CABBAGE CONTROLS – some thoughts on Prometheus casting
I went to see Prometheus last night. Absolutely stunning design. I particularly liked the use of yellows. No, seriously!
But it was slightly let down by some other factors which I always find amazing once you compare the different elements.
I mean why spend gazillions on set design and special fx, and get them so stunningly brilliant and perfect, and then cast an archaeologist who’s enough of a douchebag, to really detract from the whole movie’s authenticity? I could all too easily picture this guy being smarmy at Hollywood after-parties, not chiseling away at rocks in the middle of nowhere.
So here’s the thing. WHY pay so little attention to casting and such fine attention to design? They might as well have a cabbage pop up for the flight controls instead of a nicely designed control panel. That’s the design equivalent of some of the casting.
If they had a douche playing Deckard, or a bimbo type playing Ripley, both Bladerunner and Alien would have been completely different movies.
You know that other sci-fi classic The Thing? One of the things I loved about it was the casting of a bunch of old guys, who were quite plausible as weather-beaten arctic scientists. I can remember saying to someone years ago. “I guarantee you if they remade The Thing, they’d cast young pretty things, and it’d be total pants“. And then they fucking well did it! A cast of pretty young things, and by all accounts, it’s pants.
That’s all casting seems to be these days: the gathering young pretty things. “Come to me my pretty, Mwahahahahahahaha“.
The plot, dialogue and script in Prometheus have some issues as well (Ok I’ll say it: the religious guff is a fucking joke, gimme a break) but not quite as distracting as the main casting. Though Fassbender was perfect, as were some of the minor characters. Even less excuses to fuck around with the other casting.
But here’s another one. WHY have Guy Pearce made up to look like and old guy, and looking exactly like Biff from back to the future? There’s good reason to have a young guy made up as an old guy in Back To The Future (tip: he also had to play a young guy) but no good reason in Prometheus. Just cast a fucking old guy!
Anyway, all that aside – it’s still well worth seeing, and worth seeing on a big screen.
p.s. I thought the same about Lord of the Rings. But the issue with that wasn’t the cast, but the utterly dire and sickly twee soundtrack which all but ruined it.
p.p.s. You know this issues with the plot? See this brilliant video asking all the right questions:
p.p.p.s In retrospect I think a much better dialogue may have hidden the bad casting a lot better.
Power’s Short story
I decided to have a bash at the Power’s short story competition recently. Here’s my entry:
They came. One after the one before. Each face old and unfamiliar. Then recognition emerged until they were so familiar, you wonder how you ever forgot them. These faces that once loomed large in your world, like the moon, always there.
There was Davey Boyd, the biggest gurrier ever there was. Kicked out by his own mam at 16, and fishing for more trouble by the day, until that one day I came home from school to find him and his sheepish grin parked at my place at the dinner table. Two months passed before I got that seat back and Davey was back at his own, no doubt causing trouble again from day one.
There were the Byrne Brothers from next door, standing tall in their uniforms, all three guards now. I remember mam passing plates of dinner over the back wall for a month when their own mam was sick. It must have been a winter, trails of steam busy to get away from the gravy, cutting through the air like a Bisto ad.
And she didn’t only feed the needy. She just seemed to enjoy stuffing people’s cake holes. She’d never let my own friend’s leave the house without having a bit of dinner. I’d bet a bucket of beans they had more dinners in my house than their own. A game of pool in the shed, until Ma shouted DINNER, then we’d all pile in. Polite declinations had long been disputed and lost, no more need for the Mrs Doyle routine.
There was the gang of them now. The state of them in their interview suits, and shiny shoes, each more red-eyed than myself.
Many more came that I didn’t know by name. But I remember their appreciating lips, appearing at our table for days, or weeks on end. I didn’t need to ask where she got them from, their weather-beaten faces said everything.
Sometimes, as neighbour, friend, or stranger, left with a belly of stew, I’d ask her why she did it all. She’d just toss me a wink. “Building an Army Jimmy Boy”.
It was just something she said without much thought, but there they were now, bulging out of the church grounds. An army. The army it would take to replace a great sadness with the warmth I was now surrounded with. And I can’t help wonder if she really was building an army. An army that would be here for me on this day. An army that would celebrate her love and kindness and return it on to me.
