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Oops, that wasn’t very ‘soon’ was it? Everything seems to take longer than it used to, and I’m almost permanently busy lately, but I’ve managed to squeeze this out eventually.  Here we go…
* * * *
So it seems I can keep a secret for a long time!
I started this post back in mid January, just before my computer fell into its protracted coma. The story began almost twelve months earlier than that, when I undertook what I refered to at the time as a secret project. Due to a combination of various technical difficulties and my powers of procrastination, it’s only now that I am finally able to reveal what the secret project is, and what it was before it became what it is now…
In early 2013, I took it upon myself to create a short film to accompany a piece of music by the greatly talented and all round nice guy behind Patient: Richard, a music video, for want of a better term. We were both keen to develop a creative collaboration, and this seemed to present an ideal opportunity. I already had a track of his in mind, one particular composition had caught my ear (as they often do) and I started to create mental images and sequences when I listened to it. I’d made a few videos in my younger days so it was a medium I enjoyed.
I created a set in the cellar and began to gather a variety of props, then I arranged a couple of afternoons with  a friend who would be appearing in the video. It was time to do the filming. All went well and I ended up with just over an hour of footage, around half of it featuring the scenes shot with my friend, plenty enough to edit down into an accompaniment for a slightly over ten minutes piece of music.
Then everything went wrong. The editing software on my PC simply would not behave. I would spend a couple of hours putting together a sixty second sequence only for lags, gaps and delays to appear once I had finished, throwing the whole thing out of synch. I would then delete all my work and try again the next night, only for the same problems to reappear. After several fruitless attempts,  I deleted the software and downloaded it again, foolishly hoping that this would cure it, only to be frustrated once more. I next began to search for alternative video editing programs on the internet and after consulting a number of forums and guides, I downloaded around half a dozen of them (free ones of course, and legally free too!) Some of them were too simplistic while a couple of the others were a little too in depth and complicated for my 20th century educated brain.
After a little experimentation I settled on some software that seemed to suit my needs, and more importantly, it worked, but by this time (a couple of months after I had started the project) my creative spark and enthusiasm had waned. During the initial abortive editing process, I must have listened to the opening sequence of the track hundreds of times as I repeatedly attempted to stitch the video together, and I’d watched the same few seconds of footage over and over again. I just couldn’t take any more! Even now when I listen to that particular piece of music I get flashbacks to those long nights of frustration. It’s still a damned good track though.
So I gave up…
But I didn’t give up…
Slightly undeterred, I chose another of Patient: Richard’s tracks and started from the ground up, a new piece of music and a new video, with software already installed on the PC that I knew would work. It took a few weeks to complete, and although it maybe didn’t live up to the grand expectations I’d had for the initial video, it still turned out ok. Whenever I watch it I tend to see everything I think is wrong with it, every little bit that is sloppy or doesn’t look qite right, but other people who have seen it have been complimentary. I guess it’s one of those things that often happens at the end of the creative process, being your own harshest critic.
Anyhoo, here it is. It’s been on YouTube for a while now, so it’s hardly a secret any more, and if you enjoy the music there are a good number of other Patient: Richard tracks there for your listening pleasure…

You can also download an album of Patient: Richard’s music featuring the track Assemble here. Enjoy!
So that was the secret project…
* * * *
Apologies again for taking such an incredibly long time to get this post completed. Real life really has dominated my time over the past few months and I expect it will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. I won’t be stopping doing this blog though, I’m no quitter (which is why I’ve not stopped smoking) but the frequency of posts may become a little more erratic. Staggeringly I’m still getting a steady stream of traffic on the site, well over a hundred in the last 7 days, so I almost feel obliged to keep contributing!
Next time, whenever that may be, I’ve actually got two completely different posts in mind, so it’ll either be something mildly controversial, or the story of a mysterious and magical adventure. Spoiled for choice!
Until next time… ses x

