Cuddly Kenny Everett

Posted Friday, December 31, 2010, 11:40 AM

A few days ago it was Kenny Everett's birthday. Who? Surely you know Cuddly Ken, he of the Kenny Everett Video Show? I grew up watching his subverted comedy in the 70s and 80s. He was the perfect transition, filling the gap between Monty Python and the Goon Show I consumed in the 70s, and the anarchic Comic Strip and The Young Ones I was influenced by in the 80s.

He started out his career in Radio, pioneering Pirate Radio, an independent radio movement that escaped the censorship rules of the BBC. He became friends with the Beatles right in the midst of their peak, and their surreal period influenced his move into TV.

Wacky use of rapid fire sound effects recording, Quantel video tricks, silly sketches like Captain Kremmen, and his amazing audio trickery singing in fantastic bouncy harmonies with himself.

TV characters like biker Sid Snot, punk Gizzard Puke, complaining hypocrite Angry of Mayfair, preacher Brother Lee Love, soft porn star Cupid Stunt, and French pervert Marcel Wave are embedded in my memory, and every so often I'll launch into their catch phrases. He is a part of pop culture, almost like no other.

Here are two of his most famous sketches. The Instant Bee Gees Kit, and the Barbra Streisand sketch.

He was gay, though he didn't publicly disclose this until late in his life. Sadly, he contracted HIV, and died in 1989 of an AIDS-related illness.

It seems to me that he is a perfect choice for a bio pic to be made of his life. He was part of so many important pop cultural touchstones, from Pirate Radio, to Beatles, to TV technology, to coming out as gay and contracting AIDS. There's a hell of a story in there.

And who should play him? There is only one possible choice. David Tennant.

I mean look at this. They're practically twins. Stick a beard on him and you're sweet. Even Tennant's english accent is a close match, he'd just have to twang it into Kenny's subtle Liverpudlian, which shouldn't be hard.

Do it, David! You know you want to!

Bridge to the Stars

Posted Saturday, December 4, 2010, 8:09 PM

I was looking at an image of a fantastic new mega-camera that will be installed on the Blanco Telescope at Chile's Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, and was marvelling at the bright attractive colours. It wasn't that long ago that everything technological was white or silver or grey, and now they are deliberately building complex machinery in bright colours.

It occurred to me that the garish 60s colour scheme found in the original series of Star Trek's Enterprise now may not be so out of place as it was looking for so long. Yes, it's still very dated, but stylistically it wouldn't necessarily be as out there as we might have expected when we were living through the Space Shuttle-oriented functional style of Science Fiction of the 80s, and the beige casual style of the 90s. We're now widely adopting the iPod-style of the 2000s, which may subsequently evolve into a colourful candy-coated style of the 2010s. Certainly I see many cars are starting to move away from the whites, silvers, and bronzes of recent times, into bright greens, yellows, and reds, so I think it's inevitable that this will spill into other electronics.

But the Enterprise style still looks cardboard and studio-bound. It definitely needs a spruce up if it was to be realistically adapted into a style that would actually be utilised in a spacecraft. Big boxy desks and chunky platforms would not be likely, and would need some softening and practical adjustments to be useful.

So I was thinking about that idea, on how you might want to adapt the bridge into a more modern styling, while still maintaining the original series palate and sensibility. After looking around online to see if anyone else had done that first, and not finding anything, I decided to do it myself. I would make a 3D model of the original Enterprise bridge and then use that as a template to update all of it into something sleek and modern but still very familiar.

The first thing I changed was the control panels, moving them from chunky desks to flat iPad-style touchscreens. This lent itself well for all the displays, including the wallscreens around the circumference and the display monitors.

I added a second turbolift door, to balance the symmetry of the bridge's layout, though it could just as easily lead to a different room instead, such as a conference room or the Captain's ready-room.

Then I made the Captain's chair into something slimmer and more flexible, while still maintaining the same dimensions and location, overlooking the Conn.

The railings around the central pit could be thinned down to bars, instead of the ugly thick wood of the original set, and shifted around to give a clearway from the turbolift to the Captain's chair. I also added an extra display panel on the railings for access convenience.

In the end, I'm not sure how much of an improvement it is. It is just as likely to appear dated in fifteen years as the original bridge does, but it is, I think, more in keeping with the future of technology and is somewhat more logically arranged, if not strictly speaking as interesting to shoot (the clearway to the lift doors does make areas in the frame feel empty).

Overall, though, it's not bad for a first pass.