Friday, 29 April 2011

Resolutions seem to break like...

...china cups dropped onto my kitchen floor.

Not that I've done that you understand. Puft ! Like I'd have china cups !

I'm remonstrating myself about not blogging as much as I had wanted. I have taken my eye off the ball. It's not for lack of events to blog either, it's more a case of lack of time. Before I got home last night (to start a 4 day weekend) I hadn't actually turned on my lovely iMac since last weekend. Poor thing.

So what's been happening ? The kittens have well and truly settled. Very comfortable, and are loving their new cat tree. 

..thank you Daddy x
Dr who is back. And Stetsons are cool.

Progress is being made, sort of, with the show, but we've had some set backs. Gemma, who was going to play Starlight, has had to pull out as she realised she has family commitments the week of the show. The wonderfully talented Faye has let us know that because of increased workload (at work, I guess) she has had to drop the larger of the two parts that she had been cast.

We may well be able to get Nick's Mum to do one of the now vacant roles, it would be brilliant to have her involved in a show again. Fingers crossed. So pretty much looks like we are only one person short, instead of two. Monday's rehearsal involved us going over one of the call centre scenes, which are the complicated ones.  We did this easily enough, despite the lack of a Starlight, and with Helen getting herself distracted, becoming too carried away with the background antics of Polly. Even so, scene got blocked out and was working well. We'd actually planned to only do about 5 pages of the scene, but decided to do the whole scene in the end. The comedy is coming alive, the (hopefully) wonderful visual comedy that is laced throughout the show. Wednesday night we blocked out a scene set in the Manager's office, and again the comedic talents of Lin (Bone) and Faye came to the fore. Such a shame that she (Faye) won't be able to do Hermione, but I understand if she's at risk of being overwhelmed. Much better that she let us know now, than in about 8 weeks time. 18 Rehearsal sessions left until the show opens. Clock is ticking. Clock  IS ticking.

The blocking, on the whole is taking less time than we imagined, which is good because we will have to go back and do some of it again for the benefit of the characters that we will now have to recast. We also need to make sure that we can sort out the filmed pieces in the show, as if we can't get them to work, we really do have a problem.

Dr Who returns. Fantastic, thrilling, scary and funny episode. The Impossible Astronaut, at risk of running out of superlatives, it was a brilliantly sharp script. I've now watched the episode 6 times, and it sings every time. Really tight. Really well done. Again laden with phrases that will, I am sure to be copied by millions of fans up and down the country.

I've brought a sun hat. After shaving off all my hair again, and the recently gorgeous sunshine, I thought it would be a good idea to protect my poor noggin from the sun. I have become rather attached to my sun hat. I am sure that the prevailing opinion may be that I look like a prat, but I don't care. I like it, so I wear it. I am ready to pick Chloe up tomorrow, and have her laugh uncontrollably at me.
I wear a sunhat now

I have come to the conclusion that I am not going to be able to complete the script Laptop for Script Frenzy. Now I know that I sure as hell WONT achieve it with THAT attitude, but as I am only at page 25 I really would have to cane it completely to even stand a chance of getting it finished before the end of the competition. This is sad. I really had wanted to make sure that I did complete it, as I had failed so miserably to complete NanoWriMo in November last year, using the move as a reason/ excuse.

Grrrr. Frustrated with myself. Need to get a review done for Beacon, as I haven't done one since I moved. Need a great big boot and rather bendy legs, so as to kick myself up the arse don't I ? Yes. See. I knew I was right.

... and sunhats are cool....
What else has been going on ? Well, work has not been without its dramas this week. People can be funny things, and sometimes the hardest thing they find to do is to look into the mirror and accept what they see. Me, I'm always looking in the mirror, although you may not think so to look at my dress sense. It his heartening to realise that despite some difficult times, the world isn't against me. I work with some really great people, and I just wish I got more of a chance to get to know them in that context than the ones I am normally presented to them in. Hopefully the crowd from work will come along to the show, and will be able to let their hair down and have a really good night.

