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Colour me childish…

Rhonda reminded me at the weekend that I have a birthday coming up soon, (that she had to remind me this, shows my enthusiasm for arbitrarily celebrating another 31,536,000 seconds as a passenger on a spinning ball of rock, but that’s beside the point) an “event” that will mark the beginning of my fiftieth year of continuous breathing.

That’s 1,576,800,000 seconds, should you be interested.

I’m sure most people will tell you that they don’t feel their age, after all, nobody likes to think they’re getting old, whatever their own personal definition of being “old” is and I’m certainly no different.
In fact I’m pretty convinced that I’m still about 25, and that’s only in my overall outlook, the me that lives in my head can’t be much older than fifteen, judging by the nonsense that passes for my internal monologue most of the time and that has always seemed perfectly natural.
I bet if you really think about the way you communicate with yourself in the privacy of your cranium, you’ll realise you too are largely at the mercy of your inner child.

This is of course something we should all celebrate and be eternally grateful for, because if it wasn’t for the ability to see the world through the eyes of a child occasionally, where would the wonder go?
We need that childish naïvete and innocence sometimes, just to enable us to live in the world and not go mad.
We need to be able to just forget we’re “grown-up” for a while and indulge the big kid in all of us.
This doesn’t mean that having a childlike view of things makes us immature, juvenile or stupid, it just means we can enjoy exercising our intellectual faculties on a different, maybe more instinctive level.

And one of the best ways to channel our inner kid is watching a completely unrealistic, fantastical and unfeasible science fiction movie or TV show.
Because the genre title alone, Science Fiction gives you a get-out from the get-go, letting you suspend your disbelief and cynicism and allowing you a guilt free two hours of wishing you could fly an X-wing like Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, or beat the crap out of zombies like Alice in Resident Evil.

So imagine my amazement this morning, when I read that one of the recent greats of British geek TV and cinema, the creator of Spaced and Shaun of the Dead, Simon Pegg, has said in an interview that he thinks our fascination with all things sci-fi has dumbed down our culture and society and made us all “infantile”.

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Simon Pegg – Don’t make me laugh, I’m trying to look intellectual.

This from the bloke who not only gave us two grown men miming slo-mo gunfights on television and a film about a couple of geeks meeting an alien on the way to a sci-fi convention, but who is also in the process of writing the next Star Trek movie, which I’m sure will once again feature him giving toe-curling comic relief in his role as Scotty, not to mention the hopefully excellent Monty Python spin-off, Absolutely Everything, which, would you believe it, prominently features comedy aliens.

Here’s the trailer.

Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but that doesn’t look like the sort of film that’s going to be shown in art house cinemas anytime soon, (In his interview, Pegg singles out such classics as The Godfather, Taxi Driver and The French Connection as being films that we could intellectually engage with. The Godfather? Art house? Really?) nor do I think that many of the movies that were likely to have influenced him in his youth were all that arty or cerebral.
I may be wrong, he might have spent his formative years watching nothing but Fellini and Bergman films while he stroked his wispy adolescent beard.
But I doubt it.

Simon Pegg’s argument seems to be that when you come out of a modern blockbuster, having watched two hours of robots kicking the shit out of each other in the Pacific, teams of superheroes fighting aliens, or presumably even Sandra Bullock dying of boredom whilst floating in space, you haven’t had much of a mental workout.
Although I don’t believe I recall the scene in which Don Corleone challenges a rival mobster to a sudoku tournament to settle a turf war, or Popeye Doyle quoting Nietzsche at a suspect as he beats a confession out of them.

Let’s face it, most films boil down to some kind of morality tale: Good vs Evil.
Star Wars is just a western in space, Guardians of the Galaxy could just as easily be the Dirty Dozen and Pegg’s own Hot Fuzz, well, that could be any number of buddy movies, all the way back to Butch and Sundance.

So I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he’s fighting his way through some kind of early-onset, inverted mid-life crisis that makes fun people dull.
Then again, there’s just as much chance that he’s taking the piss, in order to promote his latest not-very-grown-up film.

Either way, I don’t intend to grow up anytime soon, no matter how many times I go past the same flaming ball of gas.

I shall leave you with two full movies to enjoy, one by Ingmar Bergman and the other by John Carpenter.
See which one entertains you the most…

And remember, stay childish everyone. ;~}

[Simon Pegg’s picture stolen from Google]

 
2 Comments

Posted by on May 19, 2015 in Arts, Films, News, TV, Video

 

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Very Inspiring Blogger Award – The tenuous ten…

Once again Diary of an Internet Nobody has been honoured with an award.
I’m pleased to report that I’ve been chosen to receive the Very Inspiring Blogger Award, for “Keeping the blogosphere a beautiful place”, by Globe Runner over at Journey Around The Globe and as usual the accolade comes with a set of rules.

