Sunday, 31 October 2004

Silver Shamrock

Happy Halloween. Whatever you're doing to mark the occasion (or nothing at all) have fun! This evening I'll be watching seminal horror movies, getting down with ghouls n' ghosts, and playing Castlevania.

In keeping with the season, here's a photo of the bewitching Love Hewitt (I Know What You Did Last Summer, 1997). Alongside fellow Party of Five alumni Neve Campbell, Love capitalized on the slasher movie renaissance of the mid to late '90s.

Saturday, 30 October 2004

Here's Johnny

This evening Five bolsters its channel lineup with S1 of The Dead Zone. Based on characters and situations from the best-selling novel by Stephen King, The Dead Zone is a unique psychological thriller that combines an eclectic mix of action, romance, the paranormal, and a continuing quest for justice.

Johnny Smith (Anthony Michael Hall) once led an idyllic small-town life. Employed as a science teacher, Johnny took great pleasure in showing his students the wonders of the natural world. He was engaged to a loving fiancée named Sarah (Nicole deBoer), a fellow teacher he'd known since childhood, and was a good son to his widowed mother. Johnny's life was nearly perfect... until the day his life was interrupted by a near-fatal car crash that left him in a deep coma for six years.

The Dead Zone is the perfect entree to Halloween.

Friday, 29 October 2004


Happy Birthday to Winona Laura Horowitz!


The above picture was published in UK magazine Sky and spent several years, framed, on my bedroom wall! Winona Ryder became the angelic face of Generation X during my angst-ridden adolescence (whose wasn't?) and near collision with emotional nihilism, which was epitomized by an obsession with 90's film noir Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns and Alien³!

The last two days have been spent proofing and editing St Austell Lighting's press advertising for use during the lucrative holiday trading season. Thursday's timely arrival of Adobe Photoshop Elements 3.0 would have contributed to the process if it weren't for further developer seeds of Mac OS X 10.3.6 (now at build 7R27). I'm holding off from a clean install until the November release.

Wednesday, 27 October 2004


At the weekend I got into a discussion, with friends, concerning the phenomenon that is the PlayStation brand. With PSP (Sony's new handheld resembles the Atari Lynx) and PS3 on the horizon, my memory was jogged!

In the early 90's Sony and Nintendo embarked on the creation of a CD-ROM drive (PlayStation) for the Super NES. Magazine editorials excitedly published concept drawings and (I think) early production hardware photos - the drive sat beneath the console. However, when Sega released the elephantine Mega-CD to mixed reviews (the build quality was horrendous and software such as Night Trap courted controversy from conservative quarters), Nintendo halted development and/or partnered with Philips (co-creator of the CD format) on a rival project (CD-I).

Sony took the knowledge it had acquired, extensive R&D and produced PlayStation itself. Fast forward a decade and the PS brand enjoys a virtually impervious market dominance. Sega struggles as a software company and Nintendo has failed to shake its (lucrative) kids n' cartridge image.

Somewhat off topic. It appears that Firefox (version 1.0 Preview Release) has damaged my installation of Mac OS X 10.3.5. Whenever the browser was open it continuously accessed the HDD. This resulted in a kernel panic following a crash. After starting up in single-user mode (and running /sbin/fsck -f) disc errors were found! So, time for a backup and clean install once 10.3.6 is released. Thanks Mozilla!

Tuesday, 26 October 2004

The Fly

As predicted across online and offline publishing, Apple updated iTunes, iPod and QuickTime today sans AAC+. Adding new iTMS stores and the U2 iPod, which deserves the more appropriate monicker Darth Vader's iPod! Love it.

Time and again I've tried to finish the Star Wars Trilogy DVD review and become sidetracked! This time the culprit is the Alien Quadrilogy! The luxurious set (amply supported by exotic supplemental material) has remained unopened since purchase! And the notion of watching David Fincher's now legendary work print of Alien³ was too enticing, especially as The Return Of The King (Extended Version) is released in the midst of the Holiday and will consume many hours of viewing time.

Alien³ suffered a critical mauling upon its theatrical release. Yet I’ve never disliked it despite an uneasy relationship (conflict). Fincher was not afraid to dismantle the narrative and strip away any notion of salvation beyond ultimate sacrifice. The production chronicles are refreshingly candid and informative. Given the problematic production its any wonder that Fox were in a position to release anything approaching a coherent product following a year in post production, which left composer Elliot Goldenthal philosophical. At this juncture I must establish that the score was one of my favourite aspects of Alien³.

