Otley People (my new website) is now live btw - it's all about Otley. If you're from Otley too you might enjoy writing Otley things there. Just in case, you know, anyone reads this who doesn't read my LJ. Thought not really, but where's the harm?
Dude, in what sense is this not just the Livejournal interface again? Ah well, I got the username "Seamus" here so I guess it's better in that respect. PS hello world.
Update: no he's not, cancelled instead cos of the weather. How very English.

Michael Bywater, who I know slightly via correspondence and who has written two rather splendid books, is going to be at the Cambridge Heffer's tonight (Thursday Dec 6th) from 18:30. Why do you care? Well,

(1) he wrote Lost Worlds, IMO one of the few serious contenders for title of the Best Thing Ever Written By Anybody About Anything;

(2) he wrote Big Babies, which while not quite as brilliant as Lost Worlds is still rather splendid indeed;

(3) I understand he will be talking about and signing these things;

(4) I am told there will be free drinks.

If you live in Cam, or know people who do, go and see him or at least pass this message on or something. Just think - it's Xmas soon and you could pick up a signed copy of a book that would make a damn fine present for your dad (mine loved Lost Worlds, I understand). Also, I owe Mr Bywater a favour because I accidentally forced him to watch that awful film The Corporation, so if you do get to talk to him and only went because of my recommendation please mention the fact if you can. Accidentally making a man see The Corporation takes much making up for. Obliged as ever.
I have very little to add to Darien's assessment of Spamalot - it is indeed a cringingly uninventive rehash of the film contaminated with a faint patina of theatrical injokes (multiple, belaboured Les Mis visual nods, some nonsensical metadramatic songs about songs about songs, the addition of some irrelevant diva to the "plot" presumably on grounds that an all-male comedy would fail to satisfy the audience's idle lechery). My very favourite line from the film ("on second thoughts let's not go to Camelot - it is a silly place") was also excised for no obvious reason. One genuinely funny sequence was added, speculating as to how an all-knowing all-seeing god might go about losing a cup. I liked that rather a lot, though if I had to bet I would bet that it was not new material at all but some lines that were cut from the original film back in the day. It did not in any case justify the expense of two tickets.

The one thing that struck me especially hard was that with all the Python material to draw on, the only bit of Life of Brian that made it into the show was "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life". I am merely speculating here, but I very much fear that the decision to base the Monty Python musical on Grail rather than Brian was made not on the basis of comedic impact but on a fear that America's religious right would march down Broadway with burning torches if anyone tried to restage the famous crucifixion send-up. I rather fear than in the 31 (31!) years since Brian was made our culture has taken an appallingly retrograde step in its willingness to pander to censors and the militantly offended of at least two notable religious camps.

That is, after all, just speculation. Perhaps they thought of staging Brian but just couldn't make it funny. Though I must confess that leaves me puzzled as to how much harder it could have been to carbon-copy the script of Brian over from screen to stage than it was to carbon-copy the script of Grail. And why no-one considered that the film actually containing Eric Idle's iconic musical hit would not make a better musical than one containing only the foolish Camelot ditty - from which the punchline was in any case omitted - especially given that "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" was in any case inelegantly crammed in.
Just for the benefit of anyone considering posting the <i>anything not commented here shall be understood to forever hold its peace</i> meme du jour...since it implies a willingness to be bound by one-sided contracts that presume to apply to anyone who happens to read them, by reading this you consent in perpetuity to let me bring up any issues I like whenever I like in whatever format happens to suit me.
So last night me and Lani and [personal profile] vigornian and [profile] m1nstrel and [profile] two_headed_lady and Ash saw Neil Gaiman read a poem about When the Saucers Came which was jolly funny and a short story about silly teenage boys trying unwittingly to pull aliens which was sweet but a bit daft, and then embark on a shade less than an hour of witty, erudite, startlingly entertaining digression occasionally distracted by questions from the audience. He is one of the very best public speakers I've ever seen.
We learned that Terry Gilliam owes him a groat for the rights (seemingly in perpetuity) to film Good Omens, and that other films based on almost everything Neil has ever written are at every stage of development from idle speculation to post-production, except for Sandman that he wants done either brilliantly or not at all, and that he's working on various things including a McKean children's collboration called Crazy Hair, and something with Penn of Penn and Teller that the audience collectively promised not to tell anyone about so I won't.

Then we ate Thai food at Busaba, which was as brilliant as ever, and then to bed.
So, tomorrow me and Lani move into a new house in N22.

We need a handful of things done to it - some floorboards sanded and varnished, a new bathroom, the sort of thing that a good general builder should be able to handle.

Not knowing the area, does anyone have any recommendations? I'm particularly thinking of Arkansas, of course, whose house just up the road has been generally spruced up over the past few years, but all suggestions welcome.


Aug. 7th, 2006 08:29 am
This week, everything I see looks derivative. Derivation, all is derivation (sayeth the preacher).

Example: I saw Johnny Depp in the Libertine at the weekend. A good film, taken in isolation - Johnny Depp is one of the finest actors alive (oh why no Oscar for Jack Sparrow? Fool of an Academy!) and paired nicely with John Malkovich as a predictably brilliant Charles II, but for me it was just Withnail and I set in the Restoration. Inebriate bohemains wander around London with a vague, dilletantist interest in acting, occasionally retiring to the country in the forlorne hope of drying out a bit and enjoying the fresh air as a wealthy but too-often slighted patron has his good nature drunkendly tried beyond endurance? I kept waiting for the cry of "are you the farmer?" to round things out. He even looked like Richard E Grant for most of the film (until his nose fell off).

