March 2003 Archives
March 30, 2003
Hey, I managed to resurrect my old PC today! I dropped it down a flight of stairs last time I moved house, which didn't exactly do it much good but did at least prompt me to buy the bits I needed to make a 'new' Windows box. Now, the regular reader of this blog (hello... er... oh, you're not there. OK fine) will recall that said Windows box was a bit of a git to stabilise, but at the moment it seems OK. Though it's about to run out of disc space. And I find it hard to care because Windows XP is really horrible, and the more I use it the more horrible I think it is.
Anyway, I had almost enough bits left over to make another machine, based on the old K6/stairs hybrid box. Tonight, it powered up... and to my astonishment, the old 8Gb Maxtor drive in it not only had an OS installed, it had a working Mandrake 8.1 setup. Last booted three hundred and eighty-odd days ago, apparently.
However, I've no idea what state the thing is in, nor do I recall most of the passwords. So I'm going to wipe it anyway. It's likely heading for Mandrake 9.1, but there's a slight problem. I'm burning the install CD as I type this, but... er... I only have one gash CD drive, and that's in the Windows box. Ah.
Then there's the problem all Mac OS X users face when contemplating Linux: why bother?
I suspect I will anyway, if only to have another PC I can pull out when I need it. But really, I fear it's just the hard-case geek in me that will see this through.
Something I just wrote in another forum, of which I'm instantaneously rather fond:
We're Europeans, dammit. We've all invaded each other already, it's not like we aren't friends!
March 29, 2003
It's been a while, huh? I've mostly been busy recovering, but aside from that:
The Heartbeat Run last weekend was a hoot. Gallery here; on this page you can see part of my green Cooper in the sixth photo down (and I think that's me following Andy/'Bad Manners' in the last photo... or rather, hanging on for dear life, since his steed has a 210bhp+ Hartge conversion. Yowser).
Right now, I'm clearing up the flat, thinking about playing with this froody new piece of software, and trying to catch up with my tax affairs enough to work out if I need to buy a new PowerBook in a panic on Monday. No, really - it's the last day for the 100% first-year tax allowance on such things.
To complete the life-returning-to-normal picture - I finally made it to the optician, and have some new specs on order (think 'retro-chic'); my Mini is finally booked in to have the year-old bonnet scuff repaired; editing continues apace, though we've pushed online and dub back a couple of weeks because... well, because we could, basically. Oh, and I've applied for a terribly pukka BBC training scheme thing, and I've been poking around the web looking at flats for sale in Glasgow.
...all of which, while certainly necessary 'catching up with life' stuff, is deathly dull from a weblog perspective. Which is why I've not blogged anything much for a little while. So now you know. Aren't you glad you asked?
March 22, 2003
A week ago, I was still in studio, scrambling to get finished on time.
Last night, I bade farewell to the last two of my research team, so now it's just me, the director, and the editor. Bitter-sweet (and not entirely true, since Anna the researcher/associate producer is still around, but the story doesn't read so well if I leave her in, d'you think?).
Today, I've been resin polishing my Mini.
Er... strange life.
Tomorrow, the 'Heartbeat Run.' Tee-hee.
March 20, 2003
Another thing that should be included in Citizenship lessons: basic spatial awareness. Exercises could include -
- Continuing moving when stepping off the escalator
- Holding the door open for the next person behind you
- Not walking in front of people browsing for magazines in WH Smith
- Not just standing staring at said magazines shoulder-to-shoulder
- Moving away from the coffee machine once one's chosen beverage has been dispensed
- When paying for lunch, leaving space for the next person's tray on the little shelf beside the till.
That last one really wound me up today. Can you tell?
Today is my birthday. Now, we're not big on birthdays in family Sanderson, so I was mildly surprised to receive a bright yellow card. 'We attempted to make a delivery,' it said, 'but you weren't in.' Well, I was, thank you very much City Link, perhaps you should have knocked? And while you're at it, the map and directions to your depot are plain wrong.
Anyway, the parcel turned out to contain a bottle of champagne. Damn, huh? Unexpectedly, it's from the chap who's broken PowerBook is still in my care - the PowerBook that used to be mine before I returned it for a refund, as those of you who've been following the saga will doubtless recall. I take this to mean that the delightful Mr. Sparrow is happily hacking away on a brand new TiBook, so that's a happy result all round.
But the champagne has, so far as I can tell, absolutely nothing to do with my birthday. It's just random fizz from a Mac user. Cool.
March 14, 2003
So, on Tuesday night (er... three o'clock Wednesday morning) I was bored with a script I was subbing down for studio, and wrote, following the introduction of a particular piece of accurate but implausible-treknology-sounding jargon:
Now, I know what you're thinking - but no.
