We are gathered here today to get through this thing called "life"

When I was younger, I had such a major crush on Wendy Melvoin, Prince's guitarist in The Revolution. And depending on when you catch me, Purple Rain could be my favourite album and movie of all time, but never anything less than "incredible" to me. Watching the Brit awards, on comes Prince to perform some songs. Random snippets of our conversation here. "Do you think Prince should reinvent himself? He's been playing the same music for years." "He's probably had a ton of work done." "This song is okay. I could do without the Pan Pipes though." "Hey, isn't that his guitarist from Purple Rain?" Wendy and Lisa were back! Looking a little older, sure. Minus their bad-ass huge hairstyles, sure. But my crush kicked right back in immediately. Oh boy.

Oh, and after the Purple Rain medley: "No. Prince shouldn't change his music. He should just keep playing this forever."

ps - fuck the Kaiser Chiefs, Kasabien and Hard-Fi in their stupid fucking asses.

TV recommendations - February 2006 edition

TV Shows I love

Life on Mars

I'll admit that I've never been drawn to 70s British police dramas. Then again, I don't know that I've ever actually seen a full episode of any of them. But Life on Mars is just fantastic. This and Doctor Who have renewed my faith in BBC drama.

Prison Break

When I'm about to head off to bed after a hard day's TV watching, I tend to go for one last flick through the channels. I remember crying whenever I'd stumble across CSI at midnight because it meant I was stuck for another hour without any way of wrenching myself away from the telly. Televisual crack. I was addicted.

I get the same thing with Prison Break, the TV show with the most idiotic setup I've ever seen. It makes me think of that episode of the X-Files where Mulder discovers the TV networks are putting subliminal messages between the frames of TV shows. I don't know why else I can't pull myself away from these breathtakingly stupid shows.

Lost

Actually, I don't love Lost any more. I watched the entire first season over the course of a weekend and was completely hooked but since then, I think I mostly watch it out of some hope that they'll finally start dishing out some answers. So far, they haven't. And now there's talk of dragging this into four seasons, with a feature film finale. I think it's time I cut myself free.

Anything involving people being chastised for being bad parents/children/pet-owners

Yes, they might be lowest-common-denominator TV, but these shows have saved my life on more than one occasion. However, this does not extend to anything presented by Gillian McKeith. She is the devil. A bitter, hump-backed devil

Grand Designs

This has been mentioned before, but I still can't get enough of it. I love everything about it, from the creepy Harry Potter-esque theme music to Kevin McCloud's shameless baiting of the absolute cocks he's showcasing. I wish it had its own channel.

The IT Crowd

Apparently, this isn't being as well received as I would have expected, which is a shame because I think it's one of the best-written, best-acted comedies on TV today (or at least since Black Books went shit). The fact that it's about a bunch of socially inept geeks - thus mirroring my own existence - only makes me love it more.

TV Shows I just can't get into

Battlestar Galactica

I've tried and I've tried and I've tried, but I just can't get into this show. I think this means I have to hand in my nerd badge or something.

Veronica Mars

It's nice to have a female-led teen-oriented drama show that doesn't involve someone being a superhero or a total fucking flake. But I just couldn't care less about this show.

ER

I used to love this show, but I've come to realise this was mostly down to my hetero boner for Noah Wyle. Now, not even John Leguizamo can save it.

Jarhead

As a film, Jarhead was as schizophrenic as the marine mentality it tried to convey. It swung wildly between occasional bursts of brilliant writing into lazy references to other war movies (oh yes, Apocolypse Now and the Deer Hunter, we get it). Sometime beautiful cinematography gave way to murky, uninspired, cliched imagery. Following the same template as countless movies before it, yet structurally, it was a complete mess.

But perhaps this is part of the point it's trying to make and it's done so subtlely as to be barely noticable. I'd like to think so, really I would. But the clunky, heavy-handed way in which it tried to make its other points leads me to believe that the word 'subtle' does not exist for these filmmakers.

