Thursday, 28 January 2010
No? OK, then let's see if I can jumpstart this thing. Look around, look around. What's nearby? Plastic bag containing detritus of lunch (mildly unpleasant but strangely filling chicken and bacon pasta, packet of roast ox flavour crisps*, empty Coke bottle). Nope, not much in the way of inspiration there.
OK, what else is in the immediate environs? Two mobile phones** sitting in their little foam sofa-shaped mobile phone holders - the black phone on the white sofa and the silver phone on the black sofa. And not the other way round. That's just the way it is. Don't switch them. If you switch them , I'll just have to...switch them back. You've gotta have a system.
Well, nothing there, really. Keep looking, keep looking... Work colleagues? No, I don't think the world is ready to have the full horror that is my employed cohorts unleashed upon it. Best leave them be, cages unrattled.
Telly? Nah, everyone's got a telly and it's not showing much worth talking about at the moment. The sounds down but it appears to be two men digging a field followed by a selection of vox pops with old dears sporting purple rinses. That'll be the local news then. Someone'll be indignant about something, no doubt some business plan for an area previously untouched by business-style planning. I know, with that level of insight, I could be a journalist.
Well, I guess, yet again, that I don't really have anything to say. Maybe I shouldn't post a blog today...
* I don't eat a lot of roast ox - surprising, I know, given the many similarities between my good self and Henry VIII - and I'm betting that the makers of these crisps are banking on their consumers being unfamiliar enough with the flavour of roast ox to get away with basically renaming beef crisps something a bit more fancy sounding.
** Nope, I'm not so popular that I need to two phones to cope with demand. One of them only rings when people want me to do work-related stuff. It's like a regular phone but less fun.
Tuesday, 26 January 2010
Sunday, 24 January 2010
I've been a commuter now for more than a third of my life* and am a lifelong user of public transport so, in my mind, there's always a mental tube/train map that's trying to the quickest route across London. Because, by whatever means you choose, by whichever means you travel and however far you're going, getting across London takes a minimum of an hour. It doesn't seem to matter where or how, your minimum travel time is an hour.
It's not just about the quickest route, either. Over time, you begin to develop your own personal set of criteria which the perfect journey must meet. It also has to have the least number of changes. It has to be by these methods of transport in order of preference:- train, tube, bus, DLR (the toy train). Plus a whole heap of other tiny little preferences that are slowly added in to the quest to find that perfect public transport journey.
It's a hopeless windmill-tilting quest, of course. The idea of a perfect public transport journey is a thing of mythical proportions. I'll still keep searching, though. Like winning the lottery, one day, it could happen...
* That's not a fun stat that makes you feel all fuzzy and cosy. That's a lot of bottled up annoyance and resentment, simmering away on a daily basis...
Friday, 22 January 2010
Thursday, 21 January 2010
The disease tends to rear it's ugly head when you have a successful property or franchise that has reached a very definite ending. The problem? Well, how do you make more films / episodes when all the characters have found a happy ending / been hideously slaughtered (delete as applicable)? Simple. You go back and fill in all those little gaps that really didn't actually need filling in the first place.
The most famous example of this is, of course, Mr George Lucas with the Star Wars prequels but they've been discussed often enough so let's just take those as read. He's by no means the only offender. Peter Jackson, now faced with trying to follow up his massively successful Lord Of The Rings trilogy, is now producing a two-film adaptation of Tolkien's earlier work, The Hobbit. Following the stalling of the X-Men franchise with the reasonably awful X-Men: The Last Stand, we've been presented with the clunkily titled X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Exorcist: The Beginning, Cube Zero, Ring Zero - all have gone back to the start to do their bit. In TV terms, Star Trek: Enterprise went where pretty much everyone had gone before and we have Caprica going back to the worlds of Battlestar Galactica before they were destroyed in the opening episode. And soon, back to the big screen, we have upcoming prequels to both The Thing and Alien (supposedly to be directed by Ridley Scott himself) to fill in more of those details that nobody was clamouring for.
