Movie: New Years Eve (2011)

As this will be my last post on this blog for 2011 I thought I'd write something about the appropriately titled movie New Years Eve which I saw at the cinema yesterday.

As always this won't be a review but more a commentary of my thoughts. If you haven't seen this film and don't like potentially having the film spoiled then stop reading now - come back when you've seen it. Though having said that, there are no major spoilers below.

The movie is pretty much a formula ensemble piece of intertwined 'relationship' stories. For me the best of this kind of film is Love Actually (mostly for Bill Nighy's performance).

In the case of New Year's Eve the entire story happens over the course of the day leading up to the New Year and is focused around events linked to the New York City, Time Square, Ball Drop (a world famous New Years event but somewhat over rated unless you're actually at Time Square I suspect).

Ensemble films with plenty of big stars (and this one is filled with them - even in cameo roles) is always hit and miss as to whether it's going to work. At best, usually one or two of the sub stories will pan out and be really interesting whilst the rest will be mostly 'meh'.

New Year's Eve is kind of like that. You may connect with some of the stories but others probably not so much. Though, to the film's credit, it did keep me guessing as to who the mystery girl meeting up with Sam (Josh Duhamel) would be out of the women from several of the other stories.

Generally why I like this kind of film is not for the deep and meaningful stories - which usually aren't that deep - but for the light humor sprinkled throughout all (or at least most of) the stories. There are some really funny moments between Katherine Heigl and SofĂ­a Vergara whose characters are catering the Time Square event. The two couples competing to have the first New Years baby makes for some good humor too. There's also a great scene between John Lithgow (surprisingly uncredited) and Michelle Pfeiffer, where John plays her self centered boss.

One other reason to like this kind of film is seeing how all the stories are linked. It's not obvious straight away but, over the course of the film, each story does become a little more linked to one or more of the others going on. The only problem I had with this in New Year's Eve was that it felt like the people in the stories that had a link didn't really know anything about the other characters in those stories.

For example, though we find out Sarah Jessica Parker's character is Zac Efron's character's older sister, you get no sense that she knows anything about Zac's best friend, played by Ashton Kutcher who's in another story of his own.

I did appreciate the bloopers played through the end credits, though this film does suffer from having some of the best moments in the bloopers - which is always a risk when showing bloopers.

I'm glad I saw this movie on 'budget Tuesday'. It's not a bad film - certainly not as bad as many reviewers have said - just don't go in expecting it to be anything more than very light entertainment.

What to Write? The Problem of Being More Productive

I recently discovered WeekPlan, an online, weekly planner site that I wrote about in my Art Time Productions, Business Advice blog with the post, Time and Project Management for One. The planner is inspired by the book, "Seven Habits of Highly-Effective People" by S. Covey and, at week four of using it, is proving to be very good at increasing my daily productivity.

I'm maintaining a weekly schedule of writing one article for each of my three blogs and still having plenty of time to devote to other projects as part of my daily plan.

The trouble is, writing for this blog (which has always been my main blog), is proving to be quite difficult to find subject matter for on a weekly basis. I've always only written for this blog when inspiration hit or if I was enthusiastic about writing. So trying to maintain a regular schedule of writing for this blog when inspiration isn't knocking is something of a challenge.

I can't write about what I do most of at the moment (Animation) because I made a separate blog for that - which is much easier to write for because I'm always doing something in that area.

I can't really write about Art Business because I made a separate blog for that too. Again much easier to write for too because the topic is so specific.
Red Dragon, Acrylic on Canvas
December 2011

Writing about my painting is something I could do but I find this a bit bland from my point of view. That is, most of my painting is what it is and isn't really that enhanced by explaining the inspiration behind most of the work.

For example, I recently painted this Red Dragon (see image right). I've explained before that I like drawing dragons because you can make them look like anything and I particularly like posing them in really awkward positions. It doesn't get much deeper than that. There's no symbolism, no hidden message. I wasn't inspired by other dragon images... I just doodled a dragon in my sketch book and then turned the doodle into a painting.

Oscar, our Dog.
I've written about our pets before and I have no doubt I could easily devote my one article a week to the antics of Oscar, out pet dog. However I don't want to start looking like I'm an obsessive pet owner, infatuated with every little thing Oscar does.

Yes, he is quite a character and yes I take him for a walk every day but for the most part he sleeps somewhere nearby whilst I'm being 'more productive'.

If you've stuck with this article to this point you may realize that I'm really just waffling to get myself through this week's post. This is the kind of article I write when I don't know what to write. It beats staring at a blank page and is a tried and true method of breaking writers block... just write whatever you're thinking.

I need to get back into the mindset that I had for a while where I would consciously look for things that might translate well into a blog post. Hopefully I can do that soon so you'll get some interesting and insightful reading instead of largely meaningless articles like this.

At least I'm being more productive... right?

Christmas Sales Lower Than Expected - Retailers

Every year at about this time news reports focus on shopping. In particular, shopping in the central city (in my case that is Adelaide, South Australia). Every year sales are reported as lower than expected - at least I don't ever recall any report saying sales were higher than expected.

What this does is give the impression that retailers are doing it tough when in fact they're probably doing perfectly fine. Sales are still up, with more people buying during the festive season, it's just not as high as they expected.

It's almost become a traditional pre-Christmas whinge.

As you may know I sell my own original art and prints of my art through this website and Redbubble. I even sell Christmas cards featuring my art. For me Christmas sales so far are exactly as I expected - Zero.

It's not as if I don't promote what I sell or let people know my work would make a great Christmas gift. It's also not as if I don't have plenty of people telling me they enjoy my work. For some reason Christmas sales, for the most part, are elusive for me... except for that one year when I had a rush on. I bought ten of my own Christmas cards.

Yeah, I'm not bitter! LOL

I'm not really complaining. Overall I do okay. Mostly from Ebay auctions of my original art and my Art Business Services (to which I recently added animation services). Sometimes it's a long spell between jobs but eventually something turns up to keep me afloat for a few more months.

I'd just like to say my Christmas sales were higher than expected for once. I'm sure many of those city retailers would like to say their Christmas sales were higher than expected too.

Let It Be Beatles Show in Gawler

Last weekend I went along to see the Let It Be Beatles show at a local hotel as a tag along guest at my partner's work Christmas function. I wouldn't say I'm a fanatical fan of Beatles music but I do enjoy most of their hits - though my preference is for their later work, when they were able to really explore their musical creativity.

Personally I was a little disappointed by the show, not because of the band or the performance but because it was just too loud for the room. Don't get me wrong, I like my live music loud but I was having a hard time making out what the band members were  saying even just speaking into the microphones between songs.

Granted we were seated near the front, so you'd expect it to be louder but we were still at the opposite side of the dance floor to the band and there was a table (it was dinner and a show) of people in front of us. I'm sure it sounded great to the people up the back, down the elevator and in the ground floor dining room.

