Rules of Thanksgiving

For those of you celebrating Thanksgiving, here’s some points to remember:

1. Try your best to enjoy the four hour eating and drinking frenzy without killing any relatives

2. Ignore anyone saying ‘Ahh that poor turkey, bless’ – They taste good and you know it!

3. Vegetarians and Vegans – Don’t spend your day saying ‘Ahh that poor turkey, bless’, think of the vegetables that you murder on a daily basis. Yes that noise IS the veg tapping on the inside of the oven door trying to get out , and yes that is their muffled cries of ‘Let us out, it’s bleeding hot in here!!’ (All vegetables speak with an English accent)*

4a. All men make sure you sit and watch the game

4b. All women make sure the men don’t sit and watch the game

4c. See number 1

5. Be very wary of any seemingly over made-up tranvestite Native Americans, knocking on your door claiming to be bringing ‘More Gifts’ to make your stay in the country more comfortable, this could lead to a disruption of Football watching, due to an imminent decapitation.

6. If someone says ‘Pass the Aubergine’, don’t just stare open mouthed, passed the freakin’ Egg Plant.

7. Enjoy your holiday

Disclaimer: The phrase ’seemingly over made-up tranvestite Native Americans’ has no bearing on the Native American culture, it’s just that when they’re pissed off they tend to over-do the make-up!

* All except for Garlic Bulbs, which are very French! They would say something like “Excuse-moi, eet ees vary ‘ot in ‘ere, perapps you cood free uz?”

What’s been going on with the writing?

Have written a blog in ages on here, so I thought I’d give an update on my writing, especially as my entries for script competitions is coming to a close this month.

It’s been an interesting year for my scripts and I’ve enjoyed the results. I started entering competitions at the end of last year and it’s been a pretty successful time.

During the year, my scripts have received the following acknowledgements:

“Lilly” 

Winner ‘Honorable Mention” – LA Movie Awards

Finalist and official selection – ITN Distribution Awards, LA

Finalist British Horror Film Festival

Finalist British Independent Film Festival

Finalist Hollywood Screenplay Contest

Quarter Finalist Fade In Awards

“All In”

Winner “Best Script” – Calishorts Film Festival

Finalist Hollywood Screenplay Contest

“Snapshot”

Winner “Honorable Mention” – Las Vegas Movie Awards

Previous to these, I had a little bit of success before, working with Frame on Frame

Babbage – Full film. This was a finalist for Hollyshorts/Hayden Film Festival and shown in LA. http://vimeo.com/11238262 15 minutes (Writer)

Morrison’s Birthday Party – Full film. Winner ‘Best Short Drama’ at the NY indie film/video festival. http://vimeo.com/11212414 30 minutes (Co-Writer/Assistant Director) – Premiered at BAFTA

So it’s been a good run so far. I’m hoping for more to come this month and then it’ll be time to kick in with new scripts and get some of these funded and filmed.

Gaming Consoles, Past to Present

So, following my blog about remembering the computers that I used to have, here’s a similar piece about consoles. Game playing was always a big part of life, when i was younger and I suspect it was the same for the majority of the people reading this. Aside from home computer games, the console has always been a weapon of choice to most avid gamers. Way back when, I had my parents to thank for my first console.

The Philips G7000 was the first console that I had. It didn’t really take-off, which is actually a shame, because it also had programming capability.

Of course, one of the big flaws of programming in ‘basic’ on this machine, was that there was no available media to store the programs – oops! The games came in the form of ‘Videopac’ and were very familiar for any gamers at the time. Munchkin (Pacman), Space Monster (Space invaders), Satellite attack (Asteroids),  and Freedom Fighter (Defender), were not the best graphically, but had great gameplay.

Next up, was an Amstrad GX4000, which wasn’t around for very long, but provided some great entertainment. It was also shaped like a space ship, as they showed in the commercial. Oh, how commercials have changed since then!!!

Burnin’ Rubber was the first game I had on that and racing games are always a blast and was followed by games like Batman and Robocop 2. At the same time, I bought a Gameboy, which I used a lot more, especially as I loved Mortal kombat and it was a great representation on the Gameboy.