Wow! It’s been a while since I’ve done this. After an impressive absence of three months, I appear to be back. If I’d timed it better I could have done this a couple of weeks ago and coincided my return with another very famous (although fictional) comeback. Oh well.
The computer still hasn’t been repaired, due to lack of me making any effort to get it fixed, but I now have an alternative means of writing this blog which is preferable to doing it on my phone though not quite as good as doing it on a PC (well, one that works anyhoo).
I have been fairly busy/preoccupied during my absence but I’ve still had time to think up a few ideas for new blog posts, so all being well my output over the rest of the year should be noticeably better than it has been lately. Before any new material appears though, I still have a half done draft of ‘The Secret Project’ to complete, a post that has been sitting in limbo since the middle of January. It’s been waiting to see the light of day for long enough so that’s what’s coming next.
I hope no one has been waiting excitedly all this time for the revelation of ‘The Secret Project’, if so, I apologise  for the unnecessary stress I’ve caused your tenterhooks. It is quite exciting  though… ;)
One thing I’ve been able to do during my prolonged absence is to keep an eye on the site stats and despite the lack of new material there has still been a fairly steady stream of visitors to the blog. Quite why I’m not sure, probably the lure of nudity, but it’s pleasing to see that the blog can continue to trundle on without any input from me!
Well, that’s all for now, I’ve already told you what’s coming next time, so without further ado I’ll say adieu and be back… soon!
Peace… ses x

Com-Kaput-Puter

So it takes me all the way to the end of the month to churn out another post, and it’s not even a proper post!
It’s bad news!
Despite the fact that I have still been dawdling and not updating this blog as often as I should, my output has been dealt a mortal blow… My computer has died :(
Well, perhaps ‘dead’ isn’t the ideal metaphorical diagnosis, it’s more akin to being in a deep and seemingly unreachable coma. There are signs of life in there, but they’re entirely inaccessible, at least to someone with my meagre technical prowess. Now I do know a certain individual upon whose mercy I can throw myself hopefully, but that won’t be for at least a week. Until then I am computerless, which is darned inconvenient to say the least.
It’s not just my access to this blog which is affected either, it’s knackering me up in lots of ways.
Most frustratingly, I was already half way through a new post when the coma struck. It is still in there, but I won’t be able to complete the post until I’m back up to full internet speed. Grrrr…
So for now I’m limited to typing this on my phone, which is an even slower process than when I use a ‘proper’ keyboard, and adding links and images is more fiddly, so not so much of them either…
I’ll soldier on, intermittently, and can only hope that the PC can be resuscitated. I’m pressing my thumbs, feel free to join in :)
Back sometime, somehow… ses x

Some Sum Summary

A couple of nights ago I sneaked out a post with my blogging summary of 2013 which is kindly provided by wordpress. It provides a limited statistical overview of how my blog has performed over the last 12 months. I guess it’s quite interesting, though probably moreso to me than anyone else… Oh well…

Anyhoo, in a vain attempt to make the subject slightly more interesting, I’ve decided to compare my 2013 figures with those of the previous year whilst trying to dig out some more curious gems of statistical strangeness. Slightly more interesting right?

Slightly…

I was actually around 600 site views down compared to my performance in 2012, which is a bit poor, but if you take into account the fact that I produced over 50 less posts last year, that figure doesn’t appear too bad. What also becomes apparent is that I was much lazier in 2013. Or that I was busier, or more distracted by something or other, or something. The dreaded advent calendar did account for over a quarter of my output in 2012, even so, I must make more of an effort this year. Whether I’ll succeed is another matter, but I’ll try ;)

For the second successive year, people came to my site searching for forced nudity, and for the second successive year they will have been disappointed. Advanced warning for any forced nudity enthusiasts out there: You’ll be disappointed again this year. Plastic fork sculpture replaced magic mushrooms as another popular search term, which is good in one way, maybe not so in another. Maybe I ought to write more about magic mushrooms this year to redress the balance.

Something that did go in my favour this year was my ‘global appeal’ (cough!) The site got views from 60 different countries this time round, 4 up on the previous total. From as far back as the records will allow me to go, my humble blog has been accessed from 74 separate nations which is quite good I think. If I can add to that figure over the next 12 months I’ll consider the year a success!

One further statistic to note is that since the start of this blog I’ve received 99 comments (although that may include some of my own in the form of replies) so the not-very-coveted opportunity to make the 100th comment is up for grabs… Feel free!

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Short and sweet, like a midget rolled in Sugar Puffs (is that politically correct?) Next time it’s all about The (not as) Secret (as it used to be) Project.

Stay tuned!

Ciao for now… ses x

2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,600 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 27 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Third Retrospecticon

Time once again for a shoddily thrown together list of my favourite ‘things’ from the past 12 months. Overall, I would say that my 2013 has been for the most part pretty rubbish due to several factors which I won’t go into detail about. In a rather unexpected twist the end of the year has turned out to be extremely good… Again, I’m not going to go into detail about that either ;) There have been a few highlights though, so I’ve racked my memory banks (never an easy job) and compiled this list of indeterminate length. Enjoy…

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1) Funky Forest: The First Contact.

