Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Art for Art's Sake ...

For no particular reason other than the fact that I can - I thought I would show you a few ATC's. What are those I hear you cry as you run through a series of possible candidates for the acronym in your head ...
Well wonder no more dear friends - an ATC is no more no less than an Artist's Trading Card - a sort of glorified business card if you like. The idea is that the artist makes them, sticks his or her contact details on the reverse and leaves them around the world in bars, restaurants and the like - free art for all with the slight (very slight) possiblity of picking up some work, as a result of this self advertisment, along the way.
Well that was the original concept - now of course the world and his wife make ATC's and take them along to swap meets and collect them in purpose made folders, and submit them to magazines for publication and exhibit them and all sorts of things like that. One tradition that has survived however - ATC's cannot be bought or sold, it is free art made for its own sake.

Me, I just make them for my own amusement and to share with friends.


Sunday, 27 May 2007

A Brace of Awards for Breakfast ...

I have just returned home from the closing night screenings of the Stratford-upon-Avon International Digital Film Festival. Over four days they have screened the best of independent digital film from all over the world. The closing offerings were One Last Drink Before Morning (UK), Fission (USA), Her Smile (South Korea) and A Dog’s Breakfast (Canada)

The screening was held in a much larger room with a lot more people in attendance than on Thursday when I was last able to get over there. I took Sarah with me this time and we settled down to watch the programme which began a little after 7pm.

The short films where very enjoyable and varied:

One Last Drink Before Morning
Director: JD Kelleher
Cast: Gareth Kieran Jones, Lesley McGuire
A late night dive, three barflys and a competition for a free drink.
Whoever has the saddest story wins … for once in their life.

Animated Short
Director: Kun-I Chang
A man sees himself as graffiti on the wall.

Her Smile
Narrative Short
Director/Writer: Minji Kang
Cast: Chrystine Yeh, Lindsay Kojima, Shine Inn
A young prostitute yearns for love while working in the
red-light district of South Korea.

The main film of the evening was A Dog's Breakfast - and as I settled back to watch it for a second time in a week I counted myself as lucky to be one of the few people in the world to have had the privilege of viewing this movie. It was just as witty and amusing the second time around.

After the screenings we had some refreshments kindly provided by the Festival organisers and I had a chance to chat to JD Kelleher about his excellent short film One last Drink Before Morning

JD is seen here with Sarah who was made an honourary "Film Maker" and is wearing her badge with pride.

Then came the award presentations. The organisers gave a brief speech saying what a high standard of entries there had been to the Festival this year and explaining that the judging and selection of award winners had been done, not by them but, by an independent panel.

The first to be announced was for Best Actor and it was a thrill to hear that this had been awarded to David Hewlett.

His future father-in-law, Mr Don Loughman went up to accept the award in David's place. He explained how sorry David and Jane were not to be present at the Festival and thanked the organisers for doing such a good job. He mentioned how grateful David was to the 70 or so people who had worked on the movie to bring it to fruition.

But that was not the end of the film's success story because, just a few moments later, came the news that it had been awarded Best Feature Film. Fantastic news and well deserved recognition for a great film!

So Hurrah!! for ADB - may it continue to go from strength to strength,
and well done to David, Jane, Kate, Paul, Mars and all the cast and crew.


Friday, 25 May 2007

A Dog's Breakfast ...

Yay! I finally got to see David Hewlett's wonderful movie, "A Dog's Breakfast", on Thursday at the Stratford-upon-Avon International Digital Film Festival. It was worth the wait - a witty, intelligent comedy, with excellent performances by David and the rest of the cast including (of course) Mars the dog in his film debut! A skillful piece of storytelling this, cleverly filmed and enhanced by a perfect soundtrack, the subtle nuances of performance are a joy and would bear watching time and time again, (indeed I am returning on Saturday to do just that).

One couldn't have imagined a more perfect directorial debut for David Hewlett - it is to be hoped that, once released on DVD (scheduled for Autumn 2007 in North America by MGM), the film achieves the success that it so richly deserves. It is to be hoped also that David has many more stories to tell in the coming years. In an age of overblown special effects and over-reliance on CG - we need more films that put plot and performance first.