I had other games on the Gameboy, but it was that one that pretty much wore out the keys.

Moving on from the GX4000, however,, I had a Sega Mega Drive. I had a first edition, but then swapped out for a new Mega Drive 2, complete with Mega CD. The CD extension made it a little bit more interesting, as it provided games like ‘Night Trap’, which included video footage and also Final Fight, which was a much played game for me.

In addition to the Mega CD and a little jealous of the beter consoles coming out, I picked up a 32X. Essentially, the 32X, made the regular 16bit Mega Drive, a 32bit unit and there were some great additional games, Virtua Fighter being my favourite and Corpse Killer, which made use of both the 32x and the Mega CD, was great as well.

Much as I got great use of the Mega Drive, I succumbed and upgraded to a Sega Saturn. There were other consoles out there at the time, but I was a big fan of the Sega games, so this was my only choice, in my opinion.

The Saturn had a full 32-bit version of Virtua Fighter and Virtua Fighter 2, along with Virtua Racing. It also had Sega Rally, which I loved and an array of Sonic the Hedgehog games. I thought it was a great console, but it generally struggled to compete against the Sony Playstation and for the number of available games alone, I bought a Playstation as well.

Gran Turismo and Spyro the Dragon (Spent hours guiding that little fella around), were the most used I think, along with the latest incarnations of Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter. At this point, all was good in the console world.

This is the time where I kinda skipped a generation of consoles. My next machine was a lot more recent and was an XBOX 360. Loved playing it, but I really wasn’t able to use it a huge amount, so it sort of gathered dust. When it was used, it would be for Forza, in 2 player mode, or perhaps Fifa.

It was a shame that I didn’t really use it that much and also a shame that I sold it, as I seem to have more time at my disposal now. However, I do have a console; The Wii. Bit of a step down graphically, however, the gameplay is just superb. Even the Wii Sports games get a run out with this thing. Tennis, bowling, Archery, the whole lot.

The House of the Dead games are fantastic, with the controllers being used together to make up the laser gun that I was oh so familiar with, from the arcades. The other ‘games’ that are very popular are ‘We Sing’ and ‘We Sing: Robbie Williams’ – Yup, I’m afraid so, we howl into those microphones, like banshees. Believe me, the irony in the title, isn’t missed on us, ‘We Sing’ is not what actually happens.

So I’ve had a good run of consoles and I’d imagine that the Wii will carry on being played regularly. It’ll be interesting to see what’s going to come out next. Until then, we’ll have aching arms, while the neighbours have aching ears.

From ZX81 up. Remember the times.

The year was 1981 and I was 11 (Yes, I’m THAT old!). Actually I was a few months less than 12, as it was that XMAS. I opened my present, from my parents. It was a Sinclair ZX81! WOW! I was 11 years old and I now had a ‘Computer’.

As a kid, you play on consoles, whether they’re your own, or a friends and I had a fair number over the years (We’ll go into those on a separate blog). However, now I had a real computer, with a whole 1K to play with!! But wait! There was a smaller present, hiding behind it’s bigger friend. A 16k RAM Pack!!! My life was complete, or was it? A second-hand tape recorder completed the set and I was the happiest kid on the planet.

Once setup and connected I loaded up chess and played the bejesus out of it! Okay, it was the only game I had to start with, but think of it now, an intelligent chess game in 1K!! Is that even possible now? Anyway…That wasn’t the only game I had, oh no! I had a manual and a programming language, so I set off typing in programs. The typing was so fast on the lovely touch ‘sensitive’ keyboard and I could get up to 2-3 words per minute, so it didn’t take long before I had a basic Space Invaders game, copied from a magazine. It didn’t take long, just the 4 weeks, but I’d written my first program.

After that, I started learning basic and writing my own simple programs and saving them to tape, which was a dangerous procedure, to say the least, especially with the RAM pack. One wobble and your program was gone. That happened a few times, so I saved my pocket money and bought a wobble stopper. What a fantastic piece of engineering that was. A bent bit of metal, shaped to fit the ZX81 and the RAM pack, complete with a white plastic screw, to hold the RAM pack in…Genius!