Just before the first interval the band also said they were having trouble hearing themselves - so the sound definitely wasn't right even for them.

We left about two thirds into the show because our ears just couldn't take it anymore. Mine were buzzing every time the music got a little loud - and that was after the sound guy seemed to get the level a little more appropriate for the room. Still could hear the band clearly at the bottom of the stair well (located right up the opposite side of the hotel to where the band was) as we left.

I didn't get to hear the songs from later albums I would like to have heard but one could argue I wouldn't really have heard them had we stayed - since I was trying to block my ears a little to get the volume down without much success.

However, don't let me put you off if you're a Beatles fan and you'd like to see a really good cover band perform their songs faithfully to the originals. Let It Be Beatles certainly did that well on the songs that I knew. A particular highlight was 'Paperback Writer,' despite only being able to hear about half the lyrics.

On a side note...

Maybe I don't get out to events often enough but it struck me as kind of fascinating to see so many people watching the show with (smart) mobile phones close to hand. Plenty of people taking pictures or just generally doing things on their phones - especially at our table.

I have a smart phone too but I don't live through it when I'm out. Most of the time it's a substitute for not wearing a watch or so my partner can text me. Occasionally I'll use it for internet or take pictures and video but not that often.

It was just fascinating to see so many phones because I remember a time when you could go to events like this and even the first consumer digital cameras hadn't been invented yet. For the people in the audience that actually went to a Beatles concert (and there were one or two because the band asked) it may have been quite a reminder at just how far technology has progressed.

Why Do You Do Art?

I was recently asked the question 'Why do you do Art?'. You'd think after forty plus years of doing art I'd know the answer to this question but I actually had to stop and think about it.

Anywhere but here, by TET, July 2004
"The art that I'm most proud of is work where
I've set out to communicate an idea..."

I'm aware many people create their art as a relaxation or escape from stress. I suspect many artists in this category are those that get their inspiration from painting their surroundings - such as landscape, still-life and portrait painters.

Just from my observations those artists, once they've developed their skills and are confident in their techniques they can afford to relax and enjoy the experience of creating their art without stressing too much about whether their final artwork will be successful... chances are it will be.

I'm not one of those people.

Creating my art certainly isn't a stressful experience by any stretch but I can't say my mind is relaxed during the process. If anything, it's more active than ever as I have to bring my idea out into a visual image from my imagination. On top of that, my painting style is rather quick, so the next decision is never very far away and I'm usually planning ahead to what I imagine the finished result to be.

Some people do art to earn a living. I'm certainly in that category but it's not why I do art. I create art whether I think it will sell or not. I do consciously try to steer my non commercial efforts towards a commercial gain, as I did with my GoAnimate videos, which started out as a fun activity two years ago but this year earned the bulk of my freelance design income. However the reason I do that is to avoid having to get a regular day job - which would severely limit me from doing art.

The more I work as a freelance artist/designer the more I realize that bringing other people's ideas to life is not personally satisfying to me. Challenging sure but not satisfying. Even though I'm the first to admit that some of my best work is done for other people (particularly among the cat paintings that I'm known for) this is more a result of my high personal standards than trying to fulfill my need to create art.

I used to think I create my art for other people because I'm not that sentimental about hanging on to my own work. Having other people enjoy my paintings and having them on display in their homes. It's great to know that people do that with my work but I think it pleases me mostly because, if I kept hold of it, I'd store it away out of sight - because once an artwork is completed, I've got from it what I needed. I don't need to keep looking at it.

 When it gets down to it, I do art because I have an idea to express. The art that I'm most proud of is work where I've set out to communicate an idea, whether that be a simple emotion or an entire narrative. It's why writing and animation both appeal to me. They allow me to express complex ideas and complete stories in a creative way beyond the single image or series of images you can create with a painting.

That's pretty much why I do art. I'm all about expressing an idea.


Keeping Up with TET on your Mobile Device

Click image to install my
Mippin Mobile Application
Works on most devices.
Mobile internet and devices have become a lot more popular since smart phones and tablets have really taken off. Especially with the launch of iphones, ipads and their Android equivalents. With so many different screen sizes to cater for my web site isn't always that easy to browse on mobile devices.

To help make your browsing experience easier I've enabled Blogger's mobile view on all my blogs. This view essentially strips back all the sidebars and leaves you with just the articles, which scale nicely to fit whatever size screen you're using.

Download my Apps...

However if you want to keep up with everything I upload to my three blogs, two YouTube channels, My Facebook Page, Flickr, Ebay and more (so many sites that I can't even name them all off the top of my head) then I'd recommend installing my Mippin Mobile Application.

The application works as an installable app on iphones/ipads and Android devices. On all other mobile devices it gives an 'app like' experience using your mobile devices browser. It includes everything that gets channeled through my Master RSS feed and has separate sections for posts to my TET Facebook page and both my YouTube channels.

Finally if you have an Android device and would just like my main site (i.e. www.extraordinarytourist.com) installed as an app instead of having to open your browser then you could install my AppsGeyser Android App. It's no different from viewing this site in your mobile devices browser, it just allows you to access my site directly as an app.

Software Stylus for Tablet Drawing

 I own an Android Tablet that has available to it many great drawing applications.  The trouble is, drawing on a touchscreen with  your finger is like trying to sketch with jumbo crayons.  As is trying to draw with most stylus pens which are only a marginal improvement over using your finger.

 Precision drawing on your average touchscreen seems like wishful thinking.

 However I've had this idea for a software stylus that acts like an extension of your finger and allows drawing with greater precision.  See my rough diagram below.  Essentially it's a pointer that follows your finger around the screen. Its angle can be adjusted so that from your vantage point it looks like the tip of  your finger is coming to a point.

Softnib concept sketch.

 You simply move the pointer around and the line is drawn from the point of the stylus instead of somewhere under your finger, where you can't see it.

 Obviously I haven't worked out all the details - such  as how the pointer tells the difference between positioning the stylus and drawing with the stylus. I'm sure these kind of things can be sorted with further development. It could even have different shaped pointers for different shaped lines.

I'm calling it 'softnib'. A solution that allows for precision drawing without the need for an actual stylus.

What do you think - is it a good idea? Have you seen it before?

If it is a good idea let's hope someone sees this post who can actually implement it.

Pt5. Three Cat Tails Painting by TET

Finished: Three Cat Tails
Acrylic on Canvas panels.
Day five of my video diary (embeded below) following the creation of my latest series of paintings, Three Cat Tails.View Part one, Part twoPart 3 and Part 4 if you haven't seen them yet.

In the final episode of this series I get to paint the black and white layers that I thought I'd be painting on day 4 but delayed in exchange for adding more purple and green shadow.

The black and white layers take the artworks through to completion. Then I finish each panel off with a dark blue border around the edge (to cover up the paint marks on the sides).

