Thursday, 28 July 2005

"He slimed me!"

I wouldn't profess to be an avid memorabilia collector, but I take pride in the pop culture ephemera amassed since childhood. Although Mattel's Masters of the Universe line is defunct there are bargains to be had for conservative collectors.

Spending $500 on a ToyFare exclusive is anathema to me, but mint sale swag like The Mutant Slime Pit™ is irresistible at $4.99 (available from Toys "R" Us) and includes Slime® compound and exclusive exploding Mutant Warrior™ figure. As I never owned Hordak’s Slime Pit or Fright Zone (spied on the shelves of Tesco's Lee Mill superstore in the '80s), there’s no danger of duplication and the Four Horsemen Studios' sculpts outclass any at McFarlane Toys.



Continuing with the Mattel collectible theme. The Hot Wheels 1989 Batmobile is a definitive die-cast model and surpasses those released by ERTL® or Toy Biz. The 1:18 object d’art is in short supply and an investment. Anton Furst would be proud.

The news that Star Wars Episode III is to bow on DVD this November should come as no surprise! What does the Hollywood moneymaking machine make of the rapid street release schedules (P2P aside)? Rental revenues are in decline compared to the heyday of the Betamax Vs VHS war. Over the past decade I've built a modest digital home cinema, act as consultant on the subject (cables should be factored in as 10% of the overall budget) and prefer to watch movies at home with family and friends. This is in favor of spending money on a scheduled theatrical performance that is subject to travel expenses, ancillary costs and time investment.

Fancy subversive movie and current affairs commentary? Listen to Statler & Waldorf: From the Balcony.

Tuesday, 26 July 2005

Miss Congeniality

Happy Birthday to Sandra Bullock. In 1995 I was so smitten (still am if truth be told) with Sandy, that I was inspired to draw the following 'pencil', 'pen and ink' study.



Those inclined can view the full-size image here. The original is in a wall-mounted picture frame.

Whilst on the subject of art. Late 2002 I started receiving unsolicited mail from fans of 'Soul Reaver 2' (Eidos)! One of the concept artists had the same name and illustration style. This was very flattering, but I had to post a disclaimer on my site to avert any further confusion and potential 'conflict of interest'.

Monday, 25 July 2005

The Craft

Catch Scream 2 (1997) last evening on Channel 4? There was a time when Neve Campbell adorned magazine covers around the globe, and the desktop of a former Dow Jones Reuters online journalist (whom writes this very blog)! Here's a picture that captures an idyllic era.



A year after Apple announced that Dashboard would debut with Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, Yahoo! buys Konfabulator as part of its search services 'land grab'. From today the widget application is available gratis here. Regardless of this step, Yahoo! please update your IM client for Macintosh before Google consigns you to a cached page footnote. Actually, an IM widget would be an excellent idea.

Arlo Rose, part of the duo behind Konfabulator, continues to attest that Apple aped 'his' widget idea. They're from Apple's 1984 Macintosh. Remember desk accessories Arlo? It maybe overkill for Tiger users to include Konfabulator in the Dock. To quote the Dr Pepper slogan - "You've got to try it to love it".

Tomorrow should witness new announcements concerning Apple's iBook and Mini lines. I'd like to see the addition of nVIDIA GPUs to the diminutive desktop line.

Saturday, 23 July 2005

Hayle & Herbie Goes Bananarama

Ventured into Hayle today. Our usual 2 hour drive from Exeter was extended to a 4 hour crawl. School children are now on their six week summer holiday and this is the busiest weekend before the August Bank Holiday! Took a detour, discovered a charming vista in the secluded Colliford Lake. Drove down to Hayle harbor and ate my first genuine Cornish Pasty in years! Philps Bakery's notion of 'medium' equates to 'extra large'. So, there'll be no need to eat for the next fortnight.

Have you heard Long Hot Summer from Girls Aloud? This track is taken from the forthcoming movie Herbie: Fully Loaded (2005). It elicits favorable comparison with Bananarama's Wow! recording sessions (1987). Another infectious tune from this group's superior pop canon.

In the mood for a slice of Sega arcade nostalgia infused with the Love Bug? How about Up'n Down (1983)! In 1985 the Commodore 64 8-bit conversion from US Gold was a show-stopper for invidious ZX Spectrum-owning friends. Beguiling rainbow bright isometrics and the Sound Interface Device (SID).

