Now Presenting...

Ladies and Gentlemen, this man writes New X-Men.

Tonight, I went to the first meeting of the Writer’s Block screenwriting group that I talked about a couple of weeks ago. Looks like fun. Once again, the prevailing opinion from the ex-professional screenwriter we had was that Film School is probably a Bad Idea. And he’s a friends with a Mr. Spielburg. Bonnie, put the knife awaaaayyy….

Our TA duties for the next few weeks got sorted out today. I’m handling the programming exercises, while Huijang is going to do the written assignments. I felt a bit guilty, as this means she’s going to be doing the marking again this week, but she says that she would prefer not to do the programming section, as she’s fairly new to Java, and that the written papers will help with her English. So we’re fairly happy with the arrangement.

Shiny update: Not here yet.

One thing that has been missing in the course so far is any notion of how I’m doing. That was rectified somewhat today, as I had to demonstrate my two different web servers for COMP 243. As normal, my heart rate increased almost exponentially as it got closer to the time of the demonstration. I needed have worried too much; my programs passed the tests and the interoperability sections. The Professor said it was excellent. I was just happy it worked.

Another short entry

It’s my Dad’s birthday today, so Happy Birthday! (although back home it isn’t his birthday anymore - curse those pesky time-zones)

The problem with locking yourself in a room over the weekend to do work is that you have nothing to write about. My CPU fan arrived today, so you could take a look at that, but it’s not very interesting unless you get excited about air flow rates.

Where in The World in Jason Mewes?

currently playing: Slumber Party - Certain Versions

Of course, opinions may vary...

The general Internet opinion seems to be that Firefly wasn’t very good at all. I disagree, but you have to consider that I’m about to spend the next three hours watching My Fair Lady again, so my thoughts are highly suspect.

I finally gave in to the lure of the shiny today. No, I haven’t bought the iBook yet, as I want to be sure that I’m being paid regularly before I go into that. What have I bought? Not telling. At least until it arrives.

They’ve cut the starting overture. A longer entry tomorrow, perhaps…

currently playing: Sleater-Kinney - Start Together

Butch Cassidy In Space!

Bear with me - the next few weeks are going to be rife with reviews of the new TV season. There’ll be the usual whining of a privileged white male, in case the reviews bore you…

I said I would give Transformers: Armada some chance to establish itself before I gave up on it completely. I’m regretting that. ‘Comrade’ was rife with bad animation, horrendous plotting and pacing, and riddled with continuity errors. From the previous episode. I’m not claiming the original series was high art, but at least it didn’t solely feature a desert/canyon scene for the first four episodes. Plus it had some actual robot battles, rather than having characters stand around letting themselves get shot. Okay, I’m not in the target audience anymore. But it looks cheap and nasty when compared to Justice League, which immediately follows Armada on the Cartoon Network. Where’s the explosions? The mass destruction? A plot different from Hunt The Mini-Con? I probably won’t be seeking out any more episodes.

Today also saw the premiere of the new season’s most hyped shows: Firefly. Other shows claim to be a Western in space. Joss Whedon actually delivers. The first episode was a fairly understated affair, introducing us to the main cast via a train robbery. Yes, a Train Robbery. We’re not being secretly ironic. Disappointingly, this then develops into the standard Star Trek Moral Dilemma scenario, but there’s enough going on with the crew and the toned-down, but still sharp dialogue to keep you interested.

Refreshingly (and I imagine Warren Ellis will be pleased), the crew don’t all want to hug and love each other like in most versions of Star Trek; there’s a good deal of mistrust among the various crew members, mainly centred around one character who hates everybody. As you’ve come to expect from Whedon, there’s a Big Mystery which will mostly likely form the spine of the series, but it’s wisely confined to a few scenes in this opening episode.

The show reminds me of Cowboy Bebop, although without the jazz influences. My sister will probably hit me for saying this, but I think there’s a little bit of Blake’s 7 in there as well. It’s not the second coming of sci-fi drama (at least not yet), but it was a good debut, light years (do you see?) ahead of the turgid Enterprise.

currently playing: Kenickie - Killing Fantasy

Run Away. Fast.

I like Enimem, because he hates homosexuals. But his music sucks.

Not the sort of thing I was expecting to hear in ultra-liberal Chapel Hill. Thankfully, the person above left fairly soon after that. I went out again with Rishi last night, to meet up with some of his friends (who were very friendly and seemed a lot nicer than the above person, who we met along the way). My body isn’t quite back into the going to bed at 2am routine yet, so today has been fairly tiring.

