Tuesday, December 19, 2006

New Derbyshire Local Site

Just finished working on an new version on UKPlus, my current baby.

It's now got nice new local Derbyshire pages and loads of other regions rolling out soon. Thumbs up to John (big gun) J and The Badger for all their hard work. Birmingham, Liverpool etc. are up and running today. Go click.

People who use the site regularly
have already begun moaning that we're giving them the option to have usable, manageable, accessible, hyper-local search/content delivered from a regional perspective and not just the 2D search we used to barf up.

My life is a carnival of thrills.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Zeldman on Web 2.0

Nice article on Zeldman, the Web 2.0 Thinking Game...

Web 1.0: Joshua Davis on the cover of Art News.
Web 2.0: 37signals on the cover of Forbes.

Web 1.0: Users create the content (Slashdot).
Web 2.0: Users create the content (Flickr).

Web 1.0: Crap sites on Geocities.
Web 2.0: Crap sites on MySpace.

Web 1.0: Writing.
Web 2.0: Rating.

Web 1.0: Karma Points.
Web 2.0: Diggs.

Web 1.0: Cool Site of the Day.
Web 2.0: Technorati.com.

Web 1.0: Tags.
Web 2.0: “Tags.”

Web 1.0: Bookmarking.
Web 2.0: Bookmark sharing.

Web 1.0: Pointless Flash widgets.
Web 2.0: Pointless “Ajax” widgets.

The guy's got a point...

Saturday, June 17, 2006

New Video Nation

There's a new video on Leicester Video Nation from our time on the boat, about 3 years ago, if you're interested.

It's just me, in a friend's bath, going on about floods and stuff.

Seems like a lifetime ago now.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

DVD Review – Chigley

It’s easy to talk about nostalgia when it comes to Chigley, but is that all it has?

I’ve reviewed, for ThisIs, Trumpton and Camberwick Green in the past months and, to be honest, I think this was the straw that broke the proverbial dromedary. Don’t get me wrong, Chigley is a splendid nostalgic trip down memory lane for adults, even if it does look a midge dated, but what adult is going to spend 3 hours looking at a dated late 60s kids programme?

Yeah, okay, I did, but that’s not the point.

There’s some prime kids programming these days, quality stuff to be sure, and I’ve found myself wondering if young kids would want to see entertainment like this compared to what TV has to offer. Would it have any shelf life or just sit there gathering dust? Alas, my cash is on the dust...

Chigley, made two years after Trumpton, and was made to work seamlessly with its prequels and to expand the world of Trumptonshire. Life in an English market town or village may be unrecognisable now, but Chigley moves at much the same leisurely pace as both Trumpton and Camberwick and sits in that post-war middle England utopia that exits only in our imagination.


Classic childhood memories are rekindled when, come six o'clock, the whistle announces the end of biscuit production and everyone’s off to the factory dance, with the music provided by a Dutch organ turned by Lord Belborough and his butler, Brackett.


Look out for the episode ‘Apples Galore’, in which Lord Belboroughs apple crop is saved from the rot by Windy Miller and his cider press, then it’s drinkies all round at the evening dance. Even Trumpton Fire Brigade pop down to pick the apples.


It's charming, but it’s not the sort of thing that kids (on the whole) will want to watch (or will engage their attention) more than once. If you’re a avid fan or looking for nostalgia, go for it, you couldn’t do better and it’s a testament to the characters, places and stories created by Gordon Murray that it still works as well as it does.


Movie:
3.5 out of 5
Extras: 3 out of 5

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Movie Review - X-Men 3: The Last Stand

Now, as some of you will know I regularly write DVD reviews for our North Scotland, North Devon, Hull, Lincolnshire, Scunthorpe, Stoke, Essex, Grimsby (etc., etc.) sites, and print the unedited versions here. I've never been moved to write a review independently on a current release before. This evening, after a year of fanboy expectation, I saw X-Men 3: The Last Stand. Here is my review...

NB: CONTAINS WOPPIN' GREAT SPOILERS

Oh, my, word. The X-Men, those mutant heroes sworn to defend man and mutant in a world that hates and fears them, are back! Wooo-hoo! This time, with the help of Beast and Angel, they have to face evolution itself in the form of their former team-mate Jean Grey (Phoenix), plus Magneto and his Brotherhood of Mutants! And so, 10 of us assembled at the Showcase in Derby this evening, with baited breath...

Now I am an X-Geek. I've been reading X-men since I was 6, seriously since I was 14. I'm not a collector I'm a reader. Stan is my god. Claremont is the new messiah. Naturally, I was hoping for certain things. I wanted Sentinels, the Danger Room, Gambit, Skrull, a Colossus/Patch fast-ball-special, Lockheed, and a million impossible icons I knew I was never going to get. My expectation was that it was going to be pants, but that I could at least play 'spot-the-mutie', eat some popcorn, and revel in the genius of fine Shakespearian actors like Patrick Stewart (X) and Ian McKellan (homo superior himself) as Magneto.

Basically, and uncharacteristically, I was right.

Now that Ratner is directing, that certain X-factor has gone. The movie is, in short, something of an uninspiring and over plotted mess compared to the gritty world of moody atmospherics and emotional weight that Singer and his crew has already brought us.

Ratner fails to make the audience connect. Recurrent x-themes of division, alienation, responsibility, discrimination and even (dare I say) terrorisum, are lost in a blaze of throwaway CGI and star gratification. While watching, I was left with the sensation that certain cuts made it to the final edit through lack of coverage rather than preferred performance. I found I felt genuine pity for the likes of Sir Ian, forced to drag the performances of his Brotherhood, kicking and screaming, out of mediocrity. Aaron Stanford (Pyro) and Vinnie Jones (Juggernaut) are simply dreadful.