Royal Wedding. As someone who both dislikes the idea of royalty on political grounds, but has a deeply contradictory love of the royal family themselves - and all the things they do for the country I had decided that I wasn't going to be spending time on my extra day off to watch William & Kate's wedding. Somehow, my 'bah humbug' nature was overridden sufficiently for me to watch the spectacle and be very moved by everything that I saw. I really don't give a stuff about the ins and outs of their or anyone else's private lives. But to be a spectator on such a happy day reminds me of how much hope there is in the human spirit and in the love of another. I do wish them well for the future. Wishes I am sure they will not be short of.

It is at times like this, when pretty much half the country has gotten caught up in the fever and celebration and flag waving that we remember what it's like to be British. It is nice to see though, that because most of the flags are the ones provided by the Sun newspaper, and have a picture of the happy couple on them, thereby forcing Jo public to put the bloody flag up the right way. Otherwise I would be getting all anal about how some people don't realise that there is a right and a wrong way to hang a union flag.

Friday, 22 April 2011

iPhone tracks movements. Shock horror. NOT !

You've just got to love how much some people have turned the iPhone vs other operating systems (there are some) debate into a story laced with fever pitched paranoia.

I am referring to the reaction to the unsurprising revelation that the Iphone (and the iPad and iPod touch) store date that records where it has been, and that this information can be accessed from the phone (if you know where to look).

It's not so much the obviously opinion led reporting (and perhaps this blog is no different, but I never pretended to be a neutral observer of anything - I have my opinions, that's rather the point of this exercise). What I find really disappointing is the comments on such news-sites where the story has been reported.

Seriously people, should it really be a shock that something that allows you to make a telephone call from anywhere there is sufficient mobile phone signal actually needs to record somewhere it's relationship with the mobile network's broadcast towers ? Really ? How did you think the system worked ? String between two tin-cans ? Fairy dust ? NEWSFLASH ! If the signal to and from your phone (and indeed anything else that transmits or receives ANYTHING) makes it to and from your phone, it stands to reason that somewhere along the line, if you pardon the pun, the location of your device knowing where it is, is going to be key to maintaining that connection. Simples.

The whole 1984 lobby want to bleat on about how positively Orwellian the iphone is, and how evil and twisted Apple are for putting something like this on their phones. Well, before all those shallow and rather thick people start turning their phones off in a panic (probably better they do that anyway, just to give them less ways to bother the rest of the planet, moe than anything else) this information has pretty much always been around on the device, it's just that Apple recently moved it to a more easily accessible location on the phone. It's always been there.

Then there's the lot that scream it is Apple in particular that are evil for making this dreadful thing possible. But don't all phones / devices that allow 'geotagging' or any other similar function needing to do that very same thing ? Truth is I don't think this technology is anything new, or unique. There are things stored on or by all of our devices that leave mucky little trails of what we've been up to. My advise ? If you're that bothered then either find a way to disable these functions or don't get a mobile phone, computer or even telephone for that matter.
If we want to be connected, we need to be.. er, well, connected. It really is such a non story, that I just had to make more of it by moaning about it here as well. Pete Warden has written an application that takes this data from your phone and then shows you a lovely little map of where you (or at least your phone) has been. This is data that mobile phone companies would already have for example, based on your relationship geographically to one of their mobile phone masts (Cell Towers if you're an American).  Nothing new, scary or terribly accurate either. When I use google maps on my blackberry similar technology pinpoints roughly where I am, with an accuracy of 1400 meters. Not terribly useful to anyone really trying to track me down, unless they know exactly where I live or work, and in which case they'd just try those places anyway.

Is 'Big Brother' watching you ? No.
So, bearing in mind this sort of data has been around for years, the only change here is that it's available (without the need for a data protection act request, or court order) to the person whom the data pertains to . I'd call that progress rather than snooping. No one is doing anything else with this data, why would they ? Sure there are all sorts of things that COULD be done with it, but why, oh why, oh why, would anyone want to ? Only if you are a person of some sort of specific interest, engaged in some sort of criminal activity would this be useful to the 'powers that be'. Of course, in order to get it in this country they'd need a court order or warrant. Personally I'd hope that our security services are using tracking methods a little more sophisticated, reliable and accurate to track down would be terrorists than their own iphones. I'm sure that functions like this are used by law enforcement agencies across the globe, but this again is nothing new at all. Often if someone goes missing the police will have asked the mobile phone company for the location of their last call etc. Besides, if 'big brother' really could be bothered to look in detail at all the data that we throw on the internet about ourselves anyway they'd learn so much more about us. I'm also struck by the sheer illogical nature of the thought that the vast majority of people are interesting enough to warrant such attention, or indeed that any government is organised enough to do such a thing.

