How To Spoil Your Appetite In One Easy Step

Let’s get the apologia out of the way first. The London Street Brasserie in Reading is one of my favourite restaurants. Full stop. The service and food has always been impeccable, and I have never walked away from the place feeling less than deeply satisfied. I can recommend the place heartily.

Trouble is, I’m not here to review the restaurant. I’m here to show you the advertising hoarding that’s just gone up on my route into work for the place. Now, let me ask a simple question. Would you be more or less likely to go to the London Street Brasserie if all you had to go on was the recommendation offered by this piece of advertising gold?

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Who's For Dinner?

What the hell happened? If the mood the photographer and agency were after was “friendly and welcoming”, then they mis-stepped the mark by a pratfall and a half. The feeling I get when looking at this poster is “she’s about to drop the glass, crawl out of the hoarding and chew my bloody face off!”

Now, I’m prepared to accept that maybe the photo was taken on a bad day. Maybe that’s not a professional model up there, but a member of staff (in which case, my heart really goes out to her) who got caught in a poor pose. But that’s no excuse for a shot like that to make it through the editorial process, get printed up at great cost and put up as an image representative of the restaurant.

That, Readership, is an image representative of a Z-Grade cannibal horror movie. I’m sorry to have to share it with you. But I have to see it every frickin’ day. And it’s starting to get to me.

The London Street Brasserie Girl is in my dreams now.

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Keeping Music free (in every sense of the word)

I’ve been following the shift from the traditional form of music retail to something a little more random access with great interest over the last couple of years. I’m an enthusiast of anything that’s not the HMV style music shed, where a depressingly small range of new release and back cat stock is kept at the front of the store at loss leader prices, while the interesting stuff is racked at the back, extortionatly priced.

With the disappearance of my favourite music chain Fopp last year (although I’m glad to see the brand’s reemerged in a form truer to it’s independent roots, with 7 shops in key locations. Not Reading though, darnit) I’ve found that my shopping for music is all online these days. I will frequently impulse buy using my iPhone, and snag interesting stuff from links and recommendations using my RSS feeds through favourite sites like WFMU’s Beware Of The Blog, Boing Boing and The Word (all on the blogroll to your right, Readership. Have a nose). Making the decision to dump all our CDs onto hard drive has had an impact on the way I purchase and listen to music too. I’m much more likely to listen to random, off-the-wall things (take for example, my 2008 song of the year, a sweet slice of poppy Georgian jazz) and am much happier listening to my library on shuffle than to discrete albums. I grab and listen as and when the mood takes me.

The exception to this rule is, of course, vinyl, which remains a pleasure bordering on the ritualistic and fetishistic, and the one truly joyful way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon. Rekkids and booze. Ohhhh yeeeah. That little habit is neither cheap nor easy, but I will happily contradict my earlier argument in this case.

I should offer a couple of links to recent discoveries. First up, The Damnwells are offering up their new album One Last Century for free. It’s fine and classy pop and well worth a listen. The main man of the band, Alex Dezen also gives a great argument for why he’s chosen to share his music.

I have never worked so hard or put so much of myself into a collection of recorded songs. It is for just this reason that I want to give it away. To me it makes perfect sense. I just want people to hear this music, and I don’t want them to have to enter into some kind of contractual agreement with a third party to do so. Download the record, copy it and give it to your friends, lovers, and enemies. Whatever. It’s so hard these days just to get the actual music into people’s houses and cars, let alone their ears. Besides, I know everyone’s broke, maybe I can supply the soundtrack. So, I just want to give this music away because I want people to hear it.

You can’t say fairer than that, can you?

The other model to nod at is “Pay What You Like”, which I like for the way it instantly gives the music a sense of perceived value. It’s an experiment that can work very well, as people will frequently pay more for product than you’d think if you give them the choice. Look what that method did for Radiohead, to take the high-profile example. Or, to expand the argument, what it’s starting to do for innovative restauranteurs.

With that in mind, I present Sophie Madeleine’s album Love. Life. Ukulele. One of the sweetest things I’ve heard all year, with solid tunesmithery and a sharp sense of humour. Yours for a minimum donation of three and a half quid. At the very least, check out the single, The Stars.

Finally, for those of you enjoying the pure random thrills of Spotify (and if not, why not?) here’s my first playlist. Arty Gallic electronikie. I’ve made it collaborative, so feel free to add anything you think would suit.
Merci, mon Lectorat, et appréciez la musique!

(Postscript, as it’s not out of closed beta yet, but I should point out that WFMU’s Free Music Archive is going to be positively head-expanding when it finally breaks. It won’t be for everyone, but if you have an eclectic ear, there’s enough here to keep you up for DAYS. More news on this later, and if I get any invites you’ll be the first to know. Meanwhile, the site has a couple of taster compos for your downloading pleasure, to give you an idea of whet to expect.)

An Apology

Those of you that were viewing the site last night may have been a little confused as it went through three looks in the course of a couple of hours.

This is my fault entirely. Spring is coming, and I feel the urge to tinker, re-arrange and mess about under the hood.

I’ve finally settled on a new theme, and have updated the blogroll. We should all be grateful that I don’t have a locally installed version of WordPress, otherwise the site would never look the same from one week to the next.

Do you like? Let me know!

Updatarama

Its the portability of 8mm that I love, you know...

Things are moving swiftly. Thus I must do the same. Briefly, then.

Shooting on OUT TIME will be at some point early next week. We have screened our test roll of neg. Hooray! It’s in focus! Hooray! The centre’s where it should be!