I can see why I didn’t even make the long lists. The theme was “valuing the important things in life” and the story I went with seemed to have been done to death, not surprising in retrospect, and thus completely unoriginal. Twee as fuck and all. I always end up writing something twee when I try something like this, even though most books I like are dark and dirty.
This year’s winner is well deserved I think.
Pruning your feeds
I asked on Twitter recently if anyone has completely stopped using RSS readers, and a few people had completely. Others just about keep an eye on it. I don’t check mine half as much as I used to but I do still check in on it often enough. It can get a bit unwieldy after a few days.
Seems a lot of folk have gone through the same route. RSS readers were there main source of information/entertainment at one stage. And they spent years subscribing to more and more feeds. And then Twitter, Facebook etc took over. Or apps like Flipboard and Zite got better at curating our interests.
So now it’s a lot easier to forget about your trusty rss feeds, you blink and you’ve 2000 unread items. Inevitably there are loads of articles that tell you how to prune your feeds.
But they always seem to get it backwards.
The message is always to get rid of the quiet ones. I don’t get that. Unless it’s some kind of self-preservation from the big blogs. The quiet ones are exactly what RSS readers are good for. Some of my favourite blogs only update once a month, and less and less because of all of the above. They’re the ones I don’t want to miss.
I think the important thing to do is to only show unread items, then who cares if you’re subscribed to a feed that’s only updated twice a year?
Here’s a recent post from Lifehacker. There are a few good tips there. But main message is the pointless “kill the quiet ones”. Here’s the pruning that had a major impact on reducing my feeds quite quickly.
Kill the noisy ones
Take your noisy ones; like Lifehacker & likecool.com both great but extremely noisy. And there are many more like that. I got rid of all my noisey ones and the reduction in traffic was instant. They all post to Twitter & Facebook anyway now. So if I want to kill 15 minutes online, the posts are there for me while I’m killing the time and not clogging up an unread count when I’m not. I don’t get to read the ones posted while I’m not killing time, and that’s just fine by me. So just kill anything noisey from your rss and follow them on Twitter.
Separate business from pleasure
I also moved all the professional feeds I subscribed to; web / ux design etc, to a Google work account. That killed off a hell of a lot more traffic. I got a bit sick of opening up Reeder on a Sunday morning and being bombarded with the stuff that I do from 9-5. Lots of web people seem to eat, sleep and breath web tech. I confess, as much as I enjoy it, I need a break from it at weekends & evenings. Truth be told: I don’t read much of these in work either. SO I’ve pretty much killed off all web design feeds for now, bite me bitch.
No more obligation subscriptions
Then I unsubscribed from every blog that I was subscribed to just because they were part of the Irish blogosphere or once left a comment on my blog. Obligatory shit like that. There were just too many that I wasn’t even reading. There are lots of those that I still love and am still subbed to – but any blogs that I subbed to out of obligation: Hi Ho Silver. Got to be honest with yourself here; if you always click ‘next’ after reading the first sentence, unsub straight away. Get rid of your blogroll while you’re at it. Conscience cleared!
- – -
Those 3 simple things really worked for me. Massive reduction in my rss inbox now, it only contains stuff I don’t want to miss, am genuinely interested in seeing, isn’t work, and isn’t something that I’m going to see on Facebook / Twitter anyway.
And I’m probably gone from your feed reader too! Which is why you saw this on Twitter / Google plus. Or not? let me know.
p.s. I find the same on Twitter I have a list for my friends and “The Quiet Ones”. They’re the updates I want to see more than people who post 100 times day.
Long live the quiet ones!
I tried signing up to Netflix yesterday and got an error “We are unable to start your Netflix membership with the information you provided. Please contact Netflix Customer Services 1800 94 86 16.” I rang the number and got a crazy over-friendly robotic american who asked me where I was calling from:
- No, Ireland
- *Slowly* I R E L A N D
- *Slowly* A R L I N G T O N?
- No, I R E L A N D! It’s this little country in Europe right beside the UK, you know, where the leprechauns come from?
- Oh! A I R L A N D? Very good sir, our technicians will definitely look into that straight away. Please check back soon, and sir? YOU MAKE SURE AND HAVE A GREAT DAY NOW!