And therein lies the problem. Dramatic tension. Who cares? Really, you know ultimately what's going to happen to all of these worlds so why you should really care about these extra, almost superfluous details. I don;t need to know the origin of the alien space pilot from the crashed spaceship in Alien - it's much cooler being a massive mysterious presence. And yet, I know what I'm like. I'll end up watching some of these things and I'll end up with the inevitable sense of disappointment that comes from knowing how it all will ultimately play out.
You're never going to get a surprise ending to a prequel or some sudden unexpected character development because, by definition, the end of a prequel has to fit into the beginning of the original story so you always know where you're going to end up. That's not to say that is no enjoyment to be had in a prequel, it's just that, for me, it's almost always going to be dramatically limited.
That doesn't mean that there isn't the odd success story. J.J Abrams' prequel / sequel / reboot of Star Trek was a real winner but these are few and far between and definitely the exception to the (increasing) norm. For the most part, give us something new. If a story's done, move on to a new one.
Mind you, we're also overly fond of trilogies these days but that's another topic...
Tuesday, 19 January 2010
We've had some happy times together, you and I. Oh, how the days have just flown past - thinking about stuff, maybe imagining things or even just using the visual and even auditory cortex to process the constant stream of information. Breathing, eating, going to the gentleman's room - all good fun. OK, I could probably live with processing sensory input in the form of pains and aches but, you know, you've got to take the rogue with the smooth in any relationship.
Unfortunately, my dear little grey matter, I'm having to write this missive to you. There was a time when you used to fire away those little neurons with topics of interest to captivate my attention and provide me with blogtacular ammunition. Of late, however, you have been letting me down and leaving me sadly underperforming in the blog department. And no ones likes an underperforming blog.
I like you, brain, I really do. You enable me to understand concepts such as "like" and "brain" and "cheese" * but unless you pick up your game really soon, you and me are going to have quite the falling out. Consider this your written warning.
All the best,
* And where would we be without cheese? Nowhere, that's where.
Monday, 18 January 2010
You see, it's always the way. You set your mind to doing something and the brain steadfastly refuses to co-operate. "I see what you're trying to do," says the brain, "but I'm not particularly interested in going along with it."
"Come on, brain," say I, "you're beginning to make me, and therefore by extension yourself, look foolish."
"Well, you do all the hard work, then, see how you like it for a change", reply the little grey cells.
"Fine, I will," rejoinder I, immediately gasping for breath as my autonomic system is switched off and I wonder how you make your lungs do that whole breathing thing...
Which is yet another roundabout way of saying that I have nowt to bang on about yet again. Maybe I could tell you something about the splendour that is me that you may not already now. Let's see, lets' see. I have a beard? Nope, covered. Quite like films? May well have mentioned that once or twice. Slightly thin up top in the hair department? Well, not a lot more to note on that.
Have I talked about my musicality? What musicality, I hear you ask. Well, precisely. I'm about as musical as a large lump of mature cheddar. But once, I had an inkling that I may be of a musical nature...
As with many children, I was offered the opportunity at school to take up an instrument. I could have chosen anything really - piano, trumpet, a nice quiet drum kit. For some reason lost in the mists of time, these were not the instruments that appealed. No, for some unfathomable reason, the musical instrument which I decided was the one for me to learn was.... the clarinet.
I will say that I did succeed in making it produce noise. Where I failed was in making it produce noise that anyone or anything with ears would want to listen to. The succession of reed-splitting squeaks, squawks and squeals which issued from the business end of said device wold give the word "cacophony" a bad name.
Maybe I should have picked something easier. Maybe the clarinet just wasn't the instrument I was suited to. Or maybe music and I should remain respectful of each others boundaries and agree to admire each other from afar. I suspect it's the latter...
There you go, brain, I didn't need you after all. Thbpbpbpt.*
* That's the sound of a small raspberry being blown, in case you were wondering.
