Monday, August 31, 2009

Premiere, computers and ceilings

There are definite disadvantages to using computers. Okay so I'm not painting a ceiling but Premiere is being a dick right now.

Seems to be general worldwide policy now to blame the young'uns in checking their Facebooks. Oh, it's all about the Facebooks these days. You kids and your Facebooks.

But where's my audio, eh? Where, Premiere?! Where?!!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

If I looked how I feel...

I thought this would be interesting but had no idea when I started just how disgusting the final image would be.

This documents how my physical form feels.

It's actually not far off how I look, except you can't see things like the sore knee or neck just by looking. The old, exhausted eyes, on the other hand, are obvious for all to see.

How would your image look?

Monday, August 24, 2009

The most important part of the day

I'm beginning to notice a pattern. It's really rather simple. If I have a nice smooth journey into work, passing any traffic and having good luck with the lights, I am more likely to have a better day.

The journey into work is setting the tone for my whole day.

Now some days I wake up exhausted and, on those days, things are tough anyway but a good journey in can make all the difference and goes a long way towards improving how that day will play out. I do notice that the person who gets on my little bike can be quite a dramatically different person to the one who gets off it on the other end.

Those of you who have been reading the blog a long time might remember my posts about waiting at bus stops. Well, those days are over. Man, those were soul-destroying times. Waiting for buses that never turned up or went by full can absolutely destroy a day. Of course it wasn't all bad - I miss the time just sitting listening to music. But, overall, going to work on my little bike is a thousand times better.

I wonder if there are any other early morning changes I could make that would contribute towards a better day?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

As things speed up on the outside...

...things are slowing down on the inside. I'm busy. Busy with work that requires the use of my brain.

I think that is causing everything else to be pushed out.

"Thinking of Maud, you forget everything else."

Monday, August 17, 2009

A bit more on the culture of notes

A while back, I wrote a little on the culture of notes in television. To sum up, notes from execs usually amount to very busy people with no time to spend getting to know your show (or indeed any show) telling those who spend every waking moment on that show how it should be made.

The script-note sleep is a funny and yet infuriating phemomenon. I guess I should be grateful for those rest periods. I have found on just about every production that those people who live to cause problems in scripts rather than make them better go to sleep after a while. Sooner or later, you'll start to get some rather sparse notes. Inconsequential things. And maybe, if you're lucky, even some that say, "this is all okay."

Note, it's "okay". Would it kill them to say they actually derive some pleasure from reading a script? You know, I liked it. This will make a good show. Children would love it.

So you get a few sparse notes. This is when the beast sleeps.

And then...
...they wake.

Out of nowhere, you'll get a massive email going through a whole bunch of scripts in detail picking out any innane shite they can think of and, even more common, telling you to write different stories. The funniest thing in these mails is when you get a whole bunch of notes on a third draft script about concepts that have been present right from the very first draft.

And the only thought can be - did they sleep through those drafts?

Yes. Yes, they did. Or they were busy eating children.

But you know the most dangerous thing about this? About the culture of notes? It's when they're right. Because sometimes they are. It's when they find something that absolutely should never make it to air. Something that needs a complete rethink. Or something that could make a good episode into a far, far better one.

It can happen.

But notes are like a bad smell. Sooner or later, you become accustomed to it. You hit a point where you're not really reading them. Because the last thousand notes you have read only served to show he/she didn't read the script or hasn't understood the show.

So, when that one important note hits, it's buried in a long list of pointless ramblings.

And it's missed.

Or, by that stage, those on the creative end are in fighting form and they fight it out of instinct, not examining whether it's a good idea or not. They become stubborn. Hard. Because they have had to be in order to stay sane and save their show.

I've seen it happen. Several times actually.

Those who write good notes (and there are certainly some) generally write very few. Almost none. So, when they do, you take notice.

But, more often than not, they're just written by beasts who live in caves and eat children.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Humphrey Erm asked in the comments if I have seen Zeitgeist and, if I have, what I thought of it. Well, I have seen it and there are several subjects brought up in that movie and each one covered with much detail so it would take many posts to go through it. But I thought straight away that I could give an overview of what I thought of it and my feelings on similar views, films, theories and so on. Just the surface.

For those of you who don't know Zeitgeist, it is a documentary film described as being about conspiracies. It is divided into several sections. One questions religion, the origins of Christianity and the subject of control and the church. One is all about the attacks on the World Trade Center. And the last is one that deals with conflicts in the 20th century and the interests behind them (mainly money) and very much presents us with the idea of a conspiracy.