Whilst I do continue to talk about what I'm doing as I paint this episode does contain a few quite moments of just me painting away because there isn't really a lot to say about the white and black layer. However I hope you'll stick with it to the end just the same.

The series of artworks are available to buy so if you're interested contact me to find out if I'm still looking for a buyer.

Occupy Wall Street - Movement for Change of... Something?

I've been kind of following the Occupy Wall Street 'movement' from my position of apathetic denial of what's actually happening in the real world - that you can see if you pull back the curtain or disconnect from the Matrix.

In particular I've watched vlogs of the Melbourne, Australia, Occupy Movement through the eyes and camera of You-tuber Sean Beadlam. Sean is quite a hard hitting comedian whose humor is topical, political and often based on the injustices faced by the oppressed. He also focuses on the media and how they'll beat up a story to get their 'angle' rather than provide balanced reporting of the whole story.

Although not one of his comedy routines this video below from Occupy Melbourne is a good example of Sean's work with several juxtaposes of the Occupy movement with media and Sean's use of technology.



Although Sean isn't the only source of my information, you would think that a guy like him would have more to say about the movement and why you should get involved. But instead he aligns himself with the movement perfectly by not really explaining anything about it at all beyond 'It's not just one reason we're here'.



One of the Occupiers even explains in one of Sean's videos (and I'm paraphrasing) "Why would you Occupy? The real question is... Why wouldn't you?" As if that explains everything clearly. I hate that kind of nothing statement. You can apply it to anything.

"Money, power, greed. The real question is not why would you want these things it's why wouldn't you?"

I get that the core point of the occupy movement is about corporations holding all the power at the expense of real, hard working every day people. Corporate fat cats getting richer whilst the rest of us supposedly struggle just to put food on the table... and I'm sure for a lot of people it is a struggle too.

However there's no way I feel I can join a movement where you just pick something to protest about and suddenly you're a part of it. Which is how it seems to me from my apathetic perch in denial.

An interesting development is a new web meme that lets you Occupy any web site, passively. Just enter a URL into occupytheurl.com and you'll be taken to a copy of that web site where images of protesters will gradually occupy the site. Click here to Occupy my blog (I'd recommend you finish reading before you try it). The meme will give you a link to the Rebuild the Dream web site - a great place to learn more about the original movement.

Whilst the meme site is an interesting way to support the movement online it also seems to capture the lack of focus. You can apply it to any site and then click the links to share your occupation of the site on Facebook or Twitter.

The Occupy movement's lack of focus is a real problem. To me it seems they're too busy setting up tent cities and building communities of like minded individuals who all want to change something. Ultimately what you get is a group that wants to change everything and no consensus on where to start.

Personally I don't want to change everything. That's why I wouldn't get out and protest - there question answered. Why wouldn't you protest? That's why!

Then again, I'm not the kind of person that goes out and protests period. I find it a very negative thing to do despite the fact that protesters probably feel it's a positive action of empowerment.

There are better ways to affect change than sitting in a street marveling at how people have come together and built a real sense of a grass roots movement by pitching tents and holding meetings.

I don't like publicizing Bikie Gangs but those people did what I think is a better way of bringing about change. Fight fire with fire. When South Australia's new Anti-bikie laws went too far they all got together, hired lawyers and challenged the SA Government in the courts and won.

That's the thing about living in a so called 'free' society. All those things the corporations are taking advantage of could also be used against them if you know the system.

Yes but we're all too poor to afford fancy lawyers, legal advice, flash cars... come on. This is the internet. The age of crowd sourcing just about anything. With a bit of focus you can do just about anything. Like the Egyptians did in affecting change in their government through social media.

It's just an idea. You can start a movement from your lounge room. If you really wanted to start something.

Instead of berating all those apathetic people living in denial and not getting out and joining the 'movement' why not actually do something that enables them to support the cause without affecting their day jobs... that they're struggling to keep due to the economic climate.

People power is there to be harnessed by anyone who really knows how to affect change... and it's not building tent cities and marveling at how awesome it is to be protesting.

It's about knowing what needs to be changed and having some kind of plan to actually change it that people can get behind and support.


Pt4. Three Cat Tails Painting by TET

WIP: Three Cat Tails
Darker purple and green shading added.
Day four of my video diary (embeded below) following the creation of my latest series of paintings, Three Cat Tails. View Part onePart two and Part 3 if you haven't seen them yet.

Yesterday I said that I would begin on adding my black and white final layers today. However after looking at the paintings a few times over night I decided the cats could really use more shadow to give them just a little more three dimensional form.

I had a strong feeling that adding purple and green shadows was what the images really needed. Especially the two larger images needed the purple shading on the background behind the cats to connect them with it - since those two particular images actually make more sense if you get the feeling that you're looking at the cats, laying on a blue floor, from above.

At this point I pretty certain I'm ready for my final black and white detail layers - which I'll get onto on day 5.



Continue to part 5.

Pt3. Three Cat Tails Painting by TET

WIP: Three Cat Tails
Darker shading and cream fur added.
Day three of my video diary (embeded below) following the creation of my latest series of paintings, Three Cat Tails. View Part one and Part two if you haven't seen them yet.

In this video I mix a dark brown colour to add some shadow and stripes to my cats. You'll see how the brown tones the orange down quite a bit to make the colouring of the cats a little more believable.

I also mix a light cream colour to fill in the transitions between the orange and white area of the cats fur. You'll see in a later episode more clearly what I mean once I add the white back in. Note how, when I add the cream, it initially goes on too thick and I have to wipe it back with a cloth and water it down to make it more translucent. The perils of mixing colours with white paint!

Finally I finish up by adding in a few small details like paw pads and noses.

It doesn't actually seem like I did that much today. Ordinarily I'd probably keep painting but I'm trying to pace this out so I don't cram too much into one video - since each part is really a little longer than I'd like as it is.




If you're enjoying the series I'd really appreciate some feed back on how you think I went and whether you'd find this kind of studio diary useful if I did it again with future paintings. I'd also love to hear any constructive criticism you may have of my presentation and how I explained things. Was it clear or did it leave you with questions?

Use the comment section to share your thoughts.

Continue to Part 4.

Pt2. Three Cat Tails Painting by TET

WIP: Three Cat Tails
background and base colours.
Day two and part two of my video diary (embeded below) following the creation of my latest series of paintings, Three Cat Tails. View Part one if you haven't seen it yet.

After painting my initial base painting using the three primary colours, in this episode I demonstrate blocking in my backgrounds and the base colour for the three cats.

This episode is a little longer than the last but hopefully is still interesting to watch. All the painting you see is in real time but obviously edited down quite a lot to show the 'highlights' and I explain what I'm doing as I go.

