Monday, 30 May 2011

Deflated. Mk II

After fixing my bike on Wednesday, and consequently cycling to work each day, (well, ok, most days) I managed to pick up another flat. More precisely it could be described as the son of the previous flat tyre - The one that was caused the day I stopped off to put out a small fire on my way home from work.

This week's puncture was in fact caused by the piece of metal that I was left in my tyre from that incident. Despite checking the tyre over before fitting the replacement inner tube (I keep a spare to make it a bit easier to fix them) I now have had two inner tubes with punctures in exactly the same places. I will probably have to replace the tyre soon as well. Was a sizeable bit of shrapnel in there. Nowhere near as disastrous as the effect of a piece of metal piercing a tyre did on the Concord taking off in France in 2000 (the plane crashed, 113 people lost their lives), so perhaps I shouldn't complain so much.

I've had a mixture of laziness, followed by drunkenness interspersed with some creative activity and more than a little cleaning over the bank holiday weekend. Completed a review for Venturer Magazine again, this time reviewing the second story that I wrote for them. I have very painful memories of it because when it was shown to the rest of the company it was nowhere near finished. It was in such a state that it made it impossible for anyone to follow the storyline, and it was meant to be really important as it marked the departure from the show of one of its main characters.

It's hard to be objective about your own work, I know there were failings in the script, but a bucket load of whole fresh ones were created by the presentation of the story, with the usual challenges around direction and acting. I know it's amateur, but I still would want the story to be just that, something that tells the story. All the technology and the pretence and performance, if done right, should be invisible. The suspension of disbelief.

I was invited to meet up with some of my colleagues from work at a pub last night. I sidestepped my initial negative response and made the effort to go. I did indeed drink away quite merrily and got a little bit drunk, which was a nice change. Good to let my hair down, what there is left of it.

Despite not seeing my daughter, she has sent me regular email updates and text messages. I really do appreciate it, as otherwise I would really feel the emptiness of not being able to see her until next weekend. I'm glad that she gets to go away on holiday, but it doesn't mean I don't miss her when she's gone.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

deflated / re-inflated

Another attempt to get an early foothold on the work of the day. Another failure to quite manage that. Having spent the day working away solidly spending some quality time with the team the afternoon made the morning look positively organised.

Ever get the feeling that if you were trying to tread water the sharks would be circling and licking their lips ? (do sharks even have tongues ?)

Anyway. Stayed late from work, missing completely the chance to get to drama (it was just as well that Helen and I had planned for the eventuality that I may be at best very late tonight). When I had eventually managed to leave, the cycle home wasn't exactly without incident either. As I passed through the railway triangle (place at the top of Portsmouth where the east and west train lines join to head south into the city), I noticed some smoke, and realised that some little darlings had set light to some rubbish left on an embankment. Borrowing a bucket and some water from a nearby house I easily managed to dowse the flames of the small fire that had been started. Would have felt rather stupid calling out the fire brigade, but equally I couldn't have left it.

To prove that no good deed goes unpunished, I got back onto my bike to find that I now had a flat front tyre. At least I wasn't that far from home by that point, so it wasn't too much trouble to wheel my bike the rest of the way, where I promptly fed the cats and then replaced the inner tube so that I could be sure to be able to cycle in to work again tomorrow.

It's near the end of the week. This weekend being a longer affair owing to the bank holiday monday at the other end of it. I don't want to sound like I am kicking a gift horse in the mouth, but I had just got used to the normal run of things !

I'm really only bitching because we'll have this lovely long weekend and I won't get to see my daughter because she's going away on holiday for the week.

Taking the cats to the vets for their followup jabs on Friday. They do seem to be growing so fast. After that's done they would be allowed outside, if I decide to do that. I think they have already made their feelings plane on that front having made a break for it the other week.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Plummeting towards Bank Holiday..

There's nothing we can do, the world hasn't ended, the Tiger wasn't real.... we're plummeting at warp factor 12 towards a long weekend. The last bank holiday weekend we get until August in fact. Will it shine ? Will it rain ? Either way it's going to mean three whole days off work. Whoop Whoop.

It does of course also mean that we are another week closer to show week. Arrrggghhh !!!

Helen and I had made some alterations to the script, which we communicated to the cast on Monday. I think this was a bit worrying for some of them, who aren't used to dealing with scripts as a rather fluid thing. On one hand it's a bless, but on the other it is indeed a curse. There was only person so far that did not need their script in the scene that we did. I am getting rather worried that more people haven't yet dropped their scripts. We are, after all, only four weeks away from the show week. There are still people missing sessions, no progress with dropping scripts, no sold tickets. Worried ? I don't think worried is the right word.

