Life I've been shaking the cobwebs out of my hard drive again. I have files on here which have been knock around since I was at University and often have desperately obscure file names like 'Ugh' and 'Dissme' (wierdly not my dissertation which I don't seem to have on file anywhere....) Anyway, some years ago I followed a night school course in Science Fiction writing which taught me that I didn't know how to write in that genre. But during the lessons we would have to do some short writing exercises. Which is were the following comes from. I haven't the faintest idea what it was in aid of or for that matter why I'm showing it here, except to say that even through the dialogue is extraordinarily clunky in places I like the mystery. Just what are they arguing about?


Lights up.

An office in a governmental building. Most of the furnishings are imagined, except for two large desks at opposite ends of the stage. Upon the left hand desk sits a personal computer and modem. On a swivel chair before this sits Dr. Amy Wood. She is in her early twenties, and wears a white lab coat. She is concentrating intensely upon the screen, her eyes in a state of sheer wonder. Upon her face are projected the green hexadecimal characters of the computer screen.

From off stage, a tapping is heard.

Come in.

Her father enters. He is in his late thirties, and wears an old fashion tweed suit, and carries a battered leather suitcase. He projects a feeling of nerves and grief. He approaches his daughter tentatively.

Amy ...

Amy swivels around on the chair.

Amy (excitedly):
I've just been looking over the theory again. It's so amazing, how simple the whole thing is.

Father (dejectedly):
I ...

So when can the trials begin?

I'm sorry.

Amy stands up and approaches him tenderly.

Father ... (urgently) what's wrong.

We lost the vote.


There won't be any trials. Funding is being withdrawn. The team will be re-assigned.

Amy turns her back to him. She is filled with horror. She recoils, and slaps him hard across the face.

Amy (screaming):
You bastard! How could you?

Father (rubbing his face):
There was no other way. No other choice to be made.

You had the carrying vote - we both knew that. I thought I'd made you see how important this is.

I did it for all of us. For the future.

What future? You'll be dead in a couple of years.

Please. Just calm down. Try to understand.

Amy (urgently):
Understand what? We have, sitting on that hard disk, the ability to double, perhaps triple our lifespan. The chance to do something with our lives ...

Sit down

Spend more of your life doing some good other than being educated ...

Father (with force):
Sit down!


I won't do anything until you understand how important this is ...

Father (Fuming):
You may be a prize-winning scientist, but you are still my daughter. Now, sit down!

Amy gingerly sits on the chair. Her father breathes deeply to calm himself down.

Father (thoughtfully):
I don't want to lecture you like a child. We went through the projected statistics together. If we were to use your treatment, if we were to ... slow down the work of the aging gene, and everyone does live decades longer, within a few years, we would be in a state of over-population. Our planet would never recover.

Amy (also somewhat calmer):
What about the controls. Choosing who receives the treatment and who does not.

Who would make that decision? Who is to decide whether you or I - as was muted - should live longer than someone who works in construction or a similar profession? What makes our lives more important than theirs? These are simply the careers we chose.

Amy stands up and begins to pace around him.

Can't you be selfish for a moment. You saw how Mother died. Wasting away ..

Her death hurt me more than you will ever know.

Amy (flippantly)
Not that you were there. She just slipped away, and you couldn't even be there.

I was busy. Despite the vote, this is an important discovery. You were there for her ...

Amy stops in front of him.

I would just hate to see you go through the same thing, now. That was why I worked so hard. Now we have, and you are ignoring it!

So in your little scenario. Everyone is living longer. Has a whole life ahead of them. What I can't seem to make you see. In a few years, that's it. Not enough food. Fuel. What is there? Anarchy!

Amy (reflectively):
Maybe if I talk to the council again.

It won't help. The decision has been made.

I can't accept it.

You must. For now. And perhaps, in the future, someone will find a way to spread our resources better. There will be an abundance. At that time the contents of that disk will bring what you hoped. But not in our lifetime.

There is nothing that can be done?

Nothing. Let's not spend the time I have left fighting.


We won't. But it will take some time.

Wars The new ending of Return of the Jedi? Waxy seems to think so, and I'm in the mood to believe him. If I was the original actor I would be a bit cheesed off...
Blog! There is something about Jeff Maurone's story about having dinner with Bill Gates which is too close to the not so recent film Antitrust:
"We all met at various locations on the Redmond campus and boarded coach buses after being identified against our badges. The buses then proceeded through Seattle's eastside to an undisclosed location in close proximity to Bill's home. We then left the buses and were subject to airport-level security. This included shoe-removal, metal detectors, random screenings, etc. After being subject to this, we all transferred to smaller shuttles and proceeded into the unknown."
The only difference is that in the film only Ryan Phillipe arrived at Tim Robbins house. Here, many minions were gathered together to hear their master's voice.
Film Blogging late tonight after spending three or so hours watching D W Griffith's Intolerance, his 1916 film which switches between four time frames to tell the story of man's inhumanity to himself. At a distance of eighty years, its surprising how much of the film holds up. For the uninitiated, the action tells the story of the crucifixion, the massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve, the fall of Babylon and a contemporary story in depression hit America.