As anyone who reads this rambling stream of semi-consciousness regularly will know, I’m not a great one for rules, so I will be following my usual meandering path through the blogs that I’m nominating.
However, should any of my nominees wish to stick to a more conventional route, here are those rules in full:
1) Credit and link back to the blog that nominated you.
2) Post the award picture and list the rules.
3) Share seven random facts about yourself.
4) Nominate 15 other blogs to receive the award.
5) Permanently display the award on your blog and follow the person who nominated you. (optional)

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Well that’s 1) and 2) taken care of.
I shall be nominating ten blogs for the award, my randomness will be supplied by a musical accompaniment (in the style of The Tenuous Lynx) and I shall proudly display the virtual plaque on my awards page.

So without further ado, let’s move onto my first nomination;
(please check out the blogs and their musical partners via the links provided)

Why Evolution Is True is a fascinating blog that covers, amongst other things, scientific theories and discussion on both evolution and creationism. Well worth a visit, whichever side of the theological divide you fall on.
I chose to accompany this first nominee with a classic, gonzo video offering from the era of grunge:

Jam is a condiment similar to marmalade.
A marmalade tom is a cat with orange fur.
Otherwise known as ginger.
Connecting us to the next nomination, an eclectic and sometimes surprising photo-blog, including links to the inventive “52 rolls” project, Gingerlea Photography and I’m linking Fresh Ginger’s blog to a song from one of my favourite albums:

If you had a spirit wife, you may feel the need for some spiritual guidance.
For which you might turn to a monk.
And who’d have thought it but nominee three is Culture Monk, Kenneth Justice’s musings on life, coffee and the occasional foolishness of humanity.
His hand-picked tune is this non-PC slice of ’70s post-ironic pub rock:

The same phrase could be used to describe many of the photos taken by my next nominated blogger, because of the sometimes bizarre appearance and abundance of legs displayed by some of the subjects featured on Ron Scuberdiver’s Wild Life.
A vibrant, colourful and fascinating travel, photography and wildlife blog, check out Ron’s world if you enjoy being transported to exotic places.
I’d like to pair Rob with a true original, formerly plain old David Jones but now known across the universe by many names, including The Thin White Duke and Ziggy Stardust:

Unless I’m misinformed, the wild teenage life of someone in “sixth grade” is still yet to come, and yet my next nominee is only twelve years old.
Kiran Hiremath writes The Ink Stain, a mixture of personal journal, thoughts on life and beautifully written fiction with a maturity that belies the author’s age.
In an interesting juxtaposition, I’m accompanying his nomination with a new-age, psychedelic dance/trance/soul/a cappella number with a suitably trippy video.
You’re welcome.

Aya was the Akkadian goddess of love and my sixth choice of blogger to receive the award is Tim Love and his View Of The World.
If you want passionate writing that will touch your heart, from a writer with heart and a touch of passion, do yourself a favour and visit Tim’s blog.
The link to his tune is I think, self explanatory:

Samba is a musical style, and music requires notes.
Which connects us rather nicely to Notes Dropped In The Well, the new blog from my friend Lisa.
But before you start mumbling about favouritism and the like, let me say that her beautifully descriptive prose has been inspiring me on her Facebook feed for long enough to easily qualify her for a mention. I’m not going to quibble about where I read her work, I’m just glad more people will be able to enjoy it.
And her musical notes are dropped into a more magical portal:

To wish someone well at the end of a letter, you may write “Yours Sincerely“, which by crazy coincidence is the title of the blog from Monique Le Roux which is getting my next nomination.
I first encountered Monique when she asked for blogging tips and I rather embarrassingly told her that I thought she was a spammer with an outrageously over the top, fake French name.
Fortunately her sense of humour matches the tone of her quirky, optimistic and thoughtful blog and she saw the funny side in the end.
I’m hoping that humour will extend to forgiving me for thinking up her music link before I checked the relevant spelling:

Bulletproof is the name of a movie, which I’m sure my penultimate nominee has an opinion on, given that she is an accomplished film reviewer, as well as a journalist, travel writer and photographer.
Charlie Derry is a prolific blogger and one of the most consistently accurate movie reviewers I’ve read.
I have also greatly enjoyed her travel writing, especially her recent odyssey around Scandinavia, a journey that was accompanied by some stunning photos.
And from Charlie Derry we go to Derry, Northern Ireland, for her tenuous tune, a classic slice of ’70s punk-pop and John Peel’s all-time favourite record:

Undertones singer Feargal Sharkey is very vocal and opinionated on the matter of musicians’ rights, campaigning for better royalties and tighter copyright controls for artists’ work.
Another Opinionated Man is my final choice for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award.
His is an inspiring story in itself and you should check out some HarsH ReaLiTy for yourselves for blogging advice, plenty of opinions, poetry and more.
Bringing us to the final musical morsel in this tangled trail of tangents, a glacial slab of icy, swirling synths:

Thanks again to Globe Runner for nominating me, I hope you found something new and interesting to entertain you amongst the nominees here, and I hope you got at least one “Ooh, I haven’t heard this for ages” moment from the tenuously linked tunes too.

