Really excited to visit the new exhibition of @sophykingart


Really excited to visit the new exhibition of @sophykingart in The London today https://www.facebook.com/events/141009749790753??ti=ia

 

Really excited to visit the new exhibition of @sophykingart in The London today at R K Burt Gallery until 4th August.

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Old Tech Still Out There Working


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Over at Google’s rather disappointing East London campus. Here is some old tech they’ve got running the show. No doubt their upcoming Kings Cross HQ will be more suited to the 21st Century.

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My New Ninja Coathangers


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You have no idea how long it took to throw both ninja stars so they lined up just right.

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Games: 8 Cars That Really Should Be In Gran Turismo


Can’t Believe They Missed Out On These

Given the Gran Turismo team have spent upwards of 5 years digitising cars in hideous detail and that they seem to have extended the remit of the game from the racetrack to all aspects of driving, it’s strange that they haven’t been a bit more ambitious in terms of the cars they’ve chosen. Here are some cars I’d like to see in any impending update.

African Technical ‘War Wagon’

Generic African Technical. Not sure how the suspension would deal with recoil at 100mph plus

Recipe. Take one flat bed truck of some sort, favourite brand usually some kind of Isuzu, and add an unusually powerful anti-aircraft or anti-personnel ordnance. Garnish with a host of extraneous militiamen casually draped off the sides and drive at indiscreet speed all over the place.

It seems to me that the GT boys have missed a trick in failing to include any vehicles with offensive capability. It would certainly add spice to those awkward dodgem-like starts where autonomous cars attempt to run you off the track. Imagine running around one of the banked oval tracks blowing holes in the opposition.

German WW2 Half Track

Easy commuting for the German soldier. Notice the lame attempt at camouflage. Or maybe they're Xmas decorations.

Having spent many hours building Tamiya models, I am intimately familiar with the German half track or SD.KFZ.251/1. Given the team has already included the Kubelwagon typ 82 and Schwimmwagon typ 166, it seems obvious to extend the range of their WW2 offerings. Should add interest to the dirt and snow track racing. All in all it’s a bit like sprinkling Gran Turismo with a little bit of Call Of Duty‘s guns and ammo stardust.

American DUKW

Half Car, Half Boat. All I want for Christmas is the DUKW-la Prague Away Kit.

Continuing the WW2 theme, I’ve always liked the amphibious DUKW, which is surely one of the most unlikely cars around, kind of like the Duck-billed Platypus. This would add a whole new dimension to the GT world, allowing a range of steeplechase-like races with additional water features. Watch out for the hidden underwater mines.

Big, Big Monster Trucks

If you're going to have trucks, make mine a monster

Given the hell I had actually finding any kind of truck in the 1,000 plus used car lot, it seems obvious that what Gran Turismo is really missing is trucks, right proper monster trucks. The bigger and more monstrous they are, the better. Ideally we should have super armoured, grotesquely over-accessorised behemoths that we can run at one another in some kind of pit-like racing circuit. Forget laptimes and concentrate on ramming your truck into all the others like a bunch of demented Walruses on heat.

And While We’re On The Subject

If you're going to go down the idiot boy truck route...

If we’re going to be all macho American idiot boy about the whole truck thing, then we might as well have the Pussy Wagon from Kill Bill. Imagine roaring around the online tracks armed only with this, most moronic of vehicles.

Being Serious For A Moment

Classic Grand Prix cars. Those were the days eh?

I always loved the classic Grand Prix of the 1960’s, with the cars shaped like crude guided missiles with go-kart wheels. These were epitomised by the movie Grand Prix starring James Garner of Rockford Files fame. The Gran Turismo team should extend its remit to the classic racing cars of these days. Almost like the reverse of the success CoD had in updating their WW2 setting. Kind of like a Grand Prix regression kit.

And Naturally There’s Bond

No well-dressed Englishman should be without one

Surely what GT5 is really missing is a whole pile of Bond related cars, some of the most recognisable on the planet. Take the Aston Martin from Goldfinger, with all the trimmings naturally. The oil-squirting defensive weapons would cause chaos behind you, while the ramming units mounted in the bumpers would add a certain je ne sais quoi to the AI’s bumpercar mentality.

