The rants of a constantly ticking mind, combined with a mess of reviews and obscure titling methods.

Monday, March 21, 2005

'Peaches! Peaches!' Not here, try another castle.

I'm taking a break from packing up to return to my internet-challenged home back in good ol' North Somerset, and so I thought I'd better leave a parting gift before my return here in about 3 weeks.

Wow, how my days have been compressed since last week. Things seem to be running at an ultra-fast pace, and so it comes as no suprise I have enough things to fill a whole post. Let's start proceedings with the trivial.

The Crazy Frog and the newly introduced 'censored' square. I feel reasonably to blame for this. For anyone in the UK, the Crazy Frog was the bane of our televisual existence. For anyone outside the UK, there's probably much head scratching about what the hell I'm talking about. So, I'll explain. The 'Crazy Frog' is an animation called The Annoying Thing created by a 'crazy german' called Erik Wernquist, with 'sound' by Daniel Malmedahl. (You can see it at if you feel the need to go through this torture). Now, with a name like 'That Annoying Thing' it would be ringing alarm bells in most advertising companies for the category 'DO NOT USE'. But no, it was bought by the mobile ringtone market to create a 'wacky' ringtone. Then, a company named Jamster! decided "Hey, wouldn't it be a good idea to make mobile ringtone 'stars' by filling every crevice of ad-break with our advertisments?". At the time, however, only one ringtone existed that could be used to flood the market - the animation now rebranded as 'Crazy Frog'. What this meant to the poor British consumer is that you hear this same ringtone about 4 times in each 2-and-a-half-minute advert break between programming, twice as much during 'primetime' and nearly-24/7 on most music channels. To be honest, I think if this was only a couple of days, that would have been fine, or maybe even 3 days. But to have this going on permanently between December and February is plain rediculous. Now, as far as I am aware, there were multitudes of complaints to the broadcasting companies and regulators about the excessive usage of this, but no-one seemed to want to listen.

It looked like there would be no hope for the mental state of the UK. Then, back in January (the 20th, in fact) I had what they call 'a cunning plan'. For I had noted something which the 'Crazy Frog' could be pulled up for. The 'frog', in case you hadn't noticed, has a penis. Not a very big penis, mind you, but a penis all the same. More importantly, I felt it breached the 'Mull O' Kintyre' test (a Channel 4 test guideline for preventing erect penises on film, where a penis is not permitted if it's more erect than the Mull Of Kintyre). And so, a quick trip to the Advertising Standards Agency website and bang! One complaint about how a slighty erect penis should not be permitted before the watershed, and how it should be only shown at night (aka: when this advertising would not be commercially profitable). However, I felt that a solitary complaint was probably not enough to sway opinion, and so I hired the good ol' help of and it's members. They too have an issue with the repeatedness of the advert, and soon, a few people too drew offence to the Crazy Frog's genitalia. And of course, the TermiSoc people were dragged into the fray.

Fast forward to the 3rd of February. I recieve an e-mail with a link to Reuters news. We hit the headlines! Admittedly, it was a loss, the complaint was not upheld, and so it went away. I recieved a nice letter from the ASA on the 4th (my birthday, in fact) stating that there 'were insufficient grounds to uphold [my] complaint'. Oh well, not really a suprise to be honest, but hopefully enough of a statement to make Jamster think twice about their advertising strategy.

Now, skip forward to last week. Sitting in the student union on Thursday (St. Patrick's day), MTV Hits on the big screen, as usual. Now, something made me look up at the annoying crazy frog advert, only to spot something awry. Wait.... THERE'S A BLACK BOX ON THAT FROG! Strike a light if I haven't caused a little black square to censor the little guy's nads! Now, luckily I had company in the form of my house-mate Chris (who already knew about the escapades), and so he called for a congratulatory toast.

So, my apologies to Jamster (neé Jamba! neé Lorena Medianagentur GmbH) and Zed, to Erik, to everybody I annoyed and affected, and to all the people that are now frustrated by the Crazy Frog now having a censor. But boy, do I grin every time I think of it! Plus, I wonder how much Erik got for allowing this to occur, when Jamster have made approx. £18 million from that single animation.