Noted additions were the performance of Ellen Page and the characterisation of Kitty Pride, who carried the roll beautifully and sympathetically. Kelsey Grammer (while undeniably Frasier Crane) was the perfect piece of casting I hoped for. He was, in all ways, Beast, and his witty asides and unexplored inner turmoil carried the theme of the piece, if ignored by the raging hodgepodge around it.

There was some beautiful CGI, when used sympathetically, truly beautiful. The score swelled across my senses as Magneto ripped the Brooklyn Bridge from its foundations and turned the planets magnetic field against these pitiful homo sapiens. Wolverine howled as the flesh was stripped down to his
Adamantium bones as he faced Phoenix, pressing forwards against the fire and pain towards the woman he loved. But, a truck load of fanboy masturbation and computer generated moments do not a quality motion picture make. It helps, but it doesn't.

Do not expect this to reflect the things you love in the X/Marvel Universe. Angel is an unaffiliated newcomer. Nice potential plot points such as Juggernauts immunity to the mutant crippling serum (due to his powers being magical in nature), Jeans love for Scott preventing her tipping over the brink, and the involvement of the Shi'ar Empire could simply not be explored in this format and so fell flat for me as long-term fan. Was I asking too much? Perhaps?

Still there was some nice character 'bits', but they were few. Storm actually using her powers, Wolverine teaching in the Danger Room, Multiple Man playing the 1 man army, and Eric's reaction to the 'demise' of Mystique are snippets of rare joy. Keep watching too, there's a nice little bit after the credits worth hanging about for.

I have been able to forgive the breaches of X-trivia in, and thoroughly enjoyed, the previous 2 movies, but I could not find it in myself to excuse this recent attempt by a far more naive director and such a lank-lustre supporting cast. Despite some 'lovely bits'.

I was looking forward to discussing the film afterwards with a fellow x-geek who saw it with us, but on exiting the cinema she was taken physically ill and had to go home and bitch about it on the message boards of SuperHeroHype instead. I'm sure we'll catch up and weep into strong alcohol in the very near future.

X-Men: The Last Stand took in nearly $45 million on Friday to become the 2nd largest opening movie ever, just behind Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, according to FOX News. Sounds good on the surface, doesn't it? This probably means we're going to have another half dozen of them, maybe a Magneto or an Emma Frost movie, no doubt progressively worse...

Movie: 2.5 out of 5

Lets pray it was worth sacrificing Singer for a really good Superman.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

DVD Review - The Ultimate Fly Collection

Has it really been twenty years have past since Cronenberg's remake of The Fly hit the big screen?

As ever, Twentieth Century Fox have decided to celebrate by releasing a somewhat bloated anniversary box-set, this time it's all The Fly films. The Fly Ultimate Collector's Edition is a seven-disc (yes, seven-disc!) set that boasts the groundbreaking 1958 original, its sequels (including the previously unreleased Curse of The Fly), the Jeff Goldblume/Blundelfly/Cronenberg version, and all its little wizards.

The original (and in my opinion ‘best’) 1958 movie is quintessential black and white 50s horror/sci-fi. David Hedison, playing single minded inventor Andre Delambre, obsessed with his work in matter transportation. When testing the device on himself (duh!), a perfectly normal house fly gets caught in the machine and the scientist, with perfectly abnormal results. Now that’s cinema! "Man with big fly head, film at 11". Eventually, Andre’s wife Helene (Patricia Owens) and Fran├žois Delambre (the one and only, Vincent Price) discover the scientist’s secret and she must destroy the unholy mutant ‘thing’ her husband has become. Surely that parting shot of the tiny human-headed fly squealing "Help me!" from the web of a spider has to be the single most disturbingly memorable moment of 50s horror/sci-fi.

The Return of the Fly was a "son of" movie, where Vincent Price's character, Fran├žois Delambre, returns to help Andre’s son, Philippe (Brett Halsey), who naively carries on the family business of transmigration, only to befall the same fate as father (duh again!). Set fifteen years later, the story follows Philippe’s rampage as half-man, half-fly to seek an insane revenge on anything with binocular vision…

So far, so good. But here comes Curse of the Fly. Noticeably absent is the saving grace of Vincent Price. This time, three descendents of the Delambre bloodline are still trying to perfect the matter transporter, but things take a tur
n for the worse (for the audience too) when one of the trio marries a woman (who not only happens to be on the run from a neighbourhood mental institution but whose meddling uncovers a truck-load of botched human experiments) with inevitably disastrous consequences. After this film the whole Fly concept died an appropriate death, until David Cronenberg.

The basic concept for Cronenbergs new version is pretty much true to the original. Dr Brundle's relationship with Veronica (played by Geena Davis), the love of his life, is a lot stronger and the driving force behind the plot. Sometimes the plot does get a bit overshadowed by the prosthetics and model effects (but that’s Cronenberg). The film was a breakout success for Cronenberg, and justifiably so. It’s great, and the second best thing in the box-set with loads of documentaries and extras to support the movie geek in all of us.

As with the previous sequel, with a plot centred on the doomed doctor's son, The Fly II failed to effectively follow its predecessor. Controversially, I have a soft spot for it. That doesn’t make it a good movie though and it stars Eric Stoltz as the son and was directed by Chris Walas (who was responsible for The Fly's creature effects). Lets face it, few FX people make the transition to director, and know jack about working with actors, relying more the effects to carry the picture, and it shows with this movie. Stoltz could certainly have done with the support a ‘real’ director should have been able to offer.

This seven-disc set is reasonable value (with the two The Fly movies) but the rest are really just curios and fillers. It is a ‘nice’ idea to put them all together in one package (to get a historical perspective if nothing else) and there are some good extras. In honesty, unless you’re a genre or gore fiend, save some pennies and just buy the 2 ‘originals’.

Movies: 2.5 out of 5
Extras: 4.5 out of 5

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

DVD Review - Camberwick Green

"Here is a box, a musical box, wound up and ready to play. But this box can hide a secret inside. Can you guess what is in it today?"