The curse returns. Over a month in, and I’ve already killed a newspaper. Fear my POWER!

currently playing: New Order - Special

The Insider

Dr. Wigand is a brave man. North Carolina is one of the biggest tobacco farming states in the USA, so I suppose a frosty reception was expected. Still, I was surprised at the question and answer session, which ranged from accusing him of placing the bullet in his letterbox, to asking whether there were any benefits to nicotine (after he’d spent over an hour going into the details of nicotine abuse). Apparently, Michael Mann was still being threatened up to the day of the Oscar ceremony over the film. Wigand paints a rather depressing picture of today’s corporate America; the lies and deceit present in the cigarette industry seem to have spread to other companies with disastrous effects for the entire nation. What’s worse is that people know this is true. Last week’s Question Time had the entire American audience laughing at Ed Koch’s depiction of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld as honest men of integrity. But no-one seems to be doing anything constructive to change things.

Glad to hear that you don’t have writer’s block, Joanne. However, the book was supposed to be out last year, was it not? Mind you, she’s in an envious position; she can tell her publisher to jump and they’ll outpace Jonathan Edwards….

currently playing: Altered Images - Happy Birthday

More things to worry about

I still don’t have a Social Security Number. Which means I won’t get paid at the end of the month, unless it arrives fairly soon. Of course, if I really think about it, I can probably last for about three/four months before I’ll start to have money problems, but it would be nice if the US Governement could send me my magic number, if they have any time to spare while planning Gulf War II: Die Harder.

Another list - upcoming albums that I’ll probably be buying:

The Lone Gunman

The next person who sets the fire alarm off at 1am will be shot. Wal-Mart sells rifles at reasonable rates, you know.

The current argument over RSS 1.0/2.0 took a very ugly turn this morning, with Dave Winer virtually ensuring that the détente that had been building for the past two weeks is now wrecked beyond all repair. The next step seems to be that the RSS 1.0 group will change their name, and eventually become a W3C standard, thus leaving RSS 2.0 to twist in the wind. Probably not what Dave had in mind when he announced the new spec a few weeks back.

As I’ve mentioned, I’m not all that impressed with Transformers: Armada so far. The cartoon hasn’t impressed with the first three episodes, and the toys have been a let-down as well. After the extreme poseability of the Beast Wars/Machines and RiD toys, it’s a bit jarring to go back to the restricted movement that the new toys have. Even the new Optimus Prime toy isn’t that great. I was prepared to skip most of the line. Then I saw some pictures of Jetfire. Oh yes. Now that’s much better.

The hyper-productive Brem X Jones has the latest installment of his Hit mini-comic up at NextComics. I don’t think it’s as good as Hit 1, but it’s definitely worth your time.

I’ve decided to take advantage of the insane prices of CPUs at the moment; a 1800 XP Athlon is currently heading towards Chapel Hill, along with a new fan to stop it from melting. It should help the MPEG encoding (I did some more testing today on The Daily Show - it’s taking 50% of CPU time and seems to be fairly fragile, but audio/video seem to be in sync and are of good enough quality for burning to VCD) which will be starting in earnest from this Friday with the Firefly premiere.

currently playing: The Clash - London Calling

Not Dead Yet

Thanks, everybody, for your encouraging comments. And I’m sorry if I mistakenly gave the impression that I jumped out of my window last night by not answering any e-mails or responding to IM messages. I’m feeling better today; the two pieces of work that led to yesterday’s message have been finished and sent to the appropriate place. I even answered a question in a lecture today…

Hmm. I saw a poster today that seemed to indicate that this week UNC was having a talk hosted by Dr. Jeffrey Wigand (the whistle-blower that Russel Crowe plays in The Insider), but I can’t seem to find it on-line anywhere. Maybe it was for last year.

I am deeply disturbed by the indication that two of my friends back home have swords. Bicester isn’t that rough yet, surely?

currently playing: Carole King - Really Rosie


It’s been lurking on the horizon since Wednesday, but today it caught up with me. Little things like starting work a little bit later every day, not getting as much done as what I said I’d do, stopping to check my mail every five minutes, getting distracted by webpages I meant to read after I had finished. Today I was supposed to start work at 11am. I belatedly started at one. Today I broke down. I couldn’t do what I was supposed to do, didn’t want to do it, couldn’t summon any enthusiasm for any of the things I was working on.

This always scares me; several years back, when I was in the Sixth Form at Bicester, I was ill for a long time. Everytime I went near the school, I would get light-headed to the point of almost passing out. I was tired all the time, and couldn’t concentrate. I just couldn’t do anything. The doctors had no real idea what was going on. Eventually, it seemed to go away. But I worry about it coming back.

At about half-past two, I’m still not getting anywhere, and by this time I’ve managed to convince myself that I’m a total failure in just about everything. That’s when I have to stop. Before I break something. Like myself.

I took an hour off, and tried to rearrange things. I did some small things that I had to get done for tomorrow out of the way first, and then went back to what I was working on before the meltdown. It’s mostly finished now. Do I feel better? Not really. Because it’s going to start over again tomorrow.

currently playing: Dexy’s Midnight Runners - One of Those Things