The Object

So I’ve had this half-baked idea in my mind for a science fiction one-shot screenplay type thing. I’ve put bits of it together in my head and got some of it down on paper. It’s mostly setting up shots, it’ll probably start falling down when I try to add dialogue…

[Scene 1 - Opening Scene, Suburban London Railway station]
Shot from opposite platform. Busy platform, people jostling each other. Camera focuses on portly, Middle-aged man (smartly dressed in an overcoat reading a newspaper). Being bumped by other commuters, but says nothing. Young couple stand unnecessarily close to him discussing a dinner party they’re hosting later as if he’s not there. Train pulls up.

[Scene 2 – Train interior – Man sat by Window]
On the train, man continues to read the newspaper, various noises and distractions around. Teenagers discussing school. Conversations in different languages. Tinny music on phone headphones.
— Camera tightens on man’s face — Sounds get louder as he rubs his temples –
— Noise stops as train announces arrival at London Waterloo –

[Scene 3 - Wide shot over London Golden Jubilee Bridge down-river - HoC & London Eye in Shot]
–Camera zooms to see the man crossing the bridge

[Scene 4 – Westminster]
Man walks down Westminster, walks into office building

[Scene 5 - Interior down corridor - Over the man's shoulder]
Carpeted office hallway, Oak panels, people walking around carrying files, coffee etc.
Man walks down corridor, avoiding obstacles – no one notices him. He’s making his way towards elevators at the far end.

[Scene 6 - Standing in front of elevator doors - shot facing the elevator - Man has back to camera]
Camera switches to close up of the right-side of the man’s face in lower-right corner of screen
Noise of office grows louder. After a few seconds, the elevator bings and the noise stops.
Switch to scene 6 opening camera angle as doors close.

[Scene 7 - Inside elevator - over-the-shoulder shot]
He reads paper as elevator descends. After a few seconds, the elevator opens and he steps (camera follows) into a long concrete corridor, sparsely lit, with two soldiers at a guard post. He continues past them (they stand to attention). Camera switches to display board behind one soldier – WW2-style sign reads “Situation: Normal”

[Scene 8 - Main office interior]
Cramped, eclectically decorated office, four desks facing each other. Man enters through door, staff at desks look up. One stands and hands him a file. He reads, signs and continues to the door on the other side of the office

[Scene 9 - Control Room Interior]
Man enters, control room operator looks up:

Control Room Operator: “Sir”
Man: [nods] “Status?”

[Scene 10 - Interior cavern, focused on control room window -- Man in view -- Panning out to reveal cavern with massive metallic object in the center]

Control Room Operator: “No change Sir…”

[Cut to Title Card - Black with white text. Card reads "The Object"]

That’s pretty much it so far. It needs a bit of work. It’ll almost certainly fall over as soon as the dialogue kicks in… Thoughts or ideas welcome.

B

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On the subject of Music

I put together a playlist of songs recently under the banner “Superhero, Geeky & Musicals”. It combines things like most of John Williams‘ superhero themes, Danny Elfman’s theme to Batman, and a song or two from Disney musicals (no, not Frozen… before you ask…).
One of the songs is Journey of the Sorcerer by The Eagles. For those who don’t know (or can’t be bothered to click on the link to listen to it and work it out), the song was used as part of the theme to the TV and Radio adaptations of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

One of the drivers for me leaving my last job was the gradual realization that it was making me quite unwell. Re-occurring bouts of insomnia and anxiety attacks, along with a fairly deep (for me at any rate) despair. Seeking some professional help to deal with it, I got to learning a bit more about how I was handling some of these issues, and how they were making the situation worse. I had an “Office Space” style realization that I really wasn’t enjoying my job and I should be doing something else instead. I got paid for 40hrs of work, and was expected to work 65+, meaning I couldn’t then enjoy the fruits of those efforts, since I was too tired or unwell.

The most dramatic of the solutions was to move on to a different job, which has been a massive help. I’m no longer in that position where I’m getting e-mails at stupid times during the night and the weekends, and a much more balanced expectation to working beyond the “core” hours. It’s freed time up to actually do some other activities (as I’ve alluded to in previous posts), which has a knock-on effect of adding new experiences (meaning you actually take a break from working).

Having started to look at it in this way, I started to look at how utterly odd it was to approach the world of work like that. That it had become quite normal for me to look at a working week and think “If I put in some time now after I get home, I can then be free at the weekend to do something else”. It baffled me how I’d fallen into that mindset, and spiraled down to build coping mechanisms that didn’t really do much of anything to help… Which brought me around to Arthur’s line in Hitchhikers…

“Did I do anything wrong today,” he said, “or has the world always been like this and I’ve been too wrapped up in myself to notice?”

I’d become so wrapped up in myself and the work I’d been doing to realize what it was doing to me. So, whenever I find myself getting back into the earlier way of thinking, it reminds me where that sort of thing ends up, and that I can take steps to address that. It’s a way to deal with it that wouldn’t have come to me unless I’d sought out help.

The help is there, you just need to ask for it.

