I’ve never really been much for Halloween, outside of an excuse to eat more candy than usual. Not a fan of coming up with costumes, don’t find the appeal of putting up garish decorations…you get the idea. Now, during the day I had noticed the odd “tradition” in Astoria – rather than going from house to house for trick-or-treating, the kids go into local businesses, all of which have candy they’re handing out. Even the venerable Video Game Buddy had a box of candy behind the case of games. Tonight, Katie and I were picking up our dinner from the local Chinese place, and we realized that they were giving kids fortune cookies as the treat, which was nice. The wait staff seemed particularly amused every time a group of kids would come in. At one point, a group of four kids in costume came in, and they were all given cookies. Three of them left, but out of the corner of our eye we noticed the fourth putting the cookie back on the counter and running over to the small kiddie-sized drink cooler. He then pulled it open, grab a can of Sprite, and stick it in his goodie bag. The wait staff shouted at him in broken english as he very cutely walked towards the door and out of the restaurant. Guess the kid was just obeying his thirst?
The newest Beatmania IIDX arcade game – beatmania IIDX 11 “RED” – has hit arcades in Japan, and thanks to inside sources, I’ve had a chance to run through extremely good quality “game soundtrack” (created by players playing songs and recording the line out to an audio recorder). So let’s do some ratings. 0-100 scale as always. Corresponding rating levels and percentile of songs that are rated at or above these levels are below; 50 should be considered average. 60 = “B” (2267 / 6424 = 35.3%) 61-79 = “B+” (1071 / 6424 = 16.7%) 80 = “A” (454 / 6424 = 7.1%) 81-100 = “A+” (156 / 6424 = 2.4%) Ratings could change on OST release based on mis-hits while the players were recording these. Tackling these alphabetically. DJ Amuro / AA For being in the same genre as A, this doesn’t really evoke the same feeling as the predecesor did. There’s the sort of snare roll in the middle I bitched about during one of my Dancemania Ex reviews. This is decent but sounds like a mutant child of A and something Sota would do, with the trance instrument jiggling all around. 60/100. Sota Fujimori / Andromeda Speak of the devil. This actually doesn’t sound like Sota; it’s darker to start with. Doesn’t really seem to be going anywhere though; no progression or even really a melody. It’s not annoying me, however, so we’ll put this right at the middle of the road with a 50/100. Akira Yamaoka / Awakening Evoking a lot of i feel… memories here, more of the same snare rolls from AA. Japanese lyrics, with a nice melodic trance refrain. Not memorable by any stretch, though. 52/100. DJ Simon / Back To The Dance Floor The return of DJ Simon! And luckily, it has no trance elements unlike the last three songs. Sort of reminding me of Sweet Lab with a bit more kick to it, since it’s got a small latin vibe. I would imagine the notes would be fun. 60/100. Ryu / Be Quiet The genre of “Hard Dance” is appropriate here; it’s definitely not the happy hardcore we’ve come to expect from Ryu. It’s heavy, it’s frantic, and it’s gooood. 75/100. Nao Nakamura / Believe…? The beginning freaked me out, I thought this was going to be JS-16. It’s more melodic than the stuffprevious to this, and it’s almost good enough to make my typical playlist, but there’s just something missing. 59/100. Sparker / Breath More Rococo Tek is fine by me! A bit more majestic than Brightness Darkness was, it bounces along well. 70/100, largely because I’m a sucker for Sparker. Dave & Nuage / Car Of Your Dreams I’m not sure what the difference between “Eurobeat” and “Super Eurobeat” is, but this feels less eurobeat-y than other things I’ve seen labeled as Super Eurobeat. Different enough from the typical eurobeat formula (note: I’m not a fan of most eurobeat) to make me want to hear it again. 61/100. DJ Remo-con / Click Again Oh my god. Cut’n'paste style beats like this are rapidly gaining respect from me, and this is unbelievably fantastic. Think Macho Gang, with more dancability. Bonus points for the old scratch sounds. 84/100. DJ Yoshitaka feat.星野�?