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VirtualDub jobs

Ewen has located for me a potential program which is able to convert directly from MP4 to XviD AVI without the need to jump through hoops and spend forever and a day transcoding via MJPEG. Initial results are looking good, but unfortunately there are still sound sync errors which are best fixed in VirtualDub, however my computer is not fast enough to make it pleasant editing XviD directly... but then again, maybe this picture will give you an idea of the work involved. This is the second stage, MJPEG to XviD...
After this, I still had to paste the bits together, but usually this is not a problematic process.



After the success of Lost In Austen (which is apparently going to be remade into a movie?), one of the more interesting Austen-bashings comes in the form of... well... read this:

[from BBCi]
D'you suppose Sir Elton will play an alien?


Aliens of a different form?

I have always said that the chance of Earth being the only planet to support life is verging in the minimal, because in the vastness of space there are so many stars and so many potential places to have an earth-like planet. Perhaps even evolved to some form of sentient life (and no, not grays and abductions...).
Here comes a bit of supporting evidence:

[from BBCi]


A one-person helicopter

While taking pictures for use with my freesat review, I saw this demonstrated on an episode of Out & About on NHK World TV. Can you say awesome? A dual-blade design, each operating in opposition, removes the need for a tail rotor. The craft also appears to be quite manueoverable. What a cool way to commute to work! Want one!!!

[Out & About on NHK World TV]
[actually, I would be happy just to borrow one for a day just so's I can see the faces of my cow-orkers as I land by the door...]


The Pet Shop Boys

The Pet Shop Boys received a lifetime achievement (or was it "outstanding contribution to music"? much the same thing...) award at the Brit Awards this year; it was nice to listen to a medley of the songs I remember from my younger years. I get the feeling I ought to try to find my Discography tape... or maybe if I can Amazon the "Pop Art" CD for the same price as the TV advert (a tenner)?
The only thing that I feel I must ask - why is Neil Tennant dressed up like one of the creepy guys from Dark City?

[Pet Shop Boys on ITV1 / Brit Awards 2009]
I've asked a friend to keep an eye out in second-hand record shops for some proper music - Ultravox, Depeche Mode, The Simple Minds, The Cure... back when music had a bit of edge without being all Slipknot about it...


Music and purpose

...tell you what I mean, I said to the cat (mom wasn't interested) that Boyzone made quite a spectacular entrance on a big illuminated balloon-like contraption. Well, it wasn't until Sara Cox announced that it was Take That that I was like, okay, not Boyzone, but so many of these four-bloke-pop acts sound the same. Okay, okay, I should have known as Ronan Keating has a fairly distinctive voice and the backing piano music was, yet again, bang-bang-bang-bang-bang (Gary Barlow is hardly Tori Amos... isn't even remotely in the same league). But on the other hand, do I care? The song just wasn't interesting. It could have been Boyzone, or any number of clones. <yawn>
That's not to say that everything is lookee-likee. You'd need to be comatose to confuse Duffy and the Kings of Leon. It's just... I dunno. I think so much is done for commercial reasons that much of what turns up in the charts is either sterile or overprocessed to the point of losing its authenticity. It seems there is more concern over what will be a commercial success rather than a cult success; and this really isn't helped by practically the only live and individual music programme of note being Jools Holland's show - everything else is just the cyclical rotation on various music channels.
Maybe I should contact the BBC, see if I can blag an empty transponder (or hijack an unused BBCi stream?) to put on a rotation of tracks from the '80s, kick in a bit of The Clash to mix things up a little, show them all how its done.
Of course, sadly, the danger of that is not annoyance from BBC brass, but rather the risk of spawning a bunch of clones - kinda like The Darkness was a poor imitation of Queen crossed with any number of obscure glam rock acts. I don't need imitations, clones, and covers. If I wanted to listen to Eternal Flame I would look out a Bangles EP and not Atomic Kitten.
It's a near-Golden rule. With the exception of Dylan and Cohen (who can write awesome songs but can't perform them as well as they deserve), cover versions will be inferior. Of course, I'd listen to Cohen's version of "Hallelujah" until my ears bleed rather than that icky screamy Alexandra Burke version. Sorry people, k.d. lang's version is the definitive, you might win some pop programme contest with a bad screechfest, but nobody is even close to being in the same league as k.d. - so don't waste time trying.
Likewise, much as I like Hayley Westenra, her "Wuthering Heights" isn't a patch on the original. It is a worthy attempt, unlike so many covers versions of things, but you only need to find a Kate Bush 45 to know that difference. It's on the 45; me and a brimful of Asha, it would seem. I really need to look out a decent turntable...

You might be wondering why I threw "The Clash" in there. Well, a French radio channel (name unknown - something like France Inter I think?), seems to be playing "London's Drowning" quite frequently, so either '70s punk is making a comeback in France, or there is some sort of message going on here. Between you and me, I would be inclined to think the recent not-quite-Christmas-#1 "We're All Going To Die" would be more appropriate. Or since bad language doesn't seem to freak out the French (it's not in their language...), how about Marilyn Manson's "Rock Is Dead" which, once you get over the language, is depressingly perceptive.

Actually, I think maybe that is part of the answer. I am perhaps falling back on memories from my childhood because I'm getting a bit sick of vomit-inducing love songs. This is not a world suitable for love songs. This is a world more befitting Evanescence-like tales of pain and loss. And if you can't think of a polite word to rhyme with murdering corporate bankers, cut to a four-minute guitar solo that goes nowhere, just go all Jim Steinman on us so long as you don't mention how it feels to be in love. Never been there. Not sure I want to (don't need the complications). Getting fed up hearing about it. Why not use music for a little bit of social commentary, since it seems few other people give a flying .... these days? Even Lily Allen, bless, in an adorably kitsch outfit (pictured right, from the late Bubble Hits), has made something of a statement about the celebrity-obsessed way we all seem to be nowadays. Go look out her new song "The Fear" and catch the words.
[And there's also another link to The Clash in Lily... See? It's all inter-related!]

You want a defining image of what I thought and felt growing up? Here it is - John Bender is walking across the playing field. He raises his fist into the air as we slide to a freeze frame, and then fade to black to the sounds of Simple Minds "Don't You (Forget About Me)". Brownie points if you can name the movie. If you can't, you're probably too young... ☺
And there you have it. It's time we had that same triumphant gesture to ourselves, instead of feeling walked upon and herded around like sheep by the corrupt and the inept. Time we had a bit more music that encourages us to f... the system, rather than each other. Time, perhaps, to listen once more to Tracy Chapman's "Talkin' About A Revolution" and ask - how much does this apply to me now? I'm not quite there yet, but damn, I can nearly taste it. I hope and pray for things in my life to carry on the course it's going now so I can amuse myself with little gadgets, but essentially my life is going nowhere and I'm quite aware of that. It's not that I have any desire to be famous, looks like a right pain in the ass actually, this website and the thoughts I put down is about 'fame' enough. But, really, take a look around. Call up BBCi and read the headlines. I swear I'm not experimenting with drugs, but it sure seems like it when the newsgirl calmly reads the woes of the day. You almost wanna go and shake poor Jo Kent and ask her if she ever has a Howard Beale moment and ever feels like she'll lose it in much the same way and for probably much the same reasons... or is everybody now just too cynical and jaded to care anymore? [oh, and double brownie points for identifying that movie]

Me? I'm going to go to bed now, got to get up for work in six hours. I will go with The Yobs and their ode to commercialism and greedy little brats... Oi! Santa!
(well, it sure beats listening to Take That)


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