Still getting the error today.
That other time I went to the States…
I ain’t no high flyer. On exiting San Francisco Airport – the first thing I found myself doing was driving on the wrong side of the road with a huge motherfucking SUV coming straight at me. Now I KNEW I was supposed to drive on the other side of the road – but the other side of which fucking road? There were about 12! And I picked the wrong one.
Minutes later – I was in the appropriate lane, a bit flustered, having JUST learned to drive and, you know, having JUST narrowly escaped death. But I somehow made it to California in one piece and collapsed onto a hotel bed. It all seemed a grand adventure. Not sure why anyone trusted me to make such a voyage on my own! I sure didn’t. I’d just got my driving license but not sure I should have been awarded a Fully Functioning Mature Adult License just yet. Somehow there’s no test for that.
The next morning, a completely overdressed weirdo from Dublin arrived at the Palm head office in Sunnyvale. I somehow got it into my head that my never-worn weddings/funerals/interviews suit was the way to go. First guy I met was a cool looking dude in ripped jeans, a punk t-shirt, and some nice tats.
First impressions last. And here was me, looking like a straight-laced office monkey. Self-concious levels multiplied threefold by jetlag and not entirely sure what I was doing here. Or if I was cut out for this new job. Flying Fish out of water! Would you have offered to bring this weirdo out on the town? Me neither – so I ended up on my own every night in a hotel in the middle of nowhere, thinking I would adore the peace and quiet of childless evenings – but just feeling lost and lonely.
Sunnyvale is pretty dead. The local hokey bar across from the hotel was amusing for one night only. There was nothing around for miles. I was going stir crazy by the end of the week, I made it my mission to do something I would NEVER usually do – but suddenly seemed like the best idea ever. I was going to find an Irish bar.
Have I ever mentioned I’ve a sense of direction like a tiger has a sense of humour? Three hours after I left the hotel I was wandering around Sunnyvale with a map, grumbling to myself about the whole place, and then I eventually found this strip of bars and my final destination, Fibbar Magees!
Unfortunately it wasn’t rammed with other out of town Irish lost boys looking to have a bit of banter. It was full of big-jawed american jocks, and one of which was loudly slagging off the Irish as drunks. In a fucking Irish pub! I bit my lip and went to the bar, and with seemingly the only Irish accent in the place, ordered a pint. And the bar girl goes. “Jayziz where’d the fuck have you come from?” – “Phibsborough!”. “Ha deadly, me too!” she goes. “Jimmy, Lorraine, come over here and meet Phibsborough”. At last!
And indeed, one by one, some other lost soldiers sheepishly sauntered in, swung there heads towards the banter and joined the other Aliens on this remote planet.
The next morning I woke to discover someone had written a drunken blog post and then got sick on my laptop, so I removed both, checked out and drove up to San Francisco a day early where there was plenty to eat, drink, and see before heading back home the next day.
And for some reason, four years later, I decide to replace that drunken blog post with this sober one.
Family cinema design
Why hasn’t someone designed a family cinema like this yet?
- Adult seats facing one way, child seats facing the other.
- Screen at one end showing kids movie, screen at other end showing grown-up movie
- Headphones at every seat.
On second thoughts: All seats the same size but they can be clicked into place one way or the other, to cater for different parent/kid ratios.
I’ve just finished meeting all public transport offices about a new sensor I’ve invented that can be positioned overhead to detect the degree at which your legs are spread apart.
The sensor is only enabled when there are two people on a seat. So here’s how it works; if one passenger has their legs wider than 60 degrees, (thus preventing the person next to them from sitting comfortably) the sensor is triggered and they get a small prod up the arse and an announcement: “Ay up – don’t be such a selfish fucking cock – this seat is for two.“
I wanted to install automatic knee capping but the Bus Eireann solicitors wouldn’t go for it. The DART guys were game for anything though, suggesting everything from stun guns to full-on ejection seats. But we’re just going to go with the prod/announcement for now.
Installations on all window seats start next month, great news!
Super Fly Guy
A friend from college who I did the final year project with just sent me the link to the video of the game we made together. Looks pretty cool! I posted a video of it before but this looks a lot better. We made the motion controllers using accelerometers just before the Wii came out, we could have been billionaires!