By the time I’d had the machine a year, I’d also attached a rubberized keyboard, having felt a little jealous of my friends buying the ZX Spectrum. About 6 months later I sold it to one of my teachers, for about 50 quid. At school, I was starting Computer Studies and there were BBC Micro Model Bs in the classroom. My parents couldn’t afford to buy me one, but I got the next best thing, the Acorn Electron. It used the same basic as the BBC Micro and that meant I could do additional programming at work and bring it in, transferring it to the school machines.

In addition to being able to right BBC Basic programs at home, the machine had a ‘Real’ keyboard, which I’d only ever experienced on a friends Commodore 64. So I set off, writing projects for school, games for home and writing data out into Sequential text files. Remember those?

That machine got me through my exams, in more ways than one. First I could work on my exam project for my O’Level, which was a Library program, in addition to one of my friend’s Airport booking system project (Naughty!! He passed, with the same grade as me…Bastard!), but I could also play ‘Yie Ar Kung-Fu’ on it, while listening to Simple Minds and revising. Great memories and every time I here the album ‘Once Upon a Time’, I have flashbacks of the game. Of all of the other games, that were must-haves, ‘Elite’ was simply the best. That game kept me going for months and it’ll be something I will go back to at some point.

Over the following years, I ended up finally buying a ZX Spectrum, but it was the 128k version, with a better keyboard. I mainly bought it for the huge range of games, which it had, in comparison to most of the other home computers ont he market. I upgraded from that to a +2, which was essentially the same machine, but with an attached tape drive.

The tape drive was a godsend – No need for an external tape recorder and less danger of it screwing up games etc. Programming on a Spectrum wasn’t really my thing, though. I missed the programming aspect a bit, so eventually bailed on the Spectrums and went for an Amstrad CPC 6128. This was another 128k machine, but had an on-board disk drive. YES! Disk Drive!

It also had the advantage of using BBC basic, so I was of an running again, writing programs, but this time reading and writing to and from sequential text files, which were held on disk!! How cool was that? Of course the other major advantage, was that it had a monitor with it, so there was no need for a portable TV. I loved that machine as well, as it had better colour graphics than the spectrum, which always suffered from colour and sprite overlap.

Good times and fond memories. The only real regret I have, is not having them all anymore. That will change, however, as I’m determined to collect them all again, via eBay and I may even treat myself to a BBC Micro Model B.

Much as things change and technology progresses (Now a proud Mac owner), my fondest memories, are for those home computers that I’ve owned throughout the years.

Also, being 2011, this month (March), sees the 30th anniversary of the ZX81 and then next year, the ZX Spectrum. Rumour has it, that there’ll be a re-release of the original Spectrum. Will I buy one? Probably 🙂

Well, thanks Tron! Now what do I do?

So I went to see Tron: Legacy the other night. What did I think? I enjoyed it. Plot-wise it wasn’t really up to much, but then I really didn’t think it needed to be. I mean, logically, it had massive similarities to the first film, at least in the sequences. The light cycle game, followed by an escape, the chase to the centre of ‘town’, on  the light transport thingy, etc. I didn’t care though!

Watching this and also Gren Hornet, both in 3D makes me really want all movies to be done this way. The transparent levels and the visuals in general, are quite brilliant. The CGI for Jeff Bridges, was also amazing. It looked like they’d filmed those scenes 20 years ago.

However, watching the movie has had another impact on me. For a start getting home, I glanced up at a nearby building, that has a vertical colour stripe on the side and I saw this

So the question was…Had I made it home, or was I somewhere on the grid? The main effect it’s had on me is that I’m desperate to get back into serious programming. Movies like this always have this effect on me. I guess I can never get rid of the techie inside, no matter what.

Of course, I don’t have time to do everything that I’d like, working a regular job and all, but maybe my regular job needs to cover one of my interests? Maybe I need to re-incorporate my techie leanings back into work.

I’ll need to do something, as I can only have the time to write, or to code in my spare time, so which will it be?