(slams door and runs screaming to the hills)

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Leopard escapes...

not the actual leopard that caused the  furore.
This one available from
A major alert was started near Southampton (a city near me) when a member of the public warned police that they had seen what they thought was an escaped leopard whilst they were watching a cricket match through the zoom lens of their camera.

After a temporary halt to the cricket match at Southampton's Rose Bowl, thermal imaging scans from a police helicopter and the work of brave officers on the ground discovered that the 'animal' in question was in fact a life sized stuffed toy. Plans were put into place to enlist the help of zoologists from local Marwell Zoo, and to close the nearby M27 motorway.

Earlier in the week, there was an escape of the feline variety. Midnight & Twilight managed to get out when I had left the front door open whilst rooting around upstairs for an attachment I needed to use to pump the tyres on my bike back up. I'd left the inner door open at the top of the stairs without realising. The first that I had heard about this was when I went downstairs to greet my sister and my nephews (who she had just picked up from school), and instead came across my beloved kittens running towards me up the path to my front door. Quickly I grabbed them and secured them upstairs. Needless to say until I they have had their booster shot they are not meant to go outside. I haven't even been able to get them to keep on their collars, they are too big (the collars are), both kittens are growing really quickly so it won't be long before they can keep them on, or should that be 'before they can't get them off' ? The follow up shot is due the end of this coming week, so they are getting closer to being able to have that freedom.

It's the end of the world as we know it (and I feel fine)

Jan Luyken's picture of 'The Rapture'
According to some crackpot American religious nutter, the world was due to end yesterday at 6pm.

The fact that I am writing this, and you are around to read it (assuming there are some people that actually do read my blog) seems to indicate that they, like all the other doom merchants before them got it spectacularly wrong.

Apparently all the deserving Christians were going to Heaven for 6 months, but the rest of us get to suffer in hell on Earth for that time before the world is completely destroyed.

Just to make the whole thing easier to understand they (the group spreading all this about) had arranged for their website to give regular automated updates for those left behind on Earth. So the world's going to end, we're all going to die... but DON'T PANIC ! We'll still have internet ! That's okay then. For a minute there I was thinking that I'd actually have to talk to real people or something.

What are all those sheep who sold their possessions, gave up their jobs etc to prepare for the 'end of days' going to do now ? Get a job stacking shelves in a walmart or something ? How gutted would they be if they'd cancelled their life insurance and then had an accident at 6:05 ? Ooops.

Statistically though, if you keep saying every day that it is the end of the world, eventually you're going to be right.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

What is this fog that has dominated the early part of my week ? This feeling of unease and upset with one of my longest and dearest friends.

I posted the other day about how Monday's rehearsal had gone, and how I had become annoyed at how things were going, how disrupted they had become.

When was it that I became so self centred and immovable, so blinkered and bloody minded ? Perhaps I have always been those things, some of them, or all of them I'm not sure. I've always had strong opinions and been singleminded, but this breakdown in communication between Helen and I is really hurting. My instinctive reaction seems to have been to be annoyed at her, and to not want to talk to her.

It's fair to say that I'm not really seeing much enjoyment in the production process for the show at this point. The last two rehearsals pretty much felt like a waste of time and an abject failure. With the opening of she show looming ever larger on the horizon, I feel very keenly that no one in the cast as dropped their scripts yet, we have not yet finished blocking out any of the scenes - and although we will do this in the next week, I am uneasy. The show is very visual, and very complicated, (it's the rod we have most definitely made for our own backs) and it will only come together when people have stopped having to carry around their scripts in rehearsals and when we have everyone in every rehearsal. 

My feels have been such that with the chaos, and probably fair to describe as anger about Monday, I have shut myself away. I really needed to close off the show part of my life whilst not actively preparing for a rehearsal as I just need to limit its effect on the rest of my life. It sounds rather selfish, but I've come to learn over the years when I am overwhelmed by events, and when I am feeling that I need to take a step back. 

You might say that's great for me, but really great for my partner in the is enterprise, Helen. There is a point, when with no intended disregard for her feelings, I have to say 'stop !'. I do not need emails, texts and voicemails telling me to contact people as soon as I can, to discuss something that is not urgent. If the theatre isn't burning down, (and even if that happens, there's nothing I'm going to be able to do about it) there just isn't anything to do with the show that's urgent enough to warrant such a dramatic badgering. 

