About damn time.
I’m not blogging here any more. Hit up http://thedanprycedossier.wordpress.com/.
About damn time.
I’m not blogging here any more. Hit up http://thedanprycedossier.wordpress.com/.
There’s a beautiful paradox at the heart of this entry; it’s at once the hardest and easiest thing I’ve ever written. Hard, in that it’s something I don’t particularly want to do; and easy in that I know exactly why I have to do it.
I may have built it up more than is necessary, but I’m going to reduce my workload down to One A Week.
I don’t fully want to be doing this, because it’s sort of admitting defeat. The main reason I’ve made this decision is because blogging is getting on top of me. It’s not that I can’t keep up – I could write a blog everyday, no problem, if I didn’t have so much other stuff to do as well. I work 38 hours a week. I have a girlfriend to make time for – time which isn’t spent tapping away at my iPod. I’ve got commitments with another website, writing two features a week. It might not sound like much, but factor in sleep and there just aren’t enough decent hours in the day left.
It’s also a quality issue. You can tell me straight, I can take it; I’ve written some SHIT these past few weeks. I know I’m capable of better than what I’ve been putting out, but it’s proving difficult given my constraints. In my efforts to get something out, I write rubbish that I’m not at all proud of. I would much rather write one article a week that I’ve put time and effort into than seven half-baked ones.
But the biggest reason I want to go down to One A Week? I’m not having fun.
Perhaps I thought it would be easy to write one blog post every day. I’ve got an iPod and the WordPress app, I can get something posted even if I don’t have my laptop with me. But it’s having something to say; something worthwhile, or meaningful, and thinking of a new thing every day. I can – I have been. But I’m not enjoying it, really. It’s becoming a chore. I’m pushing things aside so I can get it out of the way – things that shouldn’t have to make way. If I am going to blog with regularity, I’d rather do it at my own pace and have fun doing it.
So yeah, I am admitting defeat. But I’m doing so with the best of intentions. Please don’t think it’s because I don’t like blogging – I love it. It’s the best way to expose your soul to the world – fuckin’ hell, that’s what I’m doing right now, isn’t it? – and it’s a brilliant platform for expressing your creativity. But I can’t do that every single day. I’m having a bad time now – imagine how fatigued I might be one month, two months down the line. How depressed. How resentful. No thanks.
Make of that what you will. I’ll of course be doing One A Week still (which, given my schedule, will probably go up on a Monday night). And you can find me writing Dan Pryce: Time Assassin (out on Saturdays) and Pixelated Perspective (out on Wednesdays) at http://www.electronicfarmyard.com. Plus I’ll probably write extra bits on my own blog now and again. You’ll know which one’s they are – they’ll be good.
I left today’s blog a bit late, I did. I’ll have to delve into the archives. I wrote this back in 2009, when Back to Earth had just aired and my rage was at its peak. I figured with the announcement of a new full series of Red Dwarf, now was as good a time as any.
Remember The Phantom Menace? Remember how pumped you were when you knew that there was going to be a new Star Wars, years after the originals? Remember how hyped up you got as the slow drip feed of information trickled down to you, each morsel of knowledge pumping you up that little bit more?
Remember when it finally arrived? Remember how you fell to the floor in horror as all your hopes and expectations disintegrated around you in a torrent of bad dialogue and Jar Jar Fucking Binks? Remember how you left the cinema in despair, collapsing to your knees outside and yelling ‘NNNNOOOOOOOOOOOO’ to the heavens? REMEMBER THAT?
Well I don’t, because I was 11 years old and I thought TPM was fucking awesome. But I hear a lot of people were that disappointed by it, and now that I’ve finished watching Red Dwarf: Back to Earth, I have an experience that I believe is roughly the same.