Sunday, 17 January 2010
Saturday, 16 January 2010
Friday, 15 January 2010
Thursday, 14 January 2010
Wednesday, 13 January 2010
Tuesday, 12 January 2010
And then, like the melting snow on the station platform*, it was gone, floating away into the ether because I had been stupid enough to not pin it down via the medium of words and the nib of a pen to the pages of my notebook. I mean, I always carry a notebook with me and what's the point in that if you're not going to write in it, eh? (No, no, don't answer, it was rhetorical and I can't hear you anyway so you might look a little foolish just talking to some words on a screen.) In fact, I actually carry two notebooks and yet singularly failed to put anything into either. And now I don't even have a hint of a glimmer of glimpse as to what the blinking flip it was all about. Nothing. Not a sausage.
Moral of today's story? Write it down, Nick, you insufferable nincompoop.
Moral of today's story II? On the plus side, you can get yet another blog out of not having a blog to write. It's kind of stretched beyond a theme now and into the realms of the ridiculous, quite frankly.
* Yeah, I know I whinged yesterday about the constant snow references I'm getting every day - it's obviously taken it's toll and completely ingrained itself into my simile banks. Not that I'm comparing my brain to a computer. At least, if I was, it would be a 1980s Acorn Electron. Cassette drive and everything. And it would be loading the classic Acorn game Monsters in which you dig a hole for the monster, it falls into the hole and you fill it back in again to kill it's monstery behind. However, if you're too slow, the monster gets out and turns into a super-annoyed uber-monster. So, you know, best be quick. Anyway, I digress. Head on back up the page there.
Monday, 11 January 2010
Such is the way of things. With great size comes great awkwardness and a tendency to knock over your glass. It's a trade off and I'm happy to accept it. I like being tall and broad. I can reach things on high shelves. People can spot me in a crowded room (an effect that is doubled by the shiny reflective surface perched atop the cranium). I'm rarely overlooked. Of course, it doesn't always have its advantages - I'd prefer not to spend flights with my knees round my ears and crowded tube journeys with my head cocked at a forty five degree angle - but I'll take tall and ungainly over short and graceful. No offence to any of you short-arses; just personal preference, really.
Still, I really wish I hadn't dropped my iPod on the train platform. It's got a horrible dent in the corner now...
Speaking of commuting (nice segueway, Nick, thank you, Nick), apparently, over in that there New York on the other side of the big wet oceany thing, it was No Pants Day on the subway. Now, I'm all for people wondering about in their undercrackers as much as the next person but, quite frankly, it's far too cold for those kind of shenanigans. Couldn't it wait til summer? Hmm, actually, on second thought, I don't think I'd particularly want to be on a subway train full of sweaty crotches being gently aired. Think I'll stick to the traditional trouser-on commute, thank you very much.
Also, in the news today, for the twentieth day in the row if you live in the UK, is the top story that it's been snowing and is still a bit cold. I'm beginning to think that we as a nation place too much importance on the weather as a source of news. Too cold, too hot, too wet, too dry - it all gets reported in an utterly overblown manner. Can we get back to some actual news events sometime soon, please? I'm pretty sure there must be more going on than "It's snow"....
Sunday, 10 January 2010
The Basics:- Moon is one of those films that it feels like you're spoiling if you talk about it too much so I'll just give the starting premise - Sam (Sam Rockwell) works for Lunar technologies on their helium-3 processing moonbase and is nearing the end of his three year contract. And then he has an accident... It's a low-budget, independent sci-fi film and definitely an antidote to a lot of the big screen slam-bang sci-fi that's out there at the moment.
The Good:- For a first time director, it's an amazingly confident film. It's intelligent and doesn't patronise its audience while at the same time remaining accessible. There's a feel of old school 1970s sci fi about it in the best possible sense from the overall set design to the use of good old fashioned practical model work instead of CGI*. It's also very much a one man show with a great performance from Sam Rockwell who I've not really seen in much before apart from the disappointing Hitch Hikers film but, based on this, I'd be interested to see him in some other roles. There's also a nice turn from Kevin Spacey as the voice of Gerty, the moonbase computer who initially appears to bear some similarities to 2001's HAL... It's a slow-paced affair but that allows the story to unfold at a natural rate and allows the viewer time to identify with Sam and care about his predicament.