Maybe it’s just me but this occurred to me this morning when I needed a long pointy thing:
Homeless Negro Adoption
Did I ever tell you about my perfect welcome to New York?
We’d got the train up from a small town in New Jersey, and as we emerged from the subway, coming up the last few steps and waiting to be greeted by the skyscrapers, we were met instead by this huge disheveled black guy with a big grin on his face. He was similar to that golden-voiced homeless dude in many ways, and the words he bellowed have stayed with me since:
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN
BOYS AND GIRLS
YOU HAVE BEEN ELECTED
YOUR VERY OWN
He trailed along behind us for a good few minutes, wittering away and I was advised to ignore him. But he was quite the character and hard to ignore, and ultimately the most memorable part of the trip. And that, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls was my introduction New York City.
I was reminded of this by Andrews recent trip to NY.
Flickr set: US trip 2002.
I’m openly looking for a new job now. Which means I can post about my job-hunting, should I feel like it. I just got turned down for a job today. I usually do grand in interviews but this one was just a bit off from the start. What sucks is I’m pretty sure I blew it with one (or two) really basic questions. “List 5 factors that make a website accessible” and I completely blanked and ended up giving a long waffley answer rather than the requested list.
The ridiculous thing is that I’ve been building accessible websites for years now, the items I were to list are so ingrained in what I do every single day that I couldn’t manage to dredge them up from the bottom of my brain. When it came at me in the context of an interview question, it was like the word accessible lost all meaning, like when you say a word too many times. Building accessible web sites is my bread and butter. It’s all I do every day. It’s a bit nut’s that I screwed that question up so badly, negating all everything else. God, I could give lectures on building accessible sites, yet there and then I couldn’t list 5 simple practices of accessibility.
It’d be like asking an experienced builder to list all the ingredients he mixes into his foundation and he says “Jaysus I couldn’t tell you Paddy!” and then doesn’t get a building job despite the fact that he’s been building solid looking houses for years, and you can go and have a look at a whole street of them. Damn, chalk it up Johnny Boy and be ready to answer the basics next time.
While I’m at it – despite what everyone says I’m not convinced wearing a full suit is the best idea either – It’s just a hunch but I can’t help thinking I have less of a chance of *clicking* with the interviewer, who in my field tend to wear the same uniform I do every day – Jeans, Hoody and T-shirt. Not that I’d wear a hoody to an interview obviously but you can be shirty without being stiff. And if there’s no click, no rapport, you can forget about everything else. Doesn’t matter what you know or don’t know. I’m dropping the suit next time, unless entirely appropriate. Wotcha think?
- – - – –
UPDATE: I was so glad this interview was a fail. Much happier with the job that I since got.
Is it ready yet missus? It’s 10 O’Clock!
Talbot street tack-o-meter
I had to walk up Talbot street during the week and I was glancing into all the shops as I walked up… and charting this graph as I walked.
Keep the wolf away from the door.
Keep the wolf from the door at election time with this friendly message. Large version here.
Getting very lazy around here lately. I changed the theme on my site a few weeks ago and then still didn’t do any new blog posts. I promised myself I’d never write a blog post that starts like this, who wants to read it? But then there’s so much I said I wouldn’t post that there’s little else to post. Specially as most of my thoughts etc find themselves on Facebook or Twitter these days. And all my book “reviews” are now going on Goodreads. Might just lax the rules a bit, and start posting more often, even if it is random stuff.
I think at the very start this was going to be a web design blog. Got bored with that pretty quickly! I do post new designs now and then though. Actually – I’ve just updated my web design portfolio. But wanted to give a special mention. I always seem to be doing sites for the Missus! Here’s the latest Pomegranate is a charity that “raises money and hope for infertility”. Basically they raise money for couples who can’t have children naturally but can’t afford infertility treatment.
I meant to post about this at the time. It took off really quickly though. In no time at all there were 500 likes on the Facebook page. And the donations started coming in very quickly. And just this week news came in that the first couple to receive help from Pomegranate have a confirmed pregnancy. How fantastic!!!
Build your own ghost estate
A new toy that should be on tonight’s Late Late Toy Show.
