Ah, you gotta love the combination of the internet and the tendency for people in large numbers to suddenly lose all capacity for coherent thought. The Guardian reports today that, probably due at least in part to a Facebook group called 11 Maggio Terremoto a Roma, thousands of people in Rome believe that the city is destined to be destroyed by an earthquake tomorrow, May 11.

And it is, supposedly, all because of the predictions of a self-styled ‘geophysicist’ by the name of Raffaele Bendandi.

It will not surprise you to learn that Bendandi, who died in 1979, was not any kind of proper scientist. Despite being awarded a knighthood by Mussolini, he had no formal scientific training and none of his research was ever supported by independent corroboration. The many ‘theories’ that he advanced in his lifetime were not inhibited by actual factual content. Among other things, Bendandi advanced an hypothesis for the flooding of Atlantis and believed that he had discovered a planet in an orbit between the sun and Mercury.

But here’s the best part – the rising panic in Rome appears to be the result of some idiot somewhere getting his wires crossed. Bendandi didn’t actually ever predict an earthquake for May 11, 2011. According to Paola Lagorio, the president of an organization who looks after Bendandi’s legacy, there is no such indication in any of the the writings attributed to him. Someone just pulled that right out of their ass (Paola Lagorio didn’t say that, you understand, but I bet she was thinking it).

But hey – Rome is the where the Pope lives, right? Why don’t the people who think there’s going to be an earthquake just pray to God that it won’t happen?1 Oh, yeah, right. I guess they will, and that’s why it won’t happen. Silly me.

Be sure to tune in tomorrow Faithful Acowlytes, in order that we might comprehensively ridicule all those Romans who took their kids out of school and fled to the countryside. You know you want to.


Thanks once more to Atlas for bringing this to the attention of the Cow.

  1. I’m betting that the Venn diagram of People Who Are Very Religious in Rome and People Who are Very Gullible in Rome has a pretty big area of intersection… []

You know those daft motivational posters that have been well-and-truly pwned by Well, a guy named Douwe Osinga, who works for Google, has made a fun web time-waster called Auto Poster that allows you to make your very own inspirational pontifications to send to your friends and colleagues. Just as I am doing for you, dear Acowlytes.

The app draws from Google’s vast cataloguing of the cyberworld for its images.1 All you need to do is provide the wisdom. Auto Poster even thoughtfully chooses appropriate text colours for you!

Go now. Waste time. Post your efforts back here and make me laugh.

  1. Be warned – the images are selected via Google’s Image Search, and the intellectual property is likely to be reserved. Whatever the crap that actually means in this day and age… []

I’m sure that you are all aware of the current movie phenomenon of ‘reboots’ – they’re everywhere these days, what with the reinvented Batman, the new Star Trek, the latest Sherlock Holmes and so on. In case this trend has passed you by, basically what happens is that a movie studio takes something that has run out of sequel potential and ‘reboots’ it by making the concept ‘hipper’, by editing it in a snappy fashion, and by casting it with some flavour-of-the-month actors.

When I recently read that they’re rebooting the Spiderman franchise I realised that the time is fast approaching where the reboots are going to come so quick on the heels of the original flick that studios will be in danger of rebooting films that haven’t even been made. This of course means that there is a grave and frightening chance of movies achieving originality – a situation that is plainly not acceptable.

In order that we may head off this alarming possibility, I have decided to launch the concept of the cross-boot. It works like this: you find two previously successful movies and mash them into a hybrid that will in fact appeal to even more people than either of the sources. For instance, Driving Miss Daisy, a film that was a hit with the ma & pa generation could be merged with a science-fiction action piece like, oh, Robocop say, to produce a film that simply can’t fail to bring the whole family together:

One of the problems that studios perennially face is the dreaded ‘couples’ dilemma. When he wants to watch an action movie and she is up for a chick flick, unhappiness inevitably follows for one1 of the parties. But with the cross-boot, no more disputes! If we take the lead character from Alien³ and force her to make a choice about which of her alien spawn she should keep, we obviously get:

In this mutation of two much-loved motion pictures, Ripley’s dilemma is transformed, via thrilling action drama, into a tear-jerker of unparalleled poignancy. Who could possibly be disappointed?!