�? / D.A.N.C.E.!! I’m nicking this one from Reo; if you’ve heard The Love Bug by m-flo and BoA, this is remarkably similar. Male and female back and forth vocals, female refrain, pop groove…it’s a formula that stole my ear before, and it’s doing it again here. 80/100. platoniX (Eurance Style) / Don’t Be Afraid My Self It’s the fastest J-Pop song Naoki has ever done. I’m digging the hook, and the piano runs are neat too. Probably one of the least annoying Naoki-with-female-vocals songs to date. 65/100. Wall5 / EVO66 Wait, this sounds nothing like North! It’s actually techno with some acid touches. This is amazingly cool and some what expected. 80/100. Baby Weapon feat. Kajil / Fly Away To India There’s some other pop song that they’ve nicked part of the melody here from, but I can’t recall what it is right now. The vocals are way too high for this to be an enjoyable Bolly-style track for me. I’ll stick to Dr. Love and Nasty!, thanks. 40/100. DJ Killer / Genocide Extra stage! I think calling this Drum’n'bass is a bit inaccurate, as this is way too dark for your typical DNB track. It’s a decent bit of darkness, with some orchestral-ish melody (is that the trend in all the trance tracks on IIDX now?). Good enough for 60/100. Teranoid feat. MC Natsack / Gigadelic Oooh, darkcore (“nustyle gabba” my ass). It’s an enjoyable track – and probably hell to play – but I’m not sure what I would do with this if it came on in a club or on my iPod. As such, I have to bump it off my playlists at 59/100. Regina / Harmony Yeeeup. It’s eurobeat. Don’t know what else to say, other than that maybe I want to throw up a fake para to it. For some reason it’s feeling reminiscent of Fantasy (the 4th Style version), but maybe it’s because I’m just not digging it. 44/100. Lia / Horizon Anthem-style happy trance. It’s a little dream-like, and works for me a lot better than the other trance we’ve seen. 66/100. 新谷�?��??ら / Injection Of Love Sana gets all DIRTY, commanding us to touch her, lick her, and fuck her – who thought our poor Beatmania could become such a dirty game? (And who are we to deny her?) A infectuous bouncing melody and good instrumentation makes this one hot injection. 80/100. John Robinson / Kecak More trance, with a slight tribal feel. Good rhythm, good feeling, good enough. 60/100. BeForU / Ki-Se-Ki (IIDX RED Edit) I’m sorry, folks, I’m over Naoki’s traditional euro/j-pop stuff, and by extension, I’m over BeForU. I don’t care how many trance elements he throws in, or para-style offbeat notes, the thing stinks. It ends abruptly and I don’t want to hear it again. 35/100. DJ 19 / King Of Groove Fairly generic and repititious techno, with a bit of tribal. This is one of those songs you’ll be skipping over every time you play – not because it’s bad, just because it doesn’t stand out. 45/100. Orange Lounge / Les Filles Balancent Hey, it’s Orange Lounge! And they’re back, with trumpets! A little too cutesy this time around, probably the worst of the five Orange Lounge songs as it just sounds like a hodge podge of the others; still, not horrible. 52/100. Tetsuya Uchida / Listen To Yourself Old school organ house crossed with a traditional japanese melody. I’ve been missing Symphonic Defoggers lately so this quasi-throwback doesn’t hurt. 64/100. good-cool feat. Raj Ramayya / Move Me Ignoring the beginning, this is a solid, slow good-cool track. It’s been a while since good-cool’s done anything this slow…oh WAIT FAST ENDING. Good stuff, not typical good-cool at all, it’s refreshing. 75/100. Matt Land / Night Flight To Tokyo More eurobeat, with some interesting melody tweaks but a meh refrain. By this point, I’m Eurobeaten out. 45/100. Q’Hey / On The Tube This got lumped into the Minimal genre; I think Konami needs to learn what “minimal” actually is. Compared to the eurobeat, sure, it’s minimal, I guess. This is making me recall some Pink Pong songs, and like most Beatmania players, I don’t have the fondest Pink Pong memories. 48/100. N.A.R.D. feat. masayo / Perfectworld Secret Tale II. That’s all you need to know. 45/100. jun feat. Paula Terry / Raspberry Heart (English Version) Am I the only one who thinks Paula Terry at the beginning sounds just a touch like one of the Wario Ware voices? COME ON, LET’S GO! In any case, she’s not adding anything to 40/100. Tatsh & Naoki / Red Zone Oh lord. Cross B4U, Dynamite Rave, and Drop The Bomb, and you get Red Zone. Here’s why I hate Naoki, folks: Because we’ve had all these previous songs drilled into our head, the newer songs don’t have anything that really sound distinctive because he can’t come up with anything newer to do. Kiss of death: The vocalist says “Speed Rave” at least twice. 