If my long winded introduction has given you the impression that I hated BTE, that’s because I nearly do. Yes, I am going to spend a great deal of this ‘review’ slamming the shit out of it, but I want to make it clear that it isn’t completely worthless. There are good things about it; I mean, come on, it’s a new Red Dwarf! It’s been nearly a decade, anything’s better than nothing. It’s great seeing the old crew back, and the cast slip right into their roles like they’ve never been away.
That’s all the positive praise I can think of for now. Now it is time to rant.
The main problem I have with BTE is that it didn’t *feel* like Red Dwarf. Oh, it ticked all the boxes, but the magic has long since gone. The lack of a laughter track really didn’t help – they got rid of it in series VII, and that is widely regarded the worst series. So why did they think it’d work in their favour this time?
The special effects were good. Which isn’t Red Dwarf – they should have been intentionally crap. Originially, Red Dwarf was made on a budget of a bag of carrots and a few peanuts. It looked really cheap – and that was part of it’s charm. BTE looks too professional, and it doesn’t feel quite as familiar.
They’ve gone and CGI’d everything. A line has been crossed – no, a CRIME has been commited – when Skutters are generated on a computer. Are you telling me that none of the original props exist any more? Haven’t any die-hard fans built one of their own?
Also, do you remember how series 8 ended? With Rimmer kicking Death in the bollocks and the rest of the crew in mortal danger? However did they get out of that one? I haven’t a clue – BTE made no attempt whatsoever to explain the series VIII cliffhanger. For all series VII’s flaws, at least they explained the series VI cliffhanger in a few seconds – BTE completely glazed over it. The closest we get is that Rimmer is a hard-light hologram now as opposed to being alive, which implies that he did die. But Red Dwarf doesn’t have hard-light technology onboard, unless Holly invented it.
Actually, wait – WHERE THE FUCK WAS HOLLY? At least with Kochanski we found out that she died, but there’s no explaination as to where everyone’s favourite senile ships computer has gone. The official blurb is that, due to the water damage Lister causes, Holly is offline. But this is RED DWARF – there are umpteen ways to get around this. For most of series VIII, Holly was present in Listers watch for example.
But I can forgive Holly not being in it. Norman Lovett didn’t want to come back, and I can respect that (although Hattie Hayridge might have been available – and even if she didn’t want to, get a new actor! Jesus…). Do you know what I can’t forgive? The fact that Back to Earth was, to all intents and purposes, a rehash of the series V episode Back to Reality. That episode was about a giant squid secreting a venom that brought out the despair in the crew and made them believe they went to another universe. All they’ve done is taken that storyline, padded it out to an hour and a half and made it so the emotion was extreme happiness – as if that would pull the wool over our eyes. Do you know how I know this? Because Dave is showing Back to Reality right now. A good episode.
And that’s a good thing, because I really need a pick-me-up after Back to Earth. I admit my expectations were high – after all, they had a shoestring budget to make a special episode of a series that really has played out. With hindsight, I don’t think it could have been as excellent as it was in series V-VI. But I didn’t expect it to be a soul-crushingly bad as it was. At most, I managed five laughs (and one of those was at a line of dialogue).
At best, Back to Earth is excellent heckle-fodder. At worst, it’s actually very sad. The cast are so good in their roles, but absolutely everything around is so shit – script, CGI, other actors, the dire references to ‘our world’ – that it’s tragic watching them all go through the motions.
I’m sure there’s more I can say, but I’ll spare you any more nerd-rage. But I leave you with this – if a new series is indeed in the works as rumoured, the production team need to have a long, hard look at what they’ve done and decide what is best for the future. Or they should just listen to me.
If you remember, I said that I had New Years Resolved to make a game. We’re nearly one sixth of the way through the year now, so it’s a good time to report that I’ve made precisely no progress.
In fact, I’ve slightly regressed in that I’m ditching Robob. No offence to the guy, but if the writing in this thing is going to be my strength it’s going to be tough developing a cake tin on wheels as a character.