It's the latter two which have the most impact. This was the most expensive film of the time because in order to tell the story Griffith actually built Babylon on the backlot to scale and filled it with extras - imagine if Peter Jackson had actually built the whole of helms deep without any CGI material then hired all of those people instead of computer generating most of them and your there. It's famous because despite the larger cameras of the time he uses sweeping crane shots to demonstrate the epic sweep of the action.

The contemporary story, a sort of early century version of Ken Loach's Cathy Come Home works because the performances, despite the lack of sound have a naturalistic feel - although some of actors display over the top hand gestures (a real danger in the silent era), the leads all have a quiet dignity and by the end, a race to save a condemned man I found myself getting rather excited - again for the time the editing is surprisingly swift and contemporary.

This stuff isn't for everyone and it eventually took me four and a half hours to see the whole piece after pauses and intermissions. I would also recommend finding a copy with a decent soundtrack. The version I rented had a nasty Hammond organ plinky plonky noise in the background which distracted rather than enhanced the action; I ended up turning it off and putting on some world music compilation cds which worked surprisingly well, especially when the music co-incidentally fitted the action onscreen. Not that I would say this is the best way to enjoy the films. Georgio Morodor still has a lot to answer for because of what he did to Metropolis.
TV Off The Telly is five years old already. I can't admit to being with them all that time, but I'm pleased that I discovered them some time in 2001. Unlike certain other sites which throw pages and pages of content on-line with questionable results in terms of quality, OTT has happily published its three articles a month and sporadic reviews and it's a strategy which consistently works and in some cases leaves other print publications standing. For example this month they're carrying an interview with Patrick Dowling and Ian Oliver the creators of The Adventure Game, a retrospective look at an older piece which speculated as to what the schedules of the five main channels might look like by now, and another installment of their long term discovery of what makes Saturday night's tick. Each of them provide the same scholarly yet informative style which we've come to expect and hope will continue for another five years.
Spam Yes the wierd poetry is interesting, but can you explain the following entry which has just turned up in my guest book?
1 29.07.2004, at 20:56:08
And you are?:
What is your contact email?:
Where are you from?: Skegness, Lincolnshire
What is the URL of your home page?:

How did you find me?: From a search engine
Can you recommend a good book?:
What are your top five favourite films?:
What colour is your couch?:
What record are you listening to right now?:
Comments: family run hotel
Apart from the anonymity of it what are they trying to sell? Yes, family run hotels in Skeggy, but which one? Are they just sheepish about revealing their identity, and if so how do they know I'm not going to think 'Hmmm.... that lovely sea air ... take me there right now!' and book in with their main rival on the sea front. Unless someone is working for a syndicate of all the hotels which happen to be listed in the Google Directory and they would be happy for any of their kin to get the business. Perplexing and hardly making me want to travel for eight hours on the train to get there...
Film Multiple news sources are listing Orlando Bloom as signing to Miramax to make a film about James Bond's time at college. But I thought Sony had the rights to the franchise and Miramax are owned by Disney. Is this a co-production or have a bunch of overheated copywriters got this horribly wrong?
Reader's Letters My recent post about digital film making provoked the following reaction from Labyrinth:
"While the advances in Digital Filmmaking are remarkable, there still lacks the aesthetic beauty of celluloid. It is true that with after effects and other software add ons for the editing bays, we are approaching a look that is simlar to that of film, we must remember that what we are trying to duplicate is film. As for the vinyl debate, you must remember that clarity is what we have in the digital technology that delivers our music, but there have been more than several artists who in fact added the popping and crackling of the vinyl sound in mixing to duplicate that authenticity of the medium. Thus no matter how close we come there will never be the point of replacement, simply the acceptance of a new form. One that does open the door for cinematic aspirants as it did for for the afficcionados of the sonourous."
I did hear one film maker (I forget which I'm sorry) saying that they had taken the decision to make something on film, even though it increased their budget massively simply because they wanted to use it before the opportunity disappeared. I think we're on another of those 'brinks'. Like the move from silent to sound cinema, from black and white to colour, from the square frame to widescreen. There will be some who say that the new media will change utterly the craft and ruin everything, but others will take the opportunities the new media offers and create some spectacular things. And because digital it a progressive technology I wouldn't be too surprised if in the not too distant future the image being captured at the shooting stage will be utterly indistinguishable from film if need be, the same lighting effects and colour being available. I never like to say 'You can't'. I always like to say 'You can't yet...'
Life Something occured to me when I was taking money from a cash machine today. I decided to Ask Metafilter about it. Can banknotes spread disease and germs?
h2g2 The Hitchhiker's film teaser trailer is online. Still pinching myself.
Fashion Nancy Erfan a Lucire reader describes her experiences with micropigmentation -- I sort of permanent make-up. Friends and relatives had undergone the procedure with results which impressed her. Unfortunately in her case there was an allergic reation and everything went horribly wrong. The trouble was she then had few places to turn:
"It was a challenge for me to find a doctor who could treat my condition. I was doctor-hopping for at least four months and every doctor said that they had not seen anything like it. They all prescribed steroid creams that only eased the burning, itching sensation while my appearance continued to appear abnormal. Most doctors recommended getting the allergic reaction in a controlled state with steroid injections before I had the tattoo pigments removed via laser. I?ve always been healthy and health-conscious and I didn?t permit any steroids to be injected in my body. Later, I learned that steroid injections and oral steroids were temporary suppressants, not a solution."
The linked story contains images of what happened and the results of sunsequent laser treatments. Just warning that they're fairly difficult to look at. Again I'm warned off tattoos.
TV Or rather lack of it. A year or so ago, I posted about how I'd stopped watching television. Or more specifically passively watching tv. Now I have to report that I have in fact stopped watching television. I almost exclusively use it for watching DVD or videos. Hence hardly any tv reviews of new shows. I haven't even had Big Brother on in the background; I can't stand Breakfast television, so I listen to Today on Radio Four in the morning. I typically watch a film in the early evening, come online for a few hours afterwards then read, listen to music, whatever until bedtime.