Another year, another insane Japanese film, no surprise there! It was originally released in 2005, but I only discovered it this year after a tip-off. It’s wonderfully bizarre and surreal, more a sequence of vaguely interlinked comedy sketches than a conventional movie with a cast of increasingly strange characters. I obviously loved it, and believe it’s worth watching just for the Notti & Takefumi segments alone. 10/10!

Meet the forest dwellers.

Meet the forest dwellers.

2) Sigur Ros.

Not only did the awesome Icelandic band treat us to another wonderful new album this year, they also toured quite extensively, and I was lucky enough that a few of us managed to get our acts together and go to see them perform live at Brixton Academy in London. I did a full post on the night which you can read here if you like. If not, I’ll sum it up by saying it was truly fantastic and a night not to be forgotten.

Looked great, sounded even better.

Looked great, sounded even better.

3) The Secret Project.

Several times over the course of this year, I blamed my lack of blog-writing on a ‘secret project’ that was taking up a lot of my free time. I blamed a lot of other things too, I was full of excuses, however the secret project was a genuine distraction. I’m not going to say what it is yet as there will be a separate post on it in the new year, a grand reveal, after several months of hard work, frustration, more frustration and finally an end product, all in the name of creativity and collaboration.

4) Field Trip.

Another highlight of the year that earned its own post (which I can’t link as it has mysteriously disappeared) was my account of an afternoon spent wandering through Epping Forest in London, with friends, through extremely changeable weather, on acid. Sometimes one LSD trip can just work out better than others, and this was one such occasion. I’ll never forget the secret glade of the damselflies…

I wonder if that bag is still alive?

I wonder if that bag is still alive?

What made the field trip stranger yet was when it lead to…

5) The Hungarian UFO Fiasco.

This is yet another topic that I’ve already posted about, only this one hasn’t mysteriously disappeared despite its mysterious nature and obvious links to the one that has mysteriously disappeared, see…

http://opensesameseed.wordpress.com/2013/08/06/magyar-mystery/

Anyhoo, in summary, I was bombarded with site hits (well, 100 a day is bombarded by my standards) when a Hungarian UFO enthusiasts’ website linked my field trip post in relation to a fraudulent photo. Quite easily the most surreal thing to happen to me in many years.

6) Tomorrow’s Harvest by Boards Of Canada.

While lots of music fans were eagerly anticipating a new album release from a distinctive sounding, enigmatic, electronic music creating duo from France, I was eagerly anticipating the exact same thing but from Scotland. Boards Of Canada are responsible for one of my favourite albums of all time, so after an eight year wait since their last major release, the promise of new material had me excited. They didn’t disappoint, they’re consistently great… Although it’s still not quite as good as my favourite ;)

7) The Hydrogen Sonata by Iain M. Banks.

Another topic I posted about earlier in the year was the sad loss of one of my favourite authors. Though his untimely passing was anything but a highlight, his last science fiction novel was a typically expansive all-action space opera with grand themes and extremely hi-tech. On reflection, it also tied up a lot of loose ends within his series of science fiction books, making it  a poignant final chapter to the series…

HydrogenSonata

8) Romance.

Despite believing I was well out of range and probably immune, I was, much to my surprise, struck by cupid’s arrow in November. That’s the extremely good thing that I mentioned at the top of the post that I said I wouldn’t talk about, but I can hardly not include it in a list of the best things that happened to me this year, can I? I’m not going to go into detail, I like to keep some things private, but it’s fair to say I forgot how good it feels :)

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That’s it? Only eight this year, after I’d managed nine in the previous two previous retrospecticons? Yeah, well I did say that it hasn’t been the best of years, for the most part, so eight isn’t bad. And it’s about the quality of the good bits, not the quantity. And it’s about focusing on the positives, that’s always a good idea!

Back next year, with new ‘things’, hinted at and otherwise…

Peace… ses x

Almost Drawing A Blank

Yeah so I don’t like xmas yet I keep talking about it and devoting countless posts to it (especially last year) and for the past 25 years I’ve designed and manufactured my own xmas cards which is terribly contradictory, but there you go…

Then this year came along and I almost, almost ended up not producing a card. I’d had something planned for months, in fact I had the idea last year, and it was clearly a good enough idea for me to remember it all this time later. About 3 months ago I even did some background research for the card and did some preparatory sketches. There followed a period of procrastination and doing other things, then I ended up getting distracted by real life again, as has happened several times this year, although this time the distraction is extremely positive rather than negative… And it got to the middle of last week and I’d still done nothing.