B

P.S. I don’t quite know what I’d intended to write when I started this one, but I’m quite pleased I actually got it out.

Posted in comment, films, geek, health, music, observations, personal, Project E, projects, update, work | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Knitting update and other miscellany

Scarf-Watch 2014

We’re long overdue an update on “Scarf-watch 2014″… the last time we saw the scarf on this blog, it had barely made it a few inches… well, it’s progressed a bit…

The scarf crosses the 6ft mark...

The scarf crosses the 6ft mark…

When I say a “bit” I mean about 6 feet… I haven’t decided yet if the final length will be 8, 10 or 12 feet.

Wimbledon
In other news, I decided to taunt the Sun God Ra and wore shorts out to my visit to the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club for Day 12 of the Wimbledon championship. My sister had picked up some tickets for Court 1, and not needing an excuse to enjoy a “few” (*hic*) cups of Pimms, I tagged along for the ride. Not knowing a great deal about Tennis (or any sport if I’m honest), I was a bit lost trying to understand why people where cheering or groaning with various calls. However, one of the matches I got to watch was a doubles match featuring Thomas Enqvist & Mark Philippoussis Vs. Goran Ivanišević & Ivan Ljubičić (Part of the Gentlemen’s Invitational Doubles). The match was hilarious… each player was there to have a bit of fun and put on a show for the crowd, including but not limited to:

  • Trick-shots like serving the ball whilst facing in the wrong direction
  • Feigning injury and putting a chair at the net to return shots
  • Chasing the ball boys and girls around the court
  • Hitting the ball clean out of the stadium and contesting the “Out” call in John McEnroe style, asking for a Hawk-eye adjudication
  • Swapping back-and-forth across the net with other players to continue playing the ball
  • All four players at the net, passing the ball to each other at speed
  • Heading, or in some other way handling the ball over the net
  • One of the players going into the crowd to take part in pictures, whilst the other was returning balls from the other two, stealing a spectator’s hat, wearing it for a few returns and passing it to the other players whilst the ball was still in play

It was absolutely hilarious to watch, and the umpires and line judges all took part (with the umpire awarding points as if the trick-shots were in any way legitimate). Even as a non-tennis watcher, you’d enjoy watching those guys play… to get an idea of what it’s like… watch this YouTube video of Mansour Bahrami (pretty much the model for this kind of shenanigans):

Ra was displeased enough to send Tefnut to try and drown out SW19. My laughter however showed Ra the error of his ways, and he returned to bask us all in sunshine. It did result in me getting some funny looks from Security mind…

The South Bank!

Having long realised that Underground stations aren’t *that* far apart from each other in central London, I took a look at how far my new office is from Waterloo and noticed it was less than two miles (1.8 says Google Maps). I decided to therefore give walking a go… I have to say, it’s really nice (admitedly, it is the summer, I imagine it’s a lot less nice in winter…). Walking along the river up towards the Millennium Bridge whilst listening to theme songs from geeky movies is really enjoyable:

Early morning on the South Bank, heading towards St Paul%27s

Early morning on the South Bank, heading towards St Paul%27s

Podcasts!

Given I now have a bit more time in the evenings, I’m hoping to be back on one of Russ Clewett and Karl Madden‘s tech podcasts. I KNOW!, you can finally listen to me ramble on about things I have no idea about in English, instead of the usual Welsh! So very exciting.

That’s pretty much it…

UNTIL NEXT TIME.

B

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Quick Update

Since… er… February…

  1. I’ve changed jobs – Yes, working 60+ hours a week in a job I wasn’t particularly deriving any satisfaction from is not good for your health or well-being. The new job is a lot better.
  2. Many movies have been watched – Including “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” (better than the 1st, impressive action sequences. The “spy thriller” elements were a little over-sold, but on balance it worked). The Amazing Spiderman 2 (adequate, not brilliant. Felt like a holding film for the Sinister 6 and the next movie). X-Men: Days of Future Past (Or “F**k You, Brett Ratner”)
  3. Concerts! Wandered off to finally watch “Star Trek Live”, and saw the 2009 reboot movie at the Albert Hall, with a live orchestra playing the soundtrack. Followed that a day later with an Elgar concert at the South Bank (AWESOME stuff).
  4. Discovered “The Amazing Adventure Hour” – A podcast radio play type affair. Terribly funny and has some really cool guest stars (Nathan Fillion, Clark Gregg, Gillian Jacobs, Patton Oswald, Joshua Malina, Bradley Whitford and more). You should find it and listen, especially to “Beyond Belief” and to “Sparks Nevada – Marshal on Mars”.
  5. I started Yoga lessons – Yes, it’s exactly as funny as you imagine it is.
  6. I seem to be turning into Michael Caine…
    Michael Caine and a Ginger Welshman

    Private Eye Feature

  7. I have a SHIELD badge… damn you HYDRA
    My SHIELD badge

    My SHIELD badge

  8. Er…
  9. That’s it.

See you in a few months.

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Levelled Up: Knitting +1

Part of my idea for this year was to level up some of my crafting skills, so I picked a few projects that I wanted to work on. These range from a Raspberry Pi based computer built into a wooden box through to my own version of Captain America’s shield (more on that later).