40/100. Kohta / Resonate 1794 Whoever at Konami keeps putting years in the song titles need to get shot. This is more renaissance-y than AA, but what’s with the plane taking off noises? 60/100. DJ Tomo / Rok Da World The guitar riff feels stolen from KMFDM, and the vocal sample feels stolen from Ferry Corsten. But it’s not really a bad thing, it’s just not a great thing. 55/100. DJ Swan / Secret Of Love Holy crap DJ Swan is back. This is a little less drum’n'bass than Gentle Stress was, but the melody is reminiscent enough. Not as good as I would hope (I was a huge Gentle Stress fan), but still good. 67/100. Y&Co. / Speedy Cat True story: Y&Co wrote this about dj BTNS. He can already AAA it. Anyhow, Y&Co is very hit and miss, and after hitting with Daisuke, unfortunately they miss by a bit here. 44/100. Tatsh feat. K.Nayuki / Sphere Another cross between trance-ish stuff and medieval music. If you slapped this, A, Resonate 1794, North, and No.13 in a course, I would not complain. Decent stuff, this. 63/100. DJ Setup / Spiral Galaxy Setup is channeling L.E.D. on this one, as I’m being reminded of Hyper Boundary Gate a bit. This is a good, fast moving sort of trance – looming, a little evil (really enjoying the string stabs), and fun to listen to. 70/100. Slake / Texture Another song that’s going to divide the Bemani community in two. To those that dig Slake, they’re going to find a funky shuffle-beat sleaze masterpiece. To those that can’t stand him, this will be a choppily sampled mish-mash that they just don’t understand. I find myself again back in the first group. 75/100. Twin AmadeuS / Wonder Bullfighter When I saw this on the location test lists, after how nuts I went over Frozen Atmosphere, this became the song I was most curious about. I have not been disappointed; the string melody is still there, but this time there’s scratching – and more pronounced drums. I get the feeling I’ll like this even more on the OST, but for now, 80/100. 大桟橋 / ウッ�?ーズ The first half is a ballad. I cannot stand the first half. But right at the middle, it picks up, and turns actually pretty good. The bass line is reminiscent of Take On Me, and the vocals become substantially better with this behind it. So I’m torn on how to grade this, but I will cautiously go 60/100. Naoki feat. 星野�?�? / 太陽～T・A・I・Y・O～ Another Naoki trance-with-female-jpop-vocals. Oh and THERE’S the fucking Naoki trademarked do-Do-do-Do-DOO! Thank god, for a minute I almost didn’t have a problem with this song! Songs like this make me wish DDR games were still being produced so Naoki would stop crapping up IIDX with them. 42/100. Osamu Kubota / 惑 Osamu, Osamu, Osamu, what the fuck is this? There are portions in here I really dig, but there are also portions in here I’m just not understanding at all. I realize this is supposed to be “Asian Crossover”, but what is it crossing from or to? Lush instruments makes for at least a 50/100.
Top 5: Click Again D.A.N.C.E.!! Wonder Bullfighter EVO66 Injection Of Love Bottom 5: Ki-Se-Ki Red Zone Raspberry Heart (English Version) Fly Away To India ~T A I Y O~ Overall thoughts: Pleasantly surprising, and instantly a more likeable collection of songs than 10th had. Based on how the OST turns out, and the hidden songs we haven’t heard yet, this could supplant my current favorite IIDX style. But we shall see.
Preface: As we wind down the clock towards what is going to undoubtedly be the most insane election that I’ve been alive for, I keep hoping I’m going to find the inspiration to write some epic post, grasping onto some new perspective on what’s going to transpire this week, and enlighten a handful of people as to something or other.
The realist in me knows this will never happen; so instead I set out to make a new iTunes mix of potential music for Tuesday. I don’t know what really qualifies as “election music”, to be fair.
The interesting thing that happened was that as I saw the track list growing, there were two distinct – and opposing – threads of songs I was picking. One was the traditional high-energy our-party-is-going-to-kick-their-asses sort of music. The other had a much more apathetic, god-I-hope-this-insanity-ends-soon feeling to it. This makes sense, as my brain is currently split both ways and while I will be voting and rallying Tuesday night, I keep hoping the country may go back to being less insane.