...then I added a line on the endash that threw Michael, my presenter, into a spaceship, blurbing on for about a dozen seconds. Right in the middle of the line. It was a way of keeping myself amused. The director of this particular item is the exact antithesis of a Star Trek fan, so I was confident she'd say 'I'm just not going to do that bit, you're taking the piss,' and we'd move on. Fine.
Today we filmed the item.
Not only did we shoot the line, but there was a bloody spaceship set to shoot it in. Quite how that got built in a day, I've no idea. Who's idea it was, I've even less of a clue. Was I surprised? Hell, yeah. Was it funny? Hell, yeah.
Do I like my colleagues?
Hell, yeah. They turn childish whims into ruddy marvellous children's TV.
March 12, 2003
One of my particular scriptwriting idiosyncrasies is that I delight in penning bizarre, tortuous, or just plain weird stage directions. Most of the time they still make enough sense for my directors to work out where I'm going, and indeed one of the reasons I do it is as a somewhat obscure attempt to get them to surprise me. But sometimes I write things that leave them blinking blankly. So it was, unexpectedly, with:
CAPTAIN SCARLET TRANSITION TO:
As it happened, Richard, the long-suffering director of my current project, had accidentally overlooked this particular line until we blew headlong into it in studio today. 'WTF?' he exclaimed, showing admirable restraint, perhaps on the grounds that my parents had been on a state visit earlier.
Discussion ensued. Eventually, Barry the cameraman sauntered over to see if he could help. I described what I wanted.
'Oh,' he said, 'a Captain Scarlet transition. We're set up for that, thought it might be fun.'
And so it was. Though half the crew did have something of an argument concerning whether one should zoom on the lines, or between them. The other half of the crew looked on baffled, and I think were still confused even after we'd shot the sequence.
March 10, 2003
...replaced our advertised programme 'Holiday Airport: Lanzarote'."
I wish I'd caught more than the last five minutes. He clearly didn't win over the panel. Interesting.
March 9, 2003
Went shopping today with my friend Anna and our colleague Kate. Hilarious; I seriously wish I'd had a DV camera with me, we'd have had a pilot. Heck, we even had a trouser crisis with 30 minutes before the shops shut, and French Connection genuinely happened in fastmo, to the Sex & The City theme. No editing required.
Result: (bank balance)--, but (decent clothes)++. Splendid jacket a particular treasure.
I like my friends.
I haven't posted for a few days, thanks mostly to having been in studio all week. I've barely seen daylight.
Anyway, I'm catching up with news a little, and I'm struck by how ill-prepared we are for the whole Iraq situation. Nothing to do with military materiel, nor political will, nor even moral objectivity. No, we're unprepared on the level of rhetoric. The arguments being put forth are being put forth astonishingly badly, little of passable coherence issuing from either side.
More troublesome, however, is that the magnitude of what we're facing is genuinely hard to get one's head around, and harder still to express. Forget Iraq - the whole US/Europe, UN/'cf. League of Nations' melànge is a flabby mess. A week or so ago the usually rather sober BBC were reflecting that NATO might not survive the Turkish situation; today, they're suggesting that the UN Security Council showdown will 'shape international relations for a generation.' Well... sure. but that's not a large step from 'answer hazy, ask again later.'
Years ago, I watched Live Aid, Mandela walking out of prison, and the Berlin Wall being torn down. I saw revolution in Romania, and dock workers in Warsaw. I'm not sure I want to see France vs. the US in New York. In part because I can't help but think Britain's on the losing side, whoever prevails. Blair's played a masterful game and probably averted war for the last six months, but he now seems trapped in a pincer movement.
I say this: ugh.
March 3, 2003
Tomorrow, The Big Bang studio starts. And I'm very, very tired. But hey, I'm the producer, and while my job is hardly done, if a large chunk of it isn't now in place then I'm not exactly making my own life easy.
Today, I've signed off on the first eight scripts (only two to go!), written the risk assessment, and done a myriad other bits & bobs. But best of all was writing a blurb for the press officer. This is usually one of those horrid chores, but this year something that sounds like a terrific series tripped merrily off the keys in scant minutes. A good omen indeed.
I have inspired content, excellent presenters, solid researchers, an enthusiastic director, and subtle in-jokes in the scripts. I have a good feeling about this.
Wish us luck.
March 2, 2003
Three hours in, and we've pretty much no idea who's still alive. Cool. I have two questions:
- Does Kim Bauer have the highest bad luck/common sense coefficient of any teenager in the States?
- Why is the picture so dreadful over NTL Cable in the UK? I'll swear I saw the bandwidth increase as the show finished - throughout, I had horrible pixellation artefacts and even a few dropped frames. Ugh! Yes, I have complained.
The researchers I'm working with are completely obsessed with charging their mobile phones. They're physically jumpy if their phone isn't on charge whenever possible, they fret if they don't know where their charger is.
Hnngh? is this some sort of age thing?
Must write the teaspoon story. This is a placeholder until I do.