The Bad:- I think if you start to analyse the plot and set-up a little too much, you can begin to find a few holes in it or, if not holes as such, such slightly questionable logic and motivation i.e. why would they use a man with documented emotional problems in such a high pressure environment? But really, these are minor niggles that in now way spoil your enjoyment of the film.
The Verdict:- It feels like a throwback to sci fi filmmaking of old and, in my book, that's no bad thing. With films like this and District 9, it feels like we're getting a bit of a renaissance for high quality, smart and interesting sci fi films and I for one am looking forward to that trend continuing.
* I've always been a fan of model work over CGI. That's not to say there aren't some amazing things that can be done with CGI but bad CGI always seems that much more atrocious and cheaper than slightly wonky model work.
Friday, 8 January 2010
Thursday, 7 January 2010
The main problem with fiendishly complex plots for world domination is their frequent tendency to backfire in potentially life-threatening ways. It was after my latest scheme involving a giant orbiting laser, a hypnotherapist named Steve, a rare Bolivian dancing frog and the world's largest marching band that they finally caught up with me as I hobbled away from the scene of the crime like a One-Legged Dog. Naturally, I was put on trial for my globe-threatening naughtiness and many words were bandied back and forth, including (but not limited to) "Megalomania", "inferiority complex", "part-time cross dresser" and "inveterate bed-wetter". As is my wont, I would neither confirm or deny any of these charges (although, sadly, some of them are very much true).
As part of my farcical sham of a trial, I spent some time with a court-appointed therapist. Dr Peterson had a limited impact upon me, urging me "To Wait For Love" and other such hippy drivel. Although I have to admit that I did find him less bothersome after I had instructed a few minions to disintegrate his closest living relatives.
Eventually, my so-called trial came to it's inevitable conclusion when the judge stated that, for me, "Living In This World was no longer a viable option" and so, I would be placed into a rocket and fired into the heart of the sun. I personally felt that this may have been a little harsh, to be fired into the inky blackness of space with no way Back To The World until I reached the fiery ball of super-heated gas that would burn me to a cinder, but the judge felt that I was irredeemably evil and quite the most Warped individual he'd ever met.
Not wishing to give my tormentors the satisfaction of seeing me break down, I decided to Sing, Sing, Sing my way to my doom, giving them a rousing chorus as I was marched to my space-bound coffin. I saluted the gathering crowd, blowing kisses and Waves until I was unceremoniously clubbed about the head and shackled inside.
I came to, bound and restrained, high above the confines of the planet Earth and facing a blistering demise. I had to fight off the inevitable Space Dementia which is the hazard of any such journey but, fortunately, my indomitable will and ferociously evil intellect are not to be daunted by the mere vastness of space. Or even the looming threat of certain flaming death.
Suffice to say, my keen mind had soon found a way to release me from my shackles (naturally, I'll refrain from boring you with the tedious details as to how) and I soon set about planning my return. It was the merest of child's play to reprogramme my prison and set about returning. The instruments showed that, as the space crow flies, I was only Twenty Four Hours From Tulsa. Soon, my presence would be unleashed upon the world and I would show them my Law (Earthlings On Fire).
But wait, maybe this was a chance to start fresh. A chance to start anew in life. To seize the day all over again, to reacquaint myself with the world, to take Another First Kiss. The world believed me dead and who was I disabuse them of that notion? Could I be someone new, someone different, someone better?
Sadly, no. Shortly after landing, I found myself embroiled in a scheme to use reanimated Ghouls as replacement members of the UN Security Council. Well, I found day to day civilian life really was no cure for the Early Morning Blues. Who wants to be ordinary when you can be all-powerful?