Ok, time to pick up the goodie bag and face the paparazzi…

[Thank you to Jeremy, “happiness engineer” on the WordPress support forum, for helping to sort out my problem with embedding video]

 

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HR Giger – The man behind the art of Alien…

There are some movies that have such a definite visual style and atmosphere, once you’ve seen them it’s impossible to imagine them looking any different.
The current fascination with remakes, reboots and “re-imaginings” of old (and not so old) films demonstrates the wisdom or otherwise of attempting to capture the spirit of the original, whilst adding a new cinematic spin to the story.
After all, for every Batman Begins there’s a Batman and Robin and for every Star Trek there’s a Miami Vice, so it’s a brave director who tackles a recognised classic by putting their own spin on it.

It says a lot about the way a movie should look, that the many subsequent incarnations of classic 1979 sci-fi/horror masterpiece, Alien, owe so much to the vision of one man, who died this week.

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H.R. Giger: 1940 – 2014.

Born in 1940 in Switzerland, Hans Rudolf Giger studied as an architect and industrial designer, but his main interest was surrealism, something that was influenced by his meeting with one of his artistic heroes, Salvador Dali and by his long friendship with ’60s psychedelic experimentalist, Timothy Leary.

Originally his art was a form of therapy, to help him cope with and articulate the night terrors from which he suffered since childhood and which informed the large majority of his dark and sometimes disturbing work.

July 1977
Giger was very nearly responsible for bringing his unique style to the first film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi epic, Dune, which he was to work on with director Alexandro Jodorowsky, but which failed to go ahead when Jodorowsky couldn’t get backing for his trilogy of films.
Fortunately, soon after the film was shelved, the man who was to be responsible for special effects on Dune, Dan O’Bannon, approached Giger about another project.
Giger remembers reading from O’Bannon’s notebook:
“Seven astronauts, two women and five men, are in the spaceship Nostromo on a return flight to Earth. On the way they come across a planet unknown to them and decide to make an unscheduled landing to explore it…”

He had of course just read the opening lines to the very first draft of a film that he would indelibly stamp with his dark vision, Alien.
O’Bannon suggested to Brandywine Productions (Walter Hill’s production company, who were to put up money for the film) that Giger should create the alien monster that would play such a central part in the story and he began work on concept art for the film straight away.

He’d been asked for designs for the three stages of the alien’s evolution; “Facehugger”, “Chest Burster” and “The Alien” – along with landscape modelling, the Nostromo models and the giant, derelict alien ship – and what he took to the first meeting with the studio blew them away.
The only concept that didn’t make the final cut was his design for the alien “eggsilo”, the giant breeding chamber where the deadly pods are first discovered, rejected as being too costly to construct.

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Eggsilo – HR. Giger

After Giger delivered his artwork to the studio they said they no longer require him on set, as the models are to be built by their own staff.
Unhappy with this development, Giger returns to Zurich to begin work on the three-dimensional versions of his drawings, convinced the studio set technicians will not manage to interpret his work accurately.
He soon sends slides of the initial pieces to 20th Century Fox for approval, the first of which is the alien hieroglyphics panel.

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Alien hieroglyphs – HR Giger.

On his return to Shepperton studios after an enthusiastic call from Brandywine Productions however, Giger is considerably less than enthusiastic about the set builders’ efforts, declaring himself “appalled by it”.
His displeasure must have been evident to the studio bosses though, because they asked him if he would prefer to model them himself.
From Giger’s diary;
“It’s clear to me that, unless I do, it won’t go the way I want it, so I take the work over. I ask them to obtain as many different bones as possible, and a supply of plasticine, before my next visit”

Returning a week later, his requests catered for, Giger began work on modelling the landscapes and interior sets, sawing up bones and rejoining them, with plasticine, various tubes, pipes and pieces of machinery integrated into the structures, which were then moulded and reproduced in plaster of Paris, clear polyester and latex.
This exemplifies the “biomechanical” style that pervades all of his art and which gives the film such a unique visual style.

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Bones being prepared for moulding.

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A finished section of alien ship corridor.

Work soon started on the models of the derelict alien craft and the dead “pilot” figure in the cockpit…

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Giger (far right) at work in the “Monster Department”.

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Working on the “pilot”.

…while Giger refined the designs for the monster’s three incarnations.
Firstly the two smaller versions;

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Alien Egg – HR Giger.