Wow. That's the first time I've ever emptied a drink into my keyboard. Luckily, it was just Diet Coke so it won't get too sticky and manky.

Anyway, speaking of St. Patrick's Day, the reason why we were in the Student's Union was because me and Chris had planned to meet Lana and Kat (the two girls the TermiSoc met at the Constantine preview) to celebrate the Irishness of it all. Sadly, Kat wasn't drinking, and so Lana was drinking for the both of them, and then for a third who couldn't make it due to work constraints. To be perfectly honest, she did a damn fine job of not losing her head (though she later confessed to not remembering about 5-15 minutes of that night). The night took us from the Student's Union (where the cards came out and the games began, until we were pushed out by the increasing volume of the place). Later, I got my first experience of The Nowhere Inn.

The Nowhere Inn is a Fullers-owned pub hidden between Radnor and Pilgrim Halls. From the outside, it looks like a matchbox with some very furboding frosted windows. It looks like the kind of place you'd find a pentagram on in 'American Warewolf in London'. Step inside, and you are treated to the friendliest and cosiest pub in Plymouth. The sign outside doesn't lie, either; it does indeed have the best, and strangest, jukebox in nearbyness. I'm pretty certain it belted out David Bowie, followed by Pixies, followed by They Might Be Giants. Apparently, someone visiting from the US said that it's the kind of place that deserves to be anywhere else, and that Plymouth didn't deserve this, the best pub he'd ever been in. So please, if you ever get the oppertunity, go to this pub. It's certainly one of the greatest pubs in the country bar none. If you're heading this way and need directions, just e-mail me.

Anyway, on from there to the Schiving Scholar, a student pub where you really do stick to the carpet. It's definitely a comedown from the Nowhere Inn. Eventually, Lana got a claustrophobic feeling and had to go outside. Somehow, all three of us ended up lying on the grass outside Gilwell Hall and staring up at the trees as they spun round us in a hazy, alcohol-filled bubble. It was chilled, like the feeling you get after an especially-good gig. Lana said it felt like being a teenager, a feeling she claims she never found the opportunity to act out properly. I know what she means. It's like all those days you are supposed to have as a 15-year old, playing out on the sea-front, consuming vast quantities of cider, and chilling out. Except, of course, I never got that opportunity at that age, being a 16-year old stuck in a tiny village outside Yorkshire. All that changed when I moved, of course, when I actually found friendship with a group of people in sixth-form, and was able to live some experiences I'd only heard other people talk about (the greatest of these being the week away in Cornwall with 5 other people during the hot summer of 2002. Bodyboarding and beaching every day, having plenty of laughs at night, and having the kind of time many dream of. Sheer bliss. I wish I could do it again someday, but I feel the chance for another oppertunity is getting further and further away as I get older). I can't remember what we talked about, and frankly it doesn't matter, but it ranks highly on fun things that have occured randomly. Anyway, soon after that, we headed back to the pub, basically said our goodnights, and that was it. Oh, apart from she almost lost her bag, but it was only a case of being left on the grass. And of course, Chris 'losing' his wallet, going on for about 15 minutes about how his life was so sh*t, and how nothing goes right, only to find it in his pocket about half an hour later in a pocket he hadn't checked. Dumbass :P

Friday, finished off all the filming and voice-overs for my personal story film project. Again, I was astounded by the quality of the actress Harley had found for the part. Juliette actually is Harley's equivilent of Chris in the way she was 'just' living in the same house as him. She is, however, a professional stage-actress, unlike Chris who did GCSE Drama and left it at that. To be honest, she was the equivilent of a Managing Director for a company applying for a post of teaboy. Her talent was probably wasted on such a minute part, although I suppose she could be seen as a 'supporting actress'! Still, she did the lines so well, in exactly the style I told her to do them. It was astounding. Anyway, hopefully I'll get time to cut the film before I get back. That's a point, I don't know her surname! That's going to be a problem. Note to self: must ring Harley tomorrow and get her name. Oh, and ring landlord about getting heating fixed over holidays; not that it's very important now the days are getting warmer, but because it's a pain when it gets cold.