I try, but don't very well succeed to segment the different areas of my life. When I fail more to do that, I do feel compromised. Not from a secrecy point of view, but the situations that occur where I might have a disagreement with someone in one area of my life, but if I am close to them in another part of my life, that tension translates to another entire area, and gives me no peace or rest from it. 

I am getting alerted to this kneed jerk reaction to shut people out, to close off the communication, to not go to things. It could very easily lead to me becoming increasingly isolated and alone. These are not reactions I am used to observing in myself. The amateur psychologist within warns me further that this sounds very similar to the behaviour of someone descending (for want of a better word). If I 'back off' from involvement in creative activities (either with M27 or with Beacon) then what would I do with the rest of my time, and would that be something that made me feel better, or worse ? I think worse. 

Helen and I have had a rather long, deep and emotional conversation, where we exchanged how it was that we are feeling. I can't say I got my point across in the best way I possibly could, which in itself leaves me feeling rather hollow. There was no 'battle' to win, but it most definitely feels that both of us have lost out of this situation. Helen repeatedly commenting that she feels we may both have changed so much in the last 5 years that it would not be possible for us to work together in this way in the future. By which she means we could never write and direct a show together again. I would agree, that we cannot work together again in THIS way, because the chaos and lack of organisation, and the fact that so much time has been wasted (when I think about how much time was wasted in the actual writing of the show - we started writing it in August, or September last year for crying out loud !). I can't work like that anymore, and I don't know if it was that these complications didn't occur before, or if they did, but it didn't matter. 

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

ok, so I've blatantly been reading the news....


Botox. It's a toxin people !
This one is certainly more serious, but I also read this article on the internet on the BBC news site (other news websites are available). Some 8 year old child has been taken into care by the local authorities in America (could only happen there - we hope) because her mother has been injecting her with Botox.

I don't know whether to cry or shout at my computer when I read this article. This poor kid. The quotes from the Mother make me really, really sad. What sort of person not only allows her child to do such a thing, but actually administers them herself ? It's one thing to 'harmlessly' mutilate your child with tacky earrings, but this is irreversible and dangerous.

The mother, who is a part time beautician, wouldn't reveal where it was that she got the drug from. Hmmm. Does that mean it wasn't legally obtained ? What was she thinking ? Oh, hang on, we get an idea with quotes like  "It's a tough world in the pageant and the kids are harsh. Being confident is something she has to be with them." Er.. but isn't being confident by changing your appearance just some shallow method of tricking yourself that you'll feel better ? And isn't it your job as a parent to teach her to accept herself for who she is ? Oh, it makes me so cross. Maybe not entering her into petty pageants would be a start. 

No dish. No Glee ?

What !!!! It cannot be allowed to happen !!!

sad about Glee leaving free TV.
Even sadder to see I look like a freaking turtle
According to this disastrous news from the  BBC news website, Glee is to leave E4 as the channel was outbid by those dastardly bleeps at Sky TV with deeper pockets. NOOOO !!!!!

How will I get over really tough days / weeks without being able to resort to watching an episode of my favourite TV show that has glitter and jazz hands included ? Fine, back to alcohol it is then.

No seriously. Seems that Sky were able to stump up double what E4 were able / willing to pay.....

Boo hiss. Sad face.

Grumpy old man

Am I getting less patient as I grow older ? Less understanding of others ? Less accommodating of the downright stupidity of other people ?

I wonder this, because I feel myself getting steadily more impatient and cross with Helen, my long term friend and cowriter, coproducer, codirector for The FatCat And The Grafter. I don't want to launch into a major whinge, but think that after that sentence I had better explain myself.

On Monday's rehearsal, which I have already documented as being the hardest session so far, there were some elements that made it harder to make progress. Helen had changed some of the lines in the scene, and made some other alterations, which she had not gone through with me before I started directing the scene with the cast, she also wanted to put in some suggestions about things that her character could be doing in order for her to get to be doing what she felt the character should be doing. Again these things were not explored in detail before the session, so when mentioned required that I had to then work round or ignore them in order to direct the scene the way that I had planned it. Interruptions and delays were caused by the sometimes attention grabbing silliness she employs whenever she feels embarrassed about something. The thing that I was embarrassed about was that the scene wasn't working, and it wasn't made to work any more, or look any better with interruptions of messing about from my co-director.

We had agreed a couple of weeks ago that as we were directing most of the scenes separately, that if we wanted to make any suggestions to scenes the other was doing that we do it after the session, so that the discussion would not hold up the rehearsal or make us look like we didn't know what we were doing.