I realize these videos aren't as exciting to watch as the more common 'speed painting' style videos but if your the kind of person that likes to watch over the shoulder of a real live artist at work then these might just be up your alley.



Continue to Part 3.

Pt1. Three Cat Tails Painting by TET

WIP: Three Cats Tails
Primary Colours under painting. 
Determined to start painting more frequently I decided this morning to start a new artwork. However the only canvases I had to hand were a pack of three square canvases of three different sizes that I received as a gift.

I generally don't paint on canvases smaller than 30 x 40 centimetres in size so rather than not use the two smaller canvases I decided to create a series that I could paint across the three panels at the same time.

As much as I enjoy painting I also need my art to sell. My cat paintings nearly always sell so it was a no brainer to do a series of cats. Cat themed paintings are what I would call my 'Bread and Butter' art. i.e. art that pays the bills.

There's no shame in that. It's not selling out. All professional artists have particular themes that sell well which they continue to return to for both the fun of painting and the financial return. In between those paintings they experiment with other themes. People who are familiar with my art always enjoy my cats the most.

As far as this series of cats go the theme is 'Tails' and cats lying in odd positions. The first and second paintings (see image above - the two largest paintings) are cats viewed from above, lying on a pillow or mat perhaps?

Anyhow, as I painted I filmed myself and spoke about my process for creating most of my art (video embeded below). I've done this a few times before but if your new to my art this is a great way to learn my technique. It's also the first time I've done a semi instructional video in HD.

The video runs for about twelve minutes and takes you from the original sketches up to my primary colours under painting that you can see in the photo above.



I'll be filming me creating these artworks until they're complete so watch for future episodes and blog posts  which I'll be posting as I make them.

Watch Part 2 here.

Casper, Gizzy and Oscar - Talking Cats and Dogs

I don't think I've ever chosen a pet dog or cat for myself. Of all the pets in my life, as far as I remember, they were always chosen by someone else. I wouldn't call myself a 'dog' or a 'cat' kind of person not because I don't like them but because I like them a little too much - if that makes sense?

They're not just 'pets', they're companions and friends. At least that is how I view my relationship with our cat Casper who recently passed away (and our dog, Oscar for that matter). I like to spend time with them, often at the expense of my own productivity.

Casper and Gizzy

Casper Two-Face
After rolling in the dust Casper
went from all black to two tone!
I first met Casper about eleven years ago when I became a part of his family. Back then he had a younger  friend called Gizzy. Gizzy wasn't exactly attention seeking but she was more vocal and generally upstaged Casper for attention when she needed it. Casper was happy to let her. I think it saved him from having to get our attention because he knew whatever Gizzy was asking for he'd probably get too.

The two of them were part of our lives and probably indirectly inspired much of my cat art that I'm known for with their antics. Gizzy in particular would madly dash up anything at speed without any thought for the climb down and how that was to be achieved.

Casper would dash up things too but he wasn't quite as light and agile as Gizzy so often he wouldn't climb quite as high. Though he lost none of his strength in his last year, having witnessed him, from a standing start climb a two and a half metre pole, dragging himself onto the top using only his front legs to pull the rest of his body up.

Gizzy in my Evanston Studio.

Gizzy never passed away. I let her out one night with Casper over two years ago and she just never came back. We never knew what happened to her. She just vanished. I like to think she found her way to somewhere better to live - as unrealistic as that might be. However, until you actually know what happened it doesn't hurt to be positive - since we'll probably never know.

When Gizzy vanished it brought Casper out of being in her shadow. He had to ask for things himself and became more vocal accordingly. It also brought him closer into the family. Casper didn't need a lot of attention. He was quite okay doing his own thing but every now and then he liked to be in someone's company and just kind of sit and contemplate with you (or sleep on your lap if it was evening).

Casper on my desk with
my morning coffee.
Before our dog, Oscar, came along it was Casper who would sit on my desk while I worked on my computer.

Although I love Oscar I never really thought it was the best idea to get a dog whilst we still had Casper. Dogs and especially puppies need a lot more attention so Casper kind of got marginalized again, only more so because Oscar wasn't a cat.

Oscar freaking out over being
so close to Casper grooming.
He eventually learned to tolerate Oscar as a part of the family and, on occasion, Oscar could tempt Casper into a game of chasey but I don't think he ever saw Oscar as anything more than a friendly annoyance.

Though Oscar did teach Casper about food sampling from our meals. When I first started feeding Oscar small tidbits from my lunch, Casper soon found out and both of them became a fixture, not far from us, at any meal time. Casper was more particular. If he didn't like what you let him sample he wouldn't wait around because he knew it probably wasn't going to get any better.

On Casper's last day, he'd been to the Vet the evening before for some antibiotics and pain killers, he seemed to be a little better. He ate more of his breakfast than he had the day before and even sampled some of my lunch. It was quite a shock to see him rapidly go down hill only hours later, in a lot of distress from internal bleeding.

We took him back to the vet in the hope something could be done but unfortunately there wasn't anything  that would have helped. He probably wouldn't have survived an operation in the Vet's opinion.

Although I used to play with Gizzy she always had Casper as her companion. Casper kind of became my companion after Gizzy vanished. He'd spend a lot of time in the same room as me when he needed company and would position himself right in my face if he needed real attention. Once Oscar arrived he did this kind of thing less because he wasn't the kind of cat to compete for attention.

Casper's age and quietly confident nature made him a much better listener than Oscar. Talking to Oscar, I swear sometimes all he hears is, "Do you want to play now?" He'll become a better listener with age I hope.

The purpose of this post was really just to put down some memories of Casper and to a lesser extent, Gizzy and Oscar, in a longer article than a Facebook Status update. Casper was my kind of companion pet. He didn't need a lot of attention and if you really tried you could encourage him to play, if only for a very short time. For the most part he did his own thing but was there in the background, ready to listen to me ramble on when no one else was around and to be a companion.

He thought the Frog Van was cool too (sleeping in the drivers seat when he could get to it. Usually when I was working on the van).

I'm still seeing him out of the corner of my eye and looking around expecting to see him there. I also still think about him whenever I take Oscar for a walk. I used to look back to see if Casper wanted to come out the front door so he could sit out the front until we got back.

I didn't choose him as a pet but he will certainly be missed by me.



Timeline - Finally a Reason to Use Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg introduces Timeline at F8
I got caught up watching the F8 Keynote speech this morning on Mashable. Which is unusual in its self because I'm not that much of a Facebook user but with the introduction of Google+ I was interested to see if Facebook would do anything that would leap it far ahead of its new rival. With Timeline I think they've delivered something special. See the short video below.



Before I continue, just a quick comment on the F8 speech, which went for 1 hour and 40 minutes. The opening joke by SNL's Andy Samberg impersonating CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whilst funny to begin with, kind of stretched into something weird to the point where I was just glad to see him get off the stage. I was definitely with Mark when he jokingly said "Don't start doing impressions".