Friday, 22 October 2004

Grand Theft

In an ironic twist the latest installment of the GTA franchise has been leaked onto the internet. In a move that appears to 'contradict' the publisher's 'subversive' mantra. Rockstar is vigorously protecting its intellectual property. Now if only they adopted the Marxist mantra that all property is theft! That's being subversive!

Speculation is nearing fever pitch concerning next Tuesday's music event hosted by Apple and U2. New iPod(s), iPhoto for *cough* Windows 2000 and XP, iTunes 4.x or *fingers crossed* 5 and *fingers and everything else crossed* iPod software update for all generations!

American Woman is reverberating around the walls of my home studio! The track was prominently featured in the opening credit sequence to Alias S2 episode Phase One - 45 minutes of episodic television perfection.

Thursday, 21 October 2004

Must be proficient in Photoshop

Real world commitments are precluding the completion of my review for the Star Wars trilogy DVD. However, who gave the OK to the disc art? Subservient to the look and feel of the prequel packaging, someone whipped these travesties up during a coffee break! Ever heard of Photoshop? Thought not. Hasbro's art department is far more adept.

Monday, 18 October 2004

Dirk The Daring

During my second year of undergraduate study (1994-95) Maya Personal Learning Edition (PLE) was unrealized and Computational Geometry Algorithms Library (CGAL) was incomprehensible to the mathematically challenged; producing a lavish storyboard is one thing, translating it into binary code is quite another.

Putting my lofty CGI ambitions on the shelf to collect dust (so-to-speak), I specialized in audio and video production. These two mediums* have held me enthralled since childhood and BBC Radio Devon had already broadcast several of my documentaries on their now-defunct teenage magazine programme 90 Miles Per Hour (1990).

At the time BBC Radio One was broadcasting (in Dolby surround) Batman: Knightfall (1994). I decided to produce a 10-minute documentary comparing and contrasting the adaptation of comic books into audio form. Producer/Director Dirk Maggs had established himself as an audio auteur and graciously invited me to the Soundhouse recording studio to interview him during post production on The Amazing Spiderman (1995). And there I made Dirk’s professional acquaintance. Famed comic book artist Dave Gibbons (Watchmen, 1985) was able to provide his own insight, via a studio link, too. It is my intention to publish this documentary online in RealAudio format.

In 1998, whilst in the gainful employ of Reuters Business Information, Dirk hired me as a foley artist/studio assistant on BBC Radio 4 family drama The Gemini Apes. During the recording sessions I met screen legend Christopher Lee and the affable Garrick Hagon; who portrayed Luke Skywalker’s ill-fated best friend Biggs Darklighter in Star Wars. The majority of Garrick’s exorcised scenes, from a New Hope, were not reinstated in the recent DVD release to the detriment of the story.

Presently, Radio Four is broadcasting The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy - The Tertiary Phase. And, as ever, Dirk’s audio production is at the vanguard of broadcasting technology. You can listen to an experimental 5.1 mix (with suitable decoding equipment) online now.

[*I’ve always been perplexed by individuals who are anxious to stereotype and pigeonhole! The following question appears to be enshrined in interview vernacular: What part of the media are you most interested in? The honest answer is the media in all its rich diversity.]

Thursday, 14 October 2004

Papier Mâché

Mario, the diminutive icon of Nintendo Nation, has endured in various guises over the past two decades. From humble beginnings in Donkey Kong to pole position brand, the Italian plumber has courted career success. To my shame (as an avid part-time gamer) I've only recently discovered (read as a happy accident whilst trading-in my console kit) the delights of Paper Mario (2001)!

A loose sequel to Super Mario RPG, Paper adopts a uniquely stylized pop-up book aesthetic. As a child I fondly recall a fascination with this literary tradition and it's an unabriged pleasure to see it implemented in a modern visual medium. The 2/3-D presentation and predictable narrative premise - King Bowser kidnapping Princess Peach - belies richly rewarding RPG gameplay. Fans of Final Fantasy would be remiss to overlook this adventure!

Yesterday's P2P post was prescient! The code for the French retail release of Halo 2 is apparently online sans Xbox live.

