Sunday, August 31, 2003

Back in Cardiff and catching up. I have no idea why my writings page is climbing the Google heap. It's a bit embarrassing, as there are projects listed there which haven't been typed up for months (years?) It's a neglected backwater page.

I'll try to get it sorted out soon.

One day I'll take the whole thing down and start from scratch (in its current incarnation it just grew from a cv (resume) published using a Front Page template).

Friday, August 29, 2003

I'm in Frankfurt

learning the secrets of Houdini from a friend. Struggling with a Mac Computer and a German keyboard, so I won't write long.

New postings, and catching up on email later in the weekend.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Very strange.

I just woke up from a dream. What was odd about it was that in the dream I met someone (call him A) and did something (irrelevant here) which gave me a sense of déjà vu, and then when I thought about it I realised that I hadn't really lived through the event before, but had dreamed it. I mentioned this to another of the characters in the first dream (if you follow me) who wasn't surprised - "Oh yeh, A's in the habit of visiting people in their dreams".

Then I woke up, fairly confused, given that A really has just visited me in a dream...

Friday, August 22, 2003

Want one interesting site to explore, for the Bank Holiday (UK)?

Try Anxiety Culture

Thursday, August 21, 2003

You may or may not believe that we never went to the moon - you may think we have a colony there (Alternative Three) but try this factoid about the Space Shuttle on for size:

Every time the shuttle goes up the solid fuel rocket boosters spew millions of pounds of aluminum dust into the high atmosphere and ionosphere. Some of this aluminum never comes down.
With 113 flights so far, that means there are millions of pounds of aluminum dust floating around up there blocking radio transmissions, sunlight etc.
This continuing atmospheric pollution is brought to you thanks to the primeval "explosion" technologists at JPL, NASA, and Morton Thiokol.

"Joe Six-Pack" goes along for each joyride, he throws
64,000,000 empty beer cans out the window on the way.
(32 aluminum cans per pound)
With 113 flights so far, that means there is the equivalent of

I am enjoying the stats from the counter: I have no idea how accurate this is - whether repeat visits count as one person or several, etc - but currently I have been visited (it says) by people using these languages
English 68
Danish 5
French 5
German 3
Dutch 2
Spanish 1
Unknown 1
Chinese 1
Which frame would make this look right? Oblique Strategy

Oh, and Lubor's Lens is something else, but I'll let you Google that yourselves....
Just a couple of notes: Thanks Brandon!

Thanks, also, to the people at Deep Leaf Productions, who just sent me my limited edition copy of *Maybe Logic - the Lives and Ideas of Robert Anton Wilson* the DVD (with bonus material).

I am trying to savour it, and not gulp it down. All it took to slow me down was to look at the practical exercises, when Bob said 'put it on pause and go collect some random household objects........................Are you back?'

At that moment I did pause... 'tooo laate man....'

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Humanize something free of error

- that's what Oblique Strategies recommended to me today....

Oblique Strategies are 'over a hundred worthwhile dilemmas' by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt - that can be found in the form of a pack of cards. But here's a great online version to play with for now.
More weird stuff. I came home to an email saying someone had just signed my guest book!

I went - Which Guest Book?

Ah, that Bravenet one I put up and took down a year how did someone come across it? In a cache? Or are they just sneaking around Bravenet members area, and going into guest books and sites from that site?

Hard to tell.....
Here's a crappy bit of advertising crud. I wondered why contact lens people and cookie makers were popping up in Google, when you hunt for Jabba stuff.

It looks as though best-shops-online sell space to these companies, and offer to hype them up the charts, then just hide some irrelevant (but popular) keywords on their pages and Voila! instant placings in search categories. Worse than out-of-the-blue junk mail must be junk that turns up when you are doing a specific search (not because you have asked a vague question.....)

I don't specially want to advertise these people, but this is what you get:

Discovered! convenient biocompatibles contacts Discount Contact ...
... MILLERStardestroyer Captain No 2 TOM MANNIONJabba Puppeteers TOBY PHILPOTT MIKE EDMONDS
DAVID BARCLAYPuppeteers MICHAEL And with our huge buying power, we are ... convenient_biocompatibles_contacts.asp - Similar pages

Excellent for oatmeal raisin gift fresh baked cookies - Delicious ...
... oliverstardestroyer captain no 1 pip millerstardestroyer captain no 2 tom mannionjabba
puppeteers toby philpott mike Chef David, trained in the finest French ... oatmeal_raisin_gift_Fresh_Baked_cookies.asp - Similar pages
Cheeky, huh?