David Hewlett is a star, not just for his acting performances, the writing and directing (if those were not enough), but for the energy, enthusiasm, drive and determination with which he has brought his dream to reality. He has made his own opportunities, taken a chance and not been content to sit back and take the comfortable path. His obvious delight in the whole film making and internet marketing process is infectious and endearing, and his charm is such that those who come into contact with it almost inevitably end up invested in helping him to achieve success for his endeavours. Put simply - his attitude is inspiring!

Believe me - "A Dog's Breakfast" was worth every ounce of effort expended upon it - congratulations must go to David, Jane and everyone else involved with the project.


Sunday, 20 May 2007

The Perils of Fatherhood ...

Would Rodney McKay (SGA) make a good father?

We may never find out - unless the script writers resurrect a storyline abandoned in the planning of season 4 (if Joe Mallozzi is to be believed -- and I can never be quite certain when he is joking). McKay has always seemed to be as allergic to kids as he (supposedly) is to lemons. But, just as an actual allergy to citric acid, given its presence in all mamalian life forms (remember the Krebs Cycle?) is almost unheard of -- maybe Rodney's intolerence to children would also prove insubstanial as his need for a family makes itself felt.

We may never know, but there again:

Someday ... Maybe ...

Yes, yes, I know that we once children were.
But really 'tis a time best left forgot.
The adult world I really much prefer,
so please don't face me with some snot-nosed tot.

Maybe they should remain inside a cage
To save them from themselves, you understand,
Until they've gained more suitable an age
to pay their way and lend a helping hand.

But here is one that greets me with such glee,
and as I look down on her upturned face,
her little arms wrapped tight about my knee,
that look of love fair makes my poor heart race.

That tiny hand in mine does not feel bad,
Know what? I'd someday like to be called ... Dad

by Amararti
(inspired by 'McKay & Mrs Miller')

McKay a father ... imagine that ...

There are however perils and pitfalls to be considered, sleepness nights and 4am feeds, diapers, teething, tantrums ... riding the carousel (again Daddy!) with a smile even though your adult inner ear has matured to a point where motion sickness is a very real concern ... and then there is ice skating ... you've skied down black runs many times so how hard can donning a pair of skates and taking to the ice really be? Anything for her ... who could resist those big green eyes, that impish smile ...

Two hours later, from A&E you phone your (wiser, much wiser) better half ... "um - the doc says it's broken in three places ... "

And later - your right arm in plaster to the elbow ... your broken wrist aching like a son-of-a-bitch - you ponder ...

Was it worth it?

Who Could Resist
For her ... for that smile ...

Of course it was.

To all the Dads out there, you're doing a great job - keep it up ...

( ... and yes, my day has been kind of ... interesting ... )

Friday, 18 May 2007

Of Haunted Desks and Victorian Values ...

It's a funny thing, I like to live in the present and look to the future, (which is kind of an odd thing for a history graduate to admit to I guess) but when all is said and done none of us can escape the past. The past is where our roots are; on a personal level, in our childhood and formative years, on a cultural level in the landscape and architecture of our homeland - my home looks out on the Uffington White Horse, carved into the hillside a mere 3000 years ago (give or take) - a daunting thought to make you appreciate the transience of your own life.

One of the things that I brought home from Mum's house, following her death, was a fine bureau topped by a glass fronted bookcase - a piece of furniture that I remember well from my childhood. It now stands in my home looking slightly less comfortable than it did in its previous location. It is the first thing I see when I open the front door, the first thing I see when I come down stairs in the morning -- and I am certain that it is haunted ....

When I look at it I remember and can almost see my father sitting at the desk working on lesson plans or writing letters - indeed the top couple of drawers still contain files of papers in his handwriting - my father has been dead for 28 years! The little pigeon holes of the desk contain all manner of letters, photos and other bits and peices belonging to my father's aunts and my grandmother. Whilst the bottom drawer is a treasure trove of older sepia photographs of relatives from an even dimmer and more distant past still. The bookcase housed many little bibles and prayer books each inscribed with one or other long dead relative's name. Works by Dickens and Trollop which I read as a child, The Peoples Pysician - source of many gruesome and alarming pictures and the root of my hypochondria I suspect. And a fascinating three volume set called Enquire Within Upon Everything -- well everything upto 1910 anyway!

