Genius The wireframe games of sodaplay -- an office toy for games designers who used to like playing Elite ...
Blog! When I was Star Trek fan, I would always look forward to Peter David's work. His prose seemed effortless in comparison to the other authors, his characterisation as close to the television as anything. His are the only novels I kept when I had the great clear-out. So it's rather fun that he's keeping a fabulously unstarry weblog. I've a feeling he's itching to get his hands on Buffy, the amount of writing he does on the subject, but today he turned his attention to another vampire themed musical:
Early on in the show, Steinman (composer) -- who wrote songs for Meat Loaf --slides about sixteen bars of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" into the middle of Krolock's first song. It draws huge laughs as the audience slowly tweaks to the self-referential digression. But when kicking off Act II, they do a full blown rendition of "Total Eclipse." It's great to hear. They do a terrific job with it. The problem is that it really points up the fact that no other number in the show can touch a song he wrote at least two decades ago, because that's the song you'll come out humming.
'Once More With Feeling' is coming to BBC2 shortly ...
Although Not as outrageous as most of this stuff though.
Blogging! Blogger was hacked yesterday. Don't worry if you missed it, the pace of things these days means that everything went down and came back up again within hours. Full narrative can be found at Blogroots and with Anil Dash, whose comments section feels just like Metafilter used to be ....

Of course it's an outrage that something which has offered a way of communicating globally to so many people (and changed lives I would expect) should be attacked in this way. It stank last time and it stinks now.

In an unrelated interview for Internet Magazine Ev offers a mission statement:
Blogger's mission is to help normal people express whatever it is they have to say to as large of audience who wants to listen. To help people to connect with others of interesting and like minds. And to further the Internet's promise as a tool for the democratision of media and collective intelligence.
Which is the complete opposite of hackers, who used to claim they were working for some noble purpose (bringing down dodgy corporations or governments). That sometimes had finess -- with this they're just playing with themselves ...
Blink From Disturbing Search Requests:
Maybe they could try Ask Jeeves or something like that, please? [thread]
Game Charles Dickens in the style of some old LucasArts graphic adventure. For an even more Victorian touch it feels like your loading each level from cassette. Get a pen ready to write down the counter numbers ... this is going to take some time ...
Life It's been a busy week all in all (hence the intermittent posting). When I left the Manchester job I vowed that it would be becuase I'd try and do more cultural things in the evening because I could get to them in time. It's been a pleasure this week, with my World Music course one night, the movies and a book reading another, then the theatre last night. I really feel like I'm turning a corner in some ways. So you'll forgive me if I don't post here with my usual regularity. Some of you have linked me lately which is lovely -- even that via makes me feel like I'm not completely wasting my time, even if I'm not so sure this isn't as good as it used to be ... this is my annual birthday week off from tonight so I'd imagine I'll be adding some odds and sods ...
Peer Pressure You may have noticed I've registered at bloghotornot ... curiously, I'm a 9.9er so far ...
Theatre Romeo & Juliet, Liverpool Playhouse, Friday 25th October 2002.

Shakespeare only turns up in Liverpool once in a blue moon, and hardly ever in the larger theatres – so a lot was possibly riding on the success of this piece – can it work if something like this is on show for a whole month and attract a general audience (school groups being a given). Last night was the penultimate show and it was half empty, so the jury is still out. But were we impressed enough with what we saw in order to go and see something similar?

Romeo and Juliet is not as easy a nut to crack as it might first appear. The usual approach is to stick two reasonably attractive characters on stage, sit back and hope for magic. But things are a tad more difficult than that. Shakespeare barely gives enough time between the first meeting of the young lovers and the marriage proposal for any kind of realistic courtship so there has to be some creativity for us to care about the couple much past the reveal on ‘Blind Date’.

Josie Rourke’s production emphasized the time they do spend apart. The only times this couple touched each other were in the first meeting, the wedding, the consummation and the death scene. At all other times, they are very much apart, we visit upon their anguish separately. The height of the balcony (in the heavens by all accounts) led those of us in the stalls to crane our necks to see Juliet – underlining her distance from Romeo.

It’s in these scenes that the production really flew. Although at first we saw Shereen Ibrahim’s Juliet laughing madly without context -- she does anguish really, really well. The moments when she realize that all is lost and she won’t be seeing her new husband again were heartbreaking. Although she’s done some TV (‘Doctors’) it’s unbelievable that this is her first stage production – to throw this one out so close to the end of the run suggests a real talent. Christian Coulson’s Romeo projected maturity but caved when his girl became involved. This was a modern interpretation of the boy-man, hot in head and pure of heart.

