Sunday, 20 May 2007

Enjoy the Silence

For the next couple of weeks or so I suspect this ‘place’ is going to be the on-line equivalent of that old lady’s house near you with all the milk bottles stacking up outside, the pile of circulars and free newspapers under the letter box in the hall, and all those fat rodents and unpleasant smells coming out of the cat-flap.

Do not break in- you’ll find a nasty surprise awaits. Chances are I’m not dead and you’re bound to feel let down. Any untoward odours and lack of care of the premises are much more likely to be down to me putting hygiene on a back burner as a deadline approaches.

If, by some fluke, I am dead, it bears repeating that I wish my passing to be marked in a local newspaper’s badly demarcated Births, Marriages and Deaths columns by a photo of me grinning as a child accompanied by the caption “Look Who’s Dead Today!”. Religiose doggerel is optional, no stopping by request.

It’s always possible I’ll just be on holiday of course, but, as some of you know where I live, I’d never reveal that here if it were the case. Oh no.
Besides, if I were on holiday, not in, busy, smelly and belligerent as you’d be far better advised to think really, I’d be bound to have laid traps...

Morrissey and Mars – The Patch-upable Alliance

A small victory for the forces of democracy, the market, or not carrying on being idiots when you’ve been revealed to be such, or something…

I wonder if they’ll withdraw the beefy sweeties they’ve produced so far?

Friday, 18 May 2007

That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore

A quickish bout of googling reveals Robin Johnson who wrote the Hamlet text adventure has written a Wodehouse inspired one too, so, that's my future time wasting sorted.

Moral: Never check if your ideas are original, they probably aren't.

>Take Cow Creamer. OK. >Go East. OK. You are in the Drawing Room. There is an Aunt here. >_

You know if you'd told me as a kid that I'd spend a fair bit of my spare time as an adult as a white wolf, fighting demons in a mythical Japan, you'd have been quite remarkably prescient.

The PS2 game Okami joins Ratchet and Clank and Psychonauts at the top of my "Best things to do with your thumbs in front of the telly" list. It has an incredibly slow start and some exceptionally long cut-scenes during which you begin to suspect you'll never do any actual playing of the game again, but it's really great fun in the end and very nearly a proper adventure game.

Meanwhile, sitting on the PC are the last 4 of the 6 new Sam and Max games, waiting for us to have time enough to play them. They're nearly a proper adventure too, just a bit short and with a few too few objects and places to interact with, making you long for something a touch fiddlier like some of Lucas Arts' greatest graphic adventures (Maaaaaaaaaanny!), or even Riven (the most pleasing of the Myst games I've played).

To be honest, I wish people were still producing text based adventures like the best of the Level 9, Infocom and (here, this really dates me) Acornsoft ones, but it seems reading and writing is officially over, though there may well be a thriving amateur scene for all I know.

A while back someone sent me the link to a version of Hamlet someone had done in the old text adventure style, and I had a little play on that. I thought it was excellent, because, in what I played, the puzzles were well thought through, the play's situations were being well used and the the prose was both well written and funny. 'Course then I got busy and forgot about it. Must search it out again some time.

What I'd really like of course would be a PG Wodehouse text adventure- tight plotting, clear problems with tortuous but remorselessly logical solutions, and just drop dead funny writing every now again. Please someone make one, I don't want to have to do it myself after all, it seems far too hard.

In casting news, our bit of a cult may be double-booked which is a real shame, but that's cults for you, people will join then. I suspect the identity of person three may now be a mystery to me for a few weeks. Bah, just when I was getting excited too.

Thursday, 17 May 2007

Convincing People

We're casting...

Two thirds of the No Tomatoes cast is now confirmed. At present we have-

a lady whose character witnessed an intimate cross-species act in a Channel 4 sitcom, who's also been in both Britain's favourite Northern soap opera and that rubbish one set in Yorkshire...

a bloke whose only previous professionally credited acting roles are "Mark Antony" and "Army Captain" in a Doctor Who audio drama, and "The People on the Telly" in a short film starring that bloke from The Consultants who also does the children's entertainer character.

Tomorrow, we should know if a bit of a cult is joining us to make up the three, someone so a bit famous they've been on Richard & Judy and not just 'phoning in for the dodgy quiz either.

How the hell have I ended up working alongside proper actors?

Must act cool so they never find out I'm impressed. Must also not mention this on-line just in case it turns out actors sometimes search for references to themselves on the internet.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Blood and Chocolate

Readers with long memories and "fast thick pants"*, will recall I'm a vegetarian.
Readers with shorter memories but slightly longer attention spans will also know from my prior entry that watching the end credits is one of my my habits when I go to the pictures.
Another one I used to have was eating over-priced Minstrels while I was there.
Not now though.

Masterfoods have stopped using vegetarian rennet in their chocolate products, because they've decided to move over to good old calves stomach lining rennet instead now.
I've decided to stop buying anything at all they make.

That's the link I told them that at. If you have an opinion either way, why not share yours there too?

*Like the river Alph had.

Thanks to the mighty PP-H's 'blog for the 'heads up' on this.

TV Eye

How unutterably evil is this?

