Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A touch too late

I can't really play the saxophone. But I was watching a bit of The Lost Boys the other day (what an excellent movie) and saw the bit at the start with the oiled-up guy and his saxophone solo.

Isn't it odd how the saxophone fell out of favour?

And it's not like it was replaced with another obvious instrument. We didn't get rock bands going around with clarinets or bassoons. The death of the saxophone in music heralded the death for all woodwind instruments.

Yeah, I know it's not made of wood but apparently the saxophone counts. I think.

And I wonder if a whole generation of saxophone players thought they were going to hit big in rock bands only to be laughed out of their Nirvana audition?

That must have been a right kick in the crotch.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Calm under pressure

Like some sort of defense mechanism - stress-activated narcolepsy. Shame it won't kick in during the night, when I'm actually supposed to be asleep.

It's Monday again? What? How did that happen?

Thing is, the higher up you get in just about any work situation, the more you have to appear energised. Positive. Oh, sure, there are many people in charge who storm around being angry and shouty but those people are dicks and it never works for long. A pissed-off worker has never been a good worker.

Far better that you can inspire people.

In fact, that works in both directions. You can do better by inspiring those above you too. Radiating positive energy, without just being one of those goofy grinning types who look like they have lost all sense of reality. It's an important skill. In normal times, a skill that can help you rise. In recession times, a skill that can help you just survive.

But I'm finding it hard right now. Of course, sitting here listeing to Pink Floyd's 'The Final Cut' isn't going to help. That has got to be one of the most depressing albums ever. Have you noticed that the amount of positive uplifting albums pale in comparison with the amount of miserable depressing albums?

"It's the only connection they feel."

Friday, July 24, 2009


I have just been trying out another drawing app on my iPod Touch. I have been using Brushes a lot and I find I'm only just getting the hang of it. I think if I were a painter, I'd get much more out of these because I'd have the know-how and experience to apply. As it is, I'm not a painter so I'm sort of just stumbling along.

But I was beginning to get somewhere with Brushes.

Now there's a new one - Layers.

Layers offers, obviously, layers. So what I do on one layer doesn't blend in with everything else. So, with this doodle, I could do a definite line over it all. I could do that in Brushes, but it would be a little messy and would require more advance planning. So Layers gives me more control to treat it like a drawing rather than a painting.

I'm more used to that.

But already I'm wondering if that extra tool becomes a crutch. The more tools I have, the less I have to work at it and I think somehow that shows in the results. I see that with animators. It's why I have rejected programmes like Toonboom. The more tools an animator gets, the greater the distance between them and the final result. The less actual control they have.

I wonder if I should buy some paints and try the real thing. Rid myself of the undo button...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Why the zombie apocalypse would be good for me

Getting out the house. Finally getting some exercise. Spending time with lots of like-minded people. Eating out.

I would do well as a zombie.

People say exercise is good for mental health. I wouldn't know. Maybe I should try it some day. I'm not even playing my DS much these days, so even my thumbs are out of shape. When you're noticing your thumbs have love handles, maybe it's time to do something about it.

Maybe. But probably not.

Ah, who am I kidding? I'd never be a zombie. There are very few things in life I'm good at. Very few things I know about. But surviving a zombie apocalypse? I've done the research. I've got it all worked out. The only essential survival tactic I don't have ready is locating and flying a helicopter. I'm uncomfortable enough in a car and have a long way to go before I reach helicopter.

But everything else I've got covered.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The dark side of the moon

I have an old book somewhere called 'Flying Saucers On The Attack'. It's all about UFO sightings and predates the moon landing (whether alleged or otherwise) by several years.

In it, they predict that there could well be a moon landing within something like 20 years (it took far less time than that) but, more importantly, in all seriousness, they predict that life will be found on the dark side of the moon and they could well be greeted by inhabitants when they arrive.

I have often wondered if any reputable scientists or astronomers actually believed that, or even believed that there was a slim chance it could be the case.

Probably not.

Still, would have been cool, eh? Moon men. Yeah, I'd love that.

There's a lot of crap in this world I don't buy. A lot of stuff fed to the masses that stinks of bullshit and just doesn't add up. And there are too many people with too much to lose and so much to gain to make it worth deceiving the world.