Nintendo DS Lite →

Okay, so I should be getting ready for Paris right now, but this is pretty big. After weeks of denying it, Nintendo finally announced that they will be launching a revamped version of the DS in late March. This new version will be two-thirds the size/80% of the weight of the original and the ability to set the LCD to four different levels of brightness (including the option to set it brighter than the original DS.)

As well as this, they've redesigned the case to match the design of the revolution controller!

My poor little Nintendo DS. We've been together a long time. You've seen me through some tough times, some God-awful transatlantic flights, and I've even grown to love your beauty-spot of a dead pixel. But I don't know how much longer you have left.

One Night in Paris →

Well, five nights, to be exact.

Continuing this jet-setting lifestyle that I'm becoming so accustomed to, herself indoors and I are heading off to Paris tomorrow for a few days. This is mainly a way of making up for the fact that I was 5,000 miles away for her birthday earlier in the month, but also as a way of recharging our collective batteries (and it means I'm finally, FINALLY going to Disneyland, having been itching to go since it first opened).

If all goes according to plan, I won't be anywhere near a computer until I come back. So things will be even quieter than usual around here. And it's a shame, because I had so much to talk about. Like my favourite ascerbic journalist, Charlie Brooker, describing Adrien Brody as "a cross between Ross from Friends and a disappointed sundial." Or the new trailer for the Silent Hill movie.

But all these will have to wait. I've got french people queueing up to be rude to me.

Netsource Speed Test →

Netsource Speed Test

Originally uploaded by THRILLHO.

For a little while now, I've noticed that my netsource connection only sucks during the evening, when people are home from work, during which time it's barely better than dialup. In the very late night and early in the morning, the connection is spectacular and actually comes close to approaching the "2MB DSL" it's advertised as.

So, to put my theory to the test, I set up a cron job to wget a 1MB file from ftp.heanet.ie twice every hour. I calculated the average of the two hourly downloads and used that for my result.

And, well, the graph speaks for itself. The connection is best at 7AM, and worst at 6PM. At least this gives me some demonstratable proof of what I'm saying when I speak to Netsource about my connection.

High Concept →

Right, so where was I?

A few months ago, I wrote about Snakes On A Plane, the high-concept thriller about uh... snakes. On a plane. The IMDB has recently updated its information about Sheldon Turner, the writer of SoaP. One of his upcoming projects is called The Breathtaker and its IMDB plot summary runs like this:

A small-town police chief pursues a serial killer who strikes only during tornadoes, brutally killing his victims in the eye of the storm.

Jesus. This guy is really working hard to redefine the term "High Concept", bringing us into "Huge Concept".

Also: I've started visiting Script Sales almost daily now. It always cheers me up to read about scripts whose log-lines describe them as "A monkey spy adventure in the vein of 'The Bourne Identity.'"

...?!

10 Days in San Francisco

I wish I could say it was more than just a coincidence that I'm in San Francisco at the same time as Macworld but unfortunately, I'm only here to help our company move its San Francisco office two blocks down the road. The move itself took place over the past weekend (and the few days before it), so for the last few days I've been running myself ragged trying to make the entire thing as seamless as possible. And, minor cable issue aside, the whole ordeal has been fine. We're back up and running and I've got time to enjoy myself.

No gun issues this time. Actually, the whole trip has been rather subdued. Like I said, I've been pretty busy since I got here. Working 12-hour days has meant that I'm going hotel -> work -> hotel. Sleep -> work -> sleep. The jetlag hasn't been given a chance to catch up with me.

Although it's not all been work. I've still managed to find time to do some wandering. Being a huge nerd, I went hiking around San Francisco to find the offices of American Zoetrope, Francis Ford Coppola's production company. While I was out there, I took a trip towards North Beach, past the City Lights bookstore - the heart of the beat movement. And, naturally, also found time to do a little shopping. Current haul includes

But of course, the entire city has gone Mac crazy. Macworld is taking place just 10 minutes down the road from where I'm sitting. Today, as I'm sure you're all aware, is keynote day. On the trip down Market Street, from Powell to First (roughly ten or so blocks) I passed 4 Starbucks, each one filled to overflowing with people on Powerbooks and iBooks, presumably waiting for Steve Jobs' keynote to begin (sitting in one of the windows was that guy who laser-etched his powerbook).