Leave aside the sizable reduction in number of credits you're likely to see (I doubt many credits will scroll legibly at this size in 30 seconds, they'll have to be a series of static slides) just imagine how it will look on the telly of -

a) someone you know who still has a 4:3 screen,

b) someone who has got a 16:9 set but constantly does stupid things with the screen settings to try to cut off important areas of the screen image and/or make everyone look like Eamonn Holmes (apart from when Eamonn Holmes comes on when they spend half an hour trying to work out how to change the settings back to shrink him to the correct ratio).

Monstrous. There are no safe areas there, let me tell you.

I wonder how long the BBC will be prepared to let cinema film credits roll now (they're already curtailed, speeded up and of course windowed)?

I suspect lots of people think this doesn't matter, but I suspect they think that because, like the people who've come up with these guidelines, they've been led to think of TV as just a load of product to be consumed by the yard rather than as the artistic output of creative people.

They'll also be busy having a wee or putting the kettle on and doing other vital liquid related tasks about the house by the point the screen's split up like this and won't care.

It's far more important we know we're watching BBC 1 and the BBC has a range of other viewing options for us than we find out who script edited or composed music for, or colour graded or foleyed up what we've just seen, isn't it?

Well obviously it is, that's why I'm part of the 0.1 percent of cinema audiences who sometimes likes to stay through the end credits of something I was impressed by, rather than rushing out the doors as soon as they start playing the movies tie-in chart single and telling you who Second Russian Man was played by. What a shame British TV seems to have decided none of its output deserves that same level of interest from a thousandth of its audience.

It's rubbish like this that makes me long for the end of schedules and the rise of time-shifted, on demand viewing, (and that comes hard from someone like me who grew up with limited but varied schedules on three stations in the pre-VCR days and liked the luxury of finding out quickly if there was anything on worth watching which that limited choice offered), though I'm sure that when downloaded rather than 'live' transmitted TV does become the norm some new and unpleasant branding, packaging and trailing conventions will arise, to make me whinge.

Bah. I'm old. I still think telly's worth a damn.

We'll never see the like of those jerky-scrolling, wobbly-weaving, paper glue and CSO abusing titles again. They were the best bit in Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em.

Friday, 4 May 2007

Breaking Rolling News (and the Rolling Thunder Revue)

Latest news just in- We're not quite sure what the news is or what it means yet, in-depth reaction to our uncertainty to follow.

Analysis suggests all the stuff we're currently not that sure about is quite bad for Labour but not quite as bad as we were suggesting it would be when we didn't know what was going to happen in the future, in the past. To spell out exactly how bad it might be, we'll need lots of graphics, extrapolation, speculation and caveats, loads of caveats, probably...
Or, you know, we could just wait, see what happens, think about it for a while and tell you what we reckon after we've had a bit of a ponder.
What do you fancy?
This just in-
No Overall Control Hold Mid Devon.

-I could have told you that, I've been there.

And now for the in-depth results where you are- no results here at all yet.
If we extrapolate that result across the whole country, and this is just a bit of fun, this could still all change of course, we'd find ourselves, with current information as it stands, in a situation of knowing nothing.

More on that later.

Meanwhile, far away in another part of town (thanks Bob)... I've realised, with m'other half's not-inconsiderable help (Damn! Faint praise), exactly what my Verity Bargate Award submission should be, and the director's notes on the film script, are good, interesting, challenging, positive and should help me direct my thoughts in the next draft.

Clever people, eh. How good are they? I really must make efforts to surround myself with them.

People who understand why the line space formating sometimes goes wonky on Blogger would be a good start.

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Turning the Town Red

It’s 1977 again- Liverpool off to a major European capitol for the European Cup final, Doctor Who disappointing me a bit after two by and large amazing years*. Come on, you can do it (and you too), you’ve both had wobbly starts to your season, but you can still deliver the goods, I’m sure.

It’s great how these rocks from my childhood have come back so strong in the last few years, even though football and TV production are now only dimly related to what they were then, making it impossible to compare Upstairs, Downstairs and Alan Hansen fairly with Hotel Babylon and Jamie Carragher**.
I think next year they’ll both be incredible. Mind, I’m a fan- I think that every year.
They’ve shaped my life, these two.

There’s a feller I implicitly trust, for example, because he looks a bit like Gerald Houllier crossed with Rafael Benitez.***
I’m also sure that if he looked like a Krynoid crossed with an Axon I probably wouldn’t, proof enough.

In all new present day stuff (so present day it’s future, in fact), I have a date on a piece of paper for No Tomatoes starting transmission. It’s the 27th of August which is a Monday and I’d guess the actual transmission times will be 10.30 or 10.45 pm with a re-run for shift workers, insomniacs and the undead at 3.30 or 3.45 am, with repeats ad nauseam after that for up to 5 years.
Put it in your diaries, then amend the entries later when I have better contradictory information, then miss the programme every time because even with Listen Again it’s not really convenient for you to hear it.

* Great first episode, then all oddly 'blah' since.

** For the record though I think Hansen whups Hotel Babylon’s arse every time and sadly Jamie Carragher has never quite revealed the hidden tragedy of working women’s lives on which Edwardian high society depended through the means of populist drama in the way I’ve often hoped he would.

*** Obviously, this also means he looks a bit like John Normington playing the dastardly Morgus in The Caves of Androzani, but we'll ignore that because it blows the whole theory.