So with that in mind, I present you with not one, but two mixes. Tracks are in no particular order. If you need the name of the album I’ve pulled it from, I’d be happy to provide it.
The “We Will Win” Mix:
Wanderlust – Hold On, by The Wordsmiths
Tomorrow Never Knows (UNKLE Sounds Edit), by The Beatles
Vietnow, by Rage Against The Machine
3030, by Deltron
Callin’ Out, by Lyrics Born
Battle Without Honor or Humanity #3, by Tomoyasu Hotei
Holy Calamity (Bear Witness II), by Handsome Boy Modeling School
Are You A Visionary, by The Kleptones
No More Subliminal Shit, by Peace Division
Know Your Enemy, by Hybrid
Claustrophobic Sting, by The Prodigy
D.I.Y., by KMFDM
Counting Down the Hours, by Ted Leo
Boss Attacks (Remix), by Coldcut & Tim Bran
March Of The Pigs, by Nine Inch Nails
Choice (Sasha Remix), by Orbital
Clear Your Mind, by TaQ
Ten Below Blazing, by m-flo
Dirt, by Death In Vegas
A Day At The Races, by Jurassic 5
Be Careful What You Say, by Groove Armada
The “Please Let This Election Be Over Without A Civil War” Mix:
Politics In America, by Bill Hicks
Is It Wicked Not To Care?, by Belle & Sebastian
America Is Not The World, by Morrissey
The World’s Gone Mad, by Handsome Boy Modeling School
Don’t Blow Your Top, by KMFDM
Intolerance, by Tool
I Should Be Allowed To Think, by They Might Be Giants
Play Nice Kids, by 65daysofstatic
Painkiller – Kill the Pain (DJ Shadow Vs. Depeche Mode), by Depeche Mode
No Way Back, by Fat Jon
Two Points For Honesty, by Guster
Panic Attack, by U.N.K.L.E.
Mad World (Stefan’s Journey Into), by Gary Jules
Impact USA (The Earth Is Burning: Diversion), by Orbital
There’s a Better Place!, by Crazy Penis
Sad But True, by Orbital
You Can’t Go Home Again, by DJ Shadow
The State Of The Union, by Thievery Corporation
Ceremony, by New Order
American Way, by The Crystal Method
I’ve apparently found an (unsurprisingly) undocumented change to iTunes 4.7; it neuters the iPodDownload plugin from WildBits. It appears to be a device-level block; no resource twiddling on the plugin seems to have made a difference. As such, if you value your iPodDownload capabilities (as I did at work, as it was quite handy to move things onto my work machine), I highly recommend sticking with 4.6.
Six days until the election, and everybody’s heard about the bird, about the word about the bird. Mirror of Quicktime Movie. Via ven, that crazy baldie.
(Link goes to a local mirror of the 20MB DivX AVI of Ashlee Simpson’s performance on SNL. Faced with a dangerous lip sync track that she wasn’t expecting, she responded by…doing a jig. Then blamed it on the band.)
A lot of noise has been made over the past few weeks about “podcasting”, which is essentially automated downloading of audioblog posts via a syndicated feed. There are some that are trying to label it as the Next Big Thing in internet communication – and ignoring all my complaints about the process (not user friendly, lack of engaging content, not enough hours in the day to listen to all the streams, unnecessary bandwidth usage), I think there’s something else that’s becoming more engaging: ad-hoc peer to peer trading of media in nearly real-time. Now, this is not completely new. Amusing videos of fuckups on television or other media have been traded online for ages. What’s matured are the methods and the quality. The time gap between the infamous Nipple Seen Round The World at the Super Bowl and when hi-resolution pictures and/or video were available online was roughly 5 minutes. Jon Stewart’s Crossfire appearance was downloaded – we’re talking just counted downloads – by more people than the number who actually watch Crossfire. To a smaller extent, similar swarming happened when President Bush claimed during the third debate to have never said he wasn’t concerned about Osama Bin Laden – before the debate had even ended, video proving he had said just that was making the rounds. The above Ashlee Simpson clip has appeared online, and will spread virally, getting mirrored and having its quality increase as time progresses. (The clip I’m mirroring is actually the third version I saw.) NBC had to shut down their bulletin boards temporarily (and apparently edited the West Coast broadcast of SNL, which is only providing fodder for people to distribute it further); Simpson’s own boards have turned into a war zone. What we’re beginning to see is effectively an online flash mob with a purpose other than just performance art. Here there is a targeted payload, a specific file or event that is being transmitted. Adding to the newness of this movement – and one thing that may boggle the minds of those who are brain-locked about what p2p is – is that everything is being doing with existing protocols. The actual movement of files is being done by BitTorrent, HTTP, FTP, or streaming media servers. The notification – letting people know it exists and why they should care – is handled by blogs, IRC, link farms such as del.icio.us, and message boards. Because this is occurring with ordinary internet protocols, there is no barrier to entry. Anyone can spread the word (as I’m doing here). Anyone can mirror (again, natch) or provide their bandwidth for seeding a torrent. Again, none of this is anything new – it’s been going on for years. But this dynamic, ad-hoc, viral peer-to-peer media distribution seems to be rapidly supplanting “traditional” peer-to-peer services like Limewire or Kazaa, at least for materials that can be shared via Fair Use. With no single source of control or limiting factor, it’s the best sort of decentralized system: thousands and thousands of independent agents working together to achieve one goal. Even if that goal is laughing at talentless hacks like Ashlee Simpson or Tucker Carlson.