Saturday, August 16, 2003

I managed to buy a secondhand copy of the Jamais Vu Papers....and was enjoying it's tale of people writing their own life as stories or knowing they're characters in a book ( a plot my friend Mick used to like) - with all that weirdness of knowing what is going to happen (deja vu), reversed, to jamais vu. I have never been here before.

It was first of all strange to hear the Cardiff Giant mentioned (though it has nothing to do with this city I live in) and a whole piece was written in Pig Latin (which I find really irritating - Iway eallyray indfay isthay itequay annoyingway). Fairly strange things to come across - but far more bizarrely synchronous when I put on a DVD of 'Made' that evening - only to find Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau speaking in Pig Latin, and ending up working for a company called Cardiff Giant (which they have to claim to work for several times).

That's got to be an improbable hit!
There still seems to be a regular flow of visitors wandering through - Hi People!

I guess T'Bone's interview increased traffic a bit (but also Habidabad's interview from before).

This still feels like an ephemeral event to me. A couple of years ago my working as an online tutor gave me freelance earnings on top of my wage, and let me go visit Hawaii (after not leaving the UK for about 15 years!)

I liked the thought of working from home, and working with my enthusiasm, but I also guessed it wouldn't last. Like most of my freelance plans over the years.

So getting to visit a couple of Star Wars conventions is fun, (and I know it could be a big old world of promotions, if you get into it), but the most I honestly expect is a couple of trips to other European countries (where someone else pays the plane fare) , and meeting some good folks.

I never was good at sustainable plans (as you can see from my history) as I have always been restless, into early adoption, easily bored, always moving on.....

This steady job isn't bad (as a plan for being in your mid-50s) but I still don't know if it will really see me through all the ups and downs of the next few years (i should be so lucky...)
I so enjoyed my entry of the 27th July, that I am going to repeat it here - just to remind myself to put that link onto a permanent page (and because the link is changing)

"After finding Grand Illusions I was racking my brains for the address of another site I found a while ago, containing 'impossible objects' made from playing cards. Well, this morning I found my way back!

They are called WOW cards, and they are at Ian Rowland's website. He performs all over the world doing a 'Beyond the Psychic' show. Not like Uri Geller, he has a self-deprecating sense of humour and self-mockery (while obviously still proud of the great stuff he can do).

It was always Geller's vanity that annoyed me (I remain an honorary member of the circle of conjurers who like fooling people, but not kidding them it is anything 'paranormal'. And speaking of paranormal, have a look at the impossible objects on Ian's site, which he calls PPOs (Permanent Paranormal Objects) which make a ship in a bottle look like child's play. (Though sadly the links to Angus Lavery, and the spoon that changes shape were dead links when I visited today)."

Friday, August 15, 2003

It's been a funny week for news. I don't mean the death and destruction stories to keep the climate of fear going...

Nah, the trivia. Last week it was 'Sun screen causes cancer' - not so much directly, as that it makes people think they are completely protected and they carry on with the foolish over exposure...

Then it was 'nicotine is potentially a very useful drug' it's the smoking that's bad for you. It was fun for an old hippie to see nicotine as 'having so bad a public image that you could never get funding to study it', especially now that hemp cosmetics and foods and clothing and other spinoffs are becoming available - although we are still a long way from being prescribed THC for depression....

And then there was the New Scientist with 'sunshine is good for you' - yes it gives you skin cancer, but it also protects you from a lot of other types of cancer and other illnesses related to Vitamin D deficiency.

I feel like Woody Allen in Sleeper - I forget the exact quote, but the gist is that he wakes up 200 years from now to find that later research proved that the ideal diet is in fact Coke Burger and Fries.....
Well, I seem to be in Google churn at the moment.

Quite a lot of visitors, according to this new counter - you can look at the stats yourself, they're not hidden - several languages and countries, which is pleasing for a world citizen like myself.....

Monday, August 11, 2003

"Acting in 'Star Wars' I felt like a raisin in a giant fruit salad,
and I didn't even know who the cantaloupes were."

- Mark Hamill,

Friday, August 08, 2003

Whoops! I seem to have lost my top slot in Google. I shouldn't have pulled my Home page for updating, and put it back without metatags, etc. Never mind - it just stops that 'I'm Feeling Lucky' gag for finding me easily....

Still, the interviews are buzzing, and people are visiting the site... I've been doing some friendly trading with people...