That’s how each episode would begin, with the black-and-red, hexagonal music box gently turning on the animators desk before up pops the star of that week's episode, one of the inhabitants of Camberwick Green, ready and able to deftly deal with some minor middle England village crisis. Guessing who the episode was about was all part of the fun of watching (in the same way that correctly picking one out of the three windows in Playschool made who a psychic god back then).


The big question here is weather it still works? Yeah, 'coarse it does…

Due to the sheer volume of repeats, this is a show that more than one generation can call their own. Even today, in an experiment worthy of Pavlov, I sat my little 8-year-old niece (hello Helena, told ya I’d say “hi”) down in front of Camberwick Green one Sunday afternoon and she was riveted to the screen for a full 13 episodes.

This programme is bordering on a national institution and if a statue of Windy Miller appeared in the centre of my hometown I would happily applaud the local council. This show is an icon of England right up there with Big Ben, fish and chips and red telephone boxes. Like some Orson Welles for pre-school generation x-ers, Brian Cant's voice is reassuringly comforting, bringing with it the feeling of there being a certain ‘rightness’ about the world so reflected in the harmless goings-on in Camberwick Green.

Friendship and post war stoicism is what binds the villagers together, with no one ever losing their temper with another (that wouldn’t be cricket). Captain Snort and the boys at Pippin Fort might get a tad bemused when their morning parade is interrupted, but they soon calm down when an explanation is forthcoming. There may be ‘a fussing’ as village gossip Mrs Honeybun (avec baby) takes a stroll between the shops on the green, but it's all going to happily come to nothing by the end of the day. Farmer Bell might be a midges annoyed when his truck runs out of petrol whilst racing Windy Miller on his trusty tricycle, but it's all settled, once again, over a glass of Windy’s home-brew Scrumpy and a cheese and pickle sandwich.

Anyone who remembers these from their childhood will probably want to buy them out of nostalgia and they might well be suprised with how much they enjoy revisiting the world of Trumptonshire and be pleasently pleased with how their own children (if they have any!) react to this classic.

Okay, so the animation (while cutting edge at the time) isn’t in the same league as the likes of Wallace and Gromit, but the series has been digitally cleaned up and regraded on video, so colours are strikingly vivid compared with the sorry state of the show’s previous video outings, and an enormous amount of film dirt has been removed.

As Helena and I waved goodbye to the character in the music box, sinking slowly back into the animators desk, we gathered our coats and headed for the old windmill at Heage. When we got back, we made our own bread for tea and (at her insistence) watched Camberwick Green all over again.

MOVIE: 4 out of 5
EXTRAS: 3 out of 5

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Idiot Tax

Simon (the bookies favourate) D, at work, always sorts a sweepstake for any big horse race, World Cup stuff, or Grand Prix that's on. There are a lot of sports reporters on the other side of the room and people who know there stuff.

Like a big wally, I always hand over my quid. Have done for everything for the last 3 years. Golf, motor racing, the National, the Derby, whatever. Not won a bean.

I was hopeful this time. Someone said "Oooo, well done" and it had some bookies numbers on it that were better than the usual nag I pull out of the bag. I never win anything like this. I'm just not lucky that way.

So, having an uncharacteristic chance for once, I made a point, while Jema is away at her sisters hen party, of watching the race live from Aintree.

It fell at the second fence.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

A New Way

By the power of GPS, I found a new route to work today.

Far more chillin' than running the gauntlet of the A6; it follows the usual route then it meanders downhill through a quiet estate, over the Derwent by an enormous weir (see startled canoeist), through this kinda craft workshop/factory thing, over some bridges, and through the park following the river.

Very little traffic and only a few dog walkers to get in the way.

It brings me out right by
work, all refreshed and un-smogged.

Most tranquil.

Dunfloatin'

We picked up the cheque from the marina for Andromeda this afternoon. I'll stick it in the bank tomorrow.

Sad, but at least we can crack on with getting the work done on the house now, and get ourselves some more furniture.

I guess that really is it, then. End of an era.

Friday, March 31, 2006

DVD Review - Trumpton

Not far from Camberwick Green is the bustling town of Trumpton. Packed with local characters, each with a story to tell and a song to sing. Here ’s a place, where the town clock strikes nine o'-clock, where good old fashioned values are the order of the day, and where there is honey still for tea.

Each well preserved episode is 15 minutes of sheer nostalgia. Born of a 60’s Britain and that post war ideology in which everyone had a trade and valuable place in the community, and where the Fire Station Band played every Thursday at 2:30pm at the band stand in the park, after rescuing cats and peoples hats from trees.

Trumpton's thirteen episodes were broadcast over and over again, throughout the seventies and eighties, personally making me think there were more episodes than there actually are. The common animated style across the 3 Trumptonshire villages blurred this distinction still further, and I was surprised to find that so few were produced and that each village could all be crammed onto one, all be it excellent, DVD.

This outstanding, and surprisingly short, series was narrated by Brian Cant (who else) and animated by master puppet maker Gordon Murray. Pre Chigley, and following the success of Camberwick Green, Trumpton is still a stop-motion triumph that hasn’t dated a jot. Here we have a disk of good solid kids stories, perfect for entertaining the pre teen youngsters, and the quality nostalgia of childhood for us aging generation x’ers.


“Pugh! Pugh! Barney McGrew! Cuthbert! Dibble! Grubb!”?

Movie: 4 out of 5
Extras:
2 out of 5

Thursday, March 30, 2006

She's Sold

Well, that's that then.

Just had a bell from John at
Sawley brokerage about Andromeda. The people were there at 9.30 this morning, cash in hand. In his words, "Don't worry, the money's in the bank".

I keep getting calls like "Er, which battery is which?" and "How do you pump out the shower?" All those questions we had in the first few days.

Pity we didn't get to
meet the new owners. They'll be sailin' her away around now.

End of an era.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

How to live on Andromeda

When we decided to sell her, we wrote the following.

