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Dropping Science: The Crowd Sourced Erotic Novel That Became A Best Seller

I don’t know if this really qualifies as science, heck I’m not sure what it really qualifies as, but it’s such an interesting story about the way the internet works that I wanted to share it.

Brian Brushwood and Justin Young are comedians who host various podcasts and web shows. While pushing a book on magic a while ago, Brushwood noticed a disturbing trend on the iTunes best seller list, namely that the entire top ten was consumed with obvious cash-in imitators of the 50 Shades of Grey series. These were poorly reviewed books by unknown authors but people were buying them in droves because they looked a bit like the famous series. The worst part was that once these books hit the top ten they stayed there because readers just assumed they were good because they had sold well. While many people would look on this and weep for the death of literature, Brushwood and Young looked at it and thought “Challenge Accepted.”

Via a youtube video, the pair put out a call to all their fans to help them create the first crowd sourced erotic novel by submitting random chapters to them. The only conditions were that it feature the main character, involve people with trendy jobs (like cupcake decorators and fixed gear bicyclists) and included lots and lots of banging. Here’s the pair explaining their plan:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KzN1kI6K-fk&w=853&h=480]

 

Well guess what, it worked. The Diamond Club shot to number 4 in the iTunes bookstore and continues to hover there as poor unsuspecting housewives throw down 99c a pop for what is essentially a series of unconnected, badly written sex scenes with no coherent plot whatsoever. I’ll resist the urge to make a cheap joke about the real 50 Shades of Grey there because I think the story is funny enough by itself. Does it say something negative about the way people buy books now? Sure as hell it does. But I take comfort in the fact that the internet as once again been proven to be a great tool for bringing people together, whether that be to instigate change, develop technology or to simply troll over sexed book fans. Well played chaps.

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Moon's Song Of The Week: Varúð by Sigur Rós

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/45184389 w=800&h=450]

Sigur Rós decided to do something interesting with their new album because, well because they’re Sigur Rós and that’s what they do. This time around they gave a small sum of money to various film makers and asked them to make music videos for various tracks on the record. This is the offering from Inga Brigisdottir for the track “Varúð”. It’s an animated version of the album cover and is nothing if not hypnotic.

So far as the song goes it’s everything you love about  Sigur Rós and you should expect it to appear on the trailers for a dozen nature documentaries sometime soon. If you’re a fan of the kind of Sigur Rós tracks that just build and build then you’re in for a treat with this one.

You can view the other videos from the project here.

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Futurama made Real

Last year, CGI super-artist Jared Krichevsky released a terrifying depiction of Dr Zoidberg all hupped-up for mating season. While working with Aaron Sims (who designed the past Incredible Hulk) on film, Archetype, the lunatic also brought other members of the Futurama crew to life – namely Zorbo!, Nibbler, Lrrr of the Planet Omicron 8 and Alien Romeo, Kif. All mindblowingly rendered and finished, they brings to mind a Futurama live action movie all on their own.



…. And a bit of Zoidberg in all his distressing glory!! ‘Kkkkllllllllrrrrrrrrrr!!’

BTB Film – Edd The Duck: Ducking The Past

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1b1pBVs8s6w&w=640&h=480]

In his youth, Edd The Duck was one of the biggest stars on the BBC. In this frank and mercifully short documentary, we attempt to find out what happened next as well as showcasing some never before seen interviews with other performers of that era.

This is a very scrappy little film that a few of us made back in 2009. I think I shot some of it, Paul Wade shot some and Steve shot a bit too. I flinch slightly at the quality of the audio and video when I look back at it now, but I think the concept is sound and I’m proud of the Paddington Bear gag.

Props to my wife for her excellent Finger Mouse puppetry.

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Carl Sagan's Message to Mars

A few months before he died, Carl Sagan recorded a message which he dedicated to future explorers to Mars. Since early Monday morning, in the wake of the Curiosity Lander arriving on the surface of Mars it has begun to do the rounds throughout the internet. Sagan’s passion for the future of space travel is clear in this piece, which is heavily truncated in most of the common versions available online. Happily, I09.com hunted down the extended version of it and what is revealed is a thoughtful and emotional message from an inspirational man, passing a message he hopes will be heard by those that will fulfil his dreams.