I did some reading around managing the joint issues I’ve been experiencing with my hands, and it was suggested that knitting would be worth exploring (which had the added benefit of being stress reducing). So after a few false-starts, a lot of YouTube instructional videos and a fair bit of spent yarn, I finally managed to make some reasonable headway:

image

Knitting efforts...

It’s bizzare how much a mechanical task like knitting can occupy your mind. It’s also crazy how satisfying it is to see a massive bundle of yarn turn into something based only on how you force it to interact with itself. Talking again with my mum, she told me that if any of it did go wrong, you could snip the end off it and unravel it all (which lead me to the realisation that knitting is all about creating massively complicated knots).

Anyhoo… This one will evolve in a particularly predictable fashion. Stay tuned for updates.

B

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Clothes Hacking: Leather Gloves 2.0

With Raynaud’s Phenomenon (Wikipedia) being one of the wondrous things I get to enjoy, I’ve got to stay pretty much in gloves all the time during Winter. The thing I’ve struggled to resolve is being able to perform basic functions on my phone without having to take my gloves off.

I know that capacitative gloves aren’t a new thing, but the problem I’ve always found is trying to find a nice pair of leather gloves. Doing some research, I came across a Lifehacker article on how to Make any pair of gloves work with a touchscreen. That in turn linked to an article on Fashion Tech.com about Conductive Thread. I couldn’t quite believe this sort of thing actually existed. Normal thread that conducts electricity… I was even more bewildered when it turns out that you can pick the stuff up off Amazon for under a fiver.

My mum (my go-to authority on such things) offered to help me out with the work. The difficulty faced was that putting a hole into the surface of a piece of leather would ruin the fabric. So our plan involved pushing through the seams at the top of the finger, giving me a capacitative pointer. We stitched a coil of the thread to the lining of the glove, then pushed a length through the lining and the stitch at the top. Rather than trying to loop in and out through the glove, Mum got a brainwave to loop it through the glove’s own external stitching, which kept things nice and clean on the outside.

Modified leather gloves with conductive stitching

modified leather gloves with conducting thread…

Quick tests with iPads, my Galaxy and the Ticket Machine at the station shows it works fantastically. The coil under the pad of my finger on the inside carries a small charge through the thread to the loop on the outside. Mum took some of the thread and stitched it into her gloves, wanting to make using the self-service machines at supermarkets even easier.

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Review/Warning: RoboCop (2014)

So, after a bit of good news during the day (can’t go into specifics yet… SOON…), I decided that rather than head home, I’d pop along to BFI’s IMAX to catch whatever movie was playing (the 2014 version of RoboCop). I was a bit apprehensive about the remake, but since I’d been planning to see it anyway (and being in a good mood), I decided to go for it.

I should say at this point that I’d try to avoid spoilers. I won’t this time…

Paul Verhoeven’s 1987 movie is a visceral, dark dystopian satire of corporate greed and societal decay. It sets us in a world where society has virtually given up and corporations are running amok making money unchecked and engaging in social re-engineering to make life comfortable for those that can afford it. It adds to this by satirising a complicit media pushing the agenda of its corporate paymasters, versus actual journalism.

The new version? it’s set in the near future in what seems to be a fairly idyllic Detroit. The biggest problem we’re told is that the US won’t allow law enforcement to use robots to pacify urban aggression (which we don’t really get to see…). Gone is the societal collapse of the original, the segregation of Delta City and Old Detroit. The satire of media is reduced to Samuel L. Jackson portraying a Bill O’Riley like political pundit, wrapping himself in the stars and stripes, whilst media colleagues report on how the citizens of Tehran are “happily” cooperating with robots scanning them for hostile intent.

OCP’s motivation for creating RoboCop has also been changed. No longer is it about the privatisation of law enforcement (with the subsequent ability of OCP to control RoboCop through the super secret Directive 4), but he becomes a media prop to convince a skeptical public to repeal a law banning the deployment of robots on the streets of the US. OCP stops being an evil monolithic corporation, and turns into a company that just wants to sell more of its products (like a militarised version of Apple, wanting to sell sentient killer iPhones). OCP focus group RoboCop’s image, trying to make him scary to criminals and friendly to kids. Robo has been focused-grouped to appeal to everyone.

The wheels come off the wagon near the end for OCP, when RoboCop learns the Chairman ordered him dead. He proceeds to OCP headquarters to confront the Chairman (stopping to fight with a whole squad of much less homicidal ED-209s). Rather than the insidious Directive 4, we see that Robo can’t shoot or apprehend anyone wearing a “red” tag, and rather than going into Dick Jones’ rant about how OCP can’t have its products turn against them, Sellars (played by Keaton) taunts Robo about how he’s just a machine (flying completely in the face of everything we’ve seen so far), and RoboCop shoots him… with no exploration or understanding of how.

It’s a monumentally poor effort, a sanitised and safe movie which isn’t designed to challenge the audience… OCP would be proud.

In short, don’t go to see it. I’ve sacrificed two hours so that you don’t have to.

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