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Yesterday was machinimaguruhughhancock's 41st birthday. Unfortunately, we've been unable to celebrate properly, since Hugh dropped dead suddenly in early February this year.

Typical Hugh, defying norms, always one step ahead of everyone else.

I've worked with Hugh on countless projects since 2004 and I was proud to call him a colleague as well as a friend. When we first met, at the auditions for Bloodspell, he was running around trying to develop the techniques that would allow one to make a full-length feature film in one's basement. He still took the time out to teach me method acting, which I didn't believe in at the time, but it sounded like fun, as it always did. I've since developed those skills professionally and I use them to this day.

We last met in person at the launch party for Left Hand Path, a project with which he'd revolutionized the field of roomscale VR. I'd been privileged to play the Angel of Death in the Samael section, which had been a great deal of fun, as it always was. At the party, we talked about his next big project. He was going to bring the concept of manipulable objects with weight and heft into the VR world, and I was going to help him with the runes. All unpaid of course, but it would have been fun, as it always was.

A few weeks after that, we'd agreed to meet up, get drunk, and talk about technomagick. I wanted to hear his argument about the potential for pushing back the boundaries of Clarke's Third Law. And he had a gig lined up for me. He was going to pass me the client's details when we met up. It sounded like fun, as it always did. A few days after that, he was at a conference in London and randomly dropped dead.

A few weeks after that was the funeral, held in Bournemouth, and a few weeks after that we held a memorial event in Edinburgh. At the event, I got drunker than I'd expected and realized that Hugh's death had affected me in ways I hadn't acknowledged. I still managed to give a memorial speech that wasn't completely terrible, but I didn't get to say ten per cent of the things I wanted to say. I suspect I'll never get to say all of the things I wanted to say about Hugh.

In lieu of words, the irrepressible Johnnie Ingram has released this video, which pays tribute to just a few of the remarkable aspects of Hugh's career. It's worth watching. I'm not even in it and it's still worth watching.

At the end of the funeral, in Bournemouth, as we all filed out of the chapel, I laid one hand on the coffin and said: Hugh, I know this isn't the last time you're going to surprise me.

It hasn't been. He continues to surprise me and he will continue to do so for a long time yet.

It's traditional at times like this to say requiescat in pacem, but I'm not going to. Hugh, wherever you are right now, I hope that there are paradigms in dire need of subversion, and I know you will be subverting them with glee. And I hope it's fun, because with you involved, it always is.

Happy birthday, old friend.

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There's plenty of scope in current events for a constructive and far-reaching debate about cultural appropriation versus cultural appreciation, but naturally I'm going to take this opportunity to talk about how much of a dickhead Jamie Oliver is.

TL;DR: it's a lot.

It's fair enough to say that all cuisine is stolen from somewhere. We've been cooking for at least 1.8 million years and pretty much everything has been done before by someone somewhere. This is especially true in GB, where our native produce consists entirely of watercress and mammoth meat with absolutely everything else having been imported from somewhere. Apples come from China, dormice came over with the Romans, fish & chips are Jewish. There's no such thing as authentic British cuisine, and we like it that way. The cultural appropriation is the bit that makes it delicious.

There are considerations to bear in mind, though. Nobody seems to mind cultural appropriation when it's done with a modicum of respect for the source culture, and/or if it's done well, and that's what's lacking on this occasion.

This latest flap involving the fat-tongued mockney twat is amusing precisely because it's so clear-cut. Jamie's punchy jerk rice is not jerk, and it's barely even rice. Jerk is a meat marinade based on citrus juice, allspice, and scotch bonnets, none of which appear in this travesty. What Jamie has done, as is his wont, is whack a bit of this in and a slosh of that, and probably a luvverly good glug of olive oil because it's Jamie and he can't help himself, all without the remotest concern for the people he's ripping off. And then he calls it jerk not out of any respect for the culture that served as his inspiration, but because putting words on things sells units.

Crucially, apparently the result is disgusting, because amongst all of his myriad other faults, Jamie is a terrible cook.

As we all know, he's not only a terrible cook but also a terrible human being. This is clearly evidenced by every action he has ever taken in his worthless life, not least the smug, sanctimonious attitude, the arrogance, the hypocrisy, the poverty-shaming, the fat-shaming, and the constant moral crusades against anyone who's insufficiently upper-middle-class for his Winchester-addled tastes. But the specific example of his odious nature which is most pertinent right now is his cluelessness. Faced with the prospect that he might have made a teensy social misstep, backed with the weight of plenty of evidence and the outrage of the British Afro-Caribbean community, Jamie's only response is to double down, and call his detractors mad. So now we can add mental-health-shaming to the list.

Far be it from me to encourage Britons of Jamaican origin to take up the torches and pitchforks and show Jamie what a real barbecue looks like, from the inside. But if you all would choose to do so, I'd consider it an added bonus.

If like me, this whole controversy has just left you craving proper jerk, the Irish Times has a recipe.

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Catching up

Sat, Aug. 11th, 2018 09:44
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Finally got around to watching STAR TREK BEYOND. The last few years have been somewhat disrupted, and I'm regretting that I didn't have the opportunity to watch this one on the big screen. Zooooom! Pow! Blam! Pewpewpewpew EEEEEOWWWWWdooj. (I hope that last one wasn't a spoiler for anyone who hasn't seen it yet.)

Spectacular, certainly, but what I'm really enjoying about the JJverse movies is the characterization. By this point in the Kelvin timeline, these people are very different to the prime universe counterparts that we know, but I love them anyway. INtO dArKNeSS was a trash film, but it was totally redeemed by performances and dialogue. I would quite happily watch hours and hours of a hypothetical Zac And Zoe Bicker At Each Other Show. Any issues with canonicity of the film's plot can be fixed quite handily, and anything that gives Z&Z more screen time together deserves to be massaged into canon, even if it takes a bit of a stretch. Especially if we get the added bonus of Alice Eve in her space underwear.

BEYOND is like that but more betterer, plus there are none of those tricky issues with continuity. I really like the way they tied in the history of the Federation as established in ENTERPRISE, and somehow managed to make it make sense. The conflict between lofty Federation values and the grittier, more brutal mindset of old pre-unification Earth was beautifully handled, dashed off economically in a handful of lines during an epic fistfight between two top-flight actors. You can tell that the writers of this instalment have a genuine love for the franchise.

And the tribute to Spock Prime and Leonard Nimoy was wonderful. Even if they had to use a still from STV to do it.

Plus, there were splosions.

I've been enjoying DISCOVERY as well. It has its flaws, as does any first season, but it's just so damn pretty. On those occasions when it feels a little too gritty to be Star Trek, I can just watch an episode of THE ORVILLE to detox. Between the two of them, they make one complete expression of where Star Trek should be in the 21st century.

Now if we can just find a way to transport Alara Kitan into the prime universe, I'll be a happy boy.

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