Whatever you might think of Sagan, or of the Mars landing and little Curosity making it’s lonely way across it’s surface – he speaks for most of us on some level. Sagan’s passion for the breaking down of environmental boundaries and conquering of new worlds is more profound than most of us but millions huddled around TV sets to watch the first Moon landing, and quietly or not – without the fanfare affording Apollo Astronauts, Curiosity carries a little bit of Sagan across that distant, desolate landscape – and fills it with the potential of dreams. That is the border between science fiction and fact, where wheel or foot fall on previously imagined earth and spark a new generation of Sagan’s to wonder ‘what next?’

George Takei intervenes in Star Wars / Star Trek Row

When two galaxies collide only one man can stop the inevitable onslaught. The two most unpredictable members of the cast of Star Wars and Star Trek started to go at each other, like a terrifying game of chicken between the Millenium Falcon and the Starship Enterprise. When William Shatner started to flex his ‘clearly visible’ muscles in calling Star Wars out, Star Wars’ super slugger Carrie Fisher came pounding in to the ring like a rogue asteroid with a love of sun chairs. Things were looking tense as these media giants began to wade in – breaking standard protocol by getting cheeky about weight right out of the Stargate. The fates of both franchises now rested on one man’s tiny shoulders…

‘Douche’ identifier and King of the Jungle, Mr G Takei stood ‘tall’ and took them to account swiftly, revealing the true threat that would’ve gone unnoticed….

Thank God for the Takei…. yet again he’s saved the day!! Further details about Shatner and that bikini were imminent. Send in the two B’s!!

Practitioners 4: Brian Azzarello

As a catch up for all new visitors to Beyond the Bunker, we’ll be representing the original Practitioners series 1-55 (Simon BisleyChris Bachalo and featuring the most influential comic creatives in history). Thoroughly incomplete but featuring legends like Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Frank Miller and Alan Moore already more will be hitting the site every two alternate weeks. For now though, sit back every Tuesday for a run-down of the men and women who created the comic industry we know today. (Or check the full list in the menus above). This week: 100 Bullets and Before Watchmen: Comedian scribe Brian Azzarello.

Brian Azzarello has written for Batman (‘Broken City’, with Eduardo Risso and Batman/Deathblow: After the Fire) and Superman (‘For Tomorrow’, with Jim Lee). Prior to his rise as a writer he was best known as the line editor for Andrew Rev’s incarnation of Comico, a middle American publisher responsible for Robotech, Jonny Quest, Mage; The Hero Uniscovered and Grendel before going bankrupt in 1990.

But his greatest works are the investigation and subsequent revelling in the murky underbelly and imagined clandestine power houses of the american continent in the incredibly indelible and affecting 100 Bullets – which ran from August 1999 to April 2009. It was a masterwork.

It was initially presented as a set of episodic, self-contained storylines, an occasional appearance by the seemingly omnipresent Agent Graves the only connecting detail but by its completion it made clear a nationwide network of criminal empires resting behind the accepted powers-that-be that touched (and consumed) the lives of everyone inside it.

The Series won the 2002 Harvey Awards for Best Writer and Best continuing series (as well as Best Artist for his long term creative partner Eduardo Risso) and 2001 Eisner Award for Best serialised story, and in 2002 and 2004 Eisner Award for Best Continuing Series.

Although diffuse, the main reasons for this success were most likely Azzarello’s uncanny capacity for realistic use of regional and local/dialects as well as often oblique use of slang and metaphorical language in his character’s dialogue. His capacity for subtle and accurate characterisation and his capacity for dynamic and often potentially debilitating plot twists while never losing control of the inherent details that made it so gripping.


He had worked with Eduardo Risso on Jonny Double and went on to work with him on Batman: Broken City applying the same noir and pulp principles reminiscent of the best Miller, Janson and Varley. The intuitive sense of layout and pacing between them formed one of the most effective partnerships in comics history, underpinned by Azzarello’s understanding of provocative and engrossing storytelling.

His dabble into self publishing was (and still is) a rip roaring success with Loveless; a noir Spaghetti Western following the trials of an outlaw couple in the desolate and uncertain years following the American Civil War.