Currently, I’m writing a double episode of ‘Star Patrol’, for John-Paul Atley, which is likely to be the finale of the web series. The web series itself, launches with a preview this month and it’s set to be a great escape back to the 70’s style Sci-Fi series. If you read this JP, don’t worry, I’ll be finish it 😛 I won’t be quitting writing just yet, plus it’s a great project to be a part of. You can join the FB fan page here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Star-Patrol-Film-Fan-Page/175448339135207 and there’ll be a Twitter profile soon.

There are also 3 full feature scripts in my head, or in note form and I think i need to get them out of my system!! So I think, as I’ve been typing I’ve come to a conclusion, or at least a plan. Re-work my techie/nerdness back into my job and continue writing in my spare time? I think that’s it, but let’s see how that pans out.

The Matrix in 3D, Betelgeuse and Living the Tatooine Dream

If ever there was a trilogy that should have been in 3D, it’s the Matrix…Well maybe Star Wars as well, but it appears we may, at some point, see a little piece of Star Wars ”live”.

Firstly, our most excellent friend, Keanu Reeves has ‘Revealed’ that the Wackowsky?Werkowski?…Okay I know how to spell it, it’s Wokauwski? Woah! Cows Ski? (That’s the Keanu version). Sorry, the Wachowski brothers have said that they’re in treatment phase of Matrix 4 and 5.

It seems a lot of people were disappointed with 2 and 3, but I wasn’t, I loved those films, though the first is clearly the best, they’re collectively one of the most important collections in my DVD, errrr…collection.

I always thought that we were going to see more from the Matrix world, especially the way it was left. I mean everyone must have seen the Jesus comparisons on the films right? Neo is the unlikely saviour, okay he’s not a carpenter, but aren’t programmers the guys who REALLY build things now? By the third film, he has a full following and finally gives his own life to save everyone. All obvious, right? However, it’s also obvious that there’s one final chapter missing from the Nazareth story and that’s the resurrection. As soon as the third film was finished, I was thinking “The Matrix: Resurrection”, would be on the way and hopefully now, it is. Personally, I can’t wait.

So…More Matrix films and now more Betelgeuse? Okay, not quite the same as the Michael Keaton film, but it’s causing more of a stir than an anticipated comedy sequel. Apparently the star is going to go supernova and when it does, we’ll potentially have, what looks like 2 suns in the sky, just like Tatooine, in Star Wars!! Cool, right? Okay, it might not be cool. Maybe it’ll affect our gravitational pull, maybe we’ll all be sucked into a black hole, maybe…Well, you get the picture, right? It may happen in 2012, so the Armageddonists are probably loving it, right now.

So will we be seeing two suns, like the image above? I would’ve thought it was unlikely. Betelgeuse is about 640 light years away, so unless this event happend 639 years ago, we’re not likely to see it in the sky, right? Surely it means that if it happens next year, we’ll see it in 2652, right? Come on @ProfBrianCox and @Prof_S_Hawking , sort it out! Dammit! Sorry people, your Tatooine dreams will have to wait a while longer. I mean, we’ve all Star Wars dreams, right? Even I have. Mine had @ItsJessicaBiel @Nikki_Griffin @BambolaBambina and @AdrianneCurry in it. No! It wasn’t THAT type of dream. Nikki and Jessica as X-Wing Pilots, Adrianne in her Leia bikini and Allessandra as Boba Fett (Sorry @Daniel_Logan ). Again, not THAT type of dream – Jabba ruined the mood. I guess we can all dream, though…right?

Remakes, Reboots and Returns

Well there world seems to be overrun right now with remakes and reboots, both in the Film and the TV world. There’s been news that Total Recall is being remade/rebooted (Whatever you want to call it), with Colin Farrell playing the lead, Spiderman has been rebooted with a new lead (Does look like he fits the part, though), but the one that’s sticking in everyone’s throats, so it seems, is the Buffy re-make. We’ll talk about that later.