Hi Josh! Hi Lee!

And it's hot in the UK, so that's good, too. (I won't go on about my aches and pains, today...)

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

A BIG HELLO to new visitors. Since I put the counter on a couple of days ago I can see people dropping in to visit - probably in response to the interviews.

As you can probably tell from the look of the site, I am a 'cheap and cheerful' person. It's best not to think of me as some kind of film star. Right now I do a modest job for a modest wage - I still don't own any property, or have any savings, or pensions to look forward to!

I dropped out from school, determined to enjoy myself and to have adventures and not to work for anyone else - and succeeded very well at that.

When it comes to capitalism, money, property and social status, however - I remain a bohemian, or a Beat, a drop-out, or a hippie (or whatever word you use for someone so out-of-tune with celebrity, greed and fame). That doesn't mean it wasn't fun. Just don't assume I am any less human (or more superhuman) than yourself.....

The film business was just a little bit of lottery luck that got me through the 80s.

Monday, August 04, 2003

I have put a web counter on the front page for the moment. Just out of curiosity. I've done this a couple of times before (I am always experimenting with stuff that doesn't cost me anything - except stress when it screws up my PC).

So it has only been on for a day - and you can see if anyone else visits as easily as I can - because I haven't paid to hide the stats. What do I care. This whole thing could just be me writing in my den without anyone looking over my shoulder - and that's fine with me. This blog is mostly notes to myself - and links to cool stuff I come across, so I don't forget where I found them.

If anyone else pops in, fine, and welcome, but you'll have to look after yourself, I am not being a host.....

Mi casa es su casa
False Alarm - Bavarian Fire Drill - call it what you will. Google seems to have settled out again. Who knew it was so fickle?

Usually my home page comes in top, and then second place alternates between the Writings page (for some strange reason!) and Jabba's Left Hand Man (which seems unsurprising)...

And while I am at it, no I am not the Liberal Democrat politician of the same name, nor am I the business studies guy in Durham (who may or may not be the same guy) nor am I the eleven year old Toby who likes football. I'd like to take this opportunity to apologise to them all for dominating the cyberfields, but until I got onto the Web I thought I was unique (huh, didn't we all!) And I just happen to have done stuff which pushes me up the Google charts...

There aren't enough Toby Philpott's (54) to do a Dave Gorman show, unfortunately...
Doh! I cannot believe it! For the first time in about a couple of years my webpage is not top of the Google hit parade.

I wouldn't mind, but I have just started saying to people that there is no point in remembering my (complicated) webpage address, just put my name in Google and hit I'm Feeling Lucky. I don't want to go out and pay good money for a domain name. This is just a light-hearted hobby for me, and I don't want to start taking it so seriously - people will think I am really vain! Can you imagine? fnord


Anyway, maybe it's just the Google Dance. I wouldn't mind if it was my IMDb link at the top of the list, but it's that silly one at, where they list me as Celebrity Number 1475096 (which I think is hilarious - I want a T-shirt made - talk about a Z-List celebrity!) and they don't even know I worked on Jabba... (hey ho)

Perhaps it is the shuffle created by the latest interview, which is getting cross-links from other fan sites like Episode-X and UnderGroundOnline

It would be a little ironic if I lost my standing because of getting more links...ah, the mysteries of the Google Algorithm.....

Saturday, August 02, 2003

Although I enjoyed Soderberg's Solaris OK on it's own level it was ultimately unsatisfactory because of ending up with the lovers living happily ever after in some sort of 'heaven' where there is no pain. This is so far from the mysterious encounter with the alien ocean in the original movie as to be almost laughable.

Solaris was as weird as 2001, and people differed over what it 'meant' but one thing is certain - the ocean manifests as his suicidal wife while probing in his mind, but later she STOPS returning when the ocean takes a different approach. At this point the intelligent ocean tries to 'understand' and adapt to the human just as the human tries to reconcile with the ocean. We are talking a strange mixture of cosmic mysticism and truly alien encounter. To have it reduced to a 'second chance for happiness' and a 'happy ending fantasy life in an illusionary 'folie-a-deux' " seems so irritatingly trivial that I guess I am still mumbling on....

Hey ho - I shouldn't take it so personally, I guess. This from Underview

"In an attempt to appease whatever motivation lies behind the ocean's assault on their sanity, to deflect whatever power is tearing their lives apart, Kris and his companions agree to an experiment. An encephelogram of Kris's brain will be directed into the sea, in the hopes that the life force will be better able to comprehend the nature of humanity."