Since moving to NYC, one of the minor changes I’ve gone through is the change in bagel preference. Living in Ithaca, one gets very used to the Upstate-style bagel; thick, heavy, doughy, fairly chewy. New York City bagels, of course, are thinner, wider, lighter, and a little less doughy. Everyone sells bagels, and they are cheap and filling.
When we place a Fresh Direct order for groceries, we always tend to order a six-pack of bagels and some cream cheese, for the occasional time I want to eat breakfast. The ones that are delivered meet all of the above criteria for a NYC bagel, and also keep very well in the freezer. Strangely, though, it is impossible for me to prepare myself one without having a minor aneurism.
Why this intense pain in the head? On the packaging, the slogan and product name meld together one of the most mind-boggling sentences in human history since “If it weren’t for my horse, I never would have spent that extra year on college.”
The pitch reads:
BAGELS AREN’T BAGELS UNLESS THEY’RE JUST BAGELS.
Just Bagels, of course, is the name of the product. Still, even knowing this, I am forced to read this as: Instances of object X aren’t instance of object X unless they’re simply instances of object X.
Is this a blow against fancy things, maybe? Are they implying that were a bagel all spruced up with fancy seeds and flavorings, that it would stop being a bagel and turn into some other sort of bread foodstuff, such as a bialy? But they sell six varieties, including Just Bagels Everything. Surely that’s not just a bagel, as the combination of poppy and sesame and onion and garlic disqualifies one from saying it’s just a bagel.
Perhaps they’re speaking to the moral sense of the bagels – a sort of superhero bagel, upholding the standards and beliefs of our fair city. I would find this hard to believe, as they do not seem to have any superpowers to resist my desire to eat them, nor do I gain the ability to fly by eating them.
(At this point in the entry, I’m looking at the dictionary definitions for just in hopes of deciphering further. I would appreciate it if someone called for professional help.)
How about “by a narrow margin, barely”? That doesn’t speak well to the product, though, if it only squeaks by the qualification charts for what constitutes a bagel. Ignoring the disqualification of bagels conforming better to the specification, this throws us into even more mental anguish as we are judging the conformance of a bagel on whether or not it conforms to the state of the bagel.
One final possibility is that they are using “just” as a variant on joust. Perhaps these bagels ride into battle and try to knock each other over when…
Needless to say, this is why I often just go out to eat.