So what do I think of it?

I think it's very interesting. I think it's something people should see. Do I buy it? No, not all of it and this is a problem I'll go into in a moment.

But there is one very important thing about Zeitgeist and many other documents like it - it presents questions. Whether you believe their point of view or not, it asks you to actually think about what you're being told, from all sides. Make up your own mind by all means, do what research you can with what resources you have available but at the very least just think.

Whether you come away from it thinking just about everything in it is bullshit, that message is extremely important.

If there is anyone who seems to be actively dissuading you from opening up to ideas and thinking about them, they have shit to hide. Plain and simple.

George W. Bush - "Let us never tolerate outrageous conspiracy theories concerning the attacks of September the 11th; malicious lies that attempt to shift the blame awayfrom the terrorists, themselves, away from the guilty."

But there is a huge double standard here.

If you take the official story of what happened on 9/11, for example, and go from the Commission report, that is the view that many accept because, of course, it is coming from official sources. It comes with a whole bunch of ideas, theories and, importantly, holes because some of what happened doesn't seem to be known - after all, there was a lot of destruction that day.

If you take something like Zeitgeist, it also comes with a whole bunch of ideas, theories and its own holes.

But for people to dismiss the Zeitgeist view of what happened, all it takes is for someone to debunk just one little part of the whole picture. It tears everything else down with it in the minds of a massive amount of people and those pushing the official events relish that as its existence and mistakes are used as proof as to why you should not question things at all.

And yet the official story, even if you buy the basics, stinks of bullshit. Certainly the missing black boxes/found paper passports is all you need to start thinking something doesn't quite add up. But, when it comes to the official story, it's innocent until, well, forever seemingly because even poking giant holes through it (which has already happened) doesn't seem to do any damage.

It's a huge double standard.

Another double standard comes in the expectation that, for a counter theory or even just question to be taken seriously, it must come from a quiet objective professor or someone. A film like Zeitgeist can be dismissed as alarmist, sensational and one-sided. Michael Moore of course gets the same thing - he's twisting it because he's one-sided. Not objective.

And that's often true.

But the other side is blasting out of Fox News and plastered all over papers in alarmist news stories, scaremongering and distraction techniques. It is in no way one-sided or objective. The 'official' sources won't present you with alternative views and all sides of the picture.

So why is it expected from those presenting a counter view? Just a double standard.

And the use of the term 'conspiracy theory' is used to dismiss any questioning, any actual thought process. But that's a term I reject. The official story, by every definition of the term, is a conspiracy theory: a shadowy unseen enemy, led by a madman in a cave, infiltrates the country and plots to tear down the thing they hate most - freedom.

One of the problem with the sheer amount of ideas and questions posed by something like Zeitgeist (and if you move beyond that and out into other sources, it gets worse) is that effect that I mentioned of tearing the whole thing down with just one crappy idea. Anyone know Alex Jones? Alex Jones comes out with theory after theory. And then more theories.

Much of them, I just don't buy. They just don't ring true. And yet others, well, maybe he's on to something.

But because he comes out with so much that can be dismissed, it damages his credibility across the board and yet I think he has at times asked some really relevant questions. But will they be heard?

I saw some guy on television several weeks ago with photos of the moon saying he could see moon bases in them. I couldn't see them. And I was able to dismiss him.

With so many views and a massive grey area between the ideas that ring true and the complete off the wall or simply incorrect or misguided or unresearched theories, I can't help feeling that these play into the hands of those with something to hide. They can put the truth out there in plain sight because people are so crowding the world with their own untruths that nobody anywhere will be able to sift through it.

Again, 9/11 is a good example. There are so many things that just don't quite seem right about that. Really obvious things. But sifting through the untruths would take a lifetime and by the time you got there people would have piled on so many more, you'd be back to square one.

I expect people with something to hide love the idea of 'conspiracy theories'.

Of course, I'm showing that I buy into the idea that people have something to hide. Of course they do. To think anything else is utterly naive and is not backed up by history. Where power and money are concerned, people override morality and do shit they shouldn't. That is seen throughout all modern history.

To see it, you simply need to take a glance at the history of finanicial powers like GE, the actions of the pharmaceuticals companies, Watergate, the actions behind many of the conflicts around the world since WW2 (William Blum's 'Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II' makes for depressing yet somewhat obvious reading), the history of military testing and, well, actually you can look just about everywhere to see it.

