Archive for October, 2003

Crunch

Thursday, October 30th, 2003

I’m still at work. It’s nearly 9pm.

Ogg Vorbis is a wonderful codec, but writing your own efficient threaded streaming code is a right royal pain in the arse.

Tragic

Tuesday, October 28th, 2003

One of the clearest signs that you’re not so young as you once were is when you ring in a traffic report to Radio 2.

A far, far worse sign is when they read it out and you get all excited about it.

I’ll go get me pipe and slippers.

Bits and pieces 2

Tuesday, October 28th, 2003

Things have been a bit quiet in Not A Blog land recently. This is because I’ve basically been living, eating, sleeping and breathing work. We’ve got the beta off for testing now, and we’re waiting for feedback. In the meantime, I’ve got to sit and poke the sound effects volume levels so they’re a bit better balanced.

So, in lieu of me writing about anything interesting of my own, I figure I’ll just throw a bunch of links your way and hope you don’t notice the abject lack of content around here…

Sarah pointed out that next year’s Jamie Oliver Calendar has a rather unexpected front cover. Gosh.

Scary – I think we’ve found Miss Shagwell.

Spencer Tunick is an artist, apparently. Actually, he’s either a dirty old man or a loony. Either way, he seems to have a knack of getting very large numbers of people to take their clothes off and lie about the place. (warning – naturally, that link will take you to a page featuring a lot of naked people, and you know they’re not all going to be beautiful).

Proof that kids today don’t know shit about games. This almost made me cry. Really.

On the other hand, this did make me cry. Although the fact they refer to him as a “well-known” designer, rather than a “respected”, “admired” or even “talented” designer is good. No, I don’t like him very much.

I’m probably going to a halloween party on Friday. I’ve got no good ideas for a costume. Leave some in the comments, why don’t you?

Even more photos

Friday, October 24th, 2003
Just added another film to the gallery. It’s another set of experiments in black and white, which came out both better and worse than my first attempt. I’ve tweaked the levels of the scans slightly, to compensate for the shittiness of my scanner.

Concorde

Friday, October 24th, 2003

Today, as you’re probably well aware, will be Concorde’s last ever flight. This has affected me more than I expected it to, and it’s taken me a while to figure out why.

On the pragmatic level, I don’t like to see people taking retrograde steps because of the need to put finance above achievement. Concorde is an astounding piece of engineering, and to retire it in favour of more lumbering great beasts of the sky like the 747 seems such a bizarre backwards step as to be almost criminal.

But it’s more than that. This is going to sound a bit weird, but stick with me, please :) It goes back to when I was a child, and it involves not what Concorde is so much as, for me, what it stood for. As a child, you dream dreams. You have stupid, hopeless, unattainable dreams which the world hasn’t yet had a chance to rip out of your as-yet uncynical heart and stamp on because “things just don’t work like that”. And in the deepest part of our cynical, dry adult hearts, there’s still a little bit of us that would like to believe those dreams could still come true.

Concorde was one of those dreams. For kids like me, who had posters of aeroplanes on their wall and went to airshows and built airfix kits of fighter jets, Concorde represented the absolute pinnacle of aviation technology – but more than that, you could actually buy a ticket to go on Concorde. If you did really well at school and got a good job and earned lots of money, you could actually do it – you could fly on Concorde. I remember going to an airshow once, and they had a mockup of Concorde’s cabin on display – you could go inside it, and sit in an actual seat like they had in the actual Concorde. I sat in that seat, and swore to myself that one day I’d make that money, and buy that ticket, and that I could make that dream come true – damnit, I might not be able to have a Lambourghini Countach, or fly a spaceship, but at least I could fly on Concorde.

A decade and a half later, I’d all but forgotten that promise to myself. Lost amongst the other unfulfilled childhood dreams of being a rock star, being a racing driver, fighting off an alien invasion, and getting a job as a rollercoaster tester – until now, that is. And now it’s too late – I’m never going to do it.

Okay, it’s not that big a deal – I’m never going to be a racing driver, either, and I’m not all cut up about that (well, apart from every time I watch an F1 race with my dad and mutter dark things under my breath about not taking me Go-karting as a kid). But it’s another thing which makes me wish for those days when I was younger and less cynical, and wasn’t afraid to dream crazy dreams and never considered any that there might be any limitations on what I could ever do.