As we're off to meet the new owners today, I'm including it here kind of for posterity and as random advice for anyone out there thinking of buying themselves a live aboard. I hope it's of some use to someone.


How to live on Andromeda!


Gas
(for the cooker and the Paloma)

The two gas bottles are located under the hatch at the very front of the boat. Turn the empty bottle off (it has arrows with open and close on the tap) and then the full bottle on. They last about 8 weeks of normal use of cooker and Paloma. The Paloma is in great working condition, which was commented on during our recent boat safety inspection.


Signs the gas is running out are if the cooker won’t light and the pilot light in the Paloma water heater has gone out. Sometimes there is a light odor before it starts to go.


To re-light the Paloma turn the dial to the off position, push the knob in and turn to ignite, holding down for a few seconds, then turn the knob to between the triple and double flame symbols. Adjust for heat.


Water

The water tank is located via a small brass cover on the port side, just under the lip of the canvas awning. It is filled via a hose pipe etc. It is a large tank, thanks to her days as a hotel boat, so a tank full will usually do a week of showers and washing up and three loads of washing.


The water tank overflows. There is a possibility of the bilge flooding once it exceeds the overflow on the starboard bow, so don’t leave the hose filling it up for more than half an hour.


Signs the water is running out, include splutters from the taps or if the water goes cold while you’re showering (when there isn’t enough water pressure to keep the Paloma lit).


All water is heated by the Paloma and passes through a pump which pushes it round the pipes in the boat.


By turning the Paloma off on the stopcock underneath, and by turning the stop cock on in the wardrobe in the back cabin, you can heat the tank behind the fire (when it’s lit). The main pump is located under the bench in the outer front of the boat just to the right of the door, but the switch to turn the pump off is above the fire just under the porthole (it looks like a light switch) and would be handy in an emergency.


Electric

There is 12 volt power which runs the lights and fridge and 240-volt mains which is for the sockets, T.V. washing machine etc. The 240 comes from any mains connection direct to the engine room socket. The 12 volts come from the batteries (also in the engine room), which we have, at times, recharged constantly by the mains supply (notice the twin battery demand-chargers). One is a travel battery, one is the fridge, and the others are the general household supply. The can be used/charged independently or together by using the large red 3-position switch. The fridge can be switched of independently and everything is ladled. We check the batteries monthly and top them up with distilled water when necessary.


A good guideline is not to have more than 6 lights on at any one time, or when the water pump cuts in you will blow the 12 volt fuse. If the fuse for the lights goes you can re set it by flicking the switch back to it’s place in the box in the study (to the right of the door) unscrew the little cover below the corkboard.


Shower

The shower is pumped out via a hand pump inside the box part of the shower, just lift up the sloping side. It moves backwards and forwards. Just using the hot tap is the best way to get a good temperature, let it run for a minute then adjust temperature at the Paloma, if necessary, and you’re sorted fro every time you want a shower.


Occasionally the shower pump will lose suction, this can be sorted by one person to place a hand over the outside hole while the other pumps till the suction starts again.


Toilet

The toilet is pumped out via the handle above it which moves backwards and forwards. The screw-in point for the waste hose is located on the exterior of the hull, corresponding to the location of the pipe/pump in the bathroom. Around 60 pumps will totally empty the tank completely. There are 2 hoses, just in case one gets dropped in the water.


Travelling
To start the engine, place the 2 brass rockers over to the left, switch the starter on (a light will come on under it, on the panel), press the starter button and, when she’s ready to catch, switch the 2 rockers over. She’ll then kick in.


When stopping the engine there’s a choke at the edge of the wooden deck. Pull up the choke and flick the 2 brass rockers over. She’ll come to a stop.


She is a large narrow boat, and was built in 1973. While the engine (to our knowledge) is in excellent order, please be gentle with her. We have always cruised in her, and unless you are on a river against a strong flow there is no reason to run her at full revs.


She likes her oil checking regularly, and the gear box fluid. Have a look at the dipstick when you come back from a weekend cruise (and keep and eye on the stern gland).


General

We kept a dehumidifier running in the bedroom, mainly for the benefit of storage under the bed. Best way to keep things in storage is in plastic boxes (not cardboard) but it’s well ventilated under there, any condensation problems were solved long ago.


The stove runs on solid fuel, we mainly used smokeless fuel which burned at not too hot a temperature.

Ultissima Olim Ultissima Galactica

Friday, March 17, 2006

End of Culture

Quick post from the PDA before I fall into a coma.

In London, at a bash with Culture Online to say goodbye (The Games Room). COL is closing it's doors but was great while it lasted. These are the people who had faith in us enough to part with the gill for Headline History and the faith to see it through.

Chatted. Schmoozed. Saw Harriet, Simon B, Khairoun, Graham, and other faces who've helped and nurtured us along towards our BAFTA and Webby and AOP awards etc. Picked peoples brains for funding contacts.

Free bar. Very drunk. Must sleep now.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Could This Be Actual Footage?

Remember a while ago, I mentioned this new Samuel L Jackson pic as having the coolest damn movie name in the whole world ever?

I was accused of spreading urban myths. Me. As if...

...anyway. Here it is. A thing of beauty. What appears to be, an actual trailer!

Sheer quality. August 18th, apparently.

I am rendered mute with admiration.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Birthday Monkey

It's my birthday today. I took the day off and the Mrs. whisked me off for a day out at Chester Zoo (which is where, in true kiddie fashion, I wanted to go for my 'birthday treat').

I'm so bloody old, it could have been Amsterdam lets face it, but no I wanna go to
Chester Zoo.

Run by the North of England Zoological Society, Chester Zoo has become one of the countries leading zoos since it's founding in 1934.

Chester Zoo attracted over 1million visitors last year. As well as being a top local tourist attraction since I was knee high to a jawa, the zoo is seriously involved in it's conservation and has loads of comprehensive breeding programmes for endangered species. Pleanty of small family groups. Habitats are sympathetic and large, and education is foremost.