Originally the bureau bookcase stood in the front room of what had been my great grandparents house then occupied by my father's two unmarried aunts and their unmarried aunt. One night during the second World War a bomb dropped in the park across the road from the house. The windows where blown in accompanied by various bits of shrapnel. The desk and bookcase bear scars from this incident which I can trace with my finger today. My father, then a child was in the house at the time and narrowly missed being impaled by bits of the park railings which came through his bedroom window -- or so the story goes -- it makes you think -- the transience of life ...

So is the desk haunted? -- truly, I have yet to see a ghost, but it certainly has presence and -- in the sense that it is imbued with the spirit of my ancestors -- I would have to say yes, I think it is ...

And the Victorian values?

Well last week my daughter took part in an immersion history lesson whereby her class were taken off to spend the day in a Victorian school. They had to dress the part and learn the rules: Children Should Be Seen and Not Heard, Speech is Silver, Silence is Golden and the like. She was particularly delighted by the fact that to ask to use the bathroom she had to raise her hand and when called on say "Please M'am may I visit the offices?"

So she is now well in touch with her cultural roots ...

May the spirits of your ancestors look down upon you with benign and watchful smiles:

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Go Zach Go ...

OK - having been trapped in my car in a torrential thunderstorm for a little while there, possibly 38 minutes, I have finally escaped (sorry to all of you who were worried *gulp*). I've been trying to catch up on some work - I have two deadlines tomorrow and so it looks like another all-nighter for me *sigh* when will I learn??

So I just dropped by to post this nice little tidbit:

Zach Selwyn of G4 TV's Attack of the Show paid a visit to the set of "Stargate Atlantis". He landed a cameo role as Scientist No.2 following his fabulous rap tribute to the show.

Ok - update - it seems that G4 Media have smacked YouTube and had the video (above) removed however you can still watch a much better, higher definition version on the G4TV site.

Cool eh?

Seeking Sanctuary ....

Just a quick(ish) entry - I have so many things backed up to Blog about but noooooooo time to write Arrghh.

So - today was the day that the first episode of Sanctuary was due to hit the Web. This is a new concept in Web based entertainment being a full production episodic SciFic series based on the web. Starring Amanda Tapping of Stargate fame and with guest rolls by lots of other well known folks such as the popular *grin* and talented David Hewlett. Each webisode of Sanctuary follows the exploits of Dr. Helen Magnus (Amanda Tapping, Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis) as she seeks out all manner of terrifying and monstrous creatures. She is aided in her quest by her reluctant protégé Will Zimmerman (Robin Dunne, Dawson’s Creek, The Big Hit, Species 3) and her intrepid, if somewhat reckless, daughter Ashley (Emilie Ullerup, Battlestar Galactica). Together they are drawn into a frightening and mysterious world populated by beings that defy explanation. Sanctuary was created by veteran science fiction writer and producer Damian Kindler and directed by Martin Wood (Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis). Kindler, Tapping and Wood serve as executive producers along with N. John Smith (Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis).

Unfortunately the Sanctuary For All site promptly died under the weight of so many connections and as I write is currently down. However by the time you read this, gentle reader, they will probably have it all up and running again so by all means click the links and enter the world of Sanctuary. But prepare to become addicted and obsessed (don't say I didn't warn you).

Mindful of the fact that everyone was eagerly awaiting the very first episode, the directors (bless them) have posted it on YouTube. Obviously this is not the crisp HD version that you would be able to enjoy on the site but it is certainly better than nothing. Much, much better in fact - even in this format it is very, very atmospheric.


And in other news - the talented Mr Hewlett's movie 'A Dog's Breakfast' is to be shown at the Stratford-upon-Avon International Digital Film Festival which runs from May 23th to May 26th 2007. The movie is due to be screened at 11am on Thursday 24th and at 7pm on Saturday 26th. Tickets are free but on a first come first served basis on the day of the screening.

OK - thats all for now ....

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Why I'll Never Be A Hand Model ...

Oh wow will you look at that it's late Wednesday night - er ... what happened to Tuesday? I could have sworn I posted an entry on Tuesday ..... ah, no ...wait ... that would be the Twitter effect - it makes you think you have been informative and erudite all day and then - hey presto - evaporates like the morning mist. Anyway how much deathless prose (or poetry) can one fit in 140 or so characters? (no that's not a challenge!!) - no wonder they invented l33t!!