This is an ensemble piece, and if I’ve a criticism, that sometimes slowed down the first part. I would have like more time seeing the title characters falling love, but here we have most of the scene emphasizing the gap between the Montagues and the Capulets. This did give rise to some spectacular moments – moped flying around the stage, the law of the piece Escalus firing a gunshot into the rafters to get everyone’s attention – but they seemed empty somehow – despite some excellent playing, especially from Joseph Alessi as Capulet, a brick wall of a man. And I do wonder why Friar Laurence is an Irishman again – no criticism of the actor, Robert Patterson, it’s just he’s been Irish in every production since the Luhrmann film and it would be nice to see something else.

The final scenes were magic, however. The discovery of the sleeping Juliet led to a Sondheimesque moment when Capulet, his Lady, Paris and the Nurse overlapped their protestations of woe shortening that scene considerably without losing the sense. Romeo’s banishment took place before a giant blank screen emphasizing his distance from the world of the play. A door unexpectedly opened in this to reveal the apocethery in a small chamber. Romeo carried Paris’ body through another door in the screen as it was pulled up to reveal the funeral chamber, without doors, Juliet’s body laying forlornly on a central slab (the fallen Tybalt from earlier in the play lying nearby). As the scene progressed various characters appeared from below the stage, almost magically into the space. This death scene is difficult to get wrong, but this was very, very good. Not many dry eyes in that small audience.

Nice accessible Shakespeare then, not trying to make a point about anything just entertaining the audience. Yes, the period was slightly unclear (the prohibition in New York, perhaps) but there isn’t anything worse than the production designer running riot and sinking the language – which here was well spoken and understandable. To use a footballing cliché then, slow first half with a cracking second half, a goal in injury time clinching victory.
Film When he was at college, film director Joe Dante created ‘The Movie Orgy’ a seven hour epic collection of B-movies, 16mm films, commercials, and trailers. Watching the Red Dragon, at wondered at times if he had been hired to do something similar, that Brett Ratner might have been a way of taking his name off the work. Never has a film felt like so many other films sewn into one, only in this case on purpose. Each of the films is quite entertaining in their own way, but together they make for a insubstantial experience. My only hope is to review each in turn.


Red Dragon (Brett Ratner, 2002)

Francis Dolarhyde (Ralph Fiennes), a man whose childhood of was filled with nightmares and abuse, who falls for a blind woman Reba McClane (Emily Watson). This is the story of their brief liason and how Dolarhyde cope with his urges of evil in the face of her tenderness. Fiennes and Watson give startlingly good performance in a very stylized piece of work. Cleverly the dialogue is pulled back to allow the moments of unspoken connection. Worth seeing for the moment when Fiennes fights between his madness and the love of a woman and loses.

Red Dragon (Brett Ratner, 2002)

A prequel to the Oscar winning film, ‘Silence of the Lambs’ in which Hannibal Lector (Anthony Hopkins) offers his services to a criminal profiler (Edward Norton) on a case. Hopkins still brings moments of real menace to Lecter, Norton is a great springboard, but you do feel you would have liked to have seen more of the Lector outside of his cell, a brick perfect re-creation of that found in the following movie.

Red Dragon (Brett Ratner, 2002)

Will Graham (Edward Norton) is a criminal psychologist scarred by his last hit, a psychologist who turned out to be the one criminal he was tracking. Brought into a new case by his old boss (Harvey Keitel), a serial killer with a predilection for entire families, he finds his own kin in danger. Inevitably weak as a re-make of ‘Manhunter’, this does have it’s moments, especially in the dependable hands of Keitel who looks and sounds just like he did all those years ago in ‘Thelma and Louise’. I would have like to have seen more of how the case effects his home life, especially when his wife is being played by the talented Mary-Louise Parker.


So we’ve essentially got ‘Thelma and Louise’ with bits of ‘Lambs’ and some TV movie all cobbled together. When one impinges on the other there is an uneasy feeling – the kind which happens when unrelated TV shows crossover during the sweeps week on American television. And because there are so many high profile actors there isn’t any kind of balance. For example, Emily Watson is giving an extra-ordinary performance, but we feel like we’re missing large chunks of her emotional arc. There are moments when something important is happening in the main plot and we needlessly cut away to Lector in his cell in quite a comic situation. You can feel the walls of the cinema crashing about around you.