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Facehugger – HR Giger.

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Facehugger on astronaut – HR Giger.

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Chest Burster – HR Giger.

He then began to create the star of the show, simply known as “Alien”, modelled around the imposing figure of 6’10” Bolaji Badejo, spotted in a bar by director Ridley Scott and hired specially for the part.

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Making a mould of Bolaji Bodejo for the Alien suit.

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Alien – HR Giger.

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Alien wardrobe – Latex Alien suit components ready for use.

HR Giger’s brief (from a letter from Dan O’Bannon) had been;
“…The creature should be a profane abomination. Our producers have suggested that something resembling an oversized, deformed baby might be sufficiently loathsome. In any event, we wish you to feel free to create your own design”

“Oversized, deformed baby”?
I’m glad Giger had ideas of his own, otherwise who knows what film we may have ended up with.

The rest, of course, is cinema history.
A film much-copied, never with the same impact, never having the same brooding feeling of primal terror, the sense that something terrible and merciless is silently waiting in the shadows, something unknowable and Alien.

HR “Ruedi” Giger leaves behind him an extraordinary body of work, filled with grotesque beauty and beautiful horror in equal parts, a man at peace with the darkness in his art and one who will be remembered as an exceptionally talented artist with a unique vision.

{All artwork and photos taken from “Giger’s Alien” from Titan Books, copyright HR Giger / 20th Century Fox}

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VISIT THE GIGER WEBSITE.

You can also watch a short clip of Giger at work on the set of Alien HERE.

 
11 Comments

Posted by on May 17, 2014 in Arts, Films, Photography

 

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A Beacon in the darkness…

In a previous post I explored some of the less cheerful experiences I had at school, but as I spend more and more time perusing the new Facebook page set up to celebrate life and memories from my old home town of Crowborough, the more the fun times I spent in that sprawling comprehensive in the heart of Sussex come flooding back.

I began life at Beacon school a little late.
Not very late, only about five minutes I think, but that was enough for me to enter the (to me at least) enormous and bewildering campus when everyone else had already been sheparded away into classes or, in the case of first years like me, to the main hall for registration.

As I hurried around the corner of the concrete and glass edifice of the Tower Block I collided with what at first sight appeared to be a bamboo tweed giant, who looked down her nose at me from about eight feet up and said in an imperious voice; “Walk, don’t run. You should be in assembly, boy” and proceeded to give me directions.
I stammered my thanks and hurried away. Walking, not running.
I later discovered I had just met Miss Vokins, but as she and I had very little to do with each other for the following six years, we shall leave her there and enter my first year at Beacon.

When I finally caught up with my classmates I found I’d been allocated a tutor group that was located in a prefab behind the main hall, bordered on two sides by sports fields and well away from the gaze of all but the nosiest of teachers.
It was a science classroom.

Our tutor was of the young trendy type, with the boundless enthusiasm of the recent training college graduate, as yet untarnished by the cynicism produced by having to deal with the likes of us day in, day out.
His name was Mr Sharratt and he was very good entertainment indeed.

For a start, there was a good story about his time at training school which went something along the lines of;
Due to a previous injury to nerves in part of one hand, he had no feeling in a couple of fingers and had once inadvertently set fire to his own hand as he held a test tube over a flame without due care and attention while giving a chemistry lecture.
And he could be persuaded to do pretty much anything in science class.

Like the time we convinced him it was a good idea to see what the result would be when a lump of highly reactive sodium metal, roughly four times the recommended size, was dropped from some six inches above the surface of a glass tank full of water.
The result was that the lump sank to the bottom, stuck there like an angry, fizzing limpet for a few seconds and then, with a loud explosion of gas that threatened to crack the tank, shot to the surface and went careering back and forth across the surface of the water, almost reaching escape velocity and filling the whole room with possibly lethal fumes, causing the lab to be evacuated.

Or the time we did the “Custard powder bomb” experiment, whereby a lit candle is placed in a custard powder tin, the lid replaced and a small quantity of custard powder is puffed into the sealed tin via a pipe, the resultant combustion being just enough to blow the lid off.
However, if you get your teacher to really pack that pipe with custard powder, and you can also talk him into placing four candles in the tin, then what you have is a massive explosion that propels the lid off the tin so hard that it embeds itself in the ceiling.

And I’m sure you’ve all tried the water rocket experiment at some point, the one that demonstrates how water can’t be compressed (or something) and involves pumping air into a plastic washing-up liquid bottle half-full of water, ideally launching it a few feet along the lab bench into the sink.
Except when we did it, the top of the bottle had somehow become jammed in very hard indeed and by the time enough pressure had been accumulated to launch the bottle rocket, it shot the entire length of the room and smashed the toughened wired glass window of the fire exit.