I don't want this to come across in the wrong way, it's not about Helen, bless her, it's about interruptions themselves. I feel like I spend a part of my working week trying desperately not to tell people to stop being such twats. Polishing a turd doesn't even come close. I'm not angry though. As much as sometimes the odd thing will slip out, I am amazed at how tactful I can be. Sometimes it's like it's not me at all.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Things can only get better ?

After a weekend that was all too short, back to work, and back then afterward to rehearsals. Nice enough, but I think from having planned the blocking of this scene that I have realised somewhat that this scene could easily be removed from the show and no one would miss it at all.

My inner editor tells me that I should get out my filthy big red pen (metaphorically, as I don't actually own a red pen, big, filthy or otherwise) and strike if from the play. Helen wants to err on the side of caution and leave it in until we do a paced run through the second act, so we can see how it falls into place with the rest of the show.

I don't remember this shared directing lark being such a test either. Normally things go perfectly well, but tonight things kept going off track, the scene was complicated enough, but Helen did keep wanting to descend the scene into farce, and needed reigning in. I worry that some of the patience, faith and trust that the cast have in us may not be entirely limitless.

Helen pointed out today that we really need to pull our finger out with organising the show. We have not sold a single ticket yet. hopefully all this will change once we have the poster, and we can start advertising properly.


Monday, 16 May 2011

Tyred.. but ready for another week

Tyred.. did you see what I did there ? Ho. Hum. Sorry.

Yes, amongst the things that I got whilst out on my exciting shopping trip yesterday was some replacement inner tubes for my bike. With the desire to save money (the weekly buss tickets cost me nearly £70 a month) and an urge to be more physically fit, AND get home from drama a bit quicker I have decided that I need to fix my bike and 'get back on the road'.

Although I've put to the back of the list of things to do this weekend the actual repairing phase of this grand plan, I am sure that by the end of the week I will have the old girl working again. I'm day off on Wednesday so I will have a chance to fix the tyres whilst I wait in all day for the man from UPS to come pick up my old busted kindle.

I am still over the moon to not be without one, thanks to those lovely folks at Amazon.

Moved the cat tree into the living room, as it gives them a much better view of what's going on. Managed to move it without disturbing Midnight, who was resting on it at the time. This does seem to be a hit with the cats as they do indeed like to laze on the top most part of the cat tree and watch whatever is going on around them.

Yes, that is Midnight on the left there, precariously balancing on the top perch, trying to share it with his sister. Looks damn uncomfortable if you ask me, not the Twilight seems to notice.

The other brilliant news this weekend was the revelation that my daughter wants to go on a school trip to France later in the year. Somehow having to find the money for that, on top of all the other things just makes me smile. It shouldn't really. I am glad though that she wants to go, sounds like it will be a great thing for her to do. I think they will be staying in Normandy for 4 days. She didn't seem to make the connection when I reminded her of our trip to Hastings a couple of years ago, where we did go the Battle (the place where the Battle of Hastings took place) and walked round the very field and looked round the abey.

Oh dear, history education just not what it used to be I guess. More than likely, it would be the case that like myself I didn't really take an interest in history until people stopped trying to tell me about it.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

This week has just been a non stop rollercoaster ride of fun.

The massive revelation last weekend that due to some poor planning and self control on my part, I have no freaking money. This has seen me taking food to work each day, instead of being a lazy idiot and buying stuff in the restaurant there. I say restaurant based not on how many stars it has, but the fact that it's a place where people go to get food and sit down and eat it. Here I am, on a Saturday morning sitting at the iMac with a cup of coffee and some marmite toast. Only problem being that I've actually ran out of Marmite, and that I've also ran out of spread.... so really I have dried toasted wholemeal bread with the dregs of the Marmite spread onto it. Hmmm. yum. I think if I ate a box it would taste better.

confusingly named 'shrapnel Jar'
That definitely means that it's time to get off my backside and get some food. Ah. One small little problem. Finance Error. Grrr. I guess I'm off to see if the shrapnel jar has enough for me to be able to buy a week's shopping out of it. Shrapnel Jar is in reality neither a jar, nor does it contain shrapnel.

Don't worry folks, the important thing is that I've got enough kitten food in to last the week. The kittens will most definitely not go hungry.

I'll be getting off this chair in a moment and taking myself and my 'shrapnel Jar' off to the nearest store that has one of those coin converter things that allow you to tip in wads of coinage such as contained in the above 'jar' and change it up into real money (well a voucher) that you can use to spend in the store.