So have I learned anything from the whole experience? Oh, I would definitely say that I have. I think that it's all just proved to me that the most important thing in life is to Be True To Yourself. That and to try and bend the collected peoples of the world to submit to your iron will. You've got to have a vision, really.
Here's what the song shuffler threw up at me as the elements for today's little vignette:-
One-Legged Dog - Motel Hero
Megalomania - Muse
To Wait For Love - Tony Orlando
Living In This World - Guru
Back To The World - Curtis Mayfield
Warped - Red Hot Chili Peppers
Sing, Sing, Sing - Louis Prima
Waves - Nouvelle Vague
Space Dementia - Muse
Twenty Four Hours From Tulsa - Gene Pitney
Law (Earthlings On Fire) - David Bowie
Another First Kiss - They Might Be Giants
Ghouls - We Are Scientists
Early Morning Blues - Muddy Waters
Be True To Yourself - Bobby Vee
Wednesday, 6 January 2010
"Fill me up with stuff", it seemed to say
But inspiration today was lacking
Even though of late he'd not been slacking
To stick to writing a daily post
But today it seems not even a ghost
Of a hint of a glimpse of a sign
Of a topic that would across his mind
Blaze a shining trail so clear and bright,
To prevent him sitting and staring tonight
At the still blank page, so sadly clear
And tragically bereft of a single idea
So instead you're getting a simple rhyme
And an apology for wasting your time
(I have no idea why my mind resorts to rhyming when it has nothing else to say. Too much Spike Milligan and Lewis Carroll as a youth, I suspect...)
Tuesday, 5 January 2010
It happens more so at this time as I tend to be wrapped up in warm clothes travelling on a train that has the heating whacked up on full. These things are not conducive to wakefulness and so, with a kind of tedious inevitability, the eyelids begin to droop, the head begins it's inexorable journey down towards the chest and the terrifying rumble of the snore begins to make it's presence from somewhere within the chestal region. All of which is topped off by the embarrassment of making that abbreviated snorting noise accompanied by a wide-eyed stare as you panic yourself awake for the amusement of other passengers.
It irks me so for two main reasons. Firstly, I always end up contorted into some unnatural position which, more and more as time has it's wicked way upon my body, leads to aching of the back and neck when I get off the train. Secondly, and most importantly, it robs me of my reading time.
You see, currently my daily commute affords me around an hour or so of reading time and that's a precious chunk of time transported away to someone else's world. I resent it if that time is stolen away from me by half-hearted sleep that doesn't even give me any dreams in return - just a blank lack of time and a crooked neck.
So, if someone out there could invent some sort of stop-Nick-dozing-off-on-a-warm-train-so-he-can-read-about-spaceships machine, that would be really rather splendid. Chop chop, then, people, get to it.
Monday, 4 January 2010
* Do looks matter to you, when it comes to selecting a partner?
* Do you want to guarantee your dates will always be beautiful?
* No more filtering through unattractive people on mainstream sites
* Meet beautiful people locally and from around the world - now
* Attend exclusive events and private parties
Lovely, isn't it? So why has this odious little site come to my attention? Well, it's due to a news article which claims that 5,000 members have been "axed" as they've put on a bit of weight over Christmas. A further damning indictment of our weight and looks-obsessed culture but not the thing that has overly raised my ire. No, the thing that really got to me in the article was this direct quote from founder Robert Hintze (this is a genuine quote; I've not paraphrased in any way):-
"Letting fatties roam the site is a direct threat to our business model and the very concept for which BeautifulPeople.com was founded."
It's not just the fact that this is a deeply unpleasant sentiment to be bandying about. No, it's that fact that this is obviously a cynically calculated unpleasant sentiment designed for maximum publicity, making an unpalatable statement that much worse. I remember it being tough enough out there in the dating world without bozos like this further denting everyone's self esteem.
OK, I guess if you look at it from a certain point of view then all this site is doing is herding the vacuous but pretty morons together in order to keep them away from all the normal people. The only downside to this is that it's encouraging them to get together and breed...