And Bond

Dirt racing would never be the same again.

Or how about the moon buggy from Diamonds Are Forever? That would be class. Obviously it has a top speed of about 5mph, which isn’t that great, but the funky arms would be useful for taking out any of the opposition.

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Book of the Month: California Fire & Life


Cover of Don Winslow's California Fire and Life

I vaguely recall a poster for Natural Born Killers that looked almost identical to this

Bloody Predictable Or What?

That Don Winslow, what a bastard. Just when you thought you were free of him, along comes another brutally compelling book to sink you for a day. I don’t think you really appreciate compulsion in an author until you’ve got a Winslow in your hands. They’re like a race. Once you start you’re committed. You just have to continue reading, even if it’s 4am, even if your eyes start feeling like they’re being grated, no make that have already been grated and you’re using just the stubby end bits of your optic nerve to tear meaning from the pages. It’s that satisfyingly painful.

Knowledge Is Power

Steve McQueen once said, ‘I don’t want to be the guy who learns, I want to be the guy who knows’, and Winslow obviously knows. Everything he writes is suffused with knowledge, places, people, cultures. Once you start reading you start believing. Not just that he’s been there, but that you are there. I once had a friend who was fixated on Lovejoy books (crap antique dealer as mystery solver drivel) because they came away from each book having learned something. Coming away from one of Winslow’s you don’t feel like you’ve learned something as much as been there and experienced it for real, that it’s as much a part of your life as it is part of his characters’. Whether it’s the surf culture of the West Coast, the Mexamerican drug cartels or the mysteries of the insurance investigation process, you come out of a Winslow feeling like you’ve been there, done that, got the expertise.

Unlike so many crime writers Winslow doesn’t pack his pages full of action, they’re not frantic races around seemingly arbitrary destination points. Neither are they filled with ever more bloodthirsty victim porn, with crimes ramped up to ridiculously sadistic levels to satisfy readers’ lusts. Instead there’s background, depth and character. Winslow’s heroes are true American heroes. They are the men who know, whose knowledge and commitment places them to the side of society, half outcasts through their own expertise.

California Fire & Life burns with arson, murder, revenge and a justifiable contempt for property developers. It’s a tale of playing and being played, of international crime and local intrigue and down at the end a smoldering passion. It will light you up in a second.

Over on the East Coast, David Simon pulled together some of the best modern American crime writers, men like George Pelecanos, Richard Price, Dennis Lehane and Ed Burns, and came up with The Wire, simply the most real TV show I’ve seen. If he was doing a West Coast version his first stop would be Don Winslow.

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Book of the Month: The Power of the Dog


Cover of Don Winslow's The Power Of The Dog

Crazy title, great book

In a world full of drugs, where obsessed readers gorge down on Lee Child, Michael Connolly and James Ellroy like they were amphetamine coated candy pops, discovering Don Winslow is like getting your first sniff of crack cocaine. It’s fast, it’s all encompassing and when you’ve finished voraciously cramming The Power of the Dog down you just can’t wait to get another hit.

This is a two and a half day book, which isn’t to say it’s short, just that it’s compulsive. You’re totally hooked on Don’s decades long epic on the rise and fall of the Mexican cocaine cartels and the attempts of the authorities to put them out of business. There’s corruption a-plenty along with lashings of claret and more containerloads of coke than you can shake a nosespoon at.

But it’s not the subject matter that’s so compelling as much as it is Don’s ability to craft real, believable characters, each of whom speaks with a wholly unique, identifiable voice. You sympathise with each of them, whatever their status, and their hopes, ambitions and fears all seem thoroughly real. In this way it reminds me of Ellroy’s LA Confidential, a grand, sprawling behemoth of a novel that interlinks story after story into a powerful narrative that evokes both time and place and gives you a sense of really being there in amongst the action.

This is one of those books you just devour and, having finally consumed it, immediately want to  begin again if only to recapture the sensation of reading it once more. Depending on your character, you’re torn between immediately lending it out to your very best friend so they can share the experience and never mentioning it to anyone and hoarding it all for yourself.  I’m of the former disposition and have already lent it and by god I’m almost regretting it. There’s only one thing left to do and that’s to get stuck into all Don’s other work. Like crack, one dose is not enough.

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