Only thing is that the nearest two places that provide that facility aren't exactly nearby. One is the Tesco store in Havant (near where I work) the other is the Asda store in Fratton (further into Portsmouth). Really does require me getting up off my arse doesn't it ?

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Here's something I wrote earlier...

As I've mentioned before, I write reviews to be included into the in-club publication 'Venturer Magazine' for the good people at Beacon. This month I'd written a review, and that being the first one that I'd managed to do for quite some time, I thought I would include a copy here.... (excuse the formatting differences, and the fact that I've not been able to port over the document as published exactly)..

REVIEWER Simon Sansbury

Chris Wilkes & Neil Miller
Matthew Hampton
It's been sometime since I've been able to pen a review, last year in fact. So long I'd actually forgotten which episode it was that I had reviewed last. After the chaos of moving home to my lovely shiny new flat, and all the other things that kept me from you, it is to another kind of chaos that I draw my attention. That being Kaos Absolute, story three in the 2009 series of The Adventures of Stephen Brown. The winding up of the story lines that involve The Death, Kaos and the Augury, not to mention young Sally Crawford's revenge against Stephen Brown for murdering her father. Much tying of lose ends to be done then. There's not a moment to lose.

The opening CGI shots of the Venturer were really nice in setting the scene, maybe a 'previously on The Adventures Of Stephen Brown' might have reminded anyone (like me) who'd forgotten how it was we got to this particular peril in the first place might have helped. Being really limited within the confines of the Venturer set does limit cameramen and directors alike. As the thing gets blown up every couple of years it does give us a chance to do something a bit different. Some learning of lines, and some different camera shots might have made things move along a bit better.

When we transport down to the planet, we are treated to the first half of a swear word left onto the audio when Blocklon (Matthew Hampton) walks into Stephen Brown (Ryan Brady), this along with hearing the director saying 'action' on an earlier bit of footage is a shame. Things start to look sparkly again when our intrepid heroes are walking towards Augury's cave. Some nice, but not too clever computer work there has created a cave entrance where there wasn't one, and later on we have the effect of Kaos' life force approaching it. It is again the challenges of fitting so many people into so little space that contributes to making the performances in the Augury's cave looks as realistic as the greenery that's draped all over the set. The Augury (Sassi Page) is meant to look really ill, but doesn't. The lighting here just doesn't do the set, or the actors any favours, and is perhaps too clean and too bright for my liking. I like things a bit dirtier and darker. But the least said about that the better.

Chris Wilkes' rendition of Kaos inhabiting Stephen Brown's old body isn't all that threatening or menacing, but he pulls some interesting faces as he fights Stephen Brown. There's some nice touches here in the lightening flashes etc of the phantasmagorical nature of the bitch fight between them, but the fight itself isn't always as tense, fast or threatening looking as it is at other times - but that's not helped by the return of those awful punch sound effects. There must be better ways to get realistic punch sound effects. (without resorting to actually punching people.. hang on.. that might work....).
The lack of effect to the already clinical lighting when Kaos' life force enters Chris (ahem) coupled with three people trying to roll around on the floor in such a small space really does harm the suspension of disbelief here. Which is a shame, as this scene, and its elements, is a staple of science fiction stories since, well since before November 23rd 1963. The storytelling could have been helped with some flashbacks to go with the dialogue while Ryan explains to Sassi how they got to that point.

Episode 2 starts off with a good recap of all that's gone before. Watching The Death (Robert Hampton) threaten Sally Crawford (Hazel Whiteland) by squeezing her cheeks was just as convincing as her reaction to it, and the threat afterwards. This story has some really brilliant elements to it that really mean a lot in the canon of the show. The script by Messrs Wilkes & Miller could have been shown off much more effectively, there's a couple of points when perhaps a line might have been0changed to better effect, but most of the time it really zings along, and attempts to deliver a real sense of pace and drama. Something the actors seem to have missed entirely.

Ryan, Matthew and Katie 'rush' to escape the cave, helping along the wounded/ill Augury only to be confronted again by Kaos, still in the form of Chris Wilkes. There's some fancy light show battle on the shingle there that is done rather well, and the dispatching of The Augury is a rather good shot. The conviction, urgency and fear is completely absent on all of the actors' performances however. After she's dead, The Augury has a telepathic conversation with Ryan's Stephen Brown. This scene, although spoiled by a very cheesy ending that looked like a toothpaste commercial, was very well lit and executed by both Sassi and Ryan.