The rest of the keynote was delivered in Mark's somewhat awkward but still very listenable style. I felt he really did explain the changes well. The highlight for me though was when Chris Cox, FB Vice President of Product Management, came onto the stage and explained the inspiration behind Timeline. A fascinating story in its self. I'd recommend you watch the keynote speech just for that - which starts at about 1 hour and  24 minutes in.

Back to Timeline and my thoughts. In a nutshell, to me, Timeline is like the Super Profile page you've been waiting for. It's the scrapbook of your life. It doesn't just record your activity on Facebook as it happens, it also allows you to add to it retrospectively. For example, if you have a photo of you as a very young child, you can add it into your timeline so it appears chronologically in the year it was taken. That ability to me is important enough on its own.

In many ways your Facebook profile could become the ebook of your life.

Imagine using your Timeline as a basis for a book to preserve your family history. I'm sure print on demand publishers like Blurb will see an opportunity here. Pick a year from your timeline and turn it into a gift book for family.

How about all those videos you've uploaded or the music you've shared. Create a DVD of a year or two in your life, complete with the music you liked that year, perhaps?

There's certainly a lot of potential for how Timelines can be used and why you'd want to spend time curating yours. It's the kind of profile page that you won't just fill out and occasionally update - if you remember. It's something you'll probably visit just to see how it looks... and it does look good.

I have to hand it to the designers and programmers of Timeline. It really is something you want to look at just to see if the automatic algorithms are really picking out the highlights or whether you need to tweak things a bit.

I'm sure when Timeline is finally rolled out to everyone on Facebook there will be the usual backlash of people who liked the old Facebook. They've already started with the recent introduction of the new look news feeds and live ticker. Both of which I like a lot - especially the live ticker.

In the big scheme of things the complainers will settle down because Facebook, wisely (or arrogantly depending on your point of view), usually sticks to its guns when it introduces change. Quite frankly I want to see Timeline succeed... and maybe Google+ will then look at its self and do something complimentary rather than competitively.



I haven't even gone into all the ways the new look Facebook will help you discover all kinds of things from your friends as they discover them. It's probably better if you watch the keynote speech for that.

All I'm saying is, for the first time, I'm looking forward to using Facebook... and that's a paradigm shift for me.

Frog Van, Right Spanner - Part 5

The Frog Van is all back in one piece but it seems having the right spanner just wasn't enough. After cleaning off a year's worth of dust and cob webs from the exterior I took it for a test drive.

It seemed okay at first but the engine power and acceleration was definitely sluggish compared to how I remember it. I managed to get to a service station before running out of fuel (the petrol tank has been sitting on empty for some time after semi regular start ups just to make sure the van still worked).

From there I took it to the other side of town - only a five minute drive at most - but the backfiring problem was back and getting worse. I headed back for home with the backfiring finally getting so bad that it stalled the engine. Fortunately I was at a point where it was easy to pull over.

At this point I was pretty much at a loss for what to do. The backfiring seemed to get worse as the engine got warmer so I decided to remain parked for a while to let the van's engine cool down.

Twenty minutes later I got it started again and spent a little time adjusting the mixture screw on the carburetor - which seemed to help a little. The van still drove sluggishly but the backfiring had settled down a little and I was able to drive it all the way back home.

My knowledge of engines is limited to broad strokes. I know, in a general sense, how they work and I can perform basic repairs but recognizing faults and understanding what causes them - that's a little beyond me. Even with all the information you can find on the internet... and believe me I've researched backfiring engines extensively.

The Frog Van definitely did need the manifold gasket changing. I knew that because a professional mechanic told me the van had a manifold leak - and he was right. After changing the gasket the van did start easier and idled much better to begin with. However fixing the backfiring may need a professional eye (or ear). With any luck a proper tune up and service may be enough to solve the problem.

Unfortunately that will have to wait until I have some funds again.

Frog Van, Right Spanner - Part 4

After a couple of days delay waiting for the right manifold gasket I was able to start putting the Frog Van's engine back together. (Note: if you have a picture of the gasket you want but not the part number, show it to the person who is ordering the part - even if they say they don't need it  - that way you should get the right part first time).

Before I could get started I had to drill out a bolt that had snapped inside the inlet manifold. After a bit of research on Youtube for the best way to do this I discovered you could get a special drill bit just for the job.

Fortunately I was able to improvise with a regular drill bit and a precision sanding drill bit head (I'm not exactly sure of the drill bit's proper name but essentially it's a drill bit with a metal coarse grain head in the shape of a cylinder slightly wider than the drill bit its self).

If you've never had to remove a broken bolt before the technique I used was to centre punch the end of the broken bolt. Drill a small hole into it - smaller than the diameter of the bolt. Then I used the precision sanding bit, with the drill in reverse. Pushed it into the hole I made. The roughness of the bit gave it enough grip to spin the broken end of the bolt right out of the hole.

I also had to re-glue the part I glued previously as this broke almost as soon as I started trying to detach the hose fixed to it. The extra day this had to dry was the only benefit of not getting the right gasket first time.

Once that was done I cleaned up all the surfaces between the manifolds and the cylinder head block and commenced putting it all back together. I won't describe putting everything back in detail. I'll just say it was much easier to reconstruct the engine than it was to pull it all apart.

The Frog Van's engine back together again.

It was quite dark by the time I was ready to start it up and I'm happy to say it started without too much effort. However there was a worrying white smoke coming up from between the carburetor and the engine block. It was too dark to tell where it was coming from so I shut it down for the night just to be safe.

This morning I started it up again and discovered the smoke appeared to be coming from one of the manifold studs. I think maybe it was just some gunk on the stud burning off because it cleared up and everything appears fine.

The engine's still not running as well as I hoped but it's no longer back firing and I've managed to minimize the back firing it appears to be doing back through the carburetor by adjusting the mixture screw.

I didn't get to take the Frog Van for a test drive today because the registration had expired so I went into town and paid that. Now all I have to do is fix the front passenger seat back into place and I'll be ready to give it a spin.

Will be nice to drive it again since it's been year (almost to the day) that it's been stuck on our back veranda waiting to be fixed.

Frog Van, Right Spanner - Part 3

Continuing my work on fixing the Frog Van, today I've removed both the inlet and exhaust manifolds to reveal the damage to the gasket (see image below).

Manifolds removed with the metal gasket still in place.

From the image above, the circular holes are for the inlet manifold whilst the square holes are for the exhaust manifold. Around the square hole on the far right, the top of the gasket was severely damaged with an obvious leak.

Having never seen a new version of this gasket I'm not sure if it is simply a metal gasket or a metal gasket with a black coating on each side? I've since watched a few Youtube videos on changing a manifold gasket where all the gaskets are metal only. Leading me to believe that possibly, the person who installed this gasket, coated it with a product called 'gasket goo' on both sides. 