I like this description of the Twitter phenomenon from TIME in partnership with CNN:

One early front runner for the title of the "YouTube of 2007" is a service called Twitter. Twitter enables you to broadcast to the world at large, via the Web or phone or instant message, tiny snippets of personal information: what you're doing, what you're about to do, what you just did, what your cat just did and so on. Twitter does the Internet equivalent of splitting the atom. It creates a unit of content even smaller and more trivial than the individual blog entry.

If you are at all interested in such things you can read the whole article at: Hyperconnected Time

So back to trivial blogging for real.

It has been a busy couple of days at the shop as we are getting ready for our Grand Open Weekend (and before you ask, no - we are not normally open weekends!) We are having 10% off all our stock for 2 days on the 12th and 13th May plus loads of half price bargains as well, we also have a 2 day sale happening in the Online Shop to coincide. It should be a busy couple of days - but the prep. is a nightmare!!! I have converted my studio into a demo area and will spend all day both days doing demonstrations of anything and everything I can think of using the crafting products we sell. Folks will be able to then take a place at one of the workstations and make something for themselves - in return they give a donation to our nominated charity.

Two more days to go and about five days worth of work to fill them with!!!

In the middle of all the setting up madness a new rep. turned up, unannounced, this afternoon. Now I fully recognise that these people have a job to do - but calling ahead to make an appointment would seem only courteous! After all your visit might not be convenient (which it wasn't!). Nevermind we try to be friendly and welcoming - but this woman was so hyper, manic even and spoke very fast at a decibel level about 10% above comfortable limits for normal indoor conversation. Added to that she seemed completely incapable of taking a hint - Well we're kind of busy right now ... no ... perhaps you could call back ... no ... well it's nice you dropped by but ... but ... er ... fine but ... *oh - just BUGGER OFF will you - my mind was screaming*. "And I plan to drop by to see you every 5 weeks ... ". Oh please God Noooooooooooo!!!

Then I had a Dentist appointment - the perfect end to a perfect day ....

So I bought a cake from the Bakery to cheer myself up. It is a Parsnip cake with Cream Cheese filling - think carrot cake but 200% more delicious. With a nod to Joe Mallozzi foodie Blogger extraordinaire - here is a picture of it:

And so ... finally ... why will I never be a hand model??

Well I thought that I would grow my nails a little and make them pretty for the coming 2 days of demos. Some hope - it never works out *sigh* see I work with my hands, I paint, I draw, I write, I spend untold hours tapping away on the computer keyboard, I do DIY, I sew, I cook ... sometimes!!

and my hands work for me and they look like they've had a hard day!!

So I'll never be a hand model ... and you know what? ... That suits me just fine!


Monday, 7 May 2007

Days Off Are Dangerous ...

Ooookaaay ... this what happens when you have free time & a sore throat and are consequently hepped up on cold remedies ... I feel no pain --- but I'm sure to hate myself in the morning ...


Yo Slug White Nerd
we hear what you say.
You give us the word
and the freedom to play
on the Forum you created
to get your Movie rated
by all who drop by
to give it a try.
You Blog and we comment
and MySpace - we're on it!
And then there's Technorati
Hell yes, we'll join the party!
Visit Mars there on Dogster
what else are your fans 'fur'?
Oblivious to flames
and accused of playing games,
you write it,
we Digg it,
and watch your back
and take the flak
from the misanthropic minds
of the cynics on the Web.
And now there is Twitter
And what could be fitter,
for the biggest geek we know,
to keep us posted on the show
by using his cell
to save us from the hell
of not knowin'
what he's doin'
every minute of the day.
So ... hey ...
we're all on the hook,
an' that's clever in my book,
all waitin' to see
your illusive movie.
So quit messin' about
tell us when it's comin' out?
For Real...

by Amararti

... and may I offer this heartfelt apology to all who thought they knew me ....
;) you know the rest ...

Tao of Rodney ...

One careless moment ego steers me wrong.
My coding is unraveled and re-made.
But early fear of changes fly ere long
and role of super hero now is played.

Now say you I must lay my burden down
and cease to seek to find all answers sought,
use softer words than those for which I'm known,
I must relinquish self, become as naught.

Sorrow, and love for me from each good friend,
but wait, as now I float in darkness vast,
and seemingly my journey nears its end,
the light of realisation dawns at last.