Example: I've been reading Jasper FForde's "The Big Over Easy", kindly leant to me by [personal profile] terriem- it's a murder mystery set in a recognisably Ffordian world of realistic nursery rhyme characters, quite a bit like the Thursday Next stuff but also more whimiscal and silly by dint of the nursery rhyme angle. But in what sense is it not simply a rewording of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Dear reader, I could not count the ways.

Example: Kidulthood. What a load of wank. They pulled the same allegedly controversial trick with Kids more than a decade earlier, and then again with Thirteen last year. Hey, kids grow up faster than they used to! No. Kids grow up faster than the absurd but parentally-popular fantasy that they are children until 18, at which point becoming overnight adults, might lead us to believe. Kids grow up a lot less fast than they did two hundred years ago, when the boys would be digging in the fields or up chimneys before they were ten and the girls would be married off to syphilitic half-uncles at the first signs of puberty. So, yes, sixteen-year-olds fuck a lot and if not properly supervised will revert to more-or-less animalistic dominance rituals. Well spotted that man. Think we've seen it before.

So in my jaded state it was nice to spend Sunday at the Angel Film Festival and see some shorts that, while not all completely original, sometimes suprisingly were. "Deadline" may as well have been marked "Homage to Tarantino", and "Tess" "Homage to Jeunet et Carot", but three of the animations were brilliant ("Bus Kong" I think a clear audience favourite for its Ken cameo, and "End of the Ice Age" an exceedingly lovely piece of whimsy). "Second Class Male" was witty, well-executed and genuinely clever with an honest-to-goodness unexpected twist; "Stealth Lunch" (another very quick animation) made me giggle; and an honourable mention goes to "Faith in Chaos" (better than average tale of student drug abuse and sudden romance), "Faultline" (nicely represented mental breakdown weakened only by the attempt at a moral at the end) and "Take Your Shoes Off" (brief, touching, sweet). I didn't understand "The Year of Memories" or "Lifeless"; I didn't enjoy the alleged twists in "Endgame" or "Before Midnight" (both would have been stronger without). And the fact that all of the films were showed on a PS2 just added a frisson of edgy bucketiness to the whole affair that I'm sure the audience appreciated more than their jeers at the occasional technical hiccup belied - it was friendly and unpretentious and nice, in which circumstanes one simply rides with those sorts of things.

In other funs...Friday was sushi with Arkan and Terrie (Sunday lunch was also sushi in the same venue; I like sushi) and Saturday was a rather torpid Benaresing in Welwyn. So...yeah. Fun. And films. And I'm re-reading Martin Amis' "Money", which isn't half bad, and I can't even work out yet who it's ripping off.
Someone I knew slightly from Otley was killed in Iraq on Tuesday, it seems - guy called Matthew Cornish from the year below me at school. Rick and Timmy B may faintly remember him too. I can't claim to have spoken to him for the better part of two decades but still, we used to be in the same youth club when we were about ten.

England fighting in Iraq was too much of an abstraction for me to care. I feel rather more involved when people start shooting Otley boys.
This update merely to show off my new Dubya dograpist icon, courtesy of Darien. Now I have dograpist icons from Kent, Abi and Darien. Jolly good.
Should anyone I know be interested in my views on the newspaper publishing industry in the UK and the impact of the digital age upon it, I've now got a professional blog at http://virtualeconomics.typepad.com. Keeping up with developments in this industry is more-or-less the thing I do for a living, though note that the blog belongs to me and isn't associated with my employer.

If you happen to know more about web design than me, or just have an opinion on the matter, all comments gratefully received.
After [profile] blue_devi gave us Spindlemarch, [personal profile] hatmandu found Polopolis, [profile] _kent stumbled across Velocester and [profile] smiorgian discovered Wessex Prime in dreams, I seem to have stumbled across another of these, and note for the record

If you feel like fucking with some dumb American censorship programme (see HERE for why you would) the above image will apparently help you do so.
These utterly splendid people - http://www.pro-test.org.uk/involved.htm - enjoy my fullest support.

(That's two open entries, i.e. not just locked to friends, in as many weeks. How unusual).
My friends Andrew and Paul - who many, though not all, of you know - run a publishing company. In an act of commercial suicide, sorry inspired Web 2.0 guerilla marketing, they seem to be giving away a perfectly good book, "Light", by a very nice man called Craig Taylor. Simply go HERE to get a free PDF of this excellent short novel.
My current hope for the Paris riots is that the French government decides to send the army in. I'm idly curious to see what the consequences are of surrendering to a disenfranchised mob.


Sep. 16th, 2005 05:53 pm
So some friends of mine have re-released http://www.whatshouldireadnext.com/, which you should go and have a play with if you like books. There's a rather nice feature now where you can let it recommend you some books, then tell it you've read those books, then let it go and recommend you some books on the basis of that new information...seemingly ad infinitum. Great fun!

George R R will be in London on Fri 21st October, finally signing Feast. Hurrah! There's also a new (Vimes) Pratchett out in October and the conclusion to Peter F Hamilton's Pandora's Star, so it looks like an excellent month for books.
Got spacked last night with Rick and Darien and Abi and Terrie and Lise and Jimmy and Lani. Still quite spacked now. Was going to do some ironing but I don't think it would be wise to be around hot metal things.

This is what happens when you don't drink for a week and then spend seven hours swilling splishy, and also not eating because All Bar One is too spacky to bring crab cakes (but not too spacky to put them on the bill regardless, which I only found out later when Darien rang me up to point out I hadn't paid for them).
Lani has a problem. She's working at home with no web access. For some reason her (UK, laptop, windows) keeps getting stuck on caps lock due to what she believes is a keyboatd shortcut she's accidentally hitting. Any ideas what that would be? I found a site that reckoned the windows logo key+S should do the job, but no joy. Any ideas?
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