Saturday, decided that since it was sunny, we should take full opportunity to go down the Hoe. The Hoe, in case you are wondering, is the sea-front in Plymouth. It features the stripy Drake's Lighthouse, the landmark of Plymouth. Also, it's the best place to go to get ice-cream :D We (that is me, Chris, Lana and random girl I never caught the name of, and have forgotten at present) found a café that looked out onto the sea (called The Terrace) which was reasonably pleasant, if stupidly pricey. I'm sorry, but £1 for a can of Tango?

Anyway, we took a wander, including attempted 'moonwalking' on a beachy bit below the café, and eventually ended up in The Admiral McBride Pub, which is off the Marina. Supposedly one of the oldest pubs in Plymouth, it offers a quiet drink where others offer annoying loud drinks. A pint of John Smiths and 2 packets of peanuts later, we decided it would be cheaper to buy some beer and head off to a suitable location. That beer was Caffrey's, the location was Lana's house; because it was closer; and the food was majoritally chocolate-flavoured. We played games, viewed bizarre viral internet stuff, and finished off by watching The Sixth Sense, which I fell asleep half way through in.

Sunday, I awoke and was pleasantly suprised to find I didn't have a crick in my neck, despite sleeping on the sofa. After having some lunch, and watching back-to-back episodes of 'Police Squad!' (classic!), me and Chris headed home, arriving at exactly the same time we left the previous day. Started packing, and now I'm here, semi-packed (waiting for clothes to dry), and perfectly looking forward to going home, seeing my parents, seeing my Chrissey (who I've been missing a ginormous amount over the past weeks, especially after I started feeling ill last week), seeing Hazel; despite the fact she'll probably be unimpressed to see me; see all my friends back home, and chill out whilst doing work. *sigh*

Oh, and reclaiming a shed-load of money. *double sigh*

Never mind, I suppose it has to be done. Anyway, must go check on washing, pack, etc. So if you don't hear from me for a while, have a good Easter, have a nice rest from work, and I'll catch you on the other side. Bye!

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

'Let them know you realize that life goes fast, it's hard to make the good things last' - The Flaming Lips - Do You Realize???

I think Gem is right about the whole 'not updating very regularly' thing, noting it's been a fortnight since I let the world know my feelings. But to look on the B-side, I note that I've spent longer lengths not writing anything (May to September, for instance).

I feel a little shattered after drinking too much coffee and not being able to sleep soundly. *sigh* My fault I suppose, but the advantage is that I spend less time oversleeping :-P Also, it means I can bring another installment of my life to you!

Man, I sometimes forget how good 'Back in the USSR' by The Beatles is. I have been converting my CDs to AAC format (Advanced Audio codec, I believe, which is based off MPEG-4 technology). The advantage of AAC is that it I can get higher quality music, but with less space taken up. Good for me.

Hmmm... I wonder when someone will work out a Super Audio CD solution for computers. It drives me bonkers that I have 'Dark Side of The Moon' by Pink Floyd, but can't yet experience the quadrophonic beauty of it's original music. I do recall reading something about it in relation to next-generation DVD-ROM drivers Oh well, I'll just have to wait and see.

Anyway, what have I been up to in the past fortnight?

Well, I've been watching all the episodes of Nathan Barley (top series partly made by the creator of many weird radio and TV programmes, Chris Morris) and Look Around You (a very tongue-in-cheek micktake of 70s 'Tomorrow's World') that I'd previously missed. Good start to the week. I'm currently trawling through My Life In Film, a 6-part comedy series starring Kris Marshall (of My Family's Nick fame). The story revolves around a struggling filmmaker called Art (played by Marshall), and his life imitating various famous films. It's quite entertaining so far.