Movie remakes starring the Invisible Man
This was just going to be a Photoshop Friday blog post but I’ve entered it into a competition instead. Most clicks wins lots of cool stuff. So feel free to share!
Current leader has 53,000 hits though. So there’s slim chance.
The king of Comic Sans
I read this over a year ago but it’s a great story I find myself posting it in various places every now and then. It originally popped up in a thread about fonts on metafilter. The King of Comic Sans…
Every month or so, we then decide who has spotted the most unexpected and/or inappropriate usage since we’d last judged it and they’re declared the current “King of Comic Sans” – complete with a certificate and free booze for the evening (yes, unsurprisingly, this competition is generally carried out in a pub).
Anyway, about three months ago now my mother passed away. She’d been battling cancer for about two years but it finally won. Mercifully, she lived a relatively full life until virtually the very end – it was only in the final month, after the cancer spread to her brain, that she detoriated seriously. Then, after a couple of days of serious pain, she slipped into a sleep from which she never regained consciousness and died about three weeks later.
As it happened, I was the only family member with her when she died – it was very early in the morning and we’d been operating a “shift” system during the nights to ensure there was always someone with her.
I took a minute to compose myself (okay, maybe more than a minute) and then went and woke my dad and the rest of the family. Whilst they were having their own moments, I went to look for the little booklet that said what you had to do next. Towards the end, when it had become clear that she didn’t have much time left, the charity people had given her this – it said who to ring, what to ask for etc.
She wouldn’t show it to us at the time (said it was “too morbid”) but told us it was in the top draw of her bedside cabinet.
Now, as the others had their own moments, I remembered about the booklet and opened the draw. It was there, just like she said it would be.
It was a little A5 booklet with a Lily on the cover. I opened it up and inside it listed in great detail and in formal yet understanding language, who needed to be called and what could be done when.
It was also written entirely in Comic Sans.
Of course I wasn’t really thinking entirely clearly at the time and this completely passed me by. At least it did until the very last page. There, scrawled in the corner in my mother’s shaky handwriting, complete with an arrow pointing at the printed text below, were the words:
My mother had known about the competition – I’d told a story about it last year during Christmas Dinner. She also knew that I tend to deal with grief by just getting on with things, and so probably guessed I’d be the person who read the booklet.
We don’t give out a certificate to the “King of Comic Sans” anymore. By unanimous decision we have a little plastic silver cup called “The Garius’ Mum Memorial Trophy.”
I think she’d like that.
Sketches of the kids
I haven’t really used my graphics tablet properly since I got it last Christmas. Mostly just use it as a regular input device. But I only got around to figuring out the pressure settings in photoshop recently so it can mimic a real pencil. It’s so much easier to copy a photo and the freedom of editing is great. I rarely draw so well on paper without an undo command! The rubber doesn’t quite cut it.
One more step
“The world’s a headmaster who works on your faults. I don’t mean in a mystical or Jesus way. More how you’ll keep tripping over a hidden step, over and over, till you finally understand: Watch out for that step! Everything that’s wrong with us, if we’re too selfish or too Yessir, Nosir, Three bags full sir or too anything, that’s a hidden step. Either you suffer the consequences of not noticing your fault forever or, one day, you do notice it, and fix it. Joke is, once you get it into your brain about that hidden step and think, Hey, life isn’t such a shithouse after all again, then BUMP! Down you go, a whole new flight of hidden steps.
There are always more.”
— David Mitchell, Black Swan Green
30 September 2010. Toxic bank cement truck crashed into the air just in front of the gate at Dail Eireann, while Google street view went live in Ireland.
People & Power – Secrets and children
Documentary by a friend investigating allegations of neglect in Ireland’s childcare system. Some HSE staff took big risks taking part in the interviews but it may never air or get seen by a wide audience, so please pass on if you can.
HIP HOP. Is there anything like it for sheer bloody awesomeness? For all the fantastic things it’s given us? Every day I worship at the altar of Hip hop in some small part. There’s no other musical culture that comes close to it in everything amazing stuff it’s coughed out of its guts. People missed the second coming. It wasn’t Jesus. It was the holy trinity of Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash and Afrika Bambaattaa. You’ve just got to stand back and look at it now and then and go wow. Well I do. Apart from the music itself, the list of absolutely amazing things that just keep developing from it’s roots more than 30 years later is staggering; turntablism, beatboxing, breakdancing, rap battles, graffiti. And all of these still developing and splitting of into other wonderful things.