And you'll only be able to see those times where things got out into the open. The actions of the large companies (again GE is a good example) make me sure of one thing - being caught in a criminal act does not in any shape or form mean they will stop doing it.

You only have to look at Operation Northwoods to know what people are capable of scheming. That is no conspiracy theory. It is, however, very much a conspiracy.

I told the story already on this blog but I'll tell it briefly again now. I was at the Cartoon Forum in 2001 in Germany, just after the 9/11 attacks. The only radio station I could find in English was the radio of a US Army base close by. On it, I heard that they had found conclusive proof that Saddam Hussein was responsible for the attacks. I got home and there was no news of this. Not even a mention that it was a proposed theory. Weird...

It was only years later when Iraq was invaded that it clicked with me - they were priming their troops for that attack back then. It was well-planned. The weapons of mass destruction thing was bullshit (as we found out). That was simply their reason for justifying the attack that they had planned well in advance. And 9/11 was being used to get the troops pumped for that attack.

So, where am I with Zeitgeist? I honestly don't know but I'll tell you this - much of what we are told stinks of bullshit. The reasons (power and money) are obvious and history backs up that those two things will cause people to do horrendous stuff and try to hide it. I don't know the truth. I can't know the truth.

But I know something stinks of bullshit and I think it's time people, like everyone, started thinking about that.

Monday, August 10, 2009

More on affirmations

Just as an add-on to my last post, I should point out that I don't think affirmations in themselves are a bad idea at all and this little pic illustrates why. We all have our little voices in the back of our minds shouting criticism, usually based on past failures, that can be much more hurtful and restricting than anything we could hear from someone else.

I see affirmations as a potential way of pushing for some balance. Shouting some positive in an attempt to drown out the negative.

Zarathustra wrote in the comments, "Anyone who can be lifted out of their problems simply by repeating a feelgood proverb from a greetings card probably doesn't have that bad a set of problems." I agree. But that's not to say they can't help or be part of a process.

And Alex wrote, "Affirmations are about taking control of what you will concentrate on, because what you think about all the time is what you will get." For me, I believe this is true to a large extent. Certainly, our thoughts can become very limiting and self-defeating. They can hold us back becoming a kind of self-fulfilling prophesy based on where we perceive our place in life is or what has happened to us in the past or in an attempt to retain an identity. Making conscious efforts to adjust that thought process or even simply to interrupt the negative voices seems to make a huge amount of sense to me and I guess affirmations can be a tool useful for some to achieve that.

But I believe for that to really work, there have to be a couple of conditions.

Firstly, it has to be potentially true. By 'potentially' true, I mean something that isn't easily shown to be a lie. For example, if my brain is telling me, 'I am a loser', that is so vague that it can't be shown to be a lie. No matter what I have in my life, I could find ways of proving it. That's one of the reasons a message like that is so powerful. Saying 'I am powerful', while our negative voice can provide example after example why it isn't true, it can't completely be shown to be a lie. But even that may be a bit of a stretch in our lives and, if we can't believe it, we will reject it.

Saying 'I have rippling muscles and all the girls love me' is right out.

And, secondly (and where it applies to the example in the last post), it can't be more limiting than the negative messages. That would be totally self-defeating. For example, if I'm in a job shovelling pig shit and my negative message is, 'I will never be better than a shit-shoveller', I will live to prove that true and likely be very unhappy as a result. But if I repeat the affirmation in the last post to myself over and over, which amounts to 'I am happy in my workplace', the result is the exact same - I'll never be any better than a shit-shoveller because I'll be spending all my mental energies trying to convince myself to stay there.

What use is that?

That's a self-limiting affirmation. No better than 'I am a loser'. And probably worse because there'll be a bit of a Tell-Tale Heart scenario going on. The lie contained within that affirmation will eat away at us until it becomes too much to bear.

Life is hard enough without wasting our mental energies trying to convince ourselves that a really crap life situation is actually wonderful. Isn't it better that we put those energies into making a better life situation for ourselves?

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Affirmations - a positive way of changing our world from the inside out?

Or a dangerous delusion?

I was browsing through Apple's App Store the other day when I saw something that was labelled something like 'affirmations for creativity'. It was 79 cents and I thought, that's cheap and I'm creative, let's see what this is.

It's a series of cards from a lady called Louise L. Hay with the idea being that you look at one at the start of the day and it will help with creativity.

It downloaded. I opened it up.

And this is what I saw - "My job allows me to express my talents and abilities and I rejoice in this employment".