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And scientific experiments weren’t restricted to the classroom either.
There was a bit of a fad for “recreational explosives” shall we say, the sort made from vinegar, bicarbonate of soda and a small plastic pop bottle, or small handfuls of potassium permanganate, smuggled out of chemistry lessons and mixed with gelatin in a meat paste jar.
(DON’T try this at home, kids)
Many a desk mysteriously had the bottom blown out of it by amateur chemists honing their demolition skills.
We really were rather ingenious, I’m sure our teachers would have been secretly proud that we’d been paying such close attention.
Although minor furniture damage paled into insignificance with the furore surrounding the theft from the chemical store of a whole bottle of the aforementioned highly reactive sodium.

The entire year, maybe even the whole school, were given a stern talking to in hastily arranged assemblies with mass detentions threatened if nobody owned up.
That was until the missing hazardous material was allegedly discovered in the attic of a school master’s house, where it had been hidden by his son in collusion with a co-conspirator.

Oops. Awkward.

It wasn’t until later on in my time at Beacon however, that the most notorious event of my time there occurred.
That was the scandalous, almost surreal experience of The Beacon Riots.

I have no idea now, if I’m perfectly honest, what kicked it all off, although I suspect it had something to do with several policemen chasing a couple of glue sniffing skinheads across the playground in the middle of a school day not long before, or the fact that there was an especially large contingent of that particular tribe at Beacon back then, with the added bonus that a teacher had been seen enthusiastically putting the boot in after the fleeing glue sniffer had been subdued beneath a heap of struggling coppers.

Whatever the cause, the result was a thrilling explosion of chaos and anarchy amongst the pupils, some of whom locked themselves in The Pens – fenced-in tennis courts bordering the playground – in solidarity with….something or other, and anyway, yeah, like, fuck the system.
Other rebel fighters laid siege to the sixth form block, the inhabitants of which retaliated with water bombs, intellectual abuse and Chaucer quotes (possibly).
But most exciting of all, whilst staff foot soldiers were attempting to enforce some sort of order on proceedings with loud-hailers and middle class self-importance, several high ranking officers – housemasters and above – were chased, yes chased by a small mob of the ringleaders into the main office, where they barricaded themselves for the duration of hostilities.

It seems amazing, now that I think back, that there wasn’t more of a backlash from that day of iconoclastic chaos, but from what I remember (and I’m open to correction from anyone else with a better memory) very few sanctions were imposed on the student body in general and only the instigators of the revolution were executed expelled or suspended.

My own particular contribution to the fight against the powers that be was more restricted to being a general smartass, something which regularly got me detention, visits to infuriated house masters’ offices, report cards that said things like, “will do very well if only he’d stop talking and listen for a change”, and uncannily well-aimed blackboard erasers flung my way.
Having said all that, some of the staff obviously saw something in me worth saving and the likes of the fabulous Jeff Lee, English and drama teacher extraordinaire and invaluable mentor during my teenage thespian days; Dick Kempson, another English teacher who also acted as our chaperone and driver when our briefly-famous theatre group performed at the Edinburgh Fringe; and Mr Watson, the French teacher responsible for me still being able to get by in basic conversations whenever I visit France (quite apart from being a bloody good shot with a blackboard rubber or piece of chalk), all of them made those days in class that much more bearable.

Funnily enough, one of the memories that most amuses me doesn’t involve classes, other pupils, or even any intention on my part to cause mischief, just an unfortunate accident of technology:
In the lazy summer limbo period between finishing studying and taking exams, we were allowed a certain amount of freedom to persue non-academic interests in and around the school (I spent some of this time producing a mini drama festival) and one of the duties I took on was helping out in the audio/visual control room, which amongst other things recorded and broadcast the educational TV programmes used in lessons.

There were four video recorders in the room, three that were used to transmit and one purely for recording. There was also a small library of movies on tape, including Nicholas Roeg’s ’70s psychedelic sci-fi masterpiece, The Man Who Fell To Earth.
One day when I had nothing better to do, I thought I’d watch David Bowie louche-ing it up as the titular alien, but the spare machine was recording a programme at the time so I elected to use one of the two currently unused broadcast machines instead. I mean, what harm could it possibly do, right?
I was still comfortably engrossed in the action when the phone loudly interrupted my viewing pleasure;
– Hello, A/V room.
{slightly panicky female voice} Hello! Um, I’m supposed to have booked a programme about dinosaurs, why are there naked people covered in slime on my television?
– I’m sorry, there must be a problem with the recording, I’ll sort it out immediately.
– I should think so too, honestly!

Needless to say, my job as budding TV producer ended there and then.

It is possibly rather self-indulgent of me to think anyone will be interested in reading the nostalgic reminiscences of a non-descript teenager’s days in a perfectly ordinary comprehensive school, but I’ve enjoyed reliving them and sometimes it’s good to write just for yourself for a change.