I have decided that I want to make the game on a Metroidvania style map, because I can’t wait to jump in and buy some graph paper to design it on. I have a lot of love for games like that, and I think they’d suit my method of construction – Game Maker sets out a room size for you and even though I’m sure you can change it it’s quite a good size for Metroidvania rooms.
The trouble now is picking a theme. I can’t do sci-fi for fear of it being too much like Metroid, and I can’t go fantasy because that’ll be like Castlevania. The choice of genre is going to have to be something a little different, to be sure.
Again, not a lot to report, but ideas are forming and I really want to start building this thing as soon as I can. I’ll keep you posted.
You know what was cool in school? My Chemical Romance. Didn’t that raw angst just speak to you? They were singing songs about exactly what you were going through – you were under-appreciated, so much deeper than that, and MCR were telling people exactly what you wanted to say.
You know what was more cool than My Chemical Romance in school? Hating My Chemical Romance. Subverting the subverters – how delicious. MCR were never a proper punk band at all – their brand of pop-goth (or ‘emo’ as it was fun to call it) was edgy enough that The Daily Mail could think they were the reason people stab people, but they were still just the right side of demented to actually sell some records. It worked, and they were popular. So all us hipsters decided to reject them. Kids were letting their hair grow around the front of their faces to their chins, and we looked (over our thick glasses and Starbucks take-away cups) and said ‘what idiots’.
I was never a very good hipster – I could never fit into the jeans. Which is probably why I’ve come around to My Chemical Romance; Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na) in particular. N12, as we’ll dub it, shows My Chemical Romance doing the opposite of what normal bands do – they’ve stopped taking themselves so seriously. Their third album, The Black Parade, was a concept album about death. I never heard it, but the singles were contemplative and bleak. N12, contrastingly, has a chorus made up of Na’s. They’re having a lot more fun, and so am I.
The video’s even cool. They’ve dropped the gloom and dread and given everything a shot of day glo – and I love it. The best part is they haven’t actually compromised their themes of teenage rebellion – they’re still banging on about rising up against whatever kids rise up against (probably the PCSO who told them they couldn’t skate in the car park), but they’re not being po-faced about it.
I joked with a friend on New Years Eve, while we were listening to some Magnetic Man, that if we went back in time and told our past selves what kind of music we were into these days we’d instantly fade from existence, having set in motion the events that would lead to our own self-assisted suicide. Although he was an MCR fan back then, but I sure wasn’t. I wouldn’t exactly call myself a fan now, but I appreciate them. It’s becoming clearer to me that when you pick sides with music, you only miss out.
I’m coming around to the realisation that, when all’s said and done, there’s nothing wrong with popular music.
I don’t know why it’s taken 20 years for something to dawn on me that 8 year old girls already know. I don’t want to say that it’s because popular things popular because they’re good, because that’s quite often not the cast. What I’m saying is that I’ve finally decided that listening to the charts on the radio isn’t something to be ashamed of.
I am the worst hipster ever.
Never Let Me Go
Isn’t it funny how movies sometimes have the same plots? No, it isn’t. Not even remotely. It’s indicative of a complete lack of originality on the part of screenwriters and producers, and the slow decline of creativity will eventually make it so that we’ll see the release of thousands of completely indistinguishable movies until we get the same thing re-released every week. In 3D.
Never Let Me Go might seem like a unique story, but it’s not. A closed-community of clones that aren’t aware of their true nature and are destined only for the systematic harvesting of their organs? That’s the plot of The Island. MICHAEL BAY DID THAT FIRST, FOR FUCKS SAKE. And not to accuse plagiarism by Kazuo Ishiguro (the author of the book from which is film is adapted), but both his work and The Island were released in 2005 – it’s entirely plausible that he saw that film and thought ‘this plot is awesome, but it could do with being set in late-20th century England and at least 90% less explosions and sunsets’. Just saying.