Wednesday, 13 October 2004

All you can eat (for free)

The advent of Peer-2-Peer (P2P) networks has fractured the stranglehold (and by extension the status quo) of vertically integrated companies. Napster became the poster child of generation net and has never shaken its subversive identity under the corporate umbrella. Why on Earth anyone wanted to buy it (ironic) is a thesis in itself!

Whilst I do not condone so-called 'free' networks trading in intellectual property, the wealth of material available online is mind-boggling! From the latest movie, music and software releases (may be deliberately leaked online in some instances) to classic computer games (no longer available). Commercial media industries now need to follow Apple Computer's lead and embrace internet technology by providing content at a compelling price point!

Owners (myself included) of Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac should download Office 2004 for Mac Service Pack 1 (11.1.0). Notice the adoption of Windows discourse with this release? Microsoft has also updated MSN Messenger, but their chat client continues to lack parity with the latest Windows release. This is unfortunate because Office 2004 is an impressive product.

Mac OS X 10.3.6 is expected in the next few weeks and promises more Panther polish until 10.4 Tiger is unleashed.

Monday, 11 October 2004

Fortress of Solitude

I'm deeply saddened to learn of Christopher Reeve's passing, yesterday, which coincided with the anniversary of a tragedy in my personal life!

My Mother took me to see Superman: The Movie at Exeter's now-defunct ABC Cinema. A fitting follow-up to Star Wars (John Williams scored all of the first three movies I saw at the cinema). This was during a particularly difficult time in my life, but the adventures of Luke Skywalker and Clark Kent invested in me the will to challenge adversity and never abandon hope.

Mr Reeve's spirit soars unbound by Earthly devices. RIP.

Tuesday, 5 October 2004


With Halloween only a few weeks away, my pixel-pushing friends over at The Iconfactory have unleashed their ghoulish GUI goodness in the dark n' dank form of Web Attic!

Really looking forward to a late night screening of Michael Jackson's Ghosts and Thriller on the 31st.

In the meantime and in keeping with the Halloween theme. Whilst I'm still suffering post console sale withdrawal, here's the in-game logo taken from Super Castlevania IV (released on the Super NES, 1991).

Holiday season 1992 I hooked the newly unwrapped PAL Super NES to my home AV system (pre multi-channel) and was startled by the quality of the Castlevania IV soundtrack! Sonic detail was in abundance (a maximum of 8-channels were available to sound designers) with excellent 2-channel separation. A peerless platformer (it featured dancing specters Paula Abghoul and Fred Ascare), which still endures to this day. If you're so inclined, I'd recommend hunting down the original 'uncensored' Japanese Super Famicom cartridge entitled Akumajou Dracula (Demon Castle Dracula) - blood and nudity - all the trappings of the vampire genre.

Konami's Castlevania series, one of my favourite video game franchises, rarely disappoints and I've followed the Belmont family cross-platform (no pun intended) from MSX to Arcade and Genesis to GBA.

Saturday, 2 October 2004

Stop the press, who is that?

My new Epson printer arrived today and is a wonder to behold! Set-up was seamless and it supports direct printing from digital camera, Sony Memory Stick and CD-R removable media. For all its prestigious packaging, Epson does not deem it fit to include a USB cable. Buyer beware!

Friday, 1 October 2004

Elementary! My Dear Watson!

Hectic real world schedule aside. I've begun watching the bonus disc from the Star Wars Trilogy DVD set. Empire Of Dreams has left me yearning for the halcyon days of A-Level Media Studies and an almost limitless creative ambition.

The intervening years have created controversy for George Lucas and it is far too easy to overlook the production innovations that the Star Wars 'factory' spawned. From THX to PIXAR (now a production powerhouse) and Edit Droid to Photoshop (arguably the de facto DTP standard). This afternoon I pre-ordered Photoshop Elements 3 and will post a review in the near future.

Now that all my console gear has been sold, I'm spending far too much time in MacMAME! No regrets? OK, I miss playing the detailed dramas of Final Fantasy Tactics and Castlevania franchise on Nintendo's GBA.

Listened to the first single, Lose My Breath, from DC's forthcoming Destiny Fulfilled (foreshadowing the groups end?).

Darkchild's production references Michael and Janet Jackson. The tune pumps!