Which may have been fine except, with all the overheating trouble the Frog Van has had in the past, the heat may have been more than the product can take and the 'goo' has burned away. However I won't know for sure until I get the new gasket - which I've ordered from a local parts retailer and should have by tomorrow.

I don't know if I'll get this finished tomorrow. I've got another problem of a bolt that's broken off in the bottom of the inlet manifold that may not be easy to remove (another problem of not having the right tools to remove it). Crossing my fingers though. It would be great to have this finished and be driving by the weekend.

Frog Van, Right Spanner - Part 2

I don't buy spanner's that often so the price of quality spanners tends to be a minor shock to the system. I needed a 10mm fixed head spanner in order to continue work on fixing the Frog Van that I started yesterday.

Looking at the range of spanners in my local auto shop I could either get a high quality, single spanner in just the size I needed or, for two dollars less, get a pack of six cheaper spanners that includes the one I need. No brainer, right? (I bought the cheaper spanner pack).

Rather than go into a long blog post about disconnecting a few wires and pipes and undoing four bolts with my trusty new 10mm spanner I thought I'd just post a before and after picture...


Before (above): This photo is looking from above directly into the top of the carburetor (air filter removed). Notice all the pipes and wires around the top. I'm sure a skilled mechanic wouldn't be daunted but this is me and, as I said in my previous post, I'm not a natural mechanic. I know what the carburetor does but all that other stuff around it is almost a complete mystery to me.


After (above): This photo is the same section of the engine with the carburetor removed. Those four nuts you see on the corners of the blue gasket were the reason I needed a 10mm spanner. What you're looking at is the inlet manifold (the metal pipes that the carburetor was attached to) and, underneath that, the exhaust manifold.

Just looking at the after picture you can see near the top of the image where both manifolds are bolted to the engine block some fairly black deposits that shouldn't be there. It's not oil but carbon deposits (I presume that's what comes from burnt fuel?). That area should be clean like the front of the manifolds, where they are attached to the engine (middle left of the picture).

I'm hoping changing the gaskets will be enough to get a proper seal which in turn will hopefully solve the van's backfiring problem.

We'll see. It's slow going but hopefully it'll all work out.


Frog Van and the Right Spanner

I haven't written about my Frog Van for some time because it's been sitting under our back veranda waiting for some much needed repairs. The last time I pulled bits of the engine apart was to remove the radiator, which I had reconditioned then reattached.

Since then, apart from a dead battery stranding my sister and I in Kapunda, the van had been running particularly well. Well enough for me to trust it driving all over the place and know that it wouldn't break down. It still had problems with running on and backfiring but at least it worked.

When Enigma and I moved house in September of 2010 we used the Frog Van to move all of our furniture to our new home. It took a few trips over a few days but I reckon we probably saved quite a bit by not hiring a moving company (which we did price to see what kind of cost was involved).

Unfortunately on the van's very last trip between houses it died after progressively getting harder and harder to start and keep going. It turned out the problem was a broken part that I had broken and fixed earlier as part of replacing the fuel filter. I managed to re-fix it using the same glue that fixed it the first time but the van never really recovered and it's sat on our back veranda ever since.

I have had a look at it before now and really want to fix the leak it has in the exhaust manifold that should stop most of its back firing problem. However I'm not that confident when it comes to pulling engines apart. It all seemed a bit daunting so I left it in the hope that maybe I could afford to get a real mechanic to look at it.

Nearly twelve months later it's still waiting for a mechanic.

Today I've decided to give it another look. I'm determined not to let it get the better of me. A manifold leak is actually not that hard to fix. The trouble is, to get to it I need to remove the carburetor, which has numerous pipes and wires attached to it. Most of which I have no idea what they do.

I'm taking photos as I pull things apart so that hopefully I can use them to guide me in how it all goes back together. Necessary because I don't have a repair manual for the van and - try as I might - I've yet to find someone who has a copy available to buy. Actually if I had a repair manual I wouldn't be concerned at all about pulling things apart. Not having one is why this task is so daunting. I'm not a natural mechanic.

All those spanners (top left
and middle) don't even come close
to how many I have available.
My problem today has been a serious lack of the 'right' spanner. I've inherited more spanners than I probably will ever use from the owner of our house. You would think with so many spanners I'd be set but no. The size spanner I need is nowhere to be found - and nearly all the nuts in the engine are this one size.

Consequently I didn't get as far as I'd hoped because I didn't want to risk using the crappy shifter spanners I have, which are great for rounding nuts to the point of being un-removable.

Tomorrow I'm going to go out and buy just the right spanner I need and then hopefully I'll be able to get going again. I'll let you know how I get on.

Aliens Are Watching Us!

"Alien Landing" Art by TET
Aliens are definitely watching us. To illustrate, this is going to require some background on my last few trips to the doctor...

Late 2010 I was getting chest pains but couldn't see a specialist until February 2011 who promptly hooked me up to an ECG, sent me off for an ultrasound of my heart and had me do a heart stress test (which involves being wired to a machine and walking very quickly on a treadmill). Results were 'nothing'. Everything normal. I'm fit - apparently.

Since they found nothing I'm thinking, maybe the aliens have got to me with some kind of undetectable implant that's causing chest pains every time it broadcasts back to the mother ship? Don't believe me? Well, I'll continue...

Recently I've been getting cramps in the lower left side of my abdomen that have varied in intensity. Not excruciatingly painful but enough to raise some alarm bells and get me off to the doctor.

After doing the obligatory urine test - which came out normal - my doctor sent me off for a blood test and an Ultrasound scan of my abdomen.

The blood test was done by a nurse, who I swear you could replace with a robot and probably get a better standard of 'bedside' (or in this case 'chair-side') manor. I think she might be one of the aliens? The test revealed a potential problem with something in my liver but not something that would cause cramping.

The Ultrasound of my abdomen revealed nothing out of the ordinary either - well it also picked up some minor problem with my liver that I've apparently had since birth but has nothing to do with the cramps I've been getting.

Not finding much of anything relating to the cramps my doctor again sent me off for a CT scan of my lower torso. This was the first time I've had CT scan and I have to say, whatever that stuff is they inject you with that sends a warm flush through your whole body, I'll have every night just before I go to bed. Better than a hot chocolate on a cold winters night. The technician made it sound like that injection was going to have bad effects... but I digress.

Not surprisingly the CT scan showed a potential problem with my liver (nothing to be concerned about just yet but possibly something to check in a few months time for comparison) and came up blank on the cramps issue. No sign of an infection... nothing.

My conclusion is, the Aliens are definitely watching us. You see, this cramping in the lower left of my abdomen is obviously another undetectable alien implant causing pains every time it beams information back to the mother ship.

Aliens must be monitoring my every move but I'm onto them. It's the only rational explanation I can think of when, even big, expensive machines can't find anything wrong with you.