Thursday, 21 July 2005

Ebony & Ivory

Sony Computer Entertainment Japan (SCEJ) announced an update to the PSP OS and introduced a "Ceramic White" model for iPod musos.



Worth waiting for? Absolutely. Sony's svelte wonder will look perfectly at home alongside my Apple and JBL lifestyle products.

Further to my unofficial Michael Jackson career suggestion. Sony has released The Essential Michael Jackson. This is yet another compilation sans new material, but I guess it pays the bills.

Wednesday, 20 July 2005

Hand In My Pocket

The success of the iTunes listing has eclipsed my very modest ambitions. Such alacrity of subscriber response (Mac and PC) is flattering and nerve wracking too. Following this I've added a Subscribe Via iTunes link to the sidebar and really welcome the support. Thank you.

A couple of weeks ago Odeo, which is from the creator of Blogger and currently in beta, automatically listed this blog. As a result I had to register and 'claim' ownership. Looks like a compelling new service. You can download Odeo Syncr here.

As a longtime fan of Alanis Morissette I cannot recommend Jagged Little Pill Acoustic (a Starbucks tie-in) highly enough! Her performance chills and that doesn't happen too often! A bit of indulgent Dawson Creek trivia. The producers originally wanted Hand In My Pocket for the opening titles, but Maverick Records were reluctant to grant permission. OK, it's a great song but Paula Cole's I Don't Want To Wait was on the money and captured the zeitgeist.

Monday, 18 July 2005

Tales From The Bat Cave

In 1994 BBC Radio One broadcast Batman: Knightfall and enthralled lunchtime listeners. Bob Sessions played the titular role with such panache and gravitas that many Batfans, myself included, consider his to be the definitive performance. When Bob emotes “If you’re threatening me, get in line!”, he’s not bluffing.

In 1996 I was introduced to Bob Sessions, by Dirk Maggs, and asked him if he would like to participate in my video major December Duet, which was in pre-production for a summer shooting schedule. Nick Smith, my long time friend and creative partner in crime, wrote an astonishing poem for the screenplay and Bob generously agreed to perform it.

Far from passion, pain and guilt
In caverns far from inn or church
Their kind in coldness ever dwell.
With folded wings they take the hanged man's perch
Dead men's spirits in the air
Blind to the fate that nature gave
We envy their winged escape
Yet share their destined grave.
So high yet seeing naught but dark
Our souls with burdens great
Leathered limbs caress the sky
Gods blinded by the weight
The wheel turns, the spirit memories remain,
A never changing face,
More sooted than the world below
Too numb to change their place.

Dirk Maggs recorded the performance at the award-winning Soundhouse Ltd Recording Studios in May of that year. And has kindly taken the time to transfer the original DAT studio master to CD-R. d you are the man!

Listening to it again after all these years (I seldom revisit self-produced creative), I deeply regret not making more of its raw narrative power. Although Bob Sessions is no longer alive, this is a small tribute to his memory from two Batfans. Here, for your delectation and listening pleasure, is Bob's incomparable reading of Nick’s poem (MP3).

Friday, 15 July 2005

Bay Route

I've no desire to compete with the likes of Harry Knowles and his 'writing' staff. But wouldn't it be dull if there was only an homogeneous source for movie musings, eh?

After wrapping up yesterday's post, I ventured over to IGN FilmForce and read the review for The Island (2005). The movie centres around Lincoln Six-Echo (Ewan McGregor) and Jordan Two-Delta (Scarlett Johansson) as they attempt to escape a NASA nightmare. My interest piqued, I downloaded the teaser preview from the official site.



The lauded freeway frenzies from The Matrix Reloaded (2003) and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003) have been overtaken by director Michael Bay's custom coupe. Logan's Run (1976) meets Minority Report (2002) by way of Brave New World (1932) and big brands.

Want movies on the go? A veritable avalanche of UMD titles are now available for pre-order from Play.

Now that my podcast is listed in iTunes, I'm working on releasing an Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) sample sometime next week.

Thursday, 14 July 2005

The Power of the Dark Crystal

Perusing the latest Dreamwatch magazine, I was delighted to note that the first sequel to The Dark Crystal (1982) is in production. This will form the foundation of a new franchise.