Remember when you saw ‘Hannibal’ and it kept cutting away to Clarice Starling, even though she didn’t seem to have anything to do with anything. Well imagine it’s Lector this time. Given a few more minutes and Graham might have thought everything Lector gives him through himself. That he didn’t weakens his character and film as a whole. Heretical perhaps, but I would have preferred this thing without Lector – it might not have had as high a profile, but it would have made more sense.

[PS When is this film set? The opening is set in 1980, and the next caption says several years later. The technology is deliberately foggy, but I did feel like I was trying to date the UNIT adventures in Doctor Who again. At one point as an incentive, Graham offers Lector access to a computer archive. Several years still makes it sometime in the 1980s. Would we be seeing Lector slogging it out with an Apple II?]
Music Much of anything I know about the popular song was shaped by Tom Lehrer. So it's a joy to present this flash animation based upon 'The Elements'. If they creator decides to head off and do something else, I'd suggest 'Poisoning Pidgeons in the Park'. See also this singalong site ... (via mf)
Blog! The irony of the Wrzl Weblog:
You are searching for meaning of the life? We sure that we cant help to find the meaning of your life. But everybody knows, this is a search. The ultimate search. Search for a clue. You are going to find that clue from another human beings. Other people's wisdom, weirdness, happiness, delicacy, sorrow, stupidity... And the ultimate search begins here.
It's actually a wicked list of ladmag style link and flash games. A sort of bubblegum version of Metafilter ...
Blog! Altered Context made my heart melt:
I talked to Samantha on the phone for about two hours today. The sound of her voice was so...perfect. I love her so much. We are without a doubt soul mates.
What a feeling ...
Paris I have an inability to sleep in late. I can be going to bed at three in the morning after a night out and find myself awake again in five hours unable to turn over and drift away again. I had planned to sleep in slightly on the Wednesday but sure enough there I was a seven o’clock blaring about the bathroom.

Flicking through the guide book, I found the only tourist attraction open at eight in the morning was Notre Dame Cathedral. I’d planned to skip this. My home city had one of the greatest cathedrals in the world. They all tend to look the same after a while, and I wasn’t that interested. But at 8:30 in the morning I’m trudging towards it’s thudding immensity.

There is a queue leading to the tower. I remember having been up the Eiffel tower and the Arc de Triumphe. I wonder how much more of Paris I can look at from on high and pass in favour of the inside. But again they were there, the tourist groups. As I attempted to navigate through a group from Sweden I was reminded of the moment in ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ when our gang are cornered and surrounded by thousands of braying orcs. All are taking photos, but of each other, very close up. They could be standing anywhere. In protest I throw off some shots of the gargoyles. Although none of them are singing, strike one against the Disney interpretation.

The light inside is very low. As I enter, the loudspeakers inside, all winy and unfocused are telling us ina variety of languages not to make to much noise so that we disturb the worshippers for whom this is their local church. I buy one the many official; gudie books and start to walk around.

To one side are trees of candle holders. I leave a donation and light a candle. I’m not religious in the traditional sense. Nondenominational spiritualist if you must know. So I stood by the candle and thought about how the world could be a better place if we just talked honestly to each other instead of resorting to violence all the time. I mostly did that because the loud speaker came on again asking everyone to be quiet, and two teenagers were yabbering incoherently into mobile phones.

The guide book isn’t easy to follow. Although it’s been translated and re-written well in English, the actual directions aren’t very clear. At few times I sand by statues reading the blurb only to find I’d been looking the wrong pieces. Some of the stories do resonate however – the reason there is so much so so art in there is because every year for a particular festival something would be donated. They were the equivalent of giving a tin of Co-op Baked Beans to the school harvest festival.