His most recent work of note is Joker for DC comics in which Azzarello brings the long standing image of the DC’s comic book Joker closer to that of Christopher Nolan and the late Heath Ledger’s version from The Dark Knight (2008). He represents far less an ethereal and spiritual threat to Gotham than he does a more potent and vicious one with real verve and clarity in his criminal intent. Something that in the hands of other writers might lessen a long beholden character, but in the hands of Azzarello (aided ably by Lee Bermejo) it finds greater potency in its compactness. An affecting writer, well worth a look if you get the chance.

Moon's Alternative Olympics: Crazy Mishaps!!

7 years ago, in a moment of significant success that united the nation in a day of celebration, we beat the French to something they really wanted and secured the Olympics. When the streamers had fallen to the ground we realised we’d just signed up to the biggest economic, transportational, security and cultural nightmare in the world. Any city in the world would succeed in that time surely – however at the time we were still trying to finish Wembley – and that was half a decade late – the equivalent of deciding to redevelop your entire house having failed to finish the bathroom. However, undeterred by bombs, riots and the biggest recession to hit since the 30s, the proud… um… Polish and Australian contractors of London got the work done. To incredible results as seen in the mind blowing opening ceremony that even the most curmudgeonly Daily Mail reader had to concede was a success. Let it all begin – Jeremy Hunt – take it away….

Unabated, we rolled on – only to allow a GCSE student who picked history to be in charge of the Flag machine for the North Korea football match, showing them their greatest enemies flag instead of their own!! Nothing makes you want to watch an Olympics more than the impending potential of Nuclear War brought on by a work experience kid volunteering to press the flag button.

Then of course there was the opening ceremony in which a random volunteer opted to join the main procession and the Queen jumped out of a Helicopter (which put her in a really foul mood). 1200 Pigeons were incinerated in the all-consuming firework display launched at the end of the ceremony – though I can confirm you could see the fireworks on the underbelly of the imposing cloud cover that had descended on London after a divine week of sunshine.

One more for luck!!

Then of course there was Boris Johnson… trying to keep the party going. Trying to get himself down a zip line in Victoria park in front of a crowd of onlookers. His arrival at the end of the zip line delayed as he slid to an awkward halt. Like a baby polar bear covered in Union Jacks and an ill-fitting suit hanging from a washing line. There really is nothing more English…

In spite all of this and the absence of any discernable business for any major attractions in London because 1. They put on the biggest show in the world on 12 miles down the road and 2. They very clearly told everybody to stay at home in case the trains fell apart, it’s all going really well. This has abstractly caused many people to spend more time with their families and opened up loads of seat space on any London commute and we’re scoring some serious medals (read: beating the French). All things considered – so far it’s been a great Olympics!!

Skyfall: New Trailer and that Olympic moment…

Bond is back – seemingly this time from the death – Mendes at the helm, creepy ass bad guy with a hair colour that doesn’t quite suit him (Javier Bardem, apparently moved on from being a lone pressure gun killer in No Country For Old Men to being MI6’s greatest nemesis to date).

Rumours of the scene, provided by Danny Boyle from excess footage left over from the Olympics, in which the Queen fly kicks a bad guy in the neck at Sandringham, does appear to have been left out of this trailer.

For those who missed it at the Olympic Opening Ceremony (you were one of the 2.3 Billion who missed it, eh?) here’s the quintessential moment in which two icons of the British Empire met for the first time and threw themselves out of a Helicopter….

Doctor Who Trailer – Return in the Autumn

The Doctor is back and he’s seemingly more budgeted than ever. Cyborg gunmen, heavily armour plated suits, a million Daleks and the apparent loss of his current assistant at the hands of them will bear little relationship to what we are about to see happen in the new series to return this Autumn (or Season / Fall for our American Cousins). Certainly looks like the popularity of the good Doctor is fuelling some high end ideas ‘Dinosaurs on a Space ship’ for instance but is this going to unbalance the wish fulfillment / saving the universe with a matchstick charm which made the Doctor so successful before?

Too much ‘I’m the Doctor,’ going on. The old Doctor never needed to mention his name – he did things that proved it, that was the ultimate joy. Will Matt Smith’s Doctor be increasingly a passenger in his own series – most likely in at least one episode that doesn’t feature him that occurs in every series – or is this the one where things start to happen!!

The Angels and Daleks are back – the Silence are nowhere to be seen. The US seems to be playing a big ol’ part in it all now, California or Nevada and apparently Alaska if the snowy bits are anything to go by. Much to be revealed. We’ll see what happens….

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