But the icing on the cake for the cross-boot should surely be smashing a humungous Pixar/Disney animation hit into a killer2 vintage horror flick: a cute robot tries to fit in but is mercilessly mocked by his ‘friends’. In a bone-chilling fit of uncontrolled rage he wreaks his bloody vengeance…

The most discerning among you will have figured out by now that, aside from saving the motion picture industry from certain ignominy, all this amounts to the possibility of a Cow Competition… so, get to it! A wondrous TCA coffee mug goes to the winner. Plus, of course the fantabulous glory of saying you were funnier than me.

[The Rules: a pithy and amusing synopsis, plus title, plus cleverly Photoshopped poster mashup. Those of you without mad PShop skillz may enter, but your synopsis will have to be ultra funny to have a chance at the prize]

  1. Or both – the loser takes up the right to sulk for the entire duration of the film []
  2. Literally []



*Spawn Of Satan


One of my favoured blog visits is Matt’s Musings, where artist and machinima magician Matt Kelland muses often on things that pin the Interest-O-Meter. Recently, after having indulged in the old internet meme of ‘Making Your Own Record Cover’, Matt was musing about whether designers might find themselves eventually replaced by some kind of quasi-random system for generating ‘artwork’.

If you’ve not played the Record Cover Game game it goes like this:

1: Go here, to get a random image – picture #3, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.

2: Go here to get a random Wikipedia article – this will be the name of your artist.

3: Go here to get a random quote, the last four or five words of which will be the name of your album.

Combine the ingredients in a photo editing app such as Photoshop, and voila! – Instant Design Skillz and a new Number One with a Bullet!

Here’s a nifty example which I just made according to those rules:

No Matter How Slow - A New Hit!

Cool! Not something I’d pick up in a record shop, probably, but you never know – I’m pretty fond of Arab Pop…

But as I mentioned to Matt, my feeling is that designers are safe for a while yet. Even in the ‘Mafitah al-Janan’ effort above (which in my opinion would have been rejected by all but the most feeble of A&R people) I’ve employed at least a little discrimination… it’s hard not to want to use at least some slightly tasteful fonts and a complementary colour scheme.

I told Matt that I was skeptical of much true artistic merit in the Record Cover Game – the dice are far too loaded. Using the above rules, you get offered a generally high standard of images, excellent quotes and the possibility of some unusual and meaningful parings – the path to this point has been well-and-truly paved by creative people. Next, stir in a little of your own artiness (even the tiniest amount…) and, well, it’s not unreasonable to expect a half-decent outcome. But, I speculated, what if you truly randomize the process. What if you try and take out any innate taste? Do you still come up with anything you’d want to display on your cd shelf? And I spun up a few examples which I posted in Matt’s comments.

They were SO terrible, in fact, that I actually started having fun… so now, in true TCA fashion, I’m reinventing the Record Cover Meme.

Acowlytes! This is your quest: go now and make the very WORST record cover you can. A cover that would ensure your future as a designer was well and truly dead, buried and pissed upon.

These are the NEW rules:

1: Go here, to get a random image. Image #3 – no matter what it is – will be your album cover.

2: Go here to get a random website – the first 3 or 4 words of the first link on the page is the name of your band.

3: Go here to get a random clich̩ Рthe third one on the list is the name of your album.

4: Arrange the elements in a photo editing app such as Photoshop according to the following restrictions: try to pick a random font and a random colour for each of the titles (how you opt to do this is up to you, but I trust you to play fair and try and be as truly random as possible).

5: You must put your artist name along the TOP of the image, and your album name along the BOTTOM. No creative placement allowed!

Maybe you’ll arrive at something as appalling appealing as this:


Or this:


I certainly hope so. Put it where we can see it and post a link in Comments. Let’s show Matt what kind of world we’d have without anyone at the design controls…†


† In fact, these monstrosities are frighteningly similar to the kinds of ‘artwork’ you see in those annoying leaflets people shove under your front door. Coincidence?

BTW – I totally swear I made those two bad ‘covers’ using the rules outlined above – the way the title in the second one interacted with the text on the image was entirely random. Sometimes random can be mighty entertaining.


Spawn of Satan


*Spawn Of Satan


« Previous PageNext Page »