Also, I encountered the first episode of the new series of 'Doctor Who' that got leaked by either a Canadian TV company or a post-effects studio, nobody can be certain. {spoilers-beware} In any case, I didn't watch this rough edit of this first episode, entitled 'Rose' after the Doctor's new assistant. Nor did I see the 'Autons' reappear (called Liquid Plastic by the Doctor, trying to explain it to his assistant), or even see Rose's boyfriend being consumed by an angry wheelie-bin. I especially didn't encounter any footage of London being terrorised by killer shop-dummies, or anything involving the new tardis interior. So I can't tell you how incredible this will be, especially since I can't claim to be a fan of Doctor Who at all, just as an average member of the public. I can't give the episode 5 stars, can't tell you that Christopher Eccelston makes a highly entertaining character, that Billie Piper can actually act, or that Russell T. Davies has done a fine job. I can, however, tell you the series starts on BBC One on Saturday the 26th of March at 7pm, and you must at least give the first episode the chance. People outside the UK, just hunt through the listings, you may find it. {end of spoilers}

So far I've gone through 37 albums and counting on the 'ripping' front. And yes, they are my albums; I just keep a copy on my computer because I rotate my CDs between home and Uni, and so I don't always have tracks I want to listen to with me.

Ahhh, there's nothing like breakfast for clearing your head in the morning. It's one of those meals which, done properly, can make the morning more bearable. It's also, unfortunately, the one I'm most likely to miss due to what they call 'poor time management' in Uni. It's what I like to call 'waking up after your alarm clock's been going off for 30 minutes'. Today, I'm going for the classic cereal and toast combination (though sadly without the orange juice, because I am poor and slightly forgetful when I get down the shops).

Anyway, where was I? Oh, yeah.

Filming for both mine and Harley's (who's my group mate) Personal Story film projects are going well. The project centres around a story about something that happened in your life. I decided to focus on an unfortunately messy breakup between me and my ex-girlfriend (which, in retrospect, I would have done in a snip if I knew then what a loving, caring, amazing girlfriend I would still have almost 3 years down the line). In the past few years, I've been living down the fact that I actually broke the heart of my ex and not having a suitable medium in which to tell my half of the story (which few people know). A 2-minute preview of the films both gave positive results. All the lecturers who were there were astounded at the acting. Little did they know I was equally astounded by Chris' (my house mate) acting ability. I just said to him a week ago 'Fancy acting for my film?', he said yes, and then when he actually did it: Blimey! It was almost as if my personal story was his. I will be forever indebted to Chris for this. Hopefully, I can get the thing finished before the end of term.

Speaking of films, I ended up with some preview tickets to 'Constantine'. So, grabbing a load of people from The TermiSoc, we wandered (well, got a lift), to the cinema, and then patiently queued for the special screening. During this period, the conversation fell onto the topic of the upcoming Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy movie. The two girls on the opposite side of the flimsy queue-penning barriers started nattering about it too. Soon, a conversation began. All the single TermiSoc guys lined up for a converse with the attractive yet mentally geeky women. Gem looked on, unimpressed. Anyway, I'm getting distracted.

'Constantine' (based off the comic 'Hellblazer', apparently) is a dark action/theological thriller, cross-bred with dark spiritual debate. But don't attempt to connect this to The Matrix. Yes, it stars Keanu Reeves and contains action and possible philosophical debate, but it's a bit like trying to compare Meet The Parents to East Is East. They both contain stuff about families, and they are both comedies, but they are set in totally different locations and feature totally different concepts and situations. Anyone who does try to compare this film to The Matrix is probably trying way too hard and should be beaten down at any cost.

To be perfectly honest with you, I wasn't expecting much from this film. The trailer portrayed it to a market of action-junkies, with no plot points revealed. Whoever made this trailer should be hung from the gallows for a poor portrayal of the film. The film revolves around a 'excorcist' named John Constantine. He spends the majority of his life rounding up angels and demons who have 'illegally' traversed onto the Earth. He's not doing this for kicks though, he's trying to buy his way back into God's good books, securing a place in heaven, after seeing Hell for real and realising to himself 'I've got to not end up there'. Then one day, something weird starts to happen. Hell's nastiest demons are trying their best to get onto the Earth, and a totally devout catholic has just committed suicide (when suicide would get any catholic a one-way ticket to the burning-hotness). So, he has to work out what on Earth is going on and what he can do to stop it.