Well I'm pretty sure that's what it is anyway.

Ridley Scott Revisiting 'Blade Runner'

It is both with interest and trepidation that the news, Ridley Scott to Direct New 'Blade Runner' Installment for Alcon Entertainment, finds me. It's great that Ridley is back on board, as this definitely gives me some confidence. Especially after reading How Ridley Scott came to Direct the New 'Blade Runner'.

Although I didn't get to see the original in theaters, I've been a fan of this movie since it was first released on VHS video back in the early nineteen eighties. I'm also one of the minority (it seems) that likes the original theatrical release with Harrison's voice over. I also like the subsequent cuts of the film and own a copy of the Final Cut but I felt the narration made it feel much more like a detective story than an action/sci-fi film.

It's interesting that the producers are hoping to come up with something new and fresh but without Harrison Ford I'm not too sure. He was such an important part of the original film. That said I'm sure no one wants to see Deckard coming out of retirement a second time to chase Replicants.

Blade Runner is a film that has only aged because they put a date on when it was set - 2019. Unlike other films of its era the special effects aren't showing their age. Although Ridley has said the date doesn't matter, since the world is an alternate universe, it will be interesting to see if the fact that we're not too far from 2019 will influence when a new film is set.

Generally I don't have any expectations for what I'd like to see in a new film. My main hope is that they steer clear of the three book sequels to Blade Runner written by K. W. Jeter. Not because there is anything particularly bad about them - I've read the first two - I just don't think they'd really facilitate the 'fresh' approach the producers are hoping to take.

My main concern is, will a new film be able to stand up against the original. It has some very big shoes to fill. However, the fact that Alcon Entertainment, the production company for this new film, were also behind the film The Book of Eli gives me some hope. That film stands out quite well stylistically even if its look isn't completely unique.

Whatever they come up with I will certainly be going to see it.

Bert and Ernie - Officially not Gay...

...or anything for that matter. Sesame Street Workshop recently made a statement saying that Bert and Ernie were just  'Best Friends' and outing them as not having a sexual orientation as they are 'puppets'. The full statement, which can be found on their Facebook page reads as follows:
Bert and Ernie are best friends. They were created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves. 
Even though they are identified as male characters and possess many human traits and characteristics (as most Sesame Street Muppets™ do), they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation.
The statement is a response to a recent online petition and Facebook page requesting that Bert and Ernie be allowed to get married on Sesame Street as a way of supporting LBGT teens. The petition’s creator, Lair Scott, was inspired by the “It Gets Better” series of videos launched by columnist Dan Savage.

That's the history of this latest Bert and Ernie saga if you wish to do your own research.


And now for my commentary...

If you're looking for a thoughtful piece about why Bert and Ernie shouldn't be officially identified as gay I thought Graeme McMillan's blog, Official: Bert and Ernie Aren’t Gay (And Why They Shouldn’t Be), gives a compelling and well thought out argument.

From my point of view I'm just happy that Sesame Street Workshop isn't bowing to the pressure. Bert and Ernie just aren't gay, even if there are many hints that possibly suggest otherwise. Such as Bert and Ernie taking a bath together.

If the characters don't have any sexual orientation then taking a bath together has no real underlying meaning. They could be just saving water... they're obviously not that rich since they live in a one bedroom house. (take this paragraph as tongue in cheek. I'm not, for a second, trying to make serious argument).

However looking at it from the other point of view, if they're not gay, then does that mean they're straight? In 40 plus years I've never seen either of them have so much as a crush on any female character. I've never seen Ernie ask Bert to spend an evening out because Ernie's bringing home a hot date.

Perhaps there's something to this idea that they have no sexual orientation?

Then again perhaps there's another scenario. Some observers believe Bert and Ernie behave like an old married couple. Maybe they secretly got married years ago?

But if that were true why do they sleep in separate beds? (I hear you ask).

Well that's not unprecedented for married couples. Watchers of the seventies hit TV show Faulty Towers will know (if my memory serves me correctly) that the uptight Basil Faulty slept in the same room but in a separate bed from his wife Sybil.

It's something else to think about.

At this point I have to admit this isn't quite the direction I thought this article would go. I really just wanted to make a point about people projecting gay relationships onto male character friendships that haven't really been portrayed as gay. The classic examples, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Batman and Robin.

It's like the Seinfeld episode where Jerry protests that he's not gay (not that there's anything wrong with that) just because he's clean, neat and organised.

Please stop doing that. Stop trying to superimpose 'gayness' onto characters and people that just aren't simply because they display a few 'gay' characteristics from time to time and could be seen as gay.

I'd much rather see true gay characters developed for TV, movies, fiction etc. than have this 'retro-fitting' of established characters into a gay orientation. Retro-fitting 'gay' does nothing to help the acceptance of people who identify as such. If anything it inflames the people who struggle to accept gay relationships.

The TV series Modern Family, whilst I wouldn't say the gay characters are necessarily typical of gay men, at least makes an attempt to describe a real gay relationship in an 'average' family, living in the suburbs context. In terms of advancing the LBGT agenda for acceptance I feel that's a much better way to go.

I'd rather Bert and Ernie remain as best friends and, if Sesame Street ever did want to introduce a gay relationship... perhaps it would be better to do it with their human cast rather than the puppets - since people do have sexual orientation.

Jac Cat is Back - Art by TET

Jac's Back, Acrylic on Canvas
30x40cm, 4th August 2011
Buy Prints from RedBubble.
Jac's Back is my latest artwork and my first in just over a year away from painting (more than two years if you exclude the single horse painting I did in 2010).

At 30x40cm it's a small artwork but after so long not painting I didn't want to start anything too ambitious. Which was also the reason I chose to paint yet another version of Jac making one of his crazy flutterby leaps. Start with what you know.

If you're not familiar with my cat paintings you can see quite a few in my RedBubble Gallery where you can buy prints of my various artworks.

Jac himself is not really any one particular cat but these days refers to a style of orange and black stripe cat that I've painted many times. The name Jac is actually an abbreviation for Just A Cat and was given to the very first official Jac artwork, Happy Cat Jac, by the person who bought it.

Whilst painting Jac's Back I set up my video camera and filmed some of the process - which you can see in the video below.

Consequently this is also my first painting video filmed in glorious HD video. Unfortunately I wasn't able to film the whole process from start to finish like I've done in the past because of the amount of memory HD video requires. My camera and laptop computer just can't cope and I can't paint fast enough to reduce the file size either.

The style of the video is more of a music video than me explaining anything about the work. If you prefer my old style where I narrate the 'action' let me know in the comments below.

RoboCop Reboot: The Return of Social Satire

RoboCop is one of the all time great Sci-fi creations. A reboot has been talked about for years and, as of writing this, it looks like it's back on again according to this report on Den of Geek, What to expect from the RoboCop reboot.