I watched that documentary about X-Rated videos the other night and the odd thing on BBC Four, but otherwise I don't see the point. Any of the shows I used to kill myself to watch on a weekly basis quickly turn up on DVD (24, The West Wing) and my ScreenSelect subscription means I can catch up with those easily enough, and the BBC tend to release much of their drama and prestige documenaries onto the format as well, so I can catch up if I need to. Ditto the comedy. Anyone like to counter and tell me something great I might be missing on UKtv that's worth rescheduling my life for?

[On reflection: I'm not sure about the tone of that post. But truly I feel like I've come through some kind of an addiction. I think the problem is the sheer will power required to follow some series on a weekly basis and also the feeling that much of the time I'm not seeing anything new and exciting. Of course if something really new and exciting was on and I could get the channel I would be there. But there are only so many cop shows, medical shows, game shows, make-over shows and reality tv shows which can be watched and have some kind of new experience. I think I've reached my limit. Who's with me?]
Browsers As a recent convert ot the ways of Mozilla Firefox (how did live without it etc) I can't help but link this story. Just read it. [via Waxy]
Film Over the past few years I've been reading a number of film books regarding production. Most for whatever reason have considered indie film making -- people with an impulse and reckless appreciation of credit card bills who need to make their script. Almost all, no all really talk about how expensive post-production can be, and in particular getting their footage developed. It looks like that can now be thrown out the equation. Even the producers and directors who want their movie look like a 'proper' film now have the technology to do so (in other words a digital film doesn't have look like a digital film) and at a cheaper price than you would expect. Ryan Harper and Josh Jaggars talk to Movie Maker about the production of their new piece 30 Miles, and I'm utterly amazed:
MM: What has the reaction to the film been thus far? I know you've been screening the film in HD - how do you hope 30 Miles will lead the way for not only the shooting, but the exhibition of other HD projects?

RH: The reaction to both the content and the technology has been amazing. We've had very well known actors, filmmakers and critics see the film and their reactions contradict the notion that digital movies lack the quality of 35mm films. As we move forward and screen in more venues, we realize the bottleneck in HD cinema is at the theater level. From the panels and reading I've done, this will soon be cured by people like Mark Cuban and I really look forward to it. There is nothing worse than watching your movie screened on a bad video projector!

Here we have a film which simply doesn't exist on 35mm and doesn't need to. And with the lack of post productions costs the budget is low enough at more money could be spent in the shooting. But something else intimated. A number of independent cinemas in the UK are trialing a cheap DV delivery system in their screens. I'm told the results are excellent and in some cases surpass celluloid projection for picture integrity and sound quality. I think we've finally reached the crossroads. With potentially unlimited copies of films available to anyone who wants them, venues across the country can get new releases when they want them without the one or two prints which have been made to pass their way -- and each presentation, just like DVD will be as good as the first, an aging print no longer a barrier to enjoying the film. And when the films go to DVD they'll be transfered from the original digital source. This is going to be the new vinyl debate isn't it?
Life Bought some new shoes yesterday, finally. Took a trip out to the Cheshire Oaks factory outlet. I was looking for a black pair without laces. Typically, I bought a dark brown pair with laces, but which are very, very comfortable. Why do these things take so long? I went out at 10:30 and expected to be back for 3:00. Instead I staggered through the front door at 7:00 ...
Film The title of Star Wars: Episode III has sort of officially been announced. It's to be Revenge of the Sith, which is no better or worse than the last two and fits in nicely with Return of the Jedi in that everything echoes everything else in the two trilogies kind of way. Although frankly I think he's probably just taking the piss out of all the tv journalists and voiceover people who are going to have to get their mouth around the word Sith for the next two or so years...