Now, I know Johnny Mnemonic was dire and quite a lot of people didn't enjoy the last two Matrixes; although I find them just as good as the first one, but that's another story; but I think that this is the best film I've seen either Reeves or Rachel Weisz in for quite some time. That's why I'm giving it 4 stars out of 5. Go see it, for your own sake. Oh, and on a side-note, seeing as quite a lot of critics couldn't understand The Matrix, it's unsuprising they'll immediately hate it because it has a parting connection to the trilogy.

I really don't understand the concept of 'Copy Protected' CDs. In what way are they Copy Protected? So far I have made copies of Turin Brakes' 'Ether Song'and The Thrills' 'So Much for The City'; both with Copy Protection warnings on, both having normal-sounding MP3s and AACs on my PC. Maybe the majority of these have the warning labels, but no real 'meat' to them, just a low-grade copy supplied on the disc for the computer illiterate and the easily scared.

Ooh, funky. On the bottom of U2's latest album 'How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb' is etched (in the centre coding section) the words 'Miss You Sugar'. I haven't seen many albums with a secret message written in the 'matrix' of a CD (it was quite common in the good ol' vinyl days, but CDs are usually mastered by someone professional so there is not much opportunity for a band to wander into the pressing plant and etch a message on the master copies). This isn't the first time I've seen a message on this part (I do recall a couple of less commercial CDs with ominous messages written on the inner spiral). But what does it mean? One possibility is it is referring to Brendan Robert Hewson, Bono's father, who died in 2001 from cancer. The album is dedicated to him (as seen in the liner notes). It could, less dramatically, refer to an Oxfam photo-shoot he did where he was covered in sugar to raise awareness for unfair trade in third world countries. Or, slightly more obsurely, it could relate to what's written in this post. I would say that may be the truth, if I wasn't laughing so much at the vague stab in the dark '"Sugar" is often a cryptic nickname for God' is. Unless someone can prove me wrong, then I'll stop laughing. :-P

Anyway, I think I'll wander off for now, as I have things to do, people to see, websites to create. Bye for now.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Brain melting beats, played by a number of disjointed mind-ferrymen.

I have taken a break from research for my 2000 word essay to write this blog, so don't shoot me if it's a little messed and illegible.

Research, if you could call it that, is going badly. The books I need to read are not in the university, and so I have been forced to trawl the
Googlesphere for information, combined with anything in the Wikipedia, etc.

Gem complained to me (in a way) that I don't update often enough for her. I do apologise if I don't post often enough, but that is just a fact of life that I, for the majority of the time, don't have anything interesting to write. Actually, that's a lie, it's just I don't feel like writing some of the time. *sigh*

The last week or so has been full to the brim, in a way. Tuesday the 22nd was the AGM of the
Univeristy's Student Union, which me, Gem, Ben, and Skip turned up to so we could vote on a motion to start the Radio Station officially (this also means that money and space will be on the cards at last), which passed without any rejections. Apart from that it was mostly a snoozefest. :P

Wednesday, I did some stuff in the daytime and then hopped on a train to go see Chrissey (mostly because she'd bought tickets to
Rebecca, starring Nigel Havers, info further on). Wednesday night, we went to Pizza Hut (annoyingly, I wasn't particularly hungry), and had some good ol' fashioned Italian :D . We then tried to go see a film, only to find tosh on at the Odeon, and we couldn't be bothered to try any of the other cinemas (it's a distance thing). Shame that.

Thursday, Chrissey had some lectures, and so we headed off to the campus and whilst she did all her stuff, I sat in the café-type place and read the book I was trying to finish
The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks (an incredible book about how the human mind can break, entertaining and well worth reading even if you don't know the first thing about neurology - like me), and also do some work on, well, my work!

Later, we went to
Union Films, which is the Southampton Univeristy's Film Society. Unlike most film societies, however, UF has it's own film projectors, it's own 300-seat cinema in the union, and DTS :) Saw The Grudge, a a film by Takashi Shimizu starring Sarah-Michelle Gellar. It was an alright horror film, some blatant "oh that's going to happen" moments, but worth seeing. Bizarrely enough about this film, this is the 3rd making of the film, by the same director! It's all rather confusing, really. Anyway, I give it 3 stars, because it does what it set out to do.