I think the time is right for a reboot as I'll explain further below along with my ideas for how it might be approached. First let's start with what inspired this post and some thoughts on the first three films.

RoboCop 1, 2 and 3

I recently purchased the RoboCop Trilogy as a three disk DVD set. I can't say I'm a huge RoboCop fan but I do remember the first movie being released in 1987 and it was considered quite ground breaking for its time. I'm a Sci-Fi fan with an interest in any movie about robots and cyborgs so I wanted to add RoboCop to my collection.

After watching all three films (I've only ever seen the first previously) it's easy to see why the three movies were being sold in the one DVD case for half the price of your average new release DVD. I'm not going to say movies two (1990) and three (1993) were appalling but only a hardcore fan would buy them as separate disks... and even then, they'd probably have to include some compelling special features.

The original movie was considered a master piece and, what made it great from a story point of view, is exactly what enticed director, Paul Verhoeven, to take another look at a script that he thought was just some popcorn action flick. The multiple layers that give the film some intelligence and depth.

People say that RoboCop, at its heart, is an action movie. Personally I don't think it is. At its heart it is a human tragedy, layered with some very biting social satirical commentary. Paul Verhoeven saw RoboCop as a Jesus-like figure. A good cop resurrected. In some respects I can see it but this cop was resurrected without any say in the matter, resulting in a conflicted cyborg wondering about who he used to be.

That's not to say the action isn't important. One trademark of the original films is the over the top, graphic violence and destruction. However I think it serves more to enhance the dark comedy and take it to a whole new level. It's no so much laugh out loud it's more so far beyond reality you can't help but laugh.

But getting back to the human aspect and social satire. Although they tried to maintain this in the two successive films it never really had as much impact in RoboCop's story arc. To me it seemed more like a 'yeah we've dealt with those elements, now lets get back to the action'. Where as in the first film Robo's human side was much more integral to the action and the satire really was crucial to understanding many of the supporting characters motivations.

You've got to have those layers dealt with equally to make a RoboCop film work. It's the human aspect that makes us care about RoboCop, it's the satire that reflects life and adds intelligence and it's the action that makes it a 'Hell Yeah!' experience.

Time for a Reboot

Edward Neumeier, one of the first film's original writers, explains on the DVD's special features that the corporate world depicted in RoboCop is very much satire for the Wall Street high fliers and Company Executives of the nineteen eighties taken to the extreme of them actually killing each other.

In 2011 corporate success and excess has taken on a whole new meaning with technology companies like Apple driving consumer product demand to an almost ridiculous frenzy. Are we not now living in the world of Omni Consumer Products (OCP - the fictional developers of RoboCop)?

ED-209
What about 'The War on Terror'. OCP was originally all about selling the ED-209 to the Military. However more to the point the War on Terror is also about protecting the homeland public from urban extremists. As one of the most successful abstract wars of all time, bringing in an erosion of civil liberties and a culture of almost extreme patriotism this is territory ripe for RoboCop's dark satire.

Finally more and more countries are attempting to give their police and the law in general more powers to police things that police have no business policing. For example, in my own state of South Australia, the anti-association laws that would have empowered police to prevent members of bikie gangs from even meeting up - for any reason. Surely there's some great social commentary to be had about Police states and what is considered to be 'real crime'?

What I'd like to see for a Reboot


Note that this is my personal opinion of what I'd like to see happen with a reboot. I'm sure, if you are a fan you have your own ideas too. You may even like to read some of the Den of Geek's ideas in their article, What we'd like to see in the RoboCop Reboot.

First up, do not change the suit. Get the original or make a copy of the RoboCop 1 suit. I'd almost go so far as to say keep it all real with no CGI but after Ironman, I wouldn't mind a little CGI if it brings in bigger action. However if an actor can do the scene, get someone as good as Peter Weller was in the role and use the actor first. (oh and use a more human voice like films 1 and 2. I don't know what was with that robotic voice used in 3?).

I say keep the suit and use an actor because we really don't need a more nimble CGI RoboCop. RoboCop was originally kick-ass because he could just walk into danger and blow its head off with that targeting computer and gun of his. Granted he got shot up quite a bit in films 2 and 3 but that didn't seem to deter him from getting up and just walking in all over again.

Next, let's not deny the key events of the first three films (but lets conveniently forget those robot ninja warriors in RoboCop 3 - thanks Frank Miller but not every idea you have is gold). We've got a very solid origin story, a well established and geniously flawed central character in RoboCop and a failed corporation in OCP that destroyed its self from the inside with corrupt management and failed business ventures.

Let's take all that and literally reboot RoboCop himself, twenty years after his funding from OCP ran out, into today's world. Why? Because even in today's world RoboCop is still ahead of his time. He personally hasn't dated even if the fashions and hairstyles of his films have.

I'd love to see a modern consumer company buy out OCP's Intellectual Properties for the rights to their flagship products, RoboCop, RoboCop 2 and ED-209 for further development and to once again privatize law enforcement focusing on the War on Terror as a public safety issue. 

To kick start the buy out the new company would relaunch OCP's only successful prototype RoboCop but secretly may have some concerns about his past renegade exploits. i.e. RoboCop will still be a walk straight  into the villain's hide out and deal with the consequences as they arise kind of guy - and perhaps he's still dealing with his former life issues pre-RoboCop that made him hiccup on those directives from time to time.

Rather than go over old ground with RoboCop's memory why not give him the new problem of attempting resolve his human side. The first film demonstrated his memory did affect his sense of identity. Is sitting in a chair during his down time really satisfying for his human side or does he need to find an outlet to remain balanced and reliable. Even if they can erase his memories he still has a human brain. It must do something that programming can't.

As mentioned, the War on Terror gives plenty of opportunity for all kind of extremist enemies, though I wouldn't like to see the obvious enemy of Islamic Extremists. I'm sure we can do better than that? What about patriot extremists or corrupt government agents, corporations etc. using the War on Terror for profit. Conspiracy theories even?

How about a rival robotics company building their own RoboCops with all the success (or lack of it) of the ED-209 or RoboCop 2 (if you really must have a machine vs machine battle that's one way to go).

I think I'm starting to ramble so finally, I would like to see elements of the first film maintained to tell the story. POV shots from RoboCop, News desk reports, satirical commercials, extreme violence and graphic, over the top injuries etc. Things that are really trademarks for how a RoboCop story unfolds. Not there for the sake of it but there to drive the plot just a little bit more.

You're not a fan if you don't want another film

The one thing I don't buy is all the rhetoric that some fans don't want to see another film. Sure they don't want to see another bad film but if you have a favorite character that's suited to a series of films then a new film will always be of interest.

Hopefully the studios have made enough mistakes with RoboCop to know what doesn't work and deliver a solid film that will set the direction for a real franchise reboot.
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