Maybe this is the way to solve unemployment ? Pay people to just sit there looking at Facebook or Twitter and applications such as this to track the whereabouts of every citizen in the UK.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

The show must go on..

Sunshine has suddenly become an expected part of the weather in England. We've had glorious weather pretty much for about 4 days now, and before everyone starts moaning about it being 'too hot' or how stupid they were and that they got sunburned, I figured that I should just take a moment to enjoy it.


I now have a couple of days off work, due to the Easter holiday, and then am in for 5 hours on Saturday and not back in the office until Tuesday. This is all fantastic stuff, and really appreciated, coming as it does right toward the end of Script Frenzy. Realising that I haven't broken into double digits really does make it tough for me to achieve the 100 pages before the end of the month, but I guess that I won't get them sitting around on my arse writing my blog. I'll get them sitting around on my arse with a copy of Celtx open, writing some script.

I wasn't that well on Monday, and pretty much spent the day in bed. It'd been about 6 months since I last had a day off work through sickness, but I was absolutely wasted. Man flu ? Well, call it what you like, but I got up to get ready for work that day, and after calling in sick, went back to bed. I didn't wake up until about 7 hours later. Must have really needed that. Still got annoying cough and pains in my chest, from the coughing, but I am very much near mended. Went back to work Tuesday, but hate, hate, hate being off work. It also meant I certainly wasn't up to attending drama on Monday night.

This was the second session that I have had to miss. Poor Helen being left to carry the can. On both occasions the turnout from the cast has been lacklustre also. We can't afford to keep wasting these valuable rehearsals. Apart from the cost (£8 per hour), there is the cost in time. There are only so many weeks before the show is due to open. Helen was very good about the whole thing, and understanding. Wednesday's session was very good. We did about half of one of the more complicated scenes, and although I hadn't had a chance to go through it with Helen in advance, I planned it out on my own. The characters are really coming alive, with Jay Jay (Steve Penfold) and Troggie (Chris O'Connor) working very well. These scene was working out to show the desired amount of chaos and comedy, with Helen and I both finding it funny to watch, even at this early stage. Some of the cast, well most of them actually, haven't worked with us before and we've taken a bit of time to explain to them how our comedy works, why we have so many things happening at once and how at times, it appears to break most of the 'rules' of theatre, and get away with it.

We've gotten off to a rocky start, but if this is any indication of how the rest of the show will turn out, then we are on to a winner for sure.

Now on to some script frenzy !! If I'm good, and focused and get lots of work done, I may just treat myself with an afternoon out to Steve's BBQ tomorrow...

Friday, 15 April 2011

Like a house with all the children gone...

.. or a flat with my daughter absent.

Chloe went home today, and the flat is only prevented from feeling completely void of life by the occasional noises made by Midnight & Twilight. It's been lovely having her to stay with me for the week. Can't put into words how much I've enjoyed just getting some 'hang out' time with her.

I can't remember at which point it was that I became able to deal with this separation the follows on from these glimpses at normality. What is 'normal' ? I will get back into my 'normal' mode, I guess, soon enough. The one where I get used to not seeing my daughter everyday, where I feel like a guest in her life. Those moments, all of them, the great, the fantastic, the special, the difficult, the impossible, the tearful. They are all warming. They fill an emptiness that I have had to manage to get along with for the rest of the week.

Telling myself to focus on the time that I spend with her, and not without her. Trying to make sure that I fill the empty time with other things, the near inability to leave work on time.. the drama. (oh the drama). I am sure I can't be alone in feeling this, but it doesn't seem to be spoken of very much. We hear easy headlines in the press about absent fathers, who run away from their responsibilities. We are often told of the children whose poor place in society, or abilities or confidence of the world were irrevocably shaken by the lack of a father figure, and how THAT emptiness shaped their world view. We don't seem to hear about the fathers that have to fight to maintain a place in their children's lives.