All is not lost, myself I can regain.
Awake to find that "Yes, I'm me again!"

by Amararti

For all those of you who love Stargate Atlantis, Rodney McKay (as portrayed by David Hewlett) and this very special episode in particular.

No copyright infringement intended - just showing my appreciation ...

Sunday, 6 May 2007

Auctions, Promises, Fairs and Apologies ...

Weekend at last ... well Sunday actually and Monday is a Bank Holiday here in the UK so ... yay! A day off.

Friday could have been a difficult day, as it would have been Mum's birthday, but I was so busy that I didn't have time to dwell on it much. I went straight from work to my daughter's school where we were holding an Auction of Promises as a fundraiser for refurbishing and equipping a new ICT suite at the school. So we can raise a whole new generation of little computer geeks - I'm all for it! There were some great promises on offer from 'Chocolate Brownies - once a month for a year' (bought by the Headmaster for the Staff) to 'A Week in an Apartment in Madrid' - and everything imaginable in between. I was in charge of taking credit card payments (as I am deemed the only one nerdy enough to know how the machine works - how right they are). During the evening we raised a staggering £15,000 - which was our target.

Oh and if there are any UK based readers of my ramblings - you can help out our fundraising efforts (at no cost to yourself) by simply doing your online shopping at several well-known retailers through our School Shop

Saturday was spent at the Craftsmans Market in Cirencester where I go twice a month to advertise myself and try to sell my paintings.

For over 25 years this Market has offered local artists and craftsmen a venue to sell their work - the standard is superb. We usually exhibit in the Corn Hall but, for good or ill this building along with the encompassing King's Head Hotel has been sold to developers who are .... er, developing it. At the moment this means that the Corn Hall is out of bounds and we have to exhibit in the stripped out King's Head Hotel - the interior of which resembles a cross between a bulding site and a non too salubrious squat. Oh well - the upside of this story is that I did sell 6 pictures ....

And finally ... those of you who were shocked and appalled not to say outraged and upset by David Hewlett's outrageous bout of 'rapping' will be glad to know that he has realised the error of his ways and has apologised ...

How does he keep a straight face? Well he is a brilliant actor - that's how - *smile*

Enjoy your weekend (what's left of it) ....

Friday, 4 May 2007

Stuck in a Dark, Dark, Room ...

Oh but it has been a tedious week. Thank goodness today is Friday although admittedly only 1:20 or so in the morning so still quite a bit of tediousness to get through before the weekend. I have been teaching or lecturing all week, one of my several jobs - (one day I really must decide what I want to do when I grow up) - a five day course in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Geospatial Analysis. OK for those of you who have dropped off to sleep - WAKE UP!!!!

Actually it is very interesting, and a very cool and sexy piece of software - but then I am a total geek and I also get paid loads to sit and play with said cool software on a computer all day and talk a lot at people who hang off my every word *smile*. So what is the tedious bit you ask - well several things really:
  • Firstly - having to "dress-up" for the job - not me at all.

  • Secondly - the God Awful Bloody Traffic which I have to endure, an hour into town in the rush hour and an hour back in the evening. Normally I only have to drive 15 minutes into the pretty countryside to drop my daughter off at school and then go to the Workshops where my Studio and Jane's Shop are.

  • Thirdly - the classroom at the office has one wall composed of glass windows (the whole building is made of glass in fact) but it used to get so hot in there with the computer equipment and the sun beating in through the windows that they installed permanent blackout blinds and now the room has no natural light at all. By mid-way through the day I am suffering severe light deprivation. Plus the lighting gives me a headache.

  • Fourth - the coffee comes out of a machine and is vile beyond belief, but I can't help myself.

On a lighter note the week was made much, much more bearable by the irrepressible Mr. David Hewlett and his outrageous rapping debut. This is what happens if you leave an actor waiting around a TV set for too long!

Talks fast doesn't he? Well if you didn't catch all of it and want to find out what he was on about you can read a transcript here Slug White Nerd Rap

One of the things he let slip (intentionally? - probably) was that his movie is coming out in the Fall. One can only assume he means the long awaited release of A Dog's Breakfast by MGM.

If so, Hurrah!!!

I have missed seeing it twice at the private screenings due to family circumstances.

My daughter is also excited (having seen the clips numerous times) and she it getting into training for a full on encounter with evil Patrick - as you can see!