I don’t think there’s been a movie to catch the vibe of it all since WILDSTYLE. I’ve heard people say it’s a rubbish movie but that would be completely missing the point, the acting is rubbish but it’s an amazing documentary.
There. I just wanted to say that. HIP HOP is fucking amazing. And I vote for Beardyman as president of the world. Here’s a youtube playlist I just put together showcasing a mere fraction of it’s awesomeness.
Cuimhnigh an bainne
Remember the milk for Irish phones….
I think this is pretty cool; you can connect Remember The Milk(RTM) and Twitter to your phone so that you can use Twitter or a text to send tasks to RTM. And then RTM will send you a text and an email reminding you to do things at a certain time.
I’ve been using remember the milk for a while now. I really needed a to-do list / task reminder that could really grab my attention and is also very easy to update. A lot of task apps that sit on my desktop just become invisible to me very quickly. As do gmail tasks. But the fact that RTM can send you texts really grabbed my attention and comes highly recommended but only when its hooked up with your phone is it a really powerful task reminder.
But it mostly only supports mobile networks in the US and other countries – but not Ireland. I’ve been checking back every now and then to see if they support Irish mobiles yet and they still don’t. But there’s a great way around it;
First you follow a special Twitter account http://twitter.com/rtm so that task reminders are sent to your Twitter account.
Then you set up Twitter so that it sends you texts when you get a new tweet. Lots of people do that anyway but if you’re like me and use the mobile version of Twitter on your phone then, like me, you’ve probably never bothered getting Twitter as texts. So I just turned off phone updates from everyone I follow except @rtm.
So now I can send @rtm a direct message like “take the bread out of the oven at 2:45pm” (I actually left bread in the oven for 2 hours longer than I should have yesterday. Dough!) And at 2:45 I’ll get a text and an email telling me to take the bread out of the oven. No more burnt bread! And I could have set that task up quickly from tweetdeck, from a text, or from the RTM site. And that’s all with the free version of RTM.
There’s more on twitter and rtm here: http://www.rememberthemilk.com/services/twitter/ . I gotta go RTM just sent me a text reminding me to record some of the Shane Meadows season on Film4.
Owl on the M1?
I was on a bus yesterday and spotted this funny arrangement of trees. It was at the first M1/M50 roundabout coming from the airport. From the bus I thought that was an X in the middle, but I had a look on Google Earth and you can see it’s a continuation of the inner circles. If you just look at the shape, it looks like an icon of an owl or at least eyes with eyelashes. Here’s a bigger image.
Or is it a sore arse?
The Italian job planet of the apes
“Good sense of humour”. Bit of a pointless phrase really isn’t it? What people actually mean is “someone with the same sense of humour as me”. Which could be anything:
- Someone with really wry dark sense of humour?
- Someone who makes silly dad jokes at every opportunity?
- Someone who loves tasteless jokes?
- Someone who laughs out loud when they see Eddie Murphy in a fat suit?
- Someone who laughs out loud at pre-movie ads in the Cinema?
- Somehow who ROFLS at a clip of someone falling off a rope-swing crossing a river?
- Someone who thinks crazy talentless people on talent shows are funny
- Or even someone who thinks its funny to write a blog post dissecting frequently used but pointless phrases?
There’s no such thing as a good sense of humour. Your good is my bad.
Same with music*. When you say someone has a great taste in music, what you really mean is they have the same taste in music as you.
*And pretty much anything else; Call the press, hold the headlines, someone on the Interweb has discovered that the word ‘good’ is subjective.
- Top 10 books of 2012
- The truth about tattoo removal
- CABBAGE CONTROLS – some thoughts on Prometheus casting
- Power’s Short story
- Books of the (last) year
- Pruning your feeds
- That other time I went to the States…
- Quincy M.E. and Cameron Diaz doing the La Bamba
- Different folks, different strokes
- Family cinema design
- Seat hogs
- Super Fly Guy
- Doctor Heiter’s Connections