TV-wise, there are a few new US-based remakes. ‘Shameless’, with Emmy Rossum and William H. Macy, is one. Not really a fan of the UK original, so can’t imagine watching the US version. Another is ‘Being Human’, of which I’m a big fan. I’m hoping that this one won’t be a complete failure and will actually work, but we’ll see. Talking of failed US re-makes, one that sticks int he mind, was ‘Red Dwarf’, which had a really short-lived life in the US. However, there’s good news about the small rouge one. A new series has been commissioned and will start filming in the autumn!! Woohoo!

A couple of years ago, the UK TV channel ‘Dave’ aired a 3 part RD mini-series, ‘Back to Earth’, which had its critics, but it was GREAT to have it back. I thought that was going to be it, the end of RD, but the boys (and hopefully girl) are coming back. I for one can’t wait and I’m hoping it’ll be the full cast and Danny John-Jules, Craig Charles, Robert Llewyllyn and Chris Barrie are joined by Norman Lovett and Chloe Annett.

A full series with the full cast would be a dream for everyone, I’d imagine, so roll on 2012 (Provided the world doesn’t end of course!). There is one issue for me, though and that’s the fact that, since moving to Amsterdam, we only get the BBC channels, so somehow I’ve got to work out how to get ‘Dave’ over here, or find another way of watching. A few of the Dwarfers are on Twitter. @DannyJohnJules is one there, along with @DougRDNaylor and finally @Bobbyllew , so add these guys, it’s worth it! Also, don’t forget to tune in to Robert’s brilliant ‘Carpool’ and ‘Fully Charged’ web series’, you won’t regret it. http://www.llewtube.com/

Next up is ‘Being Human’, a great series from the Beeb, the latest of which starts it’s 3rd series tonight on BBC 3, at 9pm GMT.

I think it’s always a big shame that in the UK, most series only run for 6 episodes, because a year is a long time to wait for the next airing. No more bitching…it’s back! Now this is one re-make that I’d like to see succeed and that’s mainly because I’m a fan of Sam Witwer (Smallville, BSG), so I hope it succeeds for his sake.

As far as the UK cast goes, there are a couple of Twitter to follow, @russelltovey and fellow Werewolf @SineadKeenan – Go follow them.

Finally…Buffy. Hmmmm, this is a controversial one, isn’t it? A film without Whedon? Crazy right? Well, actually yes, how can it not be? How can Joss not have any involvement?

Back in the day (Seems like a lifetime ago), WB released the Whedon penned ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ to theaters everywhere. However, much as his name was on it, it seems that the director/producers etc. made a bit of a hash of it. Most Whedeonites dislike the film, but I actually like it, for what it is, especially as we didn’t have the series to compare it to back then. The movie, starring Kristy Swanson and Luke Perry, was probably a bit too slapstick in humour and didn’t seem to have the sharp wit that we’ve grown to love across all of the Whedonverse (Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Dollhouse, Dr. Horrible).

However, surely WB have realised the strengths in Joss’ writing/directing, right? Sadly, that’s unlikely. Now the new film apparently has a writer, Whit Anderson and she’s on Twitter @Whitand , however, it’s not fair to give her grief for writing a film that most of us would give our right eye to have an opportunity to write. She’s a writer, give her a break. It’s hard enough for script writers to get work, or have their work used, as it is, without blaming them for things out of their control. We can only hope that WB see sense and get the man involved.

So finally, more Twitter accounts, this time for the Whedonverse…and there are LOADS!

@NicholasBrendan @AlyDenisof @ElizaDushku @CLCarpenter1970 @AnthonySHead @Amber_Benson @JulieBenz @JennyAndTeets @JulietLandau @ChristianKane01 @JonnyWallet @JimmyLeary @MarkDLutz @AdamSBaldwin @AlexaDavalosD @NathanFillion @Summer_Glau @MissMorenaB @JewelStaite @ActuallyNPH @ClareBerry @SethGreen @FeliciaDay @emmacaulfield @TomLenk @Camden_Toy @Dichenlachman and @Whedonesque – I think that’s all of them, I may add more, if I’ve forgotten anyone. So add them and pray Warner Brothers wake up a little.