Some more clumsiness from the crew means we have such a good shot of the boom at the bottom of a shot while Ryan, Katie and Matthew stand and discuss the danger they are facing that I thought perhaps we could have dressed it up as some sort of furry alien. As Ryan explains that Kaos' life force is still around us (although without the sound or lighting effects that hinted at it before) there is again this very static delivery of what should be tension building lines. There's a 'walk, stop, say line, stand talking, talk about danger, walk off at a normal place' formula to the acting. The CGI here of the planet cracking up comes without explanation or reason, and doesn't at all match up with what's happening in the live action shots. There's absolutely no evidence of the planet destroying itself on location. Obviously 'blessed' with a brilliantly sunny day didn't help.

Episode 3 reminds us that for a planet under destruction it still looks remarkably like a rather nice Sunday walk in the country. Could we have done something to darken this down or muddy up the image a bit in post production ? I don't know, but it's something we have done before. The exploding planet illusion isn't helped by the inconsistently applied synchronised stumbling of the cast to the camera shakes. The camera effect works rather well (although not applied in later shots - perhaps there was someone else on camera, perhaps they just got bored of it), but the cast manage to make it look like they are trying to find their way home after drinking too much on a night out in town.

Ryan has some lines in another moment of 'we're running away, but we'll stop long enough to deliver our lines, pause for a bit and then not hurry off again', where the sound is rather poor. We also get to see how close the sound man is to the action, because his leads are dangling into the edge of the shot.
The shots from the point of view of Kaos' life force look rather like someone threw some compost on the camera lens before shooting it. It doesn't match up however with the shots from episode one, and doesn't quite convey the atmosphere of the moment. Some lines delivered by Ryan about how Kaos is sapping his life force makes him sound like a whining teenager (ala Kev & Perry style) than our hero struggling to keep it together.

Death, despite saying he wasn't going to be a hero and die fighting Kaos, does just that. A really vital moment in the history of the show, and we have no shot of our star's reaction to the death of his brother. The moment is further spoiled in the next episode by the smiling and laughing as Blocklan lifts up the now deceased Death to carry him back to the Venturer. Really pivotal moment in the story line and it's completely ruined. The episode ends with the now correct and faithful restoration of Kaos to his former self, aka the intergalactic hoodie in the form of Neil Miller. It has to be said that Neil works the menacing look very well and delivers the only believable performance of the story. He really does look cross enough to bite your ear off. Chris now gets his telepathic Skype call from the Augury. Again really well done with the mood and atmosphere. Although this does come across as a self referential last outing (until the next time) for Wilkes' Stephen Brown it's so expected that we get away with it.

Miller's appearance on the shingle to fight Ryan's Stephen Brown is a great show of lights, only spoiled by the fact that it isn't lip synced right. The unconvincingly delivered fighting talk from Ryan, coupled with the leaping together into combat makes it look like they need to get a room more than a referee. The magically convenient (for the writers) ability to transport himself allows Ryan to take Chris with him back to the cave where another 'fight' in the form of a hug off ensues. Wilkes' hands look like he's about to start massaging Miller rather than strangle him, but at least he still manages, mid fight to put his hat back on before hugging Miller once again. This story has in it all the key ingredients of a fantastic forty minutes of entertainment, I hope the audience could see past the flaws in the acting, directing and production quality to that cracking story underneath. Just imagine how epic it would have been if they didn't have to do that.

Monday, 9 May 2011

I should be in bed...

But instead I'm sitting up catching the end of 'How To Lose Friends And Alienate People' - the film staring Simon Pegg, from the book of the same name by Toby Young. I really enjoyed the book, and have to admit that I am rather enjoying the film.

They have got one hell of a line up of cast in this thing.

Sadly this weekend has only two days in it, well, a day and a half for mine. I didn't get to see Chloe either as she's attending a friend's birthday party and sleepover. Again time where I could have done so much more. I should perhaps stop being so hard on myself, or maybe I shouldn't. 

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Kindle joy

Those lovely people @ Amazon turned this..
 On my way to work yesterday I managed to collect from the post office the replacement Kindle that the very helpful and apologetic 'Alex' from Amazon had sent me. Overjoyed would be something of an understatement.

I'd gotten up early enough to allow myself time to go and get the new kindle, and to then stop off somewhere with free wifi in order to get it synced and up to date with my books.