It's been nearly 20 years since I was last here, 1977 to be precise, and I couldn't have been more impressed. When I was a kid, a treat was this, Jodrell Bank, Knowsley Safari Park, and (oddly, always around my birthday when I was younger) The Sooty Show on stage in Liverpool.

A Chinese meal in the evening, at Pig and Ellens in Cheshire, on the way back.

Jema treated me to a new GPS, which means some hardcore geocaching in the near future. A good day. Cheers wife ;-)

Monday, March 13, 2006

It's Grim Up North

Flew to Aberdeen today on business.

Aberdeen still has 2 foot of snow, and all the other Scottish airports were closed. I'm not surprised there's not much for sale on our Aberdeen property site, it's a bit wet, cold and prefabricated.

I can't believe that The Meddler and Steve are living even further north. The weather must be foul for their first couple of weeks in The Shetlands. Nightmare.

I was in a tiny little Eastern Airways Jetstream 41. A twin turbo prop thing that seats about 25 and is shorter than Andromeda. It dawned on me, as soon as I clapped eyes on it, that this is exactly the sort of plane that you see in an aerial shot at the end of the news, crashed into some forested Scottish hillside. The weather was pants, we were delayed both ends and had some 'special' side winds.

I love flying, especially on my own. With flying, you're kinda between places. No mobile phone, and nothing to do except relax and look out of the window at clouds and stuff. There's even a lass whose job it is to administer hot coffee and blankets and smile pleasantly and unobtainably at you. "Hot towel, sir?". "Beer and a bag of nuts, sir?". I, go on, don't mind if I do.

Can't applaud the crew and Eastern Airways service highly enough. Top flight, and a great view of the river as I was leaving East Midlands. I tell ya, any company that gives you boiled sweets on take-off and landing is just jim-dandy by me.

Sadly, on first impressions (and I'm really sorry to say this), but Aberdeen appears to be a commode. If we get this contract I'm sure I'll be seeing a lot more of it.


Friday, March 10, 2006

The New X-Men 3 Trailer Is Out!

X-Men: The Last Stand.

This trailer is a lot more story orientated. Thank the lord for broadband. It looks beautiful.

Seems like a bit of 'Dark Phoenix' with a good chunk of the
Benetech Labs plotline from 'Gifted', all mixed in with shed loads of Magneto going full Brotherhood of Evil Mutants on the US Presidents sad sorry ass and having a good old rant about homo-inferior.

Check the bit with Kitty Pride running through walls with Juggenaught chasing her. Look out for
Mags casually pushing cars out of his way as he strolls into town. Now thats what we want. That could well be Omega Red as well. I can't see any Sentinels or the Danger Room, but you can't have everything. Looks like we get some Colossus action too (lets prey for that fast-ball-special) and Cyclops (relativley convincingly) getting his angst out. I wonder who's funeral that is, I haven't seen the Prof in this scene, in either of the trailers, so it's a fair bet taht it's baldie that cops it (like that'll last).

Fingers crossed, eh? I know it's not Brian Singer (he's busy camping it up with Superman Returns), but Brett Ratner is no stranger to action and it looks 'in theme' with what we've seen before.

Come on fella. Don't mess it up.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Boat 4 Sale

The good ship Andromeda is up on the Sawley brokerage site.

The picture and advert are dreadful!

I may have words.

Kaiju Big Battle

My mates who make mascot costumes will love this!

It's dangerous. It's chaotic. It's giant furry cartoon bananas kicking the living shanola out of guys dressed like spikey kung-fu dinosaurs.


What more is there to life?

Take your WWF and ram it where the sun don't shine. Little Japenese girls beat the b'jesus out of psudo Power Rangers. Worship at the frankensteinian alter of Dr. Cube.

I am unworthy to present:
Kaiju Big Battle!

I don't know much about wrestling, but never bet on the giant chicken...

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Domesticity

I moved my compost heap this afternoon, and I enjoyed it.

How bloody middle aged is that...

Friday, March 03, 2006

Rams Cast

I'm now doing, as part of the ongoing list, the Derby County Football Club (DCFC) Rams Cast. A round-table podcast with Rob, Daz, Simon and Victoria at work about all things DCFC related.

Now I can't abide "The Beautiful Game", but if this sort of thing tickles your fancy then these guys have a weapons grade knowledge on the subject and it's actually turning out to be pretty damn good now we've got a few under our belts. They certainly know their stuff. Nice jingle (by Steve at NEP) too.

Deliberate plug to another one of my podcasts and flagrent spamdexing? Possibly. Theres a good list of all the podcasts we're doing right now on ThisIsDerbyshire.

I have no shame.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

On The Road Again

I have a new one.

It’s a Ridgeback>Duel Track>Quest. It was the best I could afford.

It’s strong, reasonably light (but no Marin) and seems okay for a first time outing. Manitou Empire Elite forks, Shimano M495 disc hubs and some nice solid rims, with City-Slicks on her at the moment for road use (which I'm not so sure on yet). I got a deal from Samways (they can probably smell the repair bills coming). Deore Derailleurs and Bottom Bracket, 27spd etc., 29” x 2.1 wheels.

I rode home tonight, which was a pathetically short distance (about 7 miles, I think), and it seems, well, kinda ‘comfortable'. It hardly feels like I’m living dangerously, if you know what I mean, though the City-Slicks give it an 'interesting' dynamic and a hint of "there's no way I'm gonna make it round that at this speed".

A new bike always takes some getting used to and ‘setting up’. It’s a high ride, with a 19” frame but torque-hungry 29” wheels, and it's a hilly run nowdays.

I guess I need to draw some blood before it’ll feel like it’s mine.

Klytus! Are your men on the right pills?

I see Sir Menzies Campbell is now leader of the Lib Dems.