After a while I realize I’m not actually enjoying myself. The cathedral is spectacular and everything in it amazing. But I’m just looking at things. I’m not actually taking anything in. And whenever I am interested in something, someone else comes and stands in front of it, or a guided talk sweeps by and I’m distracted. About halfway through I glance at my watch and decide I’ve seen everything I want to see. I’m longing for the peace and quiet of Liverpool Anglican Cathedral. It’s simpler, but more contemplative.
Lunchtime It's half term holidays, so my lunchtime visit to the library internet 'cafe' now looks like a school computer class. The kid sitting next to me is actually asking Jeeves something. I'm wondering if the t-shirt post the other day was such a good thing. Reading it now, it feels like one of those times in the pub when you start to tell your friend something not that important, but someone else listens in, another person asks a question about it and before long the whole group are hanging on every word until this little thing becomes a big thing. I felt like I needed context, but before I knew it the ting had quotes, scanned in pictures and jokes and when the thing I was talking about finally arrived it suddenly didn't seem all that interesting any more -- just some co-incidence. In the future I'll try to write with more brevity.
Zzz I'm going to bed. Night. Sleep tight.
Ugh! FHM Australia published satirical article about Hillsborough. The editorial content can be found here. Words fail me ...
Rings Massive review of the new extended cut DVD box set of 'Fellowship of the Ring':
"Simply put, this is the best DVD ever made."
Oh well yes. But have they given it proper ending this time? I'm joking. That's a joke ... [via The One Ring]
Seasons Winter is upon us then. Or at least in Liverpool. I only know because a record ten people told me today. The British talk about the weather a lot, but when ten of them mention it you know the season has changed.
Humour Still here? Good, because Mr. Booker has finally gotten around to a new issue of TV Go Home ...
Fashion A couple of years ago when I had time on my hands, I struck upon the idea of printing up t-shirts for films and television shows which would never be merchandised. So every month for a four month period (in other words until I got that job thing in Manchester) I went to the print shop on Bold Street, Liverpool with two printouts. The one for the front was the logo from the particular show, and other was a favourite quote from that same show. The idea was to alternate film and tv, but they pretty much ended up all being from movies. I'll get to the first in a minute (it's the reason I'm posting and I want to create some tension). The second was from 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off':
"I've said it before and I'll say it again. Life can move pretty fast. You don't stop to look around once in while you could miss it."
Which is sort of my Krazy House t-shirt. Many conversations have begun with the phrase 'I love that film!'. The third was from 'Threesome'. Not an easy film to print a t-shirt for -- so I decided to codify the title to 3 then the 'sum' symbol.
"Its kind of like when you on vacation. You plan everything out, but then one day you take a wrong turn -- or take a detour and you end up in some crazy place you can't find on a map. Maybe you feel a little lost while it's happening, but later you realise it was the best part of the whole trip."
You can see the pattern -- the quotes were probably the point. The last one, was from 'Back to the Future' -- no logo available so a Wingding of a clock saying 6:30 -- I printed it for a birthday night out and having the time of my actual birth seemed appropriate. Although as someone pointed out, having two arrows pointing downwards suggested a lack of modesty on my part. Anyway, the quote:
"The future is what you make it. If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything."
I suppose at the time I had some ambition to bring some positivity into the world. Either that or I had all the makings of a really good cult.

And now to the rub. The first t-shirt was of 'My So-Called Life'. Regular readers will know how this was always an open wound -- I'll mention it whenever I can and compare it to a hundred other tv programmes. I think you can see where I'm going ...



Now I'm wondering why (you may be too). I think it was because I'd spent too much time with friends who liked to have their favourite artist on their chest. It's showing your appreciation, if it's from a tour remembering the concert and above all advertising. I suppose 'Life' meant so much that I wanted all of those things -- and also to see if anyone else saw it and and/or it meant so much to them. And besides there is still that stigma about Doctor Who t-shirts.

It took a while to select the quote. The four rejects were:
"Sometimes it seems like we're all living in some kind of prison, and the crime is how much we all hate ourselves. It's good to get really dressed up once in a while and admit the truth -- that when you really look closely, people are so strange and so complicated that they're actually beautiful. Possibly even me."
Which is uplifting, but also a bit grim. Also that last bit would make me sound like I have a low self esteem. Not lately.
Dear Angela,
I know in the past I've caused you pain, and I'm sorry. And I'll always be sorry till the day I die. And I hate this pen I'm holding, because I should be holding you. I hate this paper under my hand because it isn't you. I even hate this letter because it's not the whole truth. Because the whole truth is so much more than a letter can even say. If you wanna hate me, go ahead. If you wanna burn this letter, do it. You could burn the whole world down. You could tell me to go to hell. I'd go. If you wanted me to. And I'd send you a letter from there.
Jordan Catalano
Which apart from being too long to read, makes no sense out of context. Too many questions.
"Her hair smelled incredible. Her hair smelled like this orange grove we
passed when I was eight on my way to see my grandmother. But I guess that's
just, like, her shampoo or whatever."
Which is about Brian Krakow smelling hair. Poetic.
"What I, like, dread is when people who know you in completely different ways end up in the same area. You have to develop this,
like, combination you on the spot."
Nearly got it. But then I realized I wouldn’t be able to stand the irony of it actually, like, happening. So here we have:
"This life has been a test. If it had been an actual life, you would
have received actual instructions on where to go and what to do."
Nice all rounder. Accessable. Evokes the series. That was three years ago. All of the shirts are looking lives in and holes are beginning to appear – especially in the ‘Life’ t-shirt, probably because it’s the oldest.