But I can also see just how attractive it is to just want to see more in this world than is actually there.

And I want moon men.

Friday, July 17, 2009

What happens when you sleep

It's amazing how much difference broken sleep can make to a life. I don't even know exactly what sleep does but, whatever it is, it's important.

I've often thought that sleep provides a shutdown so you won't notice the switch.

You know, the switch.

Truth is, our bodies are only designed to last around 16 hours. Anything after that and we start to deteriorate rapidly, go out of warranty and could find ourselves clapping out at any moment. So our bodies need constant replacement.

We go to sleep. Shut down.

Someone creeps in to our room during the night and removes our body. They replace it with a replica. The next day's model. As our memories are transferred, so it can be done quickly, they go in all at once and it's pretty jumbled. Sometimes we remember little snippets of that process. We call those memories dreams.

Of course, this process is pretty cool during childhood because they add tweaks and improvements to each new model. But, eventually, the growth must stop.

And that's where the problems start.

You see, at that point, their job becomes simply to supply the same model. They make a copy. But it's like tracing a picture. There are very subtle differences. Barely noticable. But if you trace the newly traced drawing, then trace that and so on, the drawing moves further and further away from the original.

It deteriorates.

We know that as ageing.

But with broken sleep, the copy is either rushed to get in place before you wake up, or the switch is abandoned altogether and you end up spending another day in a body that just wasn't designed to last that long.

And that's what happens when you sleep.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A message from Jeremy Beagle and Studley Moore

It's Brian Sibley's birthday. Get over there and wish him a happy birthday!

The need for sleep

Today is a little better than yesterday.

I need sleep. A lot of it. All at once.

The lack of sleep is now inhibiting my ability to conduct everyday life. One way or another, that can't continue.

On the plus side, I can now do an excellent zombie impression with little to no effort. Not the rubbish fast zombies. Proper zombies. Those fast zombies aren't even zombies and totally miss the point. I've heard people justify them by saying - well, they're like zombies only more scary because they're fast and that makes them more dangerous.

Following that logic, they should be given guns. Then they'd be even more dangerous. Or nukes. Think how much more scary that would be. Hard to get more dangerous than that. Or even a death ray, like Godzilla. Actually, they could be bigger than skyscrapers too. Then, even their footsteps would be dangerous.

Totally misses the point.

It's the slow, shambling creeping death that defines them. Their strength in numbers, not the individual. A huge part of the suspense of a good zombie movie comes precisely from people being lulled into a false sense of security because they are slow. Mocking them. Letting their guard down.

That's why they work. That's what makes them creepy.

And when the zombie apocalypse comes (and it will), you people who think they're only scary if they can run or have death rays will be the first to fall.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

You see, it's a metaphor for, like, life

I watched The Wrestler last night for the first time. Or for the first time last night. Whichever sounds better to you. Probably the latter.

An excellent and sad movie.

Some of it was very cliched - the aging stripper romance, the estranged daughter - and some of it very much reminded me of the opening of Commando in terms of giving us a checklist of reasons to care for the character. Remember the opening of Commando? He's feeding a deer - that shows he's close to nature. Oh, look, he's teaching his daughter how to fish. That shows they are resourceful. And so on.

I got that same feeling from bits in The Wrestler. Like when he comes out of his van and messes with the kids. Ah, he has a heart of gold.

But Mickey Rourke's performance really elevated the film far beyond what I think was written there. At times, it could have been entirely real. It was nice to see Aronofsky make, you know, an actual movie. A very good movie at that.

And, of course, the appeal is obvious.

A man, beaten down by life, fights to the end. Even in the crappiest of jobs and, actually, even if we're not doing too badly at all but we feel we could be doing better, most of us feel that way through large portions of our life. Stripper - object of desire just out of reach. Who doesn't have that? Estranged daughter - we all have damaged relationships somewhere in the past that still affect who we are now. We want Randy the Ram to do better. Because we want to do better.

Pretty bloody obvious really. But far easier said than done to capture that in a movie. And they did it.

The one thing that separates Randy the Ram from most people is that he's always got fight left in him.