Jim Henson's original opus, inspired by the works of Brian Froud, enthralled me as a young child. However, that first fateful viewing at the ABC Cinema was a little too intense - Garthim and Skeksis anyone? Rediscovering it in 1999 I was beguiled by its lyrical beauty once again!



Synopsis taken from the novel The Dark Crystal by A.C.H. Smith:

In a faraway world a mighty astronomical event is about to occur, the Great Conjunction of the planet's Three Suns. At this time, the cruel Skeksis who rule this world from the castle of the Dark Crystal are frightened to learn that an ancient prophecy may be coming true: A survivor of the Gelfling, an elfin race they thought they had destroyed, is seeking to restore the missing shard of the Dark Crystal before the moment of the Great Conjunction, thus ending the tyranny of the Skeksis. Hidden in the valley of the urRu, young Jen the Gelfling has been raised by a tribe of mystics and knows little of the world outside, but know his Master's dying words have charged him with his mission to find the lost shard before it is too late. Traveling through many strange places and encountering many extraordinary beings, Jen races against time to unravel the mystery of his quest and save his world from the forces of evil.

The adventures of Jen and Kira outshone the Muppet antics of Return of the Jedi (1983). The latter was derided by Starlog magazine for blatantly reprising the former's mythological narratives. It's debatable that this was deliberate and certainly the comparisons are inescapable, but The Dark Crystal treats its target audience with greater intelligence.

The inevitable soundtrack score by Trevor Jones, which I still own on single vinyl LP, deserves masterpiece status. John Williams referenced its textured sounds in Revenge of the Sith (2005). As an amusing aside, I fondly recall playing with Masters of the Universe action figures whilst listening to The Dark Crystal Overture.

The Froud's, Brian and Wendy, often frequented my Mother's clothing store in Exeter and would insist that she served them. Wendy Froud's most famous puppet sculpt isn't ashamed of being green. Master Yoda. Love the Star Wars connections that criss-cross my private life.

Tuesday, 12 July 2005

Wizards, Witches & Wallets

Almost forgot to pre-order Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. The buzz suggests that J.K. Rowling's sixth entry in the Potter phenomenon could become the fastest-selling book release of all time. Scholastic Inc., the Potter books' American publisher, reports shipping 10.8 million copies of "Half-Blood Prince," the largest release in history. And booksellers Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble have accepted pre-orders in the millions for the hardcover book and its audio version, performed by actor Alan Dale.

According to The Sunday Times, the BBC failed to secure the lucrative audio book rights for this and the final book. Bloomsbury have retained the mellifluous tones of Stephen Fry for the UK market. In the summer of 1999 I briefly met Stephen Fry as I disembarked from a train at Paddington Station. He was most genial and wished me all the best with a job interview at Bloomberg.

Hm, I'm reminded of a Daily Mail editorial that criticized the abundance of Star Wars merchandise! The opposite page showcased a Harry Potter shop window display that equaled, if not surpassed, George Lucas' licensing ambitions.

Monday, 11 July 2005

The Island

Alias is one of my favorite shows and Channel 4 has finally announced that Lost (created by J.J. Abrams) will begin transmission this summer. The UK network is serious about its newest acquisition. A theatrical campaign is in circulation. The popularity of Lost in the US is such that a UMD release for PSP has been announced to coincide with the R1 S1 DVD set.

The Best of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (10 Episode Collector's Edition) (1983) is released tomorrow and no self-respecting '80s child should be without it! Review in progress.

Sunday, 10 July 2005

Hotel Paper

In 2003, and as part of an overhaul of my site, I updated the production analysis for December Duet (1996); repurposing the essay for online distribution as an Adobe PDF. The inspiration to add a foreword was derived from The Art of Star Wars, Episode II - Attack of the Clones by Mark Vaz. I'm now making it available via rich media feed here.

Since 1996, digital media has entered mainstream consumer consciousness. RSS (a "pull" technology) potentially offers content authors the ability to manage and monetize their own multimedia broadband channels with an enviable audience reach. This is a paradigm shift from old media distribution and embraces vertical integration.

Friday, 8 July 2005

This Is How We Do It

Welcome iTunes. I've submitted my podcast to the premiere player and here's the new look cover art.