But if as a result of reading this, you find yourself revisiting memories of school with some affection for the days we were so keen to escape at the time, then I shall consider my job here done.

Wait for it.

Ok, you can go.

Walk, don’t run…

[This post is dedicated to all ex-pupils of Beacon, especially those in the Crowborough Memories Facebook group. Thank you for all the good times]

 
12 Comments

Posted by on March 22, 2014 in Blogging, Films, Humour, Personal anecdote

 

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Internet Nobody v.2.0…

There’s nothing I like more than a good gadget and at this time of year you can’t move for the stacks of shiny new gizmos clogging up the aisles of supermarkets and electrical shops, so on boxing day I went down to the high street with one particular new toy in mind.

Now, I’ve always made it an idiotically stubborn point of honour that everything you see on Diary of an Internet Nobody got here via the magical silicon circuits of my treasured smartphone, primarily because I didn’t have a computer when I started, and having discovered the wonders of the Android operating system, never found the need for one since.
Fortunately, having consulted the goalpost-moving department, I’ve found that I’ve only ever actually been restricting myself to the operating system, not the device.
That’s handy isn’t it? (making up your own rules as you go along is a useful habit) 

Anyway, the upshot of all this is that I took the plunge and bought an Asus Android tablet in the sales.

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For what is essentially a cross between a larger version of my phone and a small, flat, quad-core computer, I paid the princely sum of £70.
How they even make them for that price let alone sell them is beyond me. But I’m not one to look a gift horse in the microprocessors and I have been very pleased at the increased speed and responsiveness of my lovely new small object of desire.

I’ve spent the last couple of days installing and playing around with the tablet versions of various applications that are duplicates of those on my phone, such as the photo editing software, WordPress app and anything else necessary to publish the blog, and I have to say that I’m extremely impressed with my new toy blogging tool.

We didn’t do an awful lot over the festive period, just popping out for a family lunchtime drink and a few games of pool at a local pub on Christmas day, before returning home to eat too much and slob out in front of the TV for the Dr Who Christmas special and the superb Troll Hunter movie.

But on boxing day – after I’d been tech-bargain hunting – since the weatherman had assured us (accurately for once) that this would be the most sensible day to do anything outside over the holidays, we went to the wildfowl reserve on the The Tarka Trail to feed the ducks, walk off the previous day’s excesses and take some photos of the starkly beautiful winter colours around the lake.
As it turned out, I also got some nice action shots of the ducks feeding, or rather trying to feed, whilst being dive-bombed by the large flock of terns that’d taken up winter residence.

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Oh, and while we’re on the subject of photography I’d like to thank Ho for sending in these shots of me collecting a Golden Face Palm award on behalf of pseudo-political buffoon, Nigel Farage, presented to me by the lovely Emma Stevens.

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Talking of being presented with things, (told you the Tenuous Lynx habit was going to be hard to break) my old friend Chris has been over to stay for the last couple of days, bringing with him an unexpected gift.
Some years ago a sizable chunk of my irreplaceable vinyl album collection disappeared under suspicious circumstances, never to return, including my entire Pink Floyd back catalogue. I have slowly managed to replace a lot of the music I lost with CDs and mp3 files, but as any vinyl collector will tell you, that just isn’t the same.
So imagine my delight when Chris arrived with a vinyl copy of Dark Side of the Moon, complete with gatefold sleeve and original posters, all in practically mint condition.

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What with having to connect up my neglected turntable to play the classic plastic platter, we then indulged in a spot of vinyl nostalgia and you can listen to a few lovingly chosen tracks below.

So welcome to version 2.0 of the blog, bigger, faster and easier to see, (for me anyway, having picked up my first-ever pair of reading glasses a couple of months ago the larger HD screen is far better to work with) but other than that the new year promises more-of-not-the-same eclectic nonsense and ranting that a very agreeable number of people seem to want to continue reading.

Which reminds me, over the holidays my stat counter informed me that Diary of an Internet Nobody has now clocked up the magic number of 20,000 hits (20,114 when writing this) and nearly 270 followers, for which I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude.
I shall endeavour to make your loyalty worthwhile.

Let’s finish with some music then, which I shall dedicate to Chris in paltry exchange for my prog-tastic Christmas present.

And finally;
Chris, this is the album I remember you having when we lived in Crowborough, hope it brings back some (probably fuzzy) memories…

 

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A long, strange and tenuous trip…

At last, we are finally reaching the end of the road to nowhere, so to speak.
After nearly a fortnight of bending connections until they almost snap, digging out nostalgia-packed video clips, classic albums, movies and TV series, there’s just seven more degrees of separation between now and the finish line.