And now, only 6 hours after the keynote ended and the products were launched San Francisco is covered in ads for the new Intel Macs. Unbelievable.

27 Years Old Today

Birthday Loot!

Today I managed to defy the odds by surviving exactly 27 years. To congratulate me (or perhaps console me), people gave me some loot. Current haul includes

27 being the age of the Rock N' Roll death, I'm starting to feel a bit bummed out by the increasingly long list of people who had completed their entire careers and went to that great gig in the sky by the same age as I am right now. I've got about another 11 months and 30 days left to make my mark on the world or else I'll miss my window.

Vincent Schiavelli 1948 - 2005 →

Vincent Schiavelli, who died of cancer at his home in Sicily on December 26 aged 57, was a popular character actor noted for his roles in films such as Ghost and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

Schiavelli's somewhat hangdog countenance appeared in more than 120 film and television shows; he excelled at parts which required an eccentric presentation, and in 1997 the magazine Vanity Fair declared him one of the best character actors in America.

-- telegraph.co.uk

One last thing...

Last-minute Christmas drinks in the Lord Edward tonight at 8pm for anyone who's interested.

Christmas Funnery

We're almost finished in the office for the Christmas break. I've still got 15 days holidays to take this year. Except there's only 3 working days left. See the problem here?

Every year, we spend forever deciding who takes the consoles home for the Christmas break. Since the "BAGSY THE DREAMCAST, DOUBLE STAMPSIES, NO REVERSIES" method isn't particularly fair, and the stakes were particularly high this year, we held a Burnout 3 championship to see who would take the Xbox 360 home.

Well, I won.

To be very honest, I'm not interested in the Xbox 360. My TV isn't nearly up to the task of making games like "Condemned" look pretty. But the title of "Burnout 3 Champion"? Oh boy. What a great Christmas present.

(Today, I also got crowned Mario Kart DS champion - sweet.)

Mel Gibson Has Officially Lost It. →

The trailer for Mel Gibson's "Apocalypto" has emerged from the ether with Kottke and others are pointing out how awful-looking it is. And true, at this early stage it's like a heavy-handed mix of Terrence Malick and Baraka (but without any of the nice things such a mix would suggest).

He's got a bit of reputation as a 'prankster' director (on one of the making-of featurettes on the Braveheart DVD, you can see Gibson reading "Directing an Epic for Dummies"). But I'm going to say that this is just a ruse. Gibson has officially Lost It and is now certifiably batshit insane. As evidence for this, I present this image which you will find as a single frame cut into an intense part of the trailer. You'll have to go through the trailer frame-by-frame to find it yourself.

Southpark may have been closer to the truth than we know. Kaablaa!

Christmas Wishlists

Amazon wishlists have never really worked me. Too cumbersome to suit my way of doing things and too limited to suit the things I want a wishlist for. So last year, I began using the del.icio.us "wishlist" tag. If I saw something I wanted, it would get tagged under wishlist+$itemDescription, e.g. wishlist+dvds, wishlist+clothes and so on.

This means that I'm able to keep things out of my head while still keeping them in a central place, one I use every day. But more importantly, it gives me a quick list of everything my heart desires that I can access from any computer on the internet. On my recent, exciting trip to San Francisco, I was able to go into an internet cafe and print out entire shopping lists based on my wishlist tag, Unfortunately, this meant I came back with an armful of DVDs.

But around Christmas, this system really starts to show its strength because it has the advantage of giving people a quick overview of everything I've had my eye on. It paid off. My Livejournal Secret Santa bought me a book from the list - The Mafia Cookbook (Thanks Karena!).

Incidentally, here's my wishlist. In case you were... y'know... curious

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