Sad really, and I hope that our story is not all that common, but it is not a hope that is probably founded anywhere close to fact. There are, I am sure people in similar situations, some better, some worse. Ours is by far not the worst it could be. Things have, admittedly gotten better in the last few years. The first few years after our divorce were very, very hard. On all of us. I can only write about it from my perspective, although I can, to some degree see it from 'the other side'. The only side I can't see it from, is from our daughters. When I say I can't see it, I don't mean that I kid myself it has no impact on her, but she does seem to have dealt with the situation admirably. Because of the age she was when we split up, she probably cannot remember us actually being together. I guess this helps.

I've been busy...

I've been so busy, that I haven't taken the time to make a blog entry. It's not through laziness. Well, okay, looking back, perhaps there is an element of the latter to it, but I really have been rather busy. Not only have I had the loving company of my daughter for the last four days, during her Easter holidays, but I have also been rather absorbed by work for the show. There has also been the small matter of taking care of my two new arrivals.

Midnight & Twilight, our kittens joined our family last weekend. Ever since they have been a bundle of joy to watch, and look after. They've settled in really well, and have gotten used to me and the flat without any problems whatsoever. They are now starting to gain confidence and realise that they can jump up onto things like the sofa, or my bed. Time will only tell just how well they get on with the sofa. of Chloe's pics with her iPod Touch
Chloe and I have had a great week, getting to know the kittens, but also going out and doing things together. We went to Marwell Zoo on Tuesday, with my sister and her two boys. Fantastic day out that we wouldn't have had the chance to do if it wasn't for my sister being able to drive.  We had a brilliant day there, that for me was a little overshadowed by the determined dying of my Blackberry, leaving me without the ability to take loads of pictures like I normally would. I was though, very impressed with some of the shots that Chloe was able to get with her iPod touch.

Drama off the stage has overtaken drama on it at St Peter's. The PCC have taken what seems like the rather political step of sacking anyone on the PCC that did not agree with their view that they sell the Theatre and its land, and the church. This land-grab is supposed to be to release the capitol needed to build a new church somewhere else.

Now I'd probably upset a load of people by commenting that surely if god is omnipotent and omnipresent it doesn't matter a damn where you are when you 'give thanks', so I won't say it. I am rather angered by such a move by the PCC. I don't confess to understand the inner workings of the political machine here, but it seems to me to be callous, ungrateful and downright despicable that they get rid of all these people that have worked tirelessly for the church and the theatre all these years.

Shame on them. Shame on them.

Phoenix Players have been resident there for decades, and have literally raised tens of thousands to keep that building going. To see the potential of them being so summarily chucked out onto the street is galling. It also means that we should at least consider the reality that we may need to find somewhere else to put on the show, as a backup, just in case things get worse.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

...and so the hard work begins

.. I woke up this morning with a start. Brimming with energy and a desire to accomplish my goals.

Waking up at 7am on my day off is pretty much a goal in itself. Considering how late I'd gotten to be the previous night I was amazed that I had risen at that time at all. I hadn't set an alarm to do so, but the sounds of the gorgeous day that was unfolding outside my window lured me out of my bed and off to the kitchen. There was coffee involved at this point.

In a continued fit of application, I then started cleaning the kitchen, once this was done, I moved on to the living room, the hallway, my bedroom, the stairs, Chloe's room..... you get the picture ? I cleaned the flat, from the peak of its top most top, to the bottom of its lowest most bottomest place. Always love the satisfied feeling when the cleaning is done. Never seems to stay in that immaculate, show home image for very long though. Helen came round, that soon put a stop to that.

We finally got finished the work we needed to do on the play, have had a read thru tonight, which was intended to be a full read, but as we'd arrived 20 minutes late due to issues with my printer, or precisley, issues with me working hard to stop the printer being hurled out of the window.