Hang on, I thought, there's a problem here. What if my job is a soul-destroying hell? Like, for example, back when I worked in advertising. Or what if I worked in a burger joint while my talent for sculpture went untapped? What is to be gained by telling myself that my job allows me to express my talents?

Louise L. Hay, I have to call you out on this. Personally, I think this does far more harm than good. Having people try convince themselves that they are happy in the status quo when in fact a life change could do them the world of good is positively dangerous. So let's say your affirmation works and they stay put, in Burger King, taking on your message each day to get through it. And, each day, they lose a piece of their soul, they get a day closer to death and a day further away from their dreams.

Who benefits?

I'm all for affirmations that can express our potential. Remind ourselves just what we are capable of. But an affirmation that could very well be a flat-out lie? How many people on this Earth do you think are genuinely in a job that can allow them to express their talents?

What you are saying to people is this - you are no better than where you are right now.

And I think that's utter bollocks.

On an unrelated note, I got an absolutely lovely mention over at the excellent Healing Philosophy blog. Thanks, Alex!
I also meant to mention the passing of John Ryan, of Captain Pugwash fame. A remarkable creative talent from a golden age of UK children's shows. Brian Sibley has put up a lovely tribute over at his blog and I left my feelings in the comments.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The climb

I'm making some conscious changes. I've made conscious changes before but then slip back. Maybe that will happen again but a temporary move forward is better than no move forward at all.

It's like drawing. Okay so some of you artists out there blow me away and I can't possibly compare. But I bet you have some drawing habits, that probably started in your teens, that became your default way of drawing certain things. And you can improve and move past them. Learn better ways of doing things. But if you do 100 drawings in a row, you'll see those habits creep back and, by drawing 100, there'll be quite a bit of your teenage drawing in there.

I'm right, aren't I?

We learn and we get better. But those ways we learned, those patterns, they are still there somewhere. And it's by consciously overcoming them and by learning new patterns (in drawing, by repetition) that we can be better artists.

Well, you good artists anyway.

I think it goes far beyond drawing. It is simply how we live. We fall back on patterns. And those patterns, while often easier (even though it may not seem that way, we have to be getting something out of them on some level), are not always good for us.

But, with drawing, I think you have to see your patterns - that my hands always look like big gloves, for example - before you can really catch them and make them better.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Failing and succeeding

I'm failing miserably at plain ol' life at the moment. The frustration and anger that came with something very simple, something for someone else that I managed to selfishly turn into my own battle (I lost), caused me to grip so hard on to my mobile phone that it bent and snapped in my hand, little pieces of glass going into my fingers. Just tiny pieces - it sounds far more dramatic than it actually was.

Pain in the ass really. It was a good phone and was part of an upgrade package so that one failed moment is going to cost me a lot.

Somewhere very early in childhood, I convinced myself that real life was too hard for me. And I've been living to that idea ever since. I don't know where it came from, how that happened.

So I live in my head and pretty much always have.

But here's the thing that has just occurred to me today - my head is an absolute bastard. I have close to no memories of my childhood. But what I remember vividly are the nightmares. I remember nightmares as far back as when I was three years old and remember them like they are happening right now and yet no real memories at all.

My head was a dark, scary place. Not some pleasant escape. I would retreat in there and end up tormented. Why? Like some sort of battered wife syndrome?

Even now, my life on paper is pretty good. The times when I feel wrong, tormented, unable to cope, it's entirely from within. And yet that is where I spend most of my time.

Those who have read my blog for a while know that my particular interest in animation and my work is in shows for young children, usually very young children. Sweet, innocent, happy work. I love it. More than that, I'm good at it. Even right now, while I'm having a hard time with the mundane in life, I'm involved in a project that is going to absolutely rock and I'm pulling the whole thing together and doing it damn well, even if I say so myself.

I've often told myself (and others) that it's because I work for the child I once was. I still think that's true.

But where I think I may have got it wrong is here - I thought that I was creating work that the child in me loved and thrived on. And now, I'm beginning to wonder if it's actually that I am creating work that may have gone some way to repairing that child. To, in some way, balance the dark thoughts. Maybe even overpower them.

I don't know.

I do know, as far as work goes, it's a strength. It's odd that it matters little what the state of my life is like or even my psyche - if I am doing the right work (being on the creative end of a show I believe to be good for children) - I can do a really good job. I am a success. And I love it.

But, as for the rest of my life, that is where I fail. I wonder if it's possible to fix that while not losing the strength in my work? I hope so.