The design was rather ambitious and didn’t lend itself to being done at the last minute (which is why I started months ago) so for the sake of not breaking my run of 25 consecutive years, I came up with a plan B. Plan B isn’t ambitious, and was clearly cobbled together at the last minute, but I feel better that I managed to produce something, even if it only just qualifies as ‘better than nothing’.

So without further ado, and no aplomb, and not even much of a drum roll, I present my 2013 xmas card.

Underwhelming is an understatement...

Underwhelming is an understatement…

Who knows, maybe next year I’ll pull my finger out and my socks up and create the ambitious project I had in mind all this year. Or maybe I’ll properly renounce xmas instead of just grumbling about it far too much and begrudgingly joining in. Maybe…

It’s now late on xmas eve, as I’ve left it until the last moment to get this post polished off and published. Grumpy, cranky and humbuggy as I am, I do hope that everyone has a pleasant day tomorrow in their own way whatever they’re doing. Though of course I hope that everyone has a day like that every day of the year :)

It’s the new retrospecticon next, then hopefully the nice people at wordpress will throw me another bag of statistics to share and chew over like they did last year. Until then…

Bon nuit… ses x

Imagine if you will a ‘Planet Of The Dogs’, a whole celestial body either undetected in our own solar system or off in some far flung galaxy, entirely populated by our canine chums. Maybe the dogs have evolved on this planet, become anthropomorphic like the cast of Dogtagian And The Three Muskehounds or the Americans in Art Spiegelman’s Maus comics.Or maybe they’ve not evolved, and there are just vast uncivilised continents over-run by packs of savage hounds, despite the obvious evolutionary and ecosystem-related issues that such a scenario would raise. Maybe they’ve even evolved beyond our understanding and are Interdimensional Space Dogs, at this moment preparing to release their earthbound brethren from the bondage of us puny humans, despite a good percentage of them living extremely cushy and luxurious lives…

Did you imagine it? Could you picture a dog planet in your head? Because according to the internet, there really is a different planet where all dogs live. This information is easy to find too, just search for a dog age calculator and you’ll find some manner of enigmatic table describing how dogs get older on some bizarre sliding scale (it works just as well for cats too, so feel free to imagine a ‘Planet Of The Cats’ if you prefer.)

As far as I’m aware, the definition of a year is how long it takes a planet to complete one full revolution of the sun, so it’s 365ish for earth, or nearly 687 if you were on Mars, and so on. It’s hard to imagine the strange orbit that the planet on which dog/cat years is based on follows. Maybe the easiest and most accurate way to calculate your pet’s age is to subtract the year it was born (that’s EARTH year) from the current year, and the resulting figure will tell you exactly how old the animal in question is!

Remember, there’s a lot of nonsense on the internet, but not everyone admits to it ;)

Feel free to start singing the theme...

Feel free to start singing the theme…

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Coming next, and coming soon… News of the xmas card that almost wasn’t!

Until then… ses X

Behind Mickey’s Back…

Not quite a film review, but I did see a new movie recently that, although I wouldn’t describe as the greatest I’ve seen by some distance, is worthy of comment due to its unusual nature. Surprisingly, knowing my usual tastes, it’s not Japanese, disturbing and obscure either, it’s American. Alright, it’s still disturbing and obscure, but at least it’s not Japanese for a change.

This is the film in question…

220px-Escape_From_Tomorrow_poster

The story itself follows a family of four on the last day of their vacation at a theme park, and in particular the father of the family who, after being sacked over the phone at the start of the morning, steadily loses his grip on reality and starts to be plagued by unhealthy predilections and sinister hallucinations. It’s implied that there is already a level of dysfunction between the parents and their young son and daughter, and these tensions are magnified as Jim White, the father, wrestles with his sanity. Things take an extremely surreal turn during the latter stages of the film, leading up to a quite baffling conclusion.

If that was all there was to the movie, it wouldn’t be remarkable. The storyline is patchy and aimless at times, and the acting is variable. It’s still quite enjoyable, dealing interestingly with several disturbing issues without being offensive, but what makes Escape From Tomorrow noteworthy is how it was made.

As the poster implies, the theme park where the film is set is no less than Disney’s magical kingdom. Over the course of several months the cast and crew went into the park to shoot the majority of the scenes for the movie. Without Disney’s knowledge, and amongst the completely oblivious holidaymakers. All the footage was filmed in black and white on high-end digital SLRs, cameras much like any other tourists at the park may have, with the actors blending in with the crowds, playing their roles while the camera crews moved round to get the shots they needed.