The script was well received. The stress and hassle of completing the task of editing the script and printing it before the read tonight was rather pressing at times, I have called my printer, this evening all the names under the sun. Such outbursts may not have made any difference to the output of the printer, but certainly made me feel better.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

If you see a Blackberry flying past you.... an angry me may be nearby....

Blackberry battery death. My world has fallen apart two days running now. When I recount the event, it seems so insignificant and spoilt of me that I am almost ashamed. Though, I guess not so ashamed that I prevented myself from sharing it on the interweb.

My beloved Blackberry's battery decided to die yesterday half way through work, it had not been an extraordinary day in anyway, I had not taken or made lots of calls from it. I guessed that perhaps I had forgot to turn the charger on at the wall when I plugged it in on Sunday night, or that somehow I (or someone else) had left the wifi or bluetooth switched on. None of these things turned out to be the case.

As luck would have it, I had taken my netbook to work with me, so that I could make some progress with Laptop, this meant that I was able to hide myself away at the back of the bus on the way home, and get some charge into my phone from my netbook. This was just as infuriating, as not having the phone at all, as I began to be deluged with messages, voicemails and emails from people wondering why I wasn't responding to them. Why is it that people don't understand the definition of 'urgent call' when you advise them that you have next to no power yet ?

The evening was only completed by me having left work late, rushing to get home (as much as you can rush when you are dependant on whatever time the bus driver thinks is acceptable to get you anywhere), trying desperately to sort out the phone issues and ending up leaving the water running in the kitchen sink causing a small flood. What is it they say about more haste, less speed. Well it certainly was true last night. The more I rushed, the more annoyed I was getting. I realised that not only was I completely unprepared to go anywhere, but that with further public transport connections required I wasn't going to get there until about 8:30.

This on top of a succession of those text messages being from people telling me that they wouldn't be able to make it to drama. I could have screamed. I think I should have. Maybe it would have helped. In the end, poor Helen ended up trying to make a session of interest for the 5 people that did turn up, without me. I felt awful, and just wanted to go to bed so that the day would end sooner.

Today's battery death was entirely unexpected, having a decent set of charge bars at lunch time (4pm today due to a later shift), I was surprised (I am being generous, my feelings were better described as something else but I won't use those words here) to see that again the battery status was in red and the pretty much as I left the building, it decided that there was not enough battery left to do anything of any value, turned off the mobile connection, and then 5 minutes later shut down completely. It took all my strength not to hurl the bloody thing across the car park.

Ok. So now I am amazed and appalled by this pathetic overreaction to the loss of the ability to communicate with people so lazily as my mobile phone allows. In my typical 'there's no middle ground' style (it's just one extreme or the other folks) where I was only recently considering changing to an iPhone 4 when my contract comes up for renewal, I am now considering NOT getting a new phone or contract at all.

Yeah right. Anyone want to take any bets on how long THAT idea will last ?

Sunday, 3 April 2011

wooooosh ! And the weekend is gone !

With much of a plan to spend most of Saturday with Helen rewriting the show, and really looking forward to spending an evening with Becky the very same night I had hoped that the weekend would bring that ever illusive balance of focus, work, creativity AND plain old fun.

Sadly the reality was not quite the same. I am, as I type this a little worse the wear for a lovely roast dinner at my Mum's punctuated with some red wine and some port.

Helen turned up late, after some issues that she needed to deal with at home, this meant that we didn't get anywhere near as much done as we wanted to. It would be short changing to say that we didn't make progress, we made considerable progress. It's just that we had hoped to finish the much needed rewrite of ACT I and then a quick tweak of Act II, so that we could read through the whole of the show on Monday. This now will not happen, although we have got nearly half the first act rewritten. Oh dear. I'm beginning to feel the pressure of not only the show's performance date, but also Script Frenzy.

Think positive ! 6 pages is hardly an unrecoverable score at three days in.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

It's on ! It's on ! It's on !

GO GO GO GO GO...... GO ! 

