Monthly archives: August 2013

Book of Cities: Rise & Fall of 10 Places Over 200 Years | WebUrbanist

From its creator: “Books of Cities measures the quantity of books, written in the English language, that refers to 10 major cities in the world between 1800 and 2000 … it gives an overall idea of the amount of literature produced in each era about the same city.”

via Book of Cities: Rise & Fall of 10 Places Over 200 Years | WebUrbanist.

Are We Causing Animals to Grow Bigger Brains? : Discovery News

Humans may be responsible for a jump in brain growth among mice and some other small mammals living around us in both urban and rural settings, a new study finds.

Small mammals that either produce a lot of babies or eat a lot of bugs exhibited the greatest cranial capacity (i.e. brain growth) due to human-caused environmental changes over the past century, suggests the study, which is published in the latest Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

“Small mammals with high fecundity (such as deer mice and meadow voles) show the most pronounced differences in cranial capacity between urban and rural environments, having larger cranial capacity in urban environments,” lead author Emilie Snell-Rood told Discovery News.

Are We Causing Animals to Grow Bigger Brains? : Discovery News.

B-Movie Night: BMX Bandits

It’s been a long time since I saw a children’s film that wasn’t a cgi animation or laden with special effects. I am aware of High School Musical, Hannah Montana and the work of the Olsen twins, but have managed to avoid them so far. Surely they can’t be the only live action, sfx free fare on offer to kids these days? Is there a modern equivalent to BMX Bandits?

In a very early role, Nicole Kidman is Judy, a BMX mad young lady working in the local market to raise enough money to get herself a new bike. She meets Goose and Maverick P.J., equally bike mad boys, when they wreck their bikes at the store. Though the accident was neither their fault nor hers, it costs her her job. Bonding over their shared love of cycling, the three become fast friends and set out to make their money by more creative means.

Fishing for mussels, Judy, P.J. and Goose find a mysterious box which contains walkie-talkies. With little thought to the legality of their salvage, they proceed to sell the radios. The problem is, there were destined for an armed gang who are planning a big payroll job and need them to communicate. They’re also on the Police band, so both cops and criminals are hunting them. Cue ‘mild peril’ and car chases.

Perhaps because it’s Australian, or maybe because it was the Eighties and they didn’t focus group things to death as often back then, there’s a refreshing coarseness to the film. The kids are self reliant and rebellious and in the end they benefit from these qualities, rather than having to learn important life lessons about how they must conform. There’s no cheesy romance sub plot, though they do cheekily play with it a couple of times. Trapped in a freshly dug grave, Goose tries to kiss Judy and, after dodging it, she tells him that she likes him just as much as P.J. but…. All the while unaware that the radio is on and P.J. can hear their conversation. Later, when jealousy looks like rearing its ugly head again, she comes out with the great line- “Two’s company, three…. Gets us talked about.”

Production values are quite high and the chases are well choreographed. The goons sent to recover the radios are buffoons but still manage, when needed, to be threatening, and the holes in the story aren’t big enough to care about.

I really enjoyed this film, and not just for nostalgic reasons. I don’t know how a modern tween or teen might feel about it. If you’ve got one lying around would you find out for me? Thanks.

You can buy BMX Bandits from Amazon.

Ancient Buddhist statue made of meteorite, new study reveals

It sounds like an artifact from an Indiana Jones film: a 1,000-year-old ancient Buddhist statue which was first recovered by a Nazi expedition in 1938 has been analyzed by scientists and has been found to be carved from a meteorite. The findings, published in Meteoritics and Planetary Science, reveal the priceless statue to be a rare ataxite class of meteorite.

via Ancient Buddhist statue made of meteorite, new study reveals.

B-Movie Night: Strippers vs Werewolves

This should have been so much better. It’s got strippers, werewolves, East End gangsters, a dopey paranormal investigator, sexy vampires and a bunch of familiar faces in it. It shouldn’t have been put together so poorly.

When a punter gets hairy and lairy during a private dance at Club Vixen, Justice the stripper defends herself with the nearest thing to hand- a fountain pen which is conveniently silver. Convenient because the hirsute chap is a werewolf. As the club bouncer and Justice dispose of the body, the club owner remembers events from twenty years earlier. She’s encountered lycans before, and knows what they’re like.

The wolf pack hunt down their fallen member, then set about getting revenge, leading to a show down with one of the least exciting fight sequences ever. There are also some sub-plots about the goofy vampire hunter dating a Russian goth stripper and some dumb connections between the girls and the wolves.

It’s all a bit dull, really. The acting, direction and script are all flat. Most of the shots look like they did one take and decided that was good enough, they couldn’t be bothered to try again. The worst part has to be the fights and werewolf attacks, which are static and confusing- nothing seems to be happening, but you can’t tell who it’s not happening to.

Considering the amount of sleazy, gory fun that could be had by mixing strippers and werewolves, this film is incredibly disappointing.

You could, though I don’t recommend it, buy Strippers vs Werewolves from Amazon.

Available now for Kindle- B-Movie Night: Film, book and game reviews from the Spinneyhead archives


New from Spinneyhead Books is B-Movie Night, which collects together a load of reviews from the Spinneyhead archives. I’s going to be an ever growing ebook, as new reviews will be added to it a month or two after they appear here.

Also available from

Cakebread Street

Cakebread Street, originally uploaded by spinneyhead.

Now I have to go and see if cakebread is a thing.


This very unusual name is one of the oldest on the surname list. It is said to be of Norse-Viking and Olde English pre 9th century origins. It derives from the Norse word ‘kaka’ meaning cake, and the English ‘brede’ and is apparenty a medieval occupational metonymic for a miller of special flour or a baker of ‘dainty’ cakes and small flat loaves. These were made from a special fine and sweet flour called ‘cakebread’. ‘Baking’ was a village activity in ancient times, the baker usually providing a communal centre for the cooking of most foods, however the specialist nature of this surname and the relative rarity, suggests that ‘Cakebreads’ may have operated differently. One of the many unusual features of this surname has been its almost unchanging spelling since the fourteenth century, another rarity in itself.