This means, that if Gordon Brown takes over from Tony Blair, come election time it could be a battle between Gordon v's Ming.

Sweet.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Once More, With Feeling

For the last time, we took Andromeda out today.

We picked her up from Steve, who (as ever) has made an excellent job, and ran her up to the brokers at Sawley.

The voids that needed cleaning out turned out to be , uncharacteristicly, an easy fix and the bulkhead and new gas locker floor all went in as planned. With a coulpe of touch-ups, finally attaching the bow and stern fenders I bought 2 years ago and everything 'Bristol fashion', she looked a treat. She could still have done with 20 minutes in Photoshop, if you know what I mean, but she looked the best I've ever seen her and I was proud to take her in.

Jema joined me for once, a kinda goodbye jaunt if you will. It was windy on the Trent, and the boat was a bloody big sail with nothing in her and riding so high, but nowt we couldn't handle (and a good gunning of the Lister cleared out some muck).

The guy at Sawley and I agreed to put her on at £42,950, and I'm more than happy with that. We're not greedy, that's what she's worth, and we'd like the money soon so we can start some work on Pemberley. She should be appearing on the brokerage pages any day now.

I'll miss her, she's been a good home and she's a great boat.

I hope the next owners, who ever they may be, will love her, appeciate her, and look after her like we have.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

New at Natural History Museum

One seriously big, one could even say 'giant', squid has gone on display today at the Natural History Museum in London. This is not one to miss!

The 8.6 metre-long squid has been named 'Archie' (presumably after someones 1920s Cthulhu character) and is thought be female (though squid boffins have to do some more tests before they can be absolutly sure).

It was caught live (imagine that for shits and giggles) in March 2004 off the Falkland Islands, 300 miles from South America, 120 miles from R'lyeh. It's virtually complete (appart from the large area of burnt flesh were tha Elder Sign was branded into into its beaky little skull), making it a very important and unique specimen of 'Architeuthis dux'.

On the whole, mortal man knows SFA about these creatures and much of what we do know comes from dead or dying specimens, most found rotting in the stomachs of sperm whales or haunting the nightmares of old Pirates.

Here's a nice video of them cutting it up and the full news from the site.
Well worth a visit, and only minimal SAN loss in this preserved state.

Delays Possible

Better Than Google Earth?

WorldWind - I have 'arrived' in my troos...

The NASA version of Google Earth - "WorldWind lets you zoom from satellite altitude into any place on Earth. Leveraging Landsat satellite imagery and Shuttle Radar Topography Mission data, World Wind lets you experience Earth terrain in visually rich 3D, just as if you were really there. Virtually visit any place in the world. Look across the Andes, into the Grand Canyon, over the Alps, or along the African Sahara."

Simply beautiful.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Atomic Batteries to Power. Turbines to Speed.

The energy company E On UK wanted to build seven 350ft turbines on Saddleworth Moor, above the village of Denshaw. I did a film on Saddleworth Moor once. We stayed in Denshaw. It rained for 10 days out of 14.

E On reckon the farm would have provided the grid with enough electricity for 8,500 homes, but environmentalists claimed it would ruin the landscape so the application was rejected by Oldham Council on Thursday night. This was, probably, the wrong spot for this, a Greater Manchester beauty spot (wet though it is) an’ all, but talk about alternative energy sources is only talk if none actually go ahead. Lets hope this rejection doesn’t set a president.

It’s argued that the only people to benefit from these turbines are the manufacturers, the installers and land owners and that for this technology to be anything more than a gimmick, the whole country would be covered in them. Bollocks.
We need to change our habbits now, for the future, and if we believe Greenpeace then 80 square miles of offshore space would be enough to supply the entire UK's electricity needs. Expensive, yes, but what could be simpler?

Anyway, is money and nostalgia for the ye olde English countryside a reason to allow global warming? Would the Lake District still look as charming with tumbleweed blowing across its salt flats? I digress.

So what's being done? According to Labour '10% of energy must come from renewable resources by 2010'. The new Cabinet Office Performance and Innovation Unit (PIU) report actually recommends this rises to 20% by 2020. Friends of the Earth says a conservative estimate is that by 2050, wind power could meet about 20% of current energy demand. Eighteen new offshore wind farms were given the green light in April 2001 - when they are built, they should generate enough energy to supply more than one million homes. Other onshore projects - like a 140-turbine wind farm south of Glasgow, which could power 150,000 homes - are currently under way. Wavegen is also planning an offshore wave farm on the Orkney islands (comin' at ya Meddler) on the north coast of Scotland, which should generate enough electricity for 1,400 homes.

We need to do this, or the only practical alternative is nuclear. The yanks are doing nowt (but that's another rant). Personally, I'd much rather we harness natural resources than crack atoms and burn fossil fuels...

DVD Review - The Legend of Zorro

Has it really been 7 years since The Mask of Zorro?

The new film, though undeniably packed with action, lacks some of the pace and charm of its prequel. The simmering romance is replaced with snappy banter and an air of slapstick. Zorro, now the family man, just doesn’t seem to butcher his way through those gringos like he used to.

The irrepressible Zorro, masquerading as landed gentry Don Alejandro de la Vega (Antonio Banderas), is now married to his Elena (Catherine Zeta Jones) and they have been living peacefully for the last 10 years with nobody any the wiser. The couple’s son, Joaquin (Adrian Alonso), is oblivious that his father is the timeless peoples hero, Zorro.

Not yet a State, California is on the brink of joining the US of A, seemingly the end of the fight for our hero. Not everyone, however, is prepared to let the family settle down and enjoy the quiet of peacetime. Enter suave, well dressed, Frenchman Armand (the marvellous Rufus Sewell), and his twisted wooden-toothed lackey, Jacob McGivens (Nick Chinlund).