What's with all the implied excitement I hear you ask ? Well, it's April 2nd and I've survived April fools day without any incidents to report. But THAT is not the cause of this unbridled enthusiasm. That is due to Script Frenzy 2011 now being 'live' and me actually having a chance, against my expectations to get some script down.
I managed 5 pages last night. Not sure that they are very good pages, but I am remembering that for the month of April, and for that script I will be suspending my 'inner editor', my 'inner critic', my 'inner poo-poo-er of things' and all their relatives, friends and family. I will need them all for the work that Helen and I have to do today on The Fatcat And The Grafter. Would be rather pointless doing a rewrite of that script without inviting at least an 'inner editor' along.

5 Pages ! Yeeek ! I'm off (wondered what the smell was). Talking of smell, the flat really needs a clean, but I have so many other things that I want to do that are, well, more interesting. Must clean, clean the flat, clear my head. I'm going to scrub at and vacuum away the grime that acts as a barrier to my creativity, and let it shine.

Also, in other news, I've only got a week more of work and then I'm off for a week ! Yippeee. The week off being punctuated by two really great things, (I have noticed how many times I have said that lately, like I'm always trying to make a list out of everything in life, but really suck at it because I only do two). Those two things being that Chloe is coming to stay, and that hopefully I will get to pick up the kittens next weekend.

I need something fawn over, and gush about how cute it is that isn't made by Apple ? I need to have an interruption to my rather set ways and 'spotless' living environment. Yup that's right, I think my lovely new flat is too clean, too tidy so I'm going to introduce two baby cats (kittens to you) to help mess things up a bit. My Mother thinks that I am mad. This is possibly not untrue.

Anyways, the script....

© Simon Sansbury, April 2011. A PDF can of Laptop, can be found here :- Laptoppdfcanbefoundhere

Friday, 1 April 2011

One script finished (almost)... another starts

One o'clock in the morning... now 60 minutes into script frenzy 2011. Two things are terribly apparent.

One. That although Helen and I have finished writing the play 'The Fatcat And The Grafter', we do still need to edit / rewrite it before the read through on Monday. (This will mean that I cannot devote Saturday to some one on one time with my frenzy script)

Two. I really wish that I could sit and blast out, in an energetic eruption of creativity, a few pages, but I'm honestly too knackered to do that right now.

I will probably take my netbook to work, so that I can work on 'netbook'. I haven't sat down and worked out the characters, but I do have a pretty good idea of the flow of the narrative, so I will be able to get down a few pages before having to do any more really detailed planning.

Other exciting developments in the world of Fallible_Fella (is it cool to refer to your blogging name in the third person ? Possibly not). Well, Helen and I had more people turn up to rehearsal on Wednesday, and this meant that we were able to cast most of the roles in the show. There are still some that we haven't been able to give to anyone.

In a twist of fate, we now have more than enough men, and are unsure about how to cast the last few male roles. (Mycroft Cockburn, Trevor(s), Narrator). Starlight, the ditzy air-headed girl is a role we also have to fill, but currently do not have a girl that would be able to take the role on.

With some other people interested that may come along on Monday, we may well just be in a situation where we can have the show completely cast before we start rehearsals, and without me having to take a part. This is actually something that although  I have said all along I would want to avoid,  (incase someone backs out, we always have me as a backup) but now I think the realisation is dawning that I'm rather going to miss being on stage myself. I will, no doubt get to be in the 'filmed' pieces, assuming we can sort out the organisation of those and all the technological aspects.

Monday ? Did I say Monday ? Yes. That's right, we will be moving to two sessions a week as of next week. Exciting stuff. This only leaves us with 23 rehearsals to get the whole show ready, but I'm sure that we can do it. We may have to cram in some extra sessions somehow (god only knows when or where)... but it's all about the art of the possible.

The other fantastic news is that Helen finally got around to giving me the contact details of the lady that has some Kittens for sale. (I was so worried, I was having Kittens about it myself). She says they may be strong enough to leave their Mother in the next week or so. I feel instantly cruel, taring these poor kittens away from their Mummy. If they are up to it, I will be able to pick them up the weekend at the start of my holiday, this gives two rather brilliant effects, being that I will get to spend time with them as I will be on holiday to settle the little darlings in. The other being that I will have Chloe for a few days that week, so she will probably be inconsolably excited when she finds this out. I am trying to stop myself from telling her, so that it comes as a surprise.

Can I keep my mouth shut ?  Hmmm