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Whether or not you’ve sampled the delights I have provided for your festive delectation thus far, (and don’t forget you can always come back at a later date – The Tenuous Lynx is the gift that keeps on giving) I for one have really enjoyed this link marathon.
Not only has it given my brain a daily workout, but I’ve found all sorts of stuff I’d forgotten about or haven’t thought about for years, and that alone has made it worthwhile.
Call it self-indulgent, call it contrived, but if I have introduced just one person to something new, interesting, funny or thought-provoking then frankly, my job is done.

So without further ado, let us start at the beginning of the end.

The previous leg finished at The Unbelievable Truth, David Mitchell’s Radio 4 panel show, so;

Mr Mitchell appears on Channel 4’s 10 O’clock Live alongside comedic ranter extraordinaire, Charlie Brooker.
Here he is, holding forth on the state of British politics in 2013.

Also on the show is ex-Kenickie singer Lauren Laverne, who provided guest vocals for oddball dance boffins Mint Royale on this joyous slice of quirky pop – Don’t Falter.
Mint Royale were also responsible for remixing the vintage Gene Kelly number, Singing in the rain, something much of the UK were almost certainly not doing this year due to the extreme weather conditions and flooding we experienced.
Flood (aka Mark Ellis) is a prolific producer, writer and sound mixer who has worked with bands as diverse as New Order, Sigur Ros and The Killers, as well as mixing this year’s new Depeche Mode album.
And here it is in all it’s dark glory – Delta Machine.
Dave Gahan from Depeche Mode famously died (after a drug overdose) and was revived, much like this candidate for happy ending of the year 2013 – The dead woman who woke up after giving birth.
They both came Back to Life and back to reality like Soul 2 Soul did in their funked-up hit of the same name in 1990.

And for our very last link in the tenuous chain, we end with a couple of cartoons.
Everyone loves a cartoon at Christmas, am I right?

Soul Eater is a series of Japanese Manga comics which has been turned into amine cartoons, screened on TV in the West for the first time this year.
Coming up is the first episode, and then for the finale of Tenuous Tina and her Lynx of Love, it’s followed by a true classic of the manga oeuvre, the movie, Fist of the North Star.

All that remains is for me to say that I hope you’ve enjoyed tagging along on this oddity of odds and sods and to thank Ho once again for bringing the Tenuous Lynx to life with his exclusive artwork.

So after 13 posts and 177 links, I’m caging the Lynx and replacing Tina in her display case.

Until next time…

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Elevenses with Tina…

Welcome to the second to last but one post in this list of 13 pop culture and news highlights (in no particular order) of 2013(ish) brought to you each day via a tortuous route through seemingly unconnected reference points.
Tenuous lynx, if you will.

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Yes, you.

Today, the eleventh outing for Tina (formerly The Internet Nobody Awards, for any late arrivals) and her feline friend, takes us to something a little more cerebral, with some science facts instead of just science fiction.

But you’ll still get two nostalgic ’80s hit singles, one a Texan beardy rocker and the other a Brit synth-pop classic, and a full movie thrown in for good measure.

Yesterday we left poor old Brad Pitt battling zombies in World War Z, pronounced “zee”, as it’s an American film, so let’s start off with a song;

TV Dinners was a hit for impressively hirsute boogie-woogie good ol’ boys ZZ Top, accompanied by this early claymation video.

Whereas an example of the British pronunciation would be Peter Greenaway’s surreal black comedy, A Zed and Two Noughts.
Greenaway also directed a top British cast, including Joan Plowright and Bernard Hill, in another of his trademark darkly humorous tales, and you can watch “Drowning by numbers” in full right here.
By contrast, in 1980 techie geek UK synthesiser popsters New Musik made the charts with this catchy school disco favourite.

Living by Numbers is taken from New Musik’s album From A to B, possibly inspired by the quote;
“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere” 
Albert Einstein.
Arguably the twentieth century’s greatest scientific mind, Einstein proposed the Special Theory of Relativity, which was instrumental in our understanding of how the universe works.

All of which can only mean that my choice for scientific breakthrough of the year, and possibly the century so far, is one that increases that understanding, the discovery of the Higgs boson or “God particle” by British professor Peter Higgs and his French counterpart, François Englert.
So in tribute to their towering intellect and dogged perseverance – even Stephen Hawking bet against them finding it, and lost $100 – here’s a fascinating documentary about their search for that elusive building block of the cosmos.

See, educational too.
Until tomorrow…

 
 

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TENuous out of ten for effort…

We’re in sight of the finish line now. Only three more posts to go after today before I call time on my day-to-day data daisy chain and normal(ish) service can be resumed.