A consistent image is an essential prerequisite for a brand and any smooth t-shirt in the making!

Thanks to FeedBurner for their superlative technical support. If you've subscribed via Atom, and wish to continue receiving the feed, please update your subscription to FeedBurner.

Thursday, 7 July 2005

Capital in chaos

It would be remiss of me not to comment on the tragedy that befell central London, our capital city, this morning. I have family and friends who live in and around the capital, and want to express my sincere thanks to everyone who has mailed me imparting their heartfelt thoughts and prayers.

To my fellow journalists at the BBC, Reuters and Sky. Your courageous coverage, of the unfolding chaos, upholds the very best traditions of reportage.

Bells & Whistles

Reburnt and resynced my FeedBurner Feed and added Feed Image Burner. This should display the following promotional GIF in popular RSS Readers.



iPodderX is now downloading and updating posts correctly again. Safari 1.3 (and above) and Opera 8.0x browsers continue to 'leak' hyperlink code into the RSS Reader sidebar (formerly Post Editor). The latter's page rendering is now comestically pleasing.

Looking forward. iTunes Music Store podcast publishing elements should be fully integrated as early as this weekend.

Wednesday, 6 July 2005

The Net

Undertook further research into adding enclosures to Blogger and learnt that the link feature was insufficient! Had to copy additional code into the template. I then tested 'Add a Subscription Feed' in iPodderX. The application transparently found and downloaded the video file from the appropriate post. NetNewsWire is also game.

Finally got around to displaying 10 posts on the main page (in parity with Recent Entries sidebar). Still have a few minor code creases to iron out, both here and on The Scratching Post. Will the toils of my labor bear fruit?

Tuesday, 5 July 2005

Wired

Now that the FeedBurner code has been up and running since Friday afternoon, there's no time like the present to test the new podcast facility. This QuickTime video was created using Bryce, Photoshop and iMovie.

iPodderX is a popular application that handles audio, video and image feeds. Windows users please download jPodder.

Added a Bloglines subscription feed to the Syndication sidebar.

Monday, 4 July 2005

Yosemite National Park

Happy Fourth of July to my US readers and Nick Smith. Have a great day, but don't forget those Amity Island sharks!

Currently testing Deer Park! What's this? Deer Park is the codename for the Firefox 1.1 Alpha release.

Sunday, 3 July 2005

Alone in Kyoto

Whilst watching Lost in Translation's impressionistic 'Alone in Kyoto' montage, I had an epiphany! In the summer of 2000 I began reading 3Dworld and briefly made the acquaintance of a Mac User, who had returned to the UK after teaching English in Japan and was an accomplished 3D artist. 3Dworld's inclusion of Metacreation's Bryce 3.x, a 3-D landscape generation application, reignited further self development within the flourishing CGI arena.

For two years Bryce was the platform from which I revived my video game artworker ambitions (Codemasters interviewed me in 1998). When I fully transitioned to Mac OS X 10.x, invariably use of Classic ceased. Bryce was consigned to a similar fate and I devoted my creative energies to web design.

Metacreations sold the application to Corel and its future was uncertain! Now with the release of Bryce 5.5 (DAZ Productions) my interest is renewed afresh. The latest version boasts enhanced OpenGL support for Macs running an nVIDIA GPU.

Somewhat serendipitous, I discovered that Scarlett Johansson is Jewish!

Friday, 1 July 2005

Andy Warhol

Last night I had a bit of free time and whipped-up a possible cover (based on iTunes recommended specifications - 170 x 170 pixels square at 72 dpi) for a podcast demo (taken from my video major December Duet, 1996).



The original December Duet video cover wasn't archived as a photoshop file (and, if so, it was deleted long ago), therefore I traced the original Frankenstein font (from Corel) and approximated the color.

To facilitate future podcasts, I've added FeedBurner and new content aggregators to the blog. On May 14 2004 my FeedBurner account was created and there was no impetus to incorporate the feature until now. OK, I was a blog newbie and the code was outside my comfort zone.

Thanks to those friends who submitted browser display feedback. Safari 1.3 (and later) leverages new WebCore frameworks, and this is causing cosmetic problems with the Syndication sidebar. I've sent a bug report to Apple. Please use Firefox.

Do you Yahoo! 360°?