I was digging through my archives today when I ran across some entries from July of last year, slightly before we were even considering moving here. We were in town for the last Macworld Expo held at the Javits, and it was the trip during which we learned how to use the subway. Sure, we were merely going all of two or three stops on the same line every time, but hey, it was huge progress over when we were taxi-stricken. A year and change later, and the subway is so firmly entrenched in my life that I feel strangely out of place riding in cars. I spent nine months nailing a very specific route down – which car to get on in the morning so I’d get off at Times Square right by the stairs, which path down to the 7 line to take for maximum efficiency, which stairwell would put me in front of which car so I’d be in front of which gate at the 23rd St. stop to minimize the commute – it was very specific, and very nerdy. Now with the Cornell Medical School job, it’s slightly depressing that I now spend less time on the subway every morning than I do walking to and from it. I’m still finding tricks and shortcuts, and getting frustrated when others can’t pick up on them as well. (Example: 68th & Lexington. If you see a train has just let off and one side of the turnstiles are flooded with people exiting, go to the other side to swipe through. Don’t try to play chicken in the turnstiles.) I’ll admit, I am a little sentimental about the subway. It’s one of the few unifying experiences for 99% of the city. Regardless of where you work or live, which lines you frequent or what times you ride, we all share the pain and occasional joy. We grow dependent on the familiarities of the subway to keep our bearings after long days – in a constantly moving city, it relentlessly stays the same. The same conductors, ranging from overly enthusiastic to drunkenly incomprehensible; the same half-talented buskers, who either slaughter our favorites or; the same bums who insist they’ve been off drugs for the past n months and if we don’t have change, a smile will do. Ads for events of months prior and Dr. Z and his AMAZING NEW FRUIT ACID PEELS!; scratchiti on the windows that invokes deja vu; the unintentionally hilarious spanish injury lawyer ads with the phone number 1-800-MARGARITA. The teeth grinding when there’s a long delay in train movement; the little cheer of joy when we hear the train we’re on is going express and it would not cause us to miss our stop; the grumbling rush for the door when it would. The emotional outpouring tonight is caused by the frightening regularity of news stories detailing possible back-to-back fare hikes and service cuts over the next two years by the MTA. We’re looking at a 20% increase in monthly Metrocard fares – after an 11% increase last year. 164 token booths would close, cleaning schedules would be slashed, bus service would be reduced. And most amazing of all? Even after rates go up and service decreases, it would have to happen again in 2006, by even more. When I was living upstate, I felt that our area was economically deprived by the state in favor of the city – all the school districts had to constantly raise property taxes to balance out budget cuts from Albany. Now living in the city, I see that one portion of the state isn’t being favored over the other – it’s that neither are getting what they need. This is from a state government that year after year fails to get a budget passed in a timely manner. As I currently pay federal, state, and city level income taxes, is it that unreasonable to expect some of that money to go towards the one municipal system I actually use?
At 5:15 tonight, I found myself standing outside the Museum of Television and Radio waiting for three people.
One was my lovely wife, Katie.
This seemingly random meeting was spawned by somewhat random chances. Originally, Katie had asked that I pick up two extra tickets for coworkers of hers that wanted to go, and of course could not make it. After trying in vain to find someone at work who watches the Office, I noticed a post from Jen about the event at the MTR. I took a shot in the dark, and somehow it worked out. Adam came along for the ride.
Order of arrival was Adam, Jen, and Katie. Adam and Jen offered to go hold seats for us, which was quite noble and kind. The screening was quite packed by 6:20 (the main auditorium, plus three closed circuit rooms, were sold out), and it’s definitely a different experience watching The Office in a room full of people. The uncomfortable scenes get less uncomfortable, and it’s easier to laugh at things. This is not a bad thing.
After the screening, Ricky sat down for the Q&A, which mostly went off without a hitch. My recap follows, although it should be noted that if you haven’t seen the special yet, there may be some mild spoilers. Alternately, Adam was sneaky enough to record the thing on his camera, and while it’s a bit muffled in some portions, you can grab the MP3 from me (64kbps VBR, 33:04, 8.1 MB) and certainly make out some parts I didn’t transcribe.
I’m sure Jen will have her recap up soon as well. Jen has her write-up and a picture posted.
Regarding The Creative Process
Each entire season was written in one block, and re-edited to add seeds to ideas they came up with later, before they shot anything. Casting lasted a year, and the fact that the show seems so real (and not scripted) is a testament to the actors in the program.
Lots of gags were thrown out over the years due to a desire to maintain realism. In terms of a moral balance, Ricky feels that the bad outweighs the good, but as anyone who sees the Special can attest to, he who laughs last does indeed laugh the longest.
One of the hardest points, apparently, was that they had to be “hyper-real”, and couldn’t cheat on some things like regular documentaries do. The Slough Tourism Board apparently tried to convince the BBC that “Slough has really changed a lot” before the second season started taping; Ricky and Stephen refused to bend the script at all, unsurprisingly.