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So yesterday I finally managed to shoehorn in a David Lynch link, in reference to his latest musical output (which I hope you enjoyed) and whadaya know but the starting point in today’s multimedia maze is a little town in Washington state, near the Canadian border…

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In hindsight, of the many past and future stars to appear in Twin Peaks, Lynch’s soap-noir masterpiece, one of the most amusing turns is given by soon-to-be heartthrob David Duchovny as transvestite DEA agent, Denis/Denise Bryson.
Duchovny later made his name as conspiracy fixated FBI super nerd Fox Mulder in The X-files, opposite sceptical sexpot doctor, Dana Scully, played by Gillian Anderson
…who starred in this year’s riveting psychological thriller, The Fall, playing a detective hunting a serial killer in Northern Ireland.
The Fall is also the name of gnarled, incoherently shouting, alternative national treasure, Mark E Smith’s continually evolving, legendary Manchester band.
Legends of the Fall is a film starring Brad Pitt and Anthony Hopkins
…both of whom star in Meet Joe Black, in which Pitt plays death, finding out about the living…

…as opposed to my next movie highlight, World War Z, in which he tries to find a way to bring the undead back to life.

Don’t go away, I’ll be back tomorrow with the pen-penultimate episode…

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2013 in Arts, Blogging, Films, Music, Tenuous Lynx, TV

 

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N-n-n-n-nine Tina…

Okay, so I couldn’t think of a 9-based name for my ninth instalment of interactive inanities, there only being so many number related puns to go round.
Anyway it gives me the chance to crowbar in an electro classic before we get started.

Now let’s get back to the business at hand, following on from the Stephen King double header yesterday which included The Shining..

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…the film version of which was directed by Stanley Kubrick.
Kubrick also directed A Clockwork Orange..
…taken from the novel by Anthony Burgess.
Tim Burgess is the leader of The Charlatans..
Tim Booth is the leader of James.
…and along with US composer Angelo Badalamenti, he records as Booth and the Bad Angel.

Badalamenti works extensively with David Lynch (well obviously I was going to get him in here somehow) and I have great pleasure to share with you his entire second album, The Big Dream.

And because they’re my rules and I’m the one making them up as I go along, here’s two bonus films.
The first is an in-depth documentary on the making of Lynch’s extraordinary and disturbing Eraserhead and the second a rare look at Rabbits, another strange glimpse into the Lynchian psyche.

Sweet dreams.

 
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Posted by on December 16, 2013 in Arts, Blogging, Films, Music, Tenuous Lynx

 

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And on the eighth day…

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Entering the second week in the company of Tenuous Tina and her Lynx of Love, I’m beginning to wonder if I’ll ever again have a thought which I don’t automatically try to connect to another by way of a tortuous route through cultural references trawled from my memory banks.

That being said, I’ve found some excellent stuff that I would not usually have come across in the normal course of writing a blog post, so I’m not complaining.

And today’s collection of multimedia nuggets are no exception; the full first episode of yet another of my TV highlights from 2013; the original ’80s pilot of one of my absolute, no competition, hands down, top TV shows of all time (no, not Twin Peaks this time); a hit single by the star of that same show AND two complete audio books by one of my favourite authors.

Don’t say I never do anything for you.

If I remember rightly, we ended yesterday on Boss, the drama in which Kelsey Grammer chews up the scenery as the mayor of Chicago.
So today;

A real life mayor who has been in the news of late and possibly the year’s most honest and frank politician, Toronto mayor Rob Ford admitted to smoking crack, although he did point out that he only did so whilst in an “alcoholic stupor”.
Well that’s okay then.
He was interviewed on television by Conrad Black, who was born in Canada but has a British peerage (he is officially Baron Black of Crossharbour)
Orphan Black was a top new science fiction series from this year and it was filmed in Canada but made by the very British BBC..
…and co-stars Matt Frewer, possibly best known as the man behind the glitching rubber mask of neurotic sci-fi cyber-clown Max Headroom and his real world alter-ego, Edison Carter.
Max Headroom provided the vocals for The Art of Noise’s hit single Paranomia and I think that’s the cue for a song.
Take it away Max…

Paranomia is a song about not being able to get to sleep, or insomnia, as the condition is known. Insomnia is also the title of a novel by Stephen King and you can listen to the whole audio book right here.

Bringing me to a much anticipated literary event, the launch of Dr Sleep, King’s long-awaited sequel to The Shining.

So at Christmas, when the turkey has been stripped to the bone and you can’t move from eating too many mince pies, settle into your favourite chair, plug in your headphones, close your eyes and listen to Will Patton read the latest chilling masterpiece from one of the world’s greatest writers.

You’re welcome.

Wow, there was some good stuff in there!
Make sure you check out the Max Headroom link to discover the origin of a cult TV comedy legend and I’ll see you tomorrow for more exhaustively researched randomness.

 

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