We are meeting Kiki, our actress tomorrow, and have just had a very successful chat with Hayley, supporting actress and first AD, which may have solved the last of our location issues. Things are falling into place.

Meanwhile, this Friday sees the first preview screening of the Cambridge Super 8 Festival, and we are honoured that Code Grey has been chosen as one of the featured films. Any members of The Readership that find themselves at a loose end and anywhere near The Portland Arms in Cambridge should get themselves in there and give the film some love.

 Code Grey will be screened as part of the Festival proper on Friday May 1st, and Clive and I will both be there. Come and find us and say hi. If you mention X&HT, then I will be quietly and happily flabberghasted. 

Code Grey’s screening at the Chelsea Arts Club is just the icing on top of the pork pie. They’re feeding us and everything, doncha know. Not with iced pork pies, I hope…

Life During And Beyond Straight 8

We move on apace, slipping into the final stages of planning before a long day of shooting. Time is, as it inevitably does with Straight 8, slipping away. The final day for submission of pictures is three weeks away.

Here’s where we stand. Script, pretty much there. It needs more of a conclusive breakdown to create a proper shooting script, which I’ve started and will finish this week. Dom will be on recce duty, hunting out locations. We have finished casting, and have two fantastic, talented actors on board that will push us to do our best. We have a tentative shooting date two weeks hence. We are, I think, as set as we can be at this stage.

So, of course, I’m twitchy. This is always the point in proceedings where something happens. Usually, a key member of staff will drop out. If we’re unlucky, everyone will drop out. All we can do is plan and plan and hope for the best, and plan again for the emergency that I’m certain is just round the corner. These films are such small things, but they can really take over your life. A disaster now will echo in your bones and your soul.

Let’s talk about Code Grey. Last year’s Straight 8 has only gone and got itself a life outside the compound. We have a screening at the Chelsea Arts Club on the 16th, along with artists and other film-makers as part of their monthly film night. This is a huge bump to the ego for Clive and I, and we shall struggle to contain the swelling of our heads. We even get fed as part of the deal.

And ***BREAKING NEWS***, Readership. Code Grey has been picked up as part of the Cambridge Super 8 Festival in May. This is of course very good news, as it was submitted without the Straight 8 wrapper. It’s a short film in it’s own right, and doing really well. This bodes well for the Hungarian Film Festival too, which also had a DVD from me. Next job is to see if we can get it into a mainstream festival. The way we’re rolling at the moment, I think we can do it. It’s just a shame we’re a bit late for Cannes this year…

Maybe I am, and maybe I’m not.

Hmm. Ok. Doing a bit of random browsing while waiting for some video to finish encoding, and ran across Typealyser.

Typealyser seems to run the contents of whichever blog you point it at through a Myers-Briggs personality test algorithm thingy, and spits out a series of broad assumptions. The worrying thing is, Typealyser seems to have the measure of me to a much greater extent than I would have figured.

This, according to the algorithm, is me:

ESTP – The Doers

The active and playful type. They are especially attuned to people and things around them and often full of energy, talking, joking and engaging in physical out-door activities.

The Doers are happiest with action-filled work which craves their full attention and focus. They might be very impulsive and more keen on starting something new than following it through. They might have a problem with sitting still or remaining inactive for any period of time.

Which is a bit close for my liking. Certainly the second paragraph is flighty ol’ me nailed up on a killing board. I’m amazed I ever get anything finished, and I’m sure part of the attraction of blogging is that I can get something positive and complete through the gates before being distracted by a pretty butterfly or a nice cup of tea or a poke from Twitter.

However, physical outdoor activities? I don’t think so. It’s a beautiful bright early spring day, and here I am in our dark back room, giving it some blog. Screw you, sunlight. I am bathed in the radiance from the interwebs, and I feel FINE.

Some Oscar Thoughts

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…now that I’ve had a bit of time to think about it.

1. Slumdog absolutely deserved every award. Rewarding Danny Boyle’s style of lean, sharp film-making is a very good move, and the smartest thing Oscar’s done in quite a while. That being said, typically the award did not go to his best movie. If you want to know what I’m talking about, set your plusbox to BBC1 at 11:25 tonight.

2. Actually, the other big Brit victory of the night also won for work that will not be remembered as her best. I mean, seriously, why Kate Winslet should get the Golden Dwarf for The Reader instead of Little Children is beyond me.

3. This seems be be pretty symptomatic of the Oscar selection process as a whole, though. Witness Sean Penn’s Best Actor nod for Harvey Milk. This matches the preference of the committee for roles that are either impersonations or, if you’ll excuse the Tropic Thunderism, “half-retard.” This year seems to be better than past events. For example, the 2005 awards featured three biopic roles, with Philip Seymour Hoffman winning for his portrayal of Truman Capote. Even so, two impersonations out of five this year.

4. And I’ll get shit for saying this, but Heath Ledger’s posthumous award may have been deserved, but to my mind he was better in Brokeback Mountain. Oscar once again rewards the right person for the wrong role. Good to see a superhero movie getting a thumbs-up in something other than a technical award, though.

5. And don’t get me started on the whole Best Animated Film gulag, either. Wall-E had a ton more invention, heart and sheer joy than Benjamin Button or The Reader. Or Milk. Or Frost/Nixon.

6. In other words, business as usual at the Oscars this year. Hugh Jackman looks like he might have a gig for life, though. Much to Jon Stewart’s discomfort…