"Ocean Solaris begins to understand what gives Kris his humanity. When Kris's fever lifts, his first thought is of Hari. But she has gone, and will not return. Hari is not at the innermost core of his life force. The purpose of Kris's ordeal goes beyond assuaging the guilt that haunts him over Hari's death. "

"And what destiny is it that now awaits Kris? He has no reason to remain exiled in this distant place, but what is left for him back on earth? Just as Dave in 2001 underwent a transformation beyond the point of any human reference, so Kris's experiences have carried him long past the point where he can simply return whence he came; so his journey is almost complete. It is time for Kris to learn - or to be reminded - of his own true source and find his ultimate destination."

And it is his parents (his source) that he is reconciled with in the end.....

"Kelvin can never distance himself from the forces that shaped his own development. However far he journeys, he will ultimately be drawn back to his own roots. Even at the limits of human endurance, Kelvin is a creature of the earth and the people who gave him existence. The dream of returning home and eradicating the mistakes of his past lies at the core of Kelvin's being, but it takes an alien intelligence to perceive the dream.
Yet that alien intelligence, too, is subject to whatever laws may govern the universe. The inescapable fate bestowed by a spiritual, moral existence is to live with the conscience that arises from the actions a person takes, with no prospect of a second chance. Kelvin's ultimate destiny is to return to the place where he was born. He can go nowhere else."

But then again, Lem (the original author) found Tarkovsky's film irritatingly emotional, mystical and glum

"The whole sphere of cognitive and epistemological considerations was extremely important in my book and it was tightly coupled to the solaristic literature and to the essence of solaristics as such. Unfortunately, the film has been robbed of those qualities rather thoroughly. Only in small bits and through the tracking camera shots we discover the fates of those present at the station but these fates should not be any existential anecdote either but a grand question concerning man's position in Cosmos, etc.
My Kelvin decides to stay on the planet without any hope whatsoever while Tarkovsky created an image where some kind of an island appears, and on that island a hut. And when I hear about the hut and the island I'm beside myself with irritation... This is just some emotional sauce into which Tarkovsky has submerged his heroes, not to mention that he has completely amputated the scientific landscape and in its place introduced so much of the weirdness I cannot stand."

So I guess they are all separate but related bits of art, and I shouldn't get so mad....

This from Salon
"Soderbergh's film is probably not the equal of either Tarkovsky's 1972 predecessor or the memorably Byzantine prose of Lem's novel, but in the end, almost despite himself, this able craftsman has made a brave and lovely companion piece to both of them. His ending is pure cinema at its most marvelous and moving; it brings Kelvin full circle and renders irrelevant all questions about where he is, whether he's alive or dead, whether he's with Rheya or alone. He's in a movie, after all, and if that's not immortality it's about the closest thing we've got. "

This from Shaking Through

"Soderbergh boils Solaris down to one central conceit: Love is stronger than death. Lem touched on this notion, but debunked it as useless romanticizing, yet another example of humans trying to impose their will on immutable universal law. For Soderbergh, however, love can triumph over death, as it has in recent films like Ghost and Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula. Soderbergh also understands basic economics: will audiences really go for a brooding meditation on time, memory and intransigent contact with a living ocean, or would they prefer to see George Clooney (playing Dr. Chris Kelvin in the update) and the striking Natascha McElhone (as Rheya) falling in love and getting naked? "

Which just about sums it up...... I have no great affection for 'Love Conquers All' as a plot - simply because, when it doesn't, people just say "Well that can't have been true love..." (sigh)

Friday, August 01, 2003

I did a bit of tidying up and moving stuff around on the website (well, it's better than tidying my 'real' room) so you may find things a little different.

I have deliberately buried a links page to magic and juggling flourishes, but temporarily I will point to it here as a *New Page* - but given that I point to how David Blaine levitates and how Copperfield made the Statue of Liberty disappear - I figured I should hide it from casual eyes. On most magic sites they set you a little test to check you are 'in the know' but as I found these sites just using Google, I don't feel like I am exposing something too casually. And I am very scared about people's gullibility in this modern day and age....that they could still see something on television and truly believe that a man can levitate is quite scary. Entertainment and illusion is OK....

I added some links on the cgi vs. real Jabba issue; a page of strange bits and pieces; and links to all current online interviews

Oh, and the second part of the most recent interview is now up.

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