Whereas most of us, society as a whole, seems to have lost that fight. There's shit going on all around us and we take it. We don't punch a meat slicer and quit. We stay at the deli counter and tell ourselves we're doing a good job because we've got bills to pay.

I want to punch a meat slicer.

Friday, July 10, 2009

When the outcome is staring you in the face

If Blogger let me (maybe it does and I don't know), I could just sum up my issues in one post and put it on a loop, to post maybe every three days.

The same thing.

I have bitten off more than I can chew. And whatever it is that I've eaten is now stuck to the insides of my mouth and I can't spit it out. I believe there is peanut butter involved.

I have many things on the go.

I shouldn't have.

What comes with juggling projects is juggling people. And I just realised today that I told one person that nothing has been happening with another project. A project that, next week, will be published as part of a list of projects going ahead. A list with my name all over it. Pox.

A simple mistake. A hopeful ommission more than a lie. To stick with the juggling analogy, I was simply trying to separate my balls. Ahem. That didn't come out quite right but you know what I mean.

Next week, my balls will collide.

And all I can do is wait.

For my balls... collide.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

It's a meme!

The image doesn't relate to the post. It's just a little iPod pic I did and thought I may as well post it.
I was tagged by the most excellent Brian Sibley for this alphabet meme. Here goes!

A – Age: This should be O as in old. Mid-thirties.

B – Bed Size: I have no idea. Could be bigger? I'm so out of touch with bed sizes. I am unknown in bed size circles.

C – Chore you hate: I think simply coming under the heading of 'chore' means it's something I hate.

D – Dog’s name: I haven't got a dog right now but, if I had, I'd call him Jeremy Beagle. He'd be a beagle obviously.

E – Essential start your day item: Coffee. Must have coffee.

F – Favorite colour: Hmmm... not sure. Orange? I like orange. It's bright.

G – Gold or Silver: Silver. To me, they're just metals. An inch away from rock. I don't really get the attraction. Or the value. But silver just looks a little better than gold in my opinion.

H – Height: 5′10″

I – Instruments you play(ed): I'm going to say synthesiser but I'm really stretching it here. I don't so much play it as I very slowly select notes one after another. I'm rubbish at it but I have a little MicroKorg and love it. I used to have a Stylophone. Retro excellence. Of course, when I had it, it wasn't retro. It was totally now.

J – Job title: Animator. Animation director. Writer. Something. I don't know. Creative something or other.

K – Kid(s): Yep. Sleep? Not a bit.

L – Living arrangements: A tiny little house. It's like a miniature. I think it's made by Fisher Price. I need somewhere bigger to live. And money to pay for it.

M – Mom’s name: Mum

N – Nicknames: Nicknames sort of require friends to give them to you. If I were to assign my own nickname, it would be 'Ripper'. Or 'Stud'. 'Studley Moore'. Something along those lines.

O – Overnight hospital stay other than birth: Nose job. Not cosmetic - a deviated septum. I always was considered a bit of a deviant so it was nice to find out what bit it was. But what they didn't tell me (or I didn't listen) was that the op is not permanent. Basically it all collapses back after a while. Which it did. I can't be bothered going through it again because it was rather unpleasant. Blood seeped constantly down into my stomach where it went all congealed and black and then I vomited it all over the walls like a Nightmare on Elm Street movie. Nice, eh?

P – Pet Peeve: Lateness. I hate people being late. It bugs the living crap out of me. I hate waiting. I see waiting as my short life trickling away and for someone to make me wait should be a criminal offense. It is theft of life.

Q – Quote from a movie: "Well hello, Mr.Fancypants!"

R – Right or left handed: Right.

S – Sports: No thanks.

T – Time you wake up: 6.40am.

U- Underwear: Boxers.

V – Vegetable you dislike: Pretty much everything except baked beans and sweetcorn.

W – Ways you run late: I don't run late. But I sometimes have to wait for people who do. Should be criminal, I tell you.

X – X-rays you’ve had: A lot. I can't really remember. I used to get panic attacks that were associated with depression long before I was diagnosed. I thought I was dying and had just about every test in the book run, including many x-rays.