I’m still going to be a rock star, though.

Best News Story Ever

Friday, October 24th, 2003

The BBC, they are spoiling us:
Jesus Actor Struck By Lightning.

You couldn’t make this stuff up, I swear.

Best Programme Description Ever

Thursday, October 23rd, 2003
“Mark Steel cheekily reveals the absurdity of Sigmund Freud, who saw brutal empires, millions being put into factories, impending war, and decided it was all because we fancied our mums. Adult scenes.”
– The Mark Steel Lecture, BBC Four, 23:00 23/10/2003

Excellent.

Intolerable Cruelty

Thursday, October 23rd, 2003

To be frank, I had my doubts. I know the Coen’s are cinematic genii of the highest degree, and I know they have a knack of turning terrible-sounding ideas into great films, but even the mighty can fall sometimes (exhibit A: Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes). I just couldn’t see how a romantic comedy with Catherine Zeta Jones could possibly be any good. The trailer didn’t look good. And the fact that Intolerable Cruelty was actually written by someone else before Joel and Ethan got their hands on it just sent up more warning flags. I was more than a little worried.

Anyway, Naomi got us some tickets for the preview screening tonight at the Filmworks tonight, so I got the chance to find out for myself.

I needn’t have worried. Whilst this is without doubt the most commercial and accessible film they’ve ever made, it is still Coen all the way through. The plot isn’t astounding, but it does the job, and more importantly, it provides a framework on which to hang that which Coen movies are really all about – the characters. George Clooney borrows heavily from his outing as Ulysses Everett McGill in O Brother, Where Art Thou? as the quick talking divorce lawyer Miles Massey, whilst Jones does a (surprisingly) good job as the gold-digging serial wife Marylin Rexroth, a character who one can’t help feeling might contain certain echoes of Ms. Jones’ offscreen image. Alongside this are the usual dazzling array of slightly off-the-wall supporting characters you’d expect from the brothers, including an asthmatic hitman, a ridiculously camp Baron and an old man with no intenstines.

This is a fast paced film – a fact borne out by the fact that it’s only a little over 90 minutes long – but this is an essential part of screwball comedy, and it’s a testament to the Coen’s excellent directing and editing that despite the pacing, it never feels rushed. The excellent timing of the dialogue and scene cuts mean that we’re never left feeling lost or confused, but equally well, we’re never left waiting for something to happen.

If you’re a fan of the Coen brothers, then you’ll know what to expect, and you won’t be disappointed here. Equally, if you’re after a good laugh and proof that romantic comedy doesn’t have to be cringingly awful and star Hugh Grant, then I can heartily recommend Intolerable Cruelty as a very enjoyable way to spend an evening.

Brrrr

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2003

Our central heating at home has died on its arse. Marvellous. The pressure seems to have dropped right off and the temperature readout needle thingy has fallen below the bottom of the scale. This made the already quite difficult exercise of getting out of bed and going to work even harder than usual, as the tentative foot-out-of-the-end-of-the-duvet told me that the temperature in my room was hovering somewhere around the freezing point of oxygen. I’m not good at getting out of bed anyway, and the possibility of actually being frozen alive on the way to the bathroom meant that the normal “extra 5 minutes” in bed was in serious danger of becoming an extra couple of hours or two. Or three.

Anyway, Jez or I will have to ring our (actually very lovely and reliable) landlady later on and get them to come and have a looksee what’s gone wrong – thankfully, this being a rented flat, we don’t have to face the plumber breathing in through his teeth and telling us our pump has gone ourselves.

Fortunately, the heating in the office seems to be working again. Lovely.

Music

Monday, October 20th, 2003

Another thing I’ve been Meaning To Do For Ages is get a decent site together for my music. Potential graphics and pretty bits and ideas which were good at the time litter several different hard discs, as do MP3s of various songs that I keep thinking could be quite good if only I could get round to finishing them.

In the meantime, I’ve made a few tweaks to my not-blogging software so I can put up a music page on this site. You can download a couple of tunes there, with more to come soon, and leave a few comments telling me how I shouldn’t give up my day job and such. Enjoy :)