..... into this !!
This I did at the McDonald's in Havant. Admittedly this was rather cheeky of me, standing suspiciously by a pillar (not wishing to take a seat as I thought that would have been one infringement of their hospitality too far). Not having used their free wifi before, I had to take some time to setup an account with 'the cloud'. Easy peasy. Whilst I was doing this, the power kept flicking off in McDonald's. OK, so dodgy looking man, with strange looking hat, standing next to pillar, with strange device... when he walks in, the power starts going off. Hmm. That's.... strange. One of the workers did, in the end, come over and ask me if what I was doing would have any effect on the power situation. I thought it was quite funny, but I guess had I been in their situation I would have thought the same thing, and she was perfectly nice about it.

God I've missed my kindle. The real coup for me was the service given by the guy at Amazon. Such a shame that it is not the norm elsewhere. I've just got to package up and send back the broken one.

Last night I went with Helen, Bill, and Lin (and her friend Mo) to go see Phoenix Players' show, It Runs In The Family (by Ray Cooney). It's a very fast paced, farcical comedy which was very tightly written, acted and directed. It's a great script and we all really loved the show. There were some brilliant performances from some of the cast with particularly shining efforts from Ben McCready, John Lewin and Jeremy Fletcher.

After the show we decamped to the utterly deserted pub over the  road. Sadly for such a lovely pub, it looked like we were the source of the entire evening's takings. In the conversations, what we'd figured out was that Lin's friend, Mo is an artist, and she has wonderfully offered her services to create our show's poster. We tried (as best we could) to explain the point of the show - having to remind ourselves first - and what the characters are like - so that she could get some ideas of what sort of things to incorporate into the poster design, and figure out what sort of thing it was that we were looking for.

There is this excitement building about the show, coupled with the 'calm before the storm' that is the final few weeks of production. Need to get our thumbs out of our proverbial arses to make sure that people know about the show. If we don't we are going to go to all this trouble and no one will come see it.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

What price democracy ?

As it happens, quite a lot really.

I have had a rather unplanned long walk this evening after a long day at work in the quest to cast my vote for the local council elections and the referendum into the voting system used in general elections. If you're expecting some sort of informative and fact based entry about what the difference between the two options in the referendum are, or indeed some trendy analysis into the merits or risks of each, you are sadly going to be disappointed.

On my day off yesterday, as I had not received a voting card in the post I rang the council to check that they had registered me to vote at my new flat. The very helpful lady on the phone confirmed that they had, and apologised that I hadn't received the voting card, some have gone missing in the post, she said. No worries, she didn't say, as she then proceeded to tell me the location of the polling station for where I live. 'Great' I thought, I can pop round there after work.

So, after a day that started earlier than 8am (although only by 15 minutes), a pleasant enough trek in the sunshine round to the newly discovered polling station. I might not be like a lot of people, in that I feel my right to vote is like a muscle. I use it, or I may lose it. Okay, so there's no real danger, even remote danger that my ability to vote would be removed, but I just have this great sense of duty and pride in exercising my vote. Bizarrely I find it more important when I think it's likely that my vote goes against that of the leading opinion.

Walk on round I did, only to be told that my vote registration arrived a day too late to be used for this referendum and local election. One obvious question formed almost immediately upon my lips.

'it would have been handy if the person I'd asked yesterday had told me that'. To which the very helpful lady who was in charge responded 'they were right to say that you were registered to vote here, but they wouldn't realise it was for this vote'. Well, really what the hell else did they think I would be calling to check for, with it being the day before the referendum ? I mean really ? What did they imagine that the reason for me calling would be ?

Seriously, I know they are probably busy with preparing for the referendum and all, but that is such a lame arse response. I would have been happier with 'I'm sorry, but they got it wrong and should have told you', but to try and pass the information given as the right information, but only if you squint enough and look at it in the right light is just trying to make intelligent people look stupid.

I feel really sorry for all those people that work for the council that have either suffered pay freezes or even lost their jobs, but if that's the sort of imagination they have, I'm not at all surprised.

workaholic ?

Today was meant to be my day off work.

Like the conscientious person that I am, I figured that I could go in, and spend a couple of hours completing some end of work admin that needed doing. Every month this situation comes up, every month I chastise myself for not getting things done sooner.

I do this not because it is asked or even expected of me (in fact my boss told me I didn't have to do that and that I shouldn't have come in) but because I would rather know that it's all done and out of the way, than have to struggle over the next few days to complete the tasks needed and all the stress and hassle that involves.

Job done. I can rest easy. (well, I would if I wasn't up at such a stupid hour writing a blog entry).