Since Zorro must protect the people, family must take second place. This leads the couple into marital strife (which provides some excellent dialogue between Zeta Jones and Banderas) and Elena leaves our hero for the Frenchman (boooo-hisssss). Now bitter, drunk and lovelorn, Zorro discovers that the seemingly charming Armand is part of a global conspiracy plotting against California, and discovers a scheme involving stealing land from the poor defeceless masses. It’s all very ‘meat and two veg’, and unfortunately lacks the sparkle of it’s predecessor, but this is far more of a family move than the original and if that’s what you’re looking for look no further.

Catherine Zeta Jones plays her character with grace. She is voluptuous, can fence like a demon, she has whip-crack delivery and she smoulders along as Banderas’s equal under an array of frumpy frocks. Banderas is as dashing as usual (the housewives favourite) with his wink, his wry grin, his smooth banter and buckets of latino poise. Even their young Mexican son, Joaquin, is a talented little heart stealer that raises a smile when on screen. All excellent, but the finest performance and a special note goes to Toronado the horse, who entirely steels the show.

Bond director Martin Campbell, renowned for creating great action flicks, has another money-spinner on his hands. If you liked the first one, you’ll like this one.

Movie: 3 out of 5
Extras:
3.5 out of 5

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Brace Yourselves Lerwick

Went over to Captain Deppers this evening to say TTFN to The Medder and Stevie.

It was a surprise get-together and folks turned up from all over the country. They're going to live in the The Shetlands, between the Orkneys and the Faroe Islands. As far as the UK goes, that's as remote and northern as you can get. It's a bold move, but The Meddler has a new job up there so they're off. You need Kong sized kahoonas for this one. Even English people marvel at the weather in the Shetlands. A very, very cool move. I envy them the challenge.


Stevie (left) is gonna look for work when they get there. He's a retail game and comic genius and, obviously, there's not much in that line at the top of the world.

The East Shetland Basin is now one of Europe's largest oil fields. Oil produced there is landed at the Sullom Voe terminal, plus there’s loads of fishing and, er, knitting etc. so I'm sure he'll find something easy enough.

Back-in-the-day,
Stevie and I made a few films together and I've a lot of respect for the fella as a camera op. Meddler has bought him a new Mini-DV, so hopefully we'll see some sweet results. Mainly, I would imagine, involving puffins.

We'll no doubt see them at the odd LRP do and for the Nordic insanity of next years Up Helly Aa. It's an amazing place, the archaeology alone is well worth a visit when we stick our noses in to catch up on some quality Merde de Tete.

Good luck guys. SKYPE ya later.

To follow their blog on the move and to keep dosed up on Meddlerisums, click on over to The Medder and Steve.

A Few Last Things

I'm actually not the best at the whole "Spring cleaning" thing to begin with. Short attention span and all that. But I'm double sick of dusting, polishing, hoovering and every other soddin' household chore.

We nipped back over to grab a few bits and pieces and to give the inside of
Andromeda a lick and a promise. She's really bloody big with nothing in her. Cavernous, I'd say.

Hopefully she'll seem this way too a prospective buyer too. Sad, but we really need the money ASAP so we can get some furniture for ‘
Pemberley’.

With nothing in her, and with not moving or rocking cos she's in dry dock, I can satisfy myself that she only really looks and feels like Andromeda from the outside. Without our stuff, a bit like Redhill without Andromeda, it all feels strangly different.

Steve is going to "maybe flood the dock again on either Tuesday or Wednesday", and we'll take her to the brokers then.

One last trip up to
Sawley.

Jema has had 4 baths in the last 40 hours.

DVD Review - The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951)

This Golden Globe winning classic is probably the first of the infamous ‘anti-atomic’ classics. It also has an unsettlingly predictive anti-American undertone. The Day the Earth Stood Still is the story of an intergalactic ambassador (played by Michael Rennie), Klaatu, here on Earth to warn us about ourselves and that our growing stock pile of Cold War weaponry could destroy the universe, as well as our humble little planet.

The story is simple, but the message is timeless. When this film was made, World War II had ended only six years ago and American paranoia was focused on Communism. The US was in the grip of ‘flying saucer hysteria’. While The Day the Earth Stood Still is seen as a quintisential science fiction movie, with a title designed for the drive-in audience, but it’s a film that has political undertones as cutting as the likes of Dr Strangelove.

As America lives in fear of the iconic Gort (played by the ‘giant’, Lock Martin), the ten foot robot who will blow up the city if his emissary is harmed, Carpenter (Klaatus alter ego)lives among the humans, observing their pettiness and fear of each other. Rennie is superb as the slightly 'off-kilter' Carpenter, with his almost constipated alien demeanour and his refusal to judge too harshly the humans and their simple ape-like ways. Sam Jaffe plays Professor Jacob Barnhardt. Fitting the Einstein or Von Braun archetype, he sympathizes with Carpenter’s message and takes up the visitor’s cause.

The recent ‘Fox Home Video's Studio Classics’ of The Day The Earth Stood has the slick video restoration and crystal sound quality of their earlier titles, especially when it comes to using image enhancement and cleanup technology without destroying the texture of the old B&W image. The special effects are excellent, especially for a film of its age, and this is a must for any serious DVD collection.

This made for the keystone of an excellent theme evening. We had burgers, milkshakes, popcorn, and an outstanding motion picture. This film has held up beautifully through the years, and its message is just as true today as it was then. If you don’t have a copy already, treat yourself.

Movie: 4.5 out of 5
Extras: 4 out of 5

Friday, February 24, 2006

No Rest For The Wicked

I’m guessing I must have been a Roman Legionary in Jerusalem around 32 AD. A bit over keen with my spear perhaps. A bit too “proddy” for my own good. I am being punished for previous biblical scale crimes too heinous to mention.

I am destroyed today. Knackered beyond the bounds of reason.

I couldn't find clean trousers, shampoo, a hair brush, a tooth brush or my ass with both hands and a stick attached to butt seeking radar.