Sunday, 3 January 2010
Actually, that's not strictly true. I did take several driving lessons just as I turned seventeen but, for various reasons, I stopped and somehow never got back round to them. Living generally within swift commuting distance of London, there didn't seem to be a huge amount of need for it and I've got by for the last sixteen years without it. Of course, situations change and the time has come to put aside thy pedestrian ways and get thee behind the wheel.
First impressions? Fear, mainly. Having told the instructor that I'd had a few lessons many years back, I was pretty much plunged straight into driving the car, although we swiftly moved to a new location once he realised that the road was very narrow and my steering was atrocious.
So why fear, then? Well, not so much for myself and my own abilities (my steering improved throughout the two hours) but for something which all you drivers probably mostly take for granted - the sheer number of external factors that you need to concentrate on at every single moment. Oncoming traffic, following traffic, mind that bus, look out, pedestrian danger, cyclist, cyclist, etc., etc. All while doing things inside the vehicle to make it go, go faster, slow down or stop.
One advantage is that I have had a few lessons way back in the day and the instructor said that some of that knowledge is still locked away in there, ready to leap to the fore again. And he was confident enough in my improvement to let me drive all the way back. Let's just hope I don't forget it all in the intervening week...
Saturday, 2 January 2010
In a nutshell:- The mantle is passed as not only does Tenth Doctor David Tennant make his departure but showrunner Russell T Davies leaves for pastures new, too.
The Basics:- Well, here in the UK, you would have been hidden under a rock to not know anything about this. David Tennant has appeared on so many other shows to promote it over the last few weeks that it's beginning to look like he's the only person at the BBC left working over Christmas (before his upcoming redundancy sets in, anyway). But for those who've not spotted:- after a year of special episodes, David Tennant returns for one final Christmas Day and New Year's Day two-parter to face the return of an old enemy and the end of time itself. All armed with the knowledge that his time is running out as someone will knock four times before the Doctor dies...
The Good & The Bad:- For once, it's difficult to separate this out so you're getting one whole jumbled-together review style thing. Which is, quite frankly, fitting. For, you see, The End Of Time Parts 1 & 2 summed everything that was good and bad about Russell T Davies' run as the man in charge of Britain's Favourite Family Show (TM). It was epic, it was insane, it was brilliant, it was nonsensical, it was emotional, it was mawkish, it was full of promise and oddly disappointing, it was funny and embarrassing, it was crammed with original ideas and yet strangely repetitive. Overall, it was a fitting epitaph to the man's run as the big brain behind it all and, for all his many flaws,he should be applauded for completely revitalising a dead show and making back into event television with mass appeal and genuine love and affection. I think he's reached a good point to leave as a lot of this finale felt like a greatest hits repackaging of previous finales with the volume dialled up to 11 (the "saying goodbye" to previous companions, the regeneration itself) so I think it's definitely time for some fresh blood behind the scenes. As for David Tennant, he has been brilliant in the role and has to take a chunk of the credit for making it the continued success that it is today. I for one was sad to see him go and felt his final line was fitting and poignant. The new guy, Matt Smith, was left with an unenviable task of trying to stamp an impression in the last minute after a long and drawn out farewell. For me, he didn't really make one, seeming like a pale imitation of David Tennant when he first regenerated but I'll wait for the series proper to give the guy a chance.
The Verdict:- Hats off to Russell T Davies overall for creating a real rollercoaster ride of a show over the last five years and leaving quite an act to follow, even if the conclusion to that ride wasn't quite as satisfying as the ride itself had been. And a fond farewell to David Tennant who will be missed. Let's see what new boss Stephen Moffat and Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith have to offer....
Friday, 1 January 2010
1.) Making a feature film
2.) Living on my own
And, lastly and most importantly...
3.) Gorgeous Girlfriend
Tradition dictates that you tag several someone elses in order to carry this on but I can't really be bothered so you've all had a lucky escape.