This evening's drama session went exceedingly well too. Although the clock is ticking and time is certainly not our friend, it did become apparent tonight that we are way past he mid point of blocking out the scenes, and are indeed making lots of progress. This can only be helped in a week or two when Andy becomes available to play Melton. 

I would like to blog on a bit more, but I am rather tired, and have work early in the morning, so if you don't mind, I am going to close off this entry and get some well earned rest. Night to you all.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Kindle ist kaputt

I've killed my kindle. By beloved Kindle. It's dead. No more. It is now an ex-ereader.

Very, very, very not a happy smiley face from me. Was there anyway that the day could have gotten worse ? Well, of course, there were plenty of ways it could have gotten worse than that. In the grand scheme of things, not really a biggie, but I do love my kindle. Did -sniff- love my kindle.

Monday, 2 May 2011

To Vlog, or not, to Vlog. That is the question.

I've been playing around today with the camera and Final Cut Express to see how easy it would be to put the same person in one scene three times. It turns out that it's actually very easy, when you've spent half the day figuring out how the hell to do it.

After messing about with the technology vs my lack of skill and finally getting to a workable solution. Which I have uploaded onto the M27's facebook page for all the world to see.

I've also decided to have a little play with some of the footage that I've taken on my Blackberry of the cats, and edited that quickly in iMovie. Example of this  :-

Flip camcorder
I have been a little inspired lately by the vlogging style of Nerdzrl who seems to pretty much just take her  flip camcorder with her wherever she goes, and record her conversation to camera, and with real people too. I don't know if the good folks of Cosham would react in the passive way that the public in Canada seem to be happy with being filmed, which is funny really given our propensity to shove a CCTV camera in every conceivable location. (by conceivable location, I don't actually mean the ones people conceive in, although you never know....).

When I was a teenager, like most teenagers, I was pretty convinced that I had a unique and special way of looking at the world, and no one else really understood. It wasn't just me they didn't get, THEY also didn't understand how the world REALLY was. THEY just couldn't see it.

Well now that I am (ahem) older. My opinion is pretty much the same. Except maybe just a little (a little I said) arrogant. I do think I look at the world in a slightly different way to most other people. Does that make me some sort of undiscovered genius ? Hell no. It probably means that I am more socially backward than normal people and have far too much thinking time on my hands.

Anyway, I have digressed. When I was a teenager, I kept a diary. That's not that uncommon. A lot of teenagers do. Inspired as I was by 'The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole' (By Sue Townsend) in all it's generations, I picked up whatever writing implement was to hand at the time and committed to paper the workings of my demented, self absorbed teenage mind. There are volumes of my diary, pages upon pages of it. I told my impressionable, naive, and intellectually reckless young self that 'one day you can publish this, and it will be of comfort to anyone that reads it... ' not so sure about that one now or that 'your children can read it when they are teenagers and will be happy to know that the sort of things they are going through are the same things that their dear old dad was going through when he was their age'. hmmm. If there is one thing that is certain in the universe it is that teenagers most definitely do NOT want to be reminded of any similarities with their parents. As my daughter rapidly approaches her teenage years, one thing comes to mind. There's no way she would ever be interested in reading it.

For one thing, it's pages and pages of self opinionated drivel (see nothing changes). Deluded is the word that comes to mind.

So in the face of my daughter reading my diary, and suddenly having a tearful revelation that I too, suffered as I was a teenager, that I too did awkward uncool things. (still am doing - how's the hat going ?) That I too was a jumbling mess around the opposite sex. A mess around the same sex for that matter.

My point, my point ? Oh yes, there WAS a point. Is the written word more suited to this kind of outpouring or is the video blog (vlog) better ?

Script Frenzy - FAIL

... now we are into the fifth month of 2011. Year is racing past at speed, is it not ? All those hours, minutes and seconds, gone. Spent, or wasted ? Never can be sure.

Well and truly failed to complete this years script frenzy. I still must finish the script though. If its worth doing, its, er... worth completing. Can't stand the idea that it will just sit in a draw (digitally of course) and never see the light of day again. Perhaps I should think about ways to make it myself. Certainly wouldn't take a lot to bring it to life.

I have actually completed something else though, that being the review of The Kaos Absolute story for The Adventures Of Stephen Brown. I had been asked to contribute an 800 word review, but ended up writing 1600. Hopefully that's not going to be a problem.

So, May 1st, and I haven't entered any writing competitions, or sent anything I have written off to anyone. Seem to remember being here before. Am I going to end the year with a different result, or will it be same old, same old ? Hmmm. Only way to get things done, is to do them.