Regarding Other Characters On The Office
Gareth was originally going to be a large, beefy military type, and Tim was originally going to be a large, Norm-from-Cheers style character. Both characters were somewhat rewritten when Mackenzie and Martin (respectively) came in for the parts.
The only character that Ricky did not write – and it ended up being his favorite – was that of Keith. Ewan apparently ad libbed the deadpan delivery and they just ended up writing more and more for him.
Gareth’s haircut was given to him entirely to make him look like a prat. Mackenzie, unfortunately, got married a little too close to the end of filming the second season, and was married with that haircut. Poor guy.
The character of Carol (seen only in the special) had to be worked on a lot, because in the words of Stephen Merchant, “Who would go out with a fat git like you, Gervais?” In terms of the morning after, Ricky could only guess that she called and said “Sorry, I was on drugs.”
Regarding The US Version Of The Office
Ricky confessed to not being terribly involved in the US version. This is due to part of what his original plan for The Office was – he wanted people to be able to go “That’s my office!” in the UK. Since he hasn’t worked in an office in the US, he admits he doesn’t know what he would need to input to make that happen here.
He said the pilot is quite good, and it’s a very close remake to the UK version – but is quickly diverging into their own story lines. He says the US version is for the 249,000,000 people who didn’t see the original version and would be viewing it “without prejudice”.
Ricky is glad that they did not name the boss David Brent, but he did not specifically ask for them to change it. It would have been too confusing, apparently.
And the answer to the question we were all wondering: The US equivilent of Slough is Scranton, PA. So completely spot on…
Regarding His Next Project
The next Merchant/Gervais project is known as Extra. The main character – and I’m not clear on whether or not it would be played by Gervais – is an extra who thinks he should be a leading actor. He is very unlike David Brent – very self-aware and angry, like a “dissatisfied Socrates”. A misanthrope who cna’t keep his mouth shut, he is apparently angry that De Niro is getting all his parts.
It won’t be a documentary-style ala The Office, but it will still be a very natural sort of comedy. Stephen Merchant is the only person from the Office team that will be coming along to Extra; it is currently planned through two six-episode seasons, and may stretch to three, but definitely not four.
Regarding His Influences
Laurel and Hardy was referenced a lot, and Ricky says all his influences have a lot of heart behind their comedy. “Heart first, comedy second” is a sort of personal motto, and I think it shows in his work.
Gervais also claims to be able to cry at both The Waltons and The Simpsons (which he called “the greatest comedy on TV”). He adds, “Maybe I’m a bit of a sissy.”
He truly enjoys working on television shows, and being part of the common conciousness. Being talked about the next day, or “making a date” to watch a show is a big deal for him.
Regarding The Longevity Of The Office
Season 2 was never meant to be the final end of the season – a special was always planned. However, the special is explicitly the end; it was always planned to be somewhat cinematic and “an event”.
Regarding Side Projects
Ricky still hasn’t watched himself on Alias yet, as he cannot fathom seeing himself “being cool”. He adds that in the scene where Victor Garber strangles him to death and then tells Sydney to get the defibrillator, he cracked up at least five seperate times at the word “defibrillator”, until Garber actually threatened to kill him if he blew another scene.
There are no plans to release a David Brent full length album, but he did enjoy writing the songs. He also revealed that a full band version of Free Love On The Free Love Freeway will be on the Office Special DVD, coming out this November in the US.
He also had a fantastic idea for a new reality TV show: You would gather all the “D-list” celebrities that have come to be through reality TV shows, you put them all in a house together for 10 weeks, and then when they come out, you tell them that you didn’t tape any of it.
Regarding People Who Confuse Him For David Brent
“People who think I’m the real David Brent are the same people who send wreaths to soap stars that die.”
So that was about it. I’d like to thank the MTR for being hospitible as always; to Jen and Adam – both complete sweethearts, two people I hope that I can get to know better – for making the evening even better; and to Ricky for being a good sport, even without giving autographs. And no thanks to the Crazy Microphone Woman, who screeched at one person to WAIT FOR THE MICROPHONE, even though he was perfectly audible to the entire audience.
The Digital Life expo this weekend was the fifth time in the last 5 years I’ve been to the Javits Convention Center, and the thing that always strikes me about the building is the giant glass-and-metal roof when you’re not in the convention hall.
I really like the way this photo came out, with minimal tweaking. There’s a 1600×1200 version on Flickr, of course.