Friday, Chrissey had a lecture about grave-robbing and looting to supply antiquities for the art market, and whether it was right or not. (You can read more about another lecture on the subject

Afterwards, after visiting the extensive
Oxfam Music Shop, where I ended up buying Moby's 18, and a couple of other CDs I can't remember the name of right now.

Friday night was spent watching
Interview With The Vampire, which I had never seen before, and I'll give 4 stars to. We were going to watch Queen of The Damned as well(a kind of sequel to Interview with The Vampire), but time marched on.

Saturday, we had a bit of a lazy day, went to Maplin in the afternoon to see about getting a media computer case (as in, a case that could be used for a Media PC), due to the last case in the Plymouth store being badly scrathed and them being reluctant to give me a discount. Found that another branch in Sotton had one, so reserved it and Chrissey might pick it up for me so I can finish it in the hols.

Then, we went to
Bella Italia (because, with theatre tickets for The Mayflower, you get a complimentary bottle of wine) and had some damn fine Italian-type food. I like Bella Italia, it's just a shame they don't have a restaurant in Plymouth. The service was resonably appalling today, however, having to wait 3/4s of a hour between starter and main course. It wasn't particularly busy, either. We didn't have time for desert and our garlic bread went cold waiting. Oh well.

Anyway, finally we saw Rebecca, as I mentioned at the start of this post. It's the story of Maxim De Winter and his new wife Beatrice. Well, sort of. Really it's the story of what happens when you marry a man with a wife who died under suspicious circumstances. Oh, and have a large house where your housekeeper is obsessed with the afforementioned dead wife. I can imagine this being a very good story. However, in this play, the majority of the tale is lost to a spartan (to say the least) stage set and a slightly wooden act. I feel I missed out on something in the experience. Also, as the play drew to it's final conclusion, bits of the play started disappearing, I think. The majority of it had a straightforward feel to it, but the end occured all too sudden and all too out of the blue, with very little reasoning or statement of what was truly going on, covered up by some very bizarre statements. I think this was partly down to the lack of scenery, which made it difficult to judge exactly where things were happening. Maybe I should read the book. :/ Me and Chrissey put down it's woodenness and lack of real depth down to the last play we saw being '
Mercury Fur', but reading other people's comments on it, I think it wasn't just us.

Sunday, again, was chilled. Chrissey made a fantastic roast for us, and watched
Cool Runnings, which apparently (again) I haven't seen before. I'll give it 3 1/2 stars.

And then I came home, back to my stone cold room. *sigh*. I miss Chrissey, and now I won't see her until the holidays. :(

Anyway, back here, the TermiSoc AGM was raring to go, so that happened at 6:30PM. Much was discussed (you can read about it
here), Ryan of ex-president fame turned up, and all were happy. Oh, and my fridge grew half a pizza for me. How nice of it :D

Somewhere during Sunday and Monday night, my computer also learnt about
torrenting and got the first two episodes of Nathan Barley. I'm glad it learned how to do that otherwise I would never have seen it due to the innumerable (partly down to the amount of generated smoke blocking my view of them) troop of potheads who congregate in my front room on a daily basis and watch nature programs. This is because their drug-addled heads are not able to cope with anything more visually challenging. Just try and get two stoned teenagers to watch 'Moulin Rouge' and you'll see what two terrified individuals, rocking gently in their haze because the images are too fast, really looks like! [note: may have a greater effect in the UK, due to films running a frame-per-second faster on television]). Next up is the 3rd episode and 'Bodyshock: The Man Who slept for 19 Years', the story of a 19-year old who ended up in a car-crash in 1984 and awoke last summer. God Bless!

Anyway, the majority of my day today has been filled up with work and me writing blog. So now everything's up to date, I'll stop prattling. Bye for now! :D

All contents (C)2004-07 Rich Jeffery & Chrissey Harrison. Please ask permission before copying.