The point: I was googling about the other day My So-Called Life territory and happened to stumble onto the site which had promised to be releasing the series on DVD. I mentioned this months ago, and no it still hasn’t happened. In the meantime if anyone is interested, are stocking a vanilla version. I’m looking over the site and I found a link to their t-shirts. One is for the afformentioned teen show. Click. Oh my God!

A lot of typing then, to get to this point. How the hell are there:
(a) My So-Called Life t-shirts on sale (how many would want them now?

(b) How is it out of all the things in the world, that it has the logo on the front and a quote on the back, and for gods sake, that quote? Did they go through the same process of elimination I did?
So now have an order in for the most expensive t-shirt I’ve ever bought. $45.90 including postage and packing. Madness? Probably. But it does have actual quote, like, on the back, in the same font which appears in the credits.

The moral, then, I suppose is never try anything creative. It’ll always come back and bite you.
Blog! anna has posted something new:
maybe i will get back to blogging when i can. maybe it will provide the necessary me time and the release that i need sometimes. maybe i'll leave this here until it disappears. but i thought i'd let the world know that i still exist. if you cared to know.
I care ...
Site News This has to be the most heroic spam guestbook entry I've seen:
1 19.10.2002, at 05:45:15
And you are?: Jim Adams
What is your contact email?:
Where are you from?: ny
What is the URL of your home page?:
How did you find me?: From a search engine
Can you recommend a good book?: Poor dad rich dad
What are your top five favourite films?: Godfather Scarface Jesus of Nazareth Spy who loved me Odeysey
What colour is your couch?: green
What record are you listening to right now?: jazz
Comments: We have gone through your site and it is nice and descriptive possibly most of the visitors can also benefit from our cheapest discount online shopping store were items are sold at over 80% off!!! Over 2000 items online.
I love that someone was obviously googling the word guestbook, picked mine out, actually bothered answering all of my stupid questions before leaving the spam. Pity the link leads to the scariest mess of html and badly formated pictures I've ever seen. Well, OK not really, but is there any need for that ticker tape?
Blogger My BlogThis hasn't worked since I installed IE6. Here is a solution. Fantastic.
TV Gaz Top On Line
TV Things have started moving in Freeview world. The three Sky channels (News, Travel, Sports News) have started broadcasting a preview, as has UK History, and 'The Hits' is test transmitting with an hour of repeated music videos during the day. I've retuned and suddenly the placeholder for BBC Choice has turned into BBC Three. For anyone else who is looking towards this digital 'future' (which actually looks like another ITV Digital, but this time you won't pay) Digital Spy have a news page up.
Books The real Harmony Cousins? Compare this April Fool's Joke with this Guardian Weekend profile of legendary author, Donna Tartt:
"In the course of our long lunch, in which she will pick at a tiny portion of calamari and say it's "spoilt her appetite", there will be some interesting revelations, some typically witty and self-reflective remarks, and - I think this is a first for Tartt in an interview - tears. She will reveal the "most horrible moment" of her life and what's on her answerphone these days and what she now thinks of The Secret History. But how much of what she tells me can I take seriously? And how much of it is simply part of the Donna Tartt myth?"
Actually, I hate it when 'The Guardian' print's articles like this -- now I just want to go out and buy the books, even though I really haven't got the time to read them, and I don't really love fiction anyway. I'd much rather read a longer piece about what Tartt herself has been up to for the past ten years. But then that would mean another decade before the autobiography came out.
Club The Camel Club is the kind of place which disappears during the day and you could miss even at night. Its street presence is a doorway, between ‘The Revolution’ and ‘The Krazy House’ on Wood Street manned by some bouncers. Even going up the steps you’ve little idea what to expect – you leave your coat, pay your £3.50 entrance fee – and turn a corner to find yourself in a Mediterranean bar.

You'll fall in love here. Despite everything there isn’t a dress code (although everyone is smart), and nothing gets in the way of the music. Unlike some venues, you don’t feel scared to be there … although I love ‘The Krazy House’ I always feel like I should be watching my back. Not here. Everyone is friendly and their isn’t fighting at the bar. But like the Krazy, the people are part of the ambience – those who seem to appear only at night to go to these kinds of places – where do they go during the day? The music is Dj’d but in a good way, all funk and R+B – famous samples appearing in the tracks they were originally taken from, songs before they started featuring someone else.

In Brief: Bud Meter £2.80 a bottle. No dress code. £3.50 entrance. Funk, R+B. Part of 'The Revolution' chain.