Y – Yummy food you make: Beans on toast. It's about the only food I can make but that's okay. I love it!

Z – Zoo favorite: Ring-tailed lemurs. And tigers. Rarrrgh!

So there you go. A lot of answers to a whole alphabet of questions. So I guess I better tag someone else then so these guys are next: Andy, Susan and Justin (of his excellent Juz, Jax & El blog which I have only just discovered).
And anyone else who would like to have a go.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Things Not To Do In Animation

Oh there are a lot of things that piss me off in animation. But this is high up there on the list.

If you know a scene is not good enough, why would you possibly think it would get through the system? More than that, why would you want it to get through the system?

Bizarrely, this is a fairly common occurance in animation. Perhaps all jobs. But I would have thought in animation, people would be striving to do the best work they can. Individual animators can make or break a show and delivering a really nice end product would seem to be a fairly admirable goal. But even on a more basic mercenary level, the quality of your work will dictate your position in the industry. How well you impress your director will count for a lot in animation's small circle where word of mouth is so important. It can directly affect how much money you make, or even if you can find employment at all.

Still, this happens.

Oh well. In an industry so small, that tends to shrink more than it grows, I guess it's better for the rest of us that there are people like this. It's probably why I'm the one standing over the desk rather than the one trying to explain why my scene isn't good enough.

I'm listening to the new VNV Nation album a lot right now. I love it. Here's a track. I'd love to do a children's book with those guys. Yeah, a book and audio CD. That would be very cool.

Friday, July 3, 2009

It's waiting to be found

Something's going to happen. Something wonderful.

Or at least I hope so.

Another iPod pic for the weekend. Well, almost the weekend. It's Friday and, now that I've done this little pic, no sense in hoarding it all for myself until tomorrow. I love the Brushes App. I have found there is a viewer that can export from it at high resolutions but it only works on a Mac so far. Damn my PC. Damn it all to hell.

Having said that, every time I do a picture I like, I see others. Others like these. And they make me appreciate just how rubbish I really am. But, still, it's fun.

Astro Andy finds an obelisk, just like 2001. And, to a lesser extent, 2010. I never really knew what the hell was going on at the end of 2001. It never really mattered. It's like Close Encounters Of The Third Kind for me. What actually happens after encoutering that obelisk, or going off in that spaceship, isn't what's important.

What's important is simply that there is something more than this.

Something more than our little lives.

Sometimes I wish I was born hundreds of years ago, when there was much of the world undiscovered. Or hundreds of years into the future, when hopefully we'll be getting off our asses and exploring space. To live in a time of real exploration would be wonderful.

I guess people are still finding new fish. That's cool. You know, if you're into fish. Speaking of which, I'd love to see a Whale Shark.

I'm babbling now. It has been a very busy week but, in parts, actually quite a rewarding week. I'm so, so tired though. I need a 16 hour sleep. I may get that some day. When I retire and the kids are all grown up.

That will be a good day.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


I'm busy. And tired.

So I need tools to manage both. One of the most useful tools right now is deadlines.

Deadlines help me manage other people's shit. If someone has three weeks to prick around, they'll spend three weeks doing exactly that. Give them 24 hours and that's a hell of a lot less shit to deal with.

So I have begun assigning arbitrary deadlines to everything. Absolutely everything. They don't relate in any way to when things actually need to be done. The only factor setting that deadline is how quickly I want it off my desk and out of my head.

And, when those deadlines hit, I make a decision and never think about that particular issue again. So far, it's working.

I'm finding first thing Friday morning to be a good deadline in general. If there's a last minute fluster and the usual realisation that things are going ahead with or without certain people, that gives that morning for any messing about. And, that Friday morning, I stop checking emails and don't check them again until Monday.

That leaves my head nicely clear all weekend.

Any issues that arise on Monday are either new issues to be dealt with that week or old issues relating to that deadline that has past. And, if that's what they're about, well, that ship has sailed.

The beauty of this is that it works all the way up the chain. Nobody - producers, suits, anyone in a responsible role - wants to be the cause of a deadline being missed. So just the mention of the word shifts all power down the chain.

It's fun. And it's helping me stay productive and, most of all, relatively sane.