Eggs Benedict

Courtesy of Gareth. It turns out that even the Pope’s helicopter has ridiculous hats.

helipopeter

Green fingers

There’s a garden centre just round the corner from Harcourt Arbroretum. It has the usual array of plants and seeds and tacky ornaments, as well as books and houseware and those cheap CDs featuring live hits or re-recordings. In November, when we visited, the interior was awash with blinking Christmas lights and decorative alpine villages. it’s also the place where there was a notorious incident with a jaded Santa and his unfortunate faux pas.

But none of that interested me. What interested me was this the eco-themed cafe, and in particular this.

Sheep

Right. So, in this instance (says Emily) the coffee is put into coffee recycling vans which are then eaten by sheep. Then the sheep are turned into coffee.

And they want us to help save the planet.

Why so serious?

Knowledge of Bob Dylan advised.

Joker-Thief

Follow the dogs

If you subscribe to Brian of Morbius or Things My Children Said this will be a duplicate posting, for today only. Maximise your audience, and all that!

Greenbelt_2012_40

About eighteen months ago, I was strolling across Cheltenham Racecourse on a sunny Tuesday morning when I had an epiphany.

We’d been there for a music and arts festival, and these gatherings are synonymous with creative sharing. There are writers’ workshops, song-crafting panels and at night you’ll leave the lights of the village and its coffee stands and art displays to the camping area, where the air is alive with the sound of a hundred strumming guitars. “Be not afraid,” I said to Joshua and Daniel on our first night there. “The isle is full of noises.”

My idea wasn’t new or revolutionary, it was just something I hadn’t tried before. I was recalling the sequence in Amelie in which the titular heroine cures her agoraphobic father by kidnapping his gnome and arranging for it to go travelling. Assorted photos arrive on his doormat from round the world, and in the end the old man conquers his fear of travel, packs a suitcase and leaves.

I know that the concept of the travelling gnome – the item that is abandoned in various places and then picked up, and then put down somewhere else – is nothing new. I’ve even seen it done with books. But it struck me that it would be a fun topic for a blog, so I spent the next week or so obtaining three cuddly dogs from local charity shops, before typing out a multi-lingual set of instructions that could, I imagined, be understood by the bulk of the word’s population. I set up a blog, Facebook feeds and even a Twitter account. Then I left the dogs in assorted locations around the home counties, and sat back and waited.

It was a dismal failure.

I don’t think the problem was in the methodology. For one thing I’d dumped them all in different places to maximise the spread. Manny was left in Didcot town centre and was picked up by a local girl who promptly emailed me with a photo and promised she’d be taking him to Oxford in a day or two. Bernard was left in Reading University library by the husband of one of my colleagues – it took some effort because the staff kept running after him to remind him to take his stuffed toy with him – before being collected by a chap who said he was going to the Isle of Wight. Francesca fared the best of all, having enjoyed a whistlestop tour of Oxford courtesy of another colleague, before being collected by a family who assured her that they were off to Australia and that they’d take the dog with them.

Then zip. Zilch. Nada.

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The first three, just before their brief voyage.

I guess I placed too much faith in human nature, and that someone decided to pick up the dogs and disregard the (clearly visible) instructions. I’d like to hope that they’re warming a young child’s bed somewhere – that wouldn’t be such a bad ending to a journey, however brief. There is, of course, the possibility that they’ve been incinerated by zealous security staff who assumed that they were a suspicious package. I probably caused a major alert at an international airport somewhere and delayed several long-haul flights. Sorry about that.

That was September 2011, and very recently, off the back of conversations I’ve been having in the office, I decided to have another go. The infrastructure is already in place – I simply had to find new dogs. And here they are.

 Dogs_2

Meet (left to right) Penny, Leonard and Sheldon. Well, obviously.

I have no idea how far we’ll get, but the possibility of failure shouldn’t stop you trying – Thomas has taught me that much, at least. So I’m plugging the other blog here, and granting you the opportunity to join us at the start of our journey, should you be so inclined. God knows I could use the moral support. Simply pop across to followthedogs.wordpress.com and hit the ‘follow’ button. And then sit back and watch as ABSOLUTELY NOTHING HAPPENS.

Well, we’ll see…

Portal: The Movie

Ah, that got your attention, didn’t it?

Listen: if you follow my Doctor Who blog (and if you do I apologise for what is essentially a duplicate post) you’ll probably know about this already, because I blogged about it back in October. But you won’t have seen this version.

I love The Trailer Mash. The quality varies – some of the submissions are wonderful, others simply aren’t very good at all – but the breadth and depth of imagination is something to behold. It’s good to have so many recut films together in one place, even if their interface could probably do with a bit of a revamp (comments interface, anyone?). Submission is simplicity itself and the one time I’ve had to submit a support query they’ve been courteous, prompt and attentive.

But mostly I love it because it’s a chance to showcase my work in a different forum where people will, at least, watch it, even if they don’t always like it. Trying to compete on YouTube is like shouting into a thermonuclear blast: there’s just so much stuff that you have to be rich or lucky (or very, very talented) to get noticed. I am none of the above. So every little helps.

This is fine except when you’ve created something – as I’ve done more than once – that works as a theatrical cut but which is utterly unsuitable. So it’s back to the editing suite. Last year I recut Darth Gene into a two-minute trailer that I think arguably improves on my original, and last night I finished a two minute trailer for the Portal 2 / Flight of the Navigator movie, purely for the sake of Trailer Mash hosting. But there’s a lesson in creativity as well, because such creations are an exercise in restraint: I am someone who will typically do more than is needed, and whose work could occasionally do with trimming, and so it’s nice to have to focus on the best of what you have. At a literary level, I suppose it’s like trying to squash a novella into short story length, or even something shorter – say, the confines of a five hundred word essay competition.

This one was tough. I don’t mean the original – I won’t go into the ins and outs of possibly the most coherent thing I’ve ever made, because that’s all in the other post – but recutting it was difficult. Most of the work had already been done and it was simply a matter of finding the best / most suitable material, but I had to chop out lines I really liked because they were slowing the pacing of the trailer. I went back and forth with ideas for backing music, but I think ‘Mr Blue Sky’ works quite well. There’s an annoying glitch at 0:31, and I HAVE NO IDEA WHY THIS IS. We’ll just have to live with it. (I take comfort in the fact that the whole of Wreck-It Ralph was essentially built around a glitch.)

The aforementioned Portal movie will never make it past the scripting stage – it would be a creative disaster, because they’d have to give a voice to Chell, which is like making Judge Dredd remove his helmet.  But in the meantime it would be nice to think that Wheatley lives on somewhere, and is carting back and forth across the galaxy, impersonating cows and listening to the Beach Boys. SPAAAAAAAAACE!

Law of the land

Personally, my money’s on Russell.

Javert-Dredd

(And yes, I am aware that Karl Urban could kick the arses of both of them without pausing for breath.)

I do like a bit of gorgonzola

It’s the wrong Gromit, trousers!

Gromit

I was looking for the mouse (part 2)

Seriously, does anyone else have pets who do this?

Cat_Printer

I was looking for the mouse

This is mildly annoying.

Cat_Laptop

You are a sad, strange little man

Woody just couldn’t take it anymore.

Woody

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