And yet, I am stupid enough to be sat here editing Aberdeen podcasts when I am so damn tired and weary that I'm incapable of even the most rudimentary conversation. I’m just sat here with my headphones on looking like shit (sorry
Andy (the poor beggar I sit opposite) and Paul (who's trying to coordinate the Scottish and the guys at Stoke).

I shouldn't have come in today. No amount of coffee will save me.


Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Move

It's a lot easier to move when you just undo 2 ropes and an internet connection.

God bless Pig. I might have helped him move a few times in the past but today was above and beyond the call of duty. Poor bloke invented a song, to the tune of Pythons "Never Be Rude To An Arab" entitled "Never Move Home for a Larper". I kinda get his point.

Steve (and his oppo) carried on welding around us (in the rain) as we manhandled everything (across the tooth chipping gap) into a long wheel based tranny. Last night, Pig picked up a futon base from my folks and the van was rammed with stuff I left at his when we left dry land. 80% of this seemed to have a Star Wars logo on it.

Jema packed, and passed and we shifted. It took 3 loads. We had to nip to Redhill one last time to grab the rowboat (very handy, come "The Great Wave") and grab all the bike bits and pot plants. That was kinda nostalgic. I will miss the view but it doesn't seem as big a deal as I thought it'd be. I suppose Andromeda was more "home" than Redhill was. Shook a few hands and said goodbye to some quality folk. Had 1 last wee in a bush.

The only real piece of furniture, a desk that we went all the way to Jems offices to collect, wouldn't fit through the damn door. It seems they had no concept of standard sized doors in 1790, and the walls are so damn thick you can't turn the legs of anything when you get it upright. We got it as far as the kitchen and I've got my eye on it for firewood.

Obligatory "house moving" fish and chip for tea. Nice bit of haddock from a place in Belper. Jem had her first bath in the new gaff. Oh, and cheers for the big basket of quality munchies and "moving in necessities" to Pig and Ellen.

So, that's it, we live in a house. I guess I'll have to rename the blog now. It can't be "Fear and Loathing on the River Soar" anymore, not really. I'll have a think on it and come up with something.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Great Weld 3

The bulkhead is now cut out and the new floor is ready to go in the gas locker. Steve and his mate were "at it all day". The forward deck looks massive now. Another tell-tale sign of her days as a hotel boat.

We've started packing. We keep finding stuff hidden away that we've forgotten about. Boxes and boxes of action figures and ray guns that have been ineffectual ballast for the past 5 years.

And books. Mother of god, I'll never want for literature again. Why we thought we'd need "A Treasury of Ballet" during our life aboard Andromeda, Jema has failed to explain. Under the bed was all manner of comics and missing socks but was, at least, mould free.

The office only took an hour and I packed my laptop without really thinking that I'd be the last time I wrote
my blog or surfed for porn in that back cabin. It'll be nice to have some elbow room.

There's no reasonable way we could have done this out of dry dock as the ballast would have been all over the place. It should be "interesting" heading up the Trent to
Sawley with her empty.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Pigs Stag Do - The Plan

Check your email gents. The plan for Pigs Stag Do is:
  • Beers and smokes and cards (please have a go at learnin' these rules) on Friday night at Pigs gaff in Antrobus (Cheshire).
  • Quad trekkingand shooting at this place (I need to know numbers) at around £95 per person, near Pigs on the Saturday daytime.
  • 'Rock World' in Manchester on the Saturday evening, and probably a mini bus back to Pigs for a repeat of the Friday night (unless we can sort 'lifts').
  • Sunday, big social breakfast and disperse back from whence we came.
Come for all of it, come for just the Saturday, whatever. Just, please, let me know.

Also
- Do any of you fellas have email addresses for Ian and Bob Harrison, Adam Butler, Matt Senior or Higgy?

What are you interested in? Shooting? Quadding? Beers? Clubbin'? Let me know! ASAP please chaps.

Things are messed up email wise with me moving so please mail me at work.
Ta.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Cheapest Environmentally Sound Power

I sorted the amenities this afternoon.

With gas and electricity soaring due to the ongoing oil situation, it was important to find green electricity and gas at a reasonable rate.


I had a good root through
The Green Energy Marketplace and Npower Juice came up the best (well, cheapest, it's probably not actually the greenest) in the Amber Valley, and with the addition of gas it cuts the bill by £60 pa on top of the general saving.

With Juice you don't pay any premium and for every customer who signs up they donate £10 a year (up to a maximum of £500,000) to a renewable fund that is used to support new and emerging renewable technology projects.

Juice was developed through a partnership between npower and Greenpeace.

All the electricity supplied to Juice customters comes from North Hoyle Offshore Wind Farm. Basically, npower matches each unit of electricity used, and feeds the same amount into the network from North Hoyle.

Greenpeace is big on this. It hopes that by people signing up to Juice they will demonstrate the public’s ongoing support for off-shore wind power. Support indeed, when costs, including VAT, based on a medium user (an average house using 3300kWh per year) should only be around £66 (thought gas etc. is rocketing up by the day) per quarter.

It's paranoid, maybe, but Andromeda has taught me a bit about alternative power, and (come the great wave) I want to have alternatives in place. The oil is on it's last legs, gas is too expensive (and will be coming in from Norway in a couple of years so god knows what supply will be like and which nutters will be trying to blow up the pipelines and stuff) and gas is always linked to the oil price (as is electricity).

In an ideal world it’s an
Aga-Rayburn, or equivalent, but that’s out of our price range for the next few years so I’ll just have to settle with replacing the gas fire in the lounge for solid fuel. I’ll pick their brains next time we’re up at CAT to see if there’s much else we can do immediately for zero gil. Being a listed building, it's not like we can just whack a load of photovoltaic stuff all over the roof like we started on Andromeda.

Obvious general stuff like 'energy saver bulbs' (should be a laugh with the dimmers in every room) and shed loads of insulation (the loft is a priority) have got to be a good start once we’re in.

It's a whole different kettle of fish to the boat.