger (whether it be at injustice, misuse of power or downright incompetence amongst politicians) is a constant and cited by many as the source of his genius. His fondness for drugs of all shapes and sizes is also regularly alluded to in the many testimonies.

The darker side of the man's psyche isn't skimmed over either with both his wives and many friends speaking of his sometimes violent mood swings and infidelities. Nor do the makers shy away from the decline in volume and quality of Thompson's writing from the 1980s onward.

In fact, Thompson's detractors - including former Hell's Angel's tormentors and Nixon aides - feature almost as prominently as those who admired him, such as former American President Jimmy Carter, author Tom Wolfe and Ralph Steadman, the artist whose paintings helped bring Thompson's Gonzo reporting and imaginings to life.

A hellraiser to the end, Hunter S Thompson was also a man of groundbreaking talent. Gonzo is a must-have collector's item for fans of the man, while also providing a handy starting point for those not yet fortunate enough to be acquainted with his undoubted genius.

Hoge Rating 5/5 (Yes I've changed the rating system, marking out of 10 required too much thought)