Potential Intellectual Property theft aside, at least this film version is a much more nuanced work than Michael Bay’s movie. Although that’s not hard – I could punch you in the tit and it would be more subtle that a Bay movie. It is the story of a group of clones for whom organ harvesting is all they have to look forward to. Carey Mulligan, who as far as I am concerned has never put a foot wrong, is excellent as Kathy, an introverted clone who pines for Tommy (Andrew Garfield, AKA Orlando Bloom 2.0), a boy ostracised by the rest of the group. It’s only when a new teacher reveals their purpose in life that Ruth (Keira Knightley), desperate not to be alone, strikes up a relationship with Tommy, much to Kathy’s heartbreak.
Carey Mulligan really gives it all she’s got as Kathy. She never even says she wants Tommy – it’s all implied through performance and she nails it, every time she’s on screen. She’s pretty much flawless, turning a character that could have bored us all to tears with her moping into someone with quiet dignity.
In fact, there isn’t a single dud in the performances. The only reason none of the three leads have received Oscar nominations for this is because there were so many absolutely barnstorming performances in other films. Calling him Orlando Bloom 2.0 is a little disparaging, because Andrew Garfield is capable of so much more emotion than he is. And Keira – well, she’s good old Keira. You know where you stand with her, and she’s enjoyable to watch in bitch mode.
Despite their negativity, they all mange to retain a degree of sweetness and innocence. Which is great, because the story deals with some pretty cruel themes. At least in The Island the clones lived in paradise with Sean Bean – giving up their organs would probably have been a jolly affair, with music and Oompa Loompas and lens flares and stuff. Here, it hits you like a bus how disgusting their lives are. This is a dystopian sci-fi set in England; proper England, with shitty roads and rain and dullness. Coupled with the almost complete lack of ethics with which the organs are taken from these lives, it makes for a god damn bleak movie. It doesn’t help that the characters, even though they’re scared and unhappy with their lot in life, don’t exactly rise up and fight for their freedom. They let it roll right over them, and it’s their naïve complicity that makes this film more than a little bit harrowing at times.
But don’t let that discourage you at all. Never Let Me Go is an outstanding film, tragically overlooked by the awards thanks to a stable of slightly more outstanding films. It might sound soppy and depressing, and you won’t exactly come out of the theatre beaming. But it’s highly entertaining, highly emotional and you won’t regret having sat through it.
This film has been robbed this awards season. Mind you, it’s got a legacy of robbing. I’m watching you, Ishiguro.
Who wants to see what I’ve been up to in Minecraft?
Pictured are my three big accomplishments. You already know about the Cockolith, on the right, but I haven’t introduced you to the rail bridge and Castle Awesome
Castle Awesome took me a day of hard work to build. Well, the castle itself went up in about an hour (after scurrying between here and my furnace near Dick Island to make the stone); the real task was excavating the land around it. Originally, the hill I built this on was as high as the entrance you can see in the picture. Yes, I excavated the whole lot instead of just building an extra floor on top. This is what stupidity looks like in item form:
I keep all my spoils inside the new room I created. It’s lined with boxes full of the gear I’ve been picking up all over the place. I’ve got all sorts of shit, you wouldn’t believe. I hope Notch develops a way to combine flowers and leathers, because then I’d be quids in.
Do you like my picture? I only play on peaceful mode, because I’m a wuss, so that’s the only Creeper I ever come across.
Outside is my Bridge.
It’s a bridge with some train tracks on it. That’s all I can say about it, really. There are some minecarts over at the end, but it’s kind of useless until Powered Minecarts get a pulling ability.
Of course, most of my major excavation work is going on underground. It’s now one of my favourite feelings in gaming to discover a new cave – you never know how big it’s going to be, or how many riches will be inside. And when it’s dimly lit by lava somewhere near the bottom – that’s beauty.
I still don’t know what the fuck I’m going to do with my dirt yet. I might just start systematically stacking it into skyscrapers, Wall-E style. Or I could build a pyramid.