I can’t help but admire the logistical challenge of performing such a project which was written and directed by debutante Randy Moore, and although the film only received a slightly above average rating from reviewers, they all praised the audacity of even attempting such a feat, let alone succeeding in it. There were concerns that somebody at the gates may become suspicious that the actors were arriving to the park every day wearing identical clothes, which lead to scenes being shot in both Disneyland and Disneyworld, and all the post production of the film was done in South Korea, in an attempt to keep its creation a secret from the Disney corporation.

Even as the movie debuted at the Sundance Festival, the film-makers feared a flock of magical Disney defence lawyers appearing from the sky and snatching the film away in a cloud of court summons and litigation. Thankfully that never happened, with the corporate giant, usually notorious for its draconian preservation of its copyright and intellectual property, deciding that the best approach to take was to ignore its existence, hoping that would minimise any publicity a legal battle would attract, despite the film’s largely negative portrayal of the Disney flagships. I’m glad they did.

Escape From Tomorrow corrupts the wholesome idea of a Disney theme park and turns it into a nightmarish environment full of sleaze and sinister, shadowy figures. How much of this alternative reality is genuine and how much of it is part of  Jim’s fevered imagination is what keeps the film stimulating from start to finish, and it’s also worth a second watch just to admire the techniques used in creating this unusual and original piece of ‘covert cinema’.

If you can hunt down a copy, I heartily recommend it.

Escaping from tomorrow...

Escaping from tomorrow…

During my research into this post (wikipedia AND IMDB, I was thorough!) I stumbled across one particular quote from a film critic that had me chuckling self-consciously, as it probably nails on the head why I enjoyed the movie so much…

“Even Disney-hating hipsters are going to be disappointed; the film is a pure festival play that is more or less unreleasable unless theater owners start selling weed along with popcorn.”

Kyle Smith, New York Post.

* * * *

Back soon-ish, but with what I don’t know… I may have to see if I can unblock that Shpongle pipeline…

Until next time… ses x

Yeah, Shpongle’s still in the ‘pipeline’ but in the meantime here’s a quick post about my least favourite yet most moaned about subject…

* * * *

Xmas!!!

I know, right? I moan and complain about it so much that you’d think I secretly have a soft spot for it, but I don’t. If what I’ve seen on TV is true, the festive season is already gearing up to full speed despite still being quite a long way away. However, this year, I have a plan! In an ideal world I’d completely blank xmas, but there is still a certain obligation to go along with it for the sake of form amongst family and friends. The plan is to reluctantly acknowledge xmas without handing over an undue amount of my hard-earned money to the businesses who are so enthusiastically telling me that I should do the exact opposite.

This year, everyone who I buy a gift for will be getting a book. That’s all, nothing more, nothing less, just a book. Obviously it will be a different book depending on the recipient, but there will be no token gifts, no gifts for the sake of giving gifts and no sense that some gifts are more significant than others. I like books, as I recently mentioned, and a good book can provide a great many hours of pleasure, so I think it’s something that makes a wonderful gift.

In return, I’m asking everyone who feels under some obligation to buy me a gift to get me a book, nothing more, nothing less, and even more obviously not all the same one, as that would just be silly, but just a book. A decent selection of literature or some interesting factual books will keep me occupied and stimulated for several months, what more could I ask for?

By doing this, I’m hopeful that all parties will receive something that required a little thought but will provide a lot of satisfaction without costing an unnecessary amount of money and without having to ‘play the game’ of xmas. I’ve already discussed the idea with family and some of my friends, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive, which suggests that we’re all a bunch of humbug types, which is true! None of us are xians, though none of us are so churlish that we can totally ignore the all-pervasive ‘spirit’ of the festive season, so this feels like the ideal compromise. If it works well, I could imagine it becoming a blueprint for every year, which would be great.

Last year, I bought a friend’s daughter a pop-up version of The Wizard Of Oz, and so enamoured of it was she that she asked for a copy of the original story, not only wanting to read more, but also to preserve the fragility of the pop-up edition. If that’s not enough to prove the positive power of books, I don’t know what is…

* * * *

Yes, and despite my humbuggedness, I’m still working on a xmas card design this year, for the 26th year in a row, but I think I’m going to be particularly pleased with this year’s intriguingly multicultural edition, and if it works out as well as I hope, I’ll be posting it on here with suitably muted season’s greetings as well as making some hard copies to send out to my nearest and dearest. I can’t be too grumpy, can I? ;)

Next time, probably Shpongle, but not necessarily. It’s not possible to expect the unexpected…

Until then… ses x

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