Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Persistence of Memory

I was practicing memory today before I was fully awake (I'm turning into a very late riser just recently - with not working, I seem to be shifting into a 25-hour day pattern and not getting tired until later and later at night), and getting on quite well - slightly slower than my best times in memorising, but recall much closer to 100% than usual without needing to think about it. After finishing with numbers and binary, I had a go at some speed cards, and only as I got to the end of the pack did I get a slight sense of deja vu. The last six cards were two fives, two sevens and two tens, and I thought to myself "didn't I memorise another pack a while ago that ended like that?"

Thinking back over the past minute or so, I suddenly realised that I'd picked up the pack of cards from the pile on the right-hand corner of my desk, where I keep the cards I've used in previous memorising sessions but haven't got round to shuffling yet, rather than the pile on the left of shuffled and ready-to-memorise packs. How can I remember the sequence of a pack of cards without too much effort, but forget an instinctive thing like picking up the pack from the left side (which is how I've ALWAYS kept my cards)?

Makes me wonder if I've done that before without even noticing it. As a side-effect of learning to memorise cards, I've developed the ability to instantly forget them after I don't need to recall them any more (so that I can reuse the mental journey they were on), and it was only that distinctive run of cards right at the end that rang a bell. Perhaps I'm actually just a big giant fraud, and whenever I think I've memorised a pack of cards in training, it was actually just the same pack over and over again.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Go stop

Neopets have just added their version of godori to their extensive library of games. It's one of those games that I've heard of before but never played, but there's something insanely addictive about it. I think I might have a gambling problem.

Neopets, all in all, is an amazingly good website - the only website I know that has its own functioning economy, although there are probably plenty of others out there somewhere. But Neopets is so overwhelmingly vast, unashamedly cute and unexpectedly clever that I can spend hours or days on end wandering around it when I'm in the mood. The rest of the time I neglect my poor pets, of course, and feel terribly guilty about it.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Clip show

It's nearly the end of the year. There's nothing on telly but shows about what's happened in 2006, nothing in the blogosphere but posts about what people have posted about in 2006, and on top of this I've spent the day writing emails, writing an article for the British Othello Federation newsletter that I suddenly remembered promising to write, not writing my book, and writing a big blog post tonight seems like more tap-tapping of keys than my fingers can cope with.

So in the spirit of doing something a bit different, here's something I found while dredging the depths of my huge cardboard box that contains all my important paperwork, looking for my CIMA registration number. It's an exciting story that I wrote on a particularly boring long plane journey a long time ago, and at first I thought it might be a good idea to type it up and put it on the blog. Then I realised that that would be even more work than actually writing a big long blog post, so I thought it would be even better to scan it and post it in that way. Hope it's more or less legible. I can read it, but then I'm used to my handwriting. There should be more handwritten blogs, don't you think?

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Piper of poppy

I've just been watching "The Ruby In The Smoke" on BBC1. It was very well done, but there's just too much plot in the Philip Pullman book for a 90-minute TV adaptation. Even having read the book, it was hard to keep track of what was going on on screen. What happened to the days when the BBC would make this kind of book into six half-hour episodes or more, and show it as a serial? That kind of treatment would work much better for the Sally Lockhart books, because we need a bit of downtime here and there to show her, for example, settling in with the Garlands and becoming part of the family and business. To cram everything into the feature-length adaptation, they had to cut out all the scenes that didn't have a direct bearing on the multiple intertwined plot threads.

That said, Billie Piper was surprisingly brilliant as Sally. I really have to get over my prejudice against her, I know, but when I first heard about it I thought something along the lines of 'tchoh, why do the BBC insist on believing she can pass for a teenager?' And she very nearly did, this time! Not just from the makeup, but her acting too. I was impressed. The makeup was a bit excessive in one case at least - David Harewood plays both Bedwell twins, and yet they didn't look anything like each other, despite what the script said. And it was an interesting decision to cast black actors in a couple of parts, at least one of whom is required by the plot to blend in with the people in the Victorian London streets - but then, historical accuracy tends to just get in the way if you take it too seriously, and they never get it entirely right however hard they try.

I'm looking forward to the others - apparently they're planning to do at least the other two Sally books, which has to be a good thing. And here's another claim to fame of mine - Philip Pullman, before he was famous, was my good friend Fat Andy's English teacher. Apparently he was really great, too. Perhaps if I'd had him instead of Mrs Slater, my own writing career might not have been quite so entirely unsuccessful...

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Big black horse and a cherry tree

I love that song. I wanted to come up with a good excuse to use it as a blog title, but couldn't, so I decided to just let it be a non sequitur. Anyway, Christmas is over, the goose is getting digested, penny for the thoughts under the famous black hat? Well, I've got Plans for what I'm going to do with my time from now on. Maybe not quite big enough Plans to really merit the capital P, but I like to make things sound important. I've got a proper schedule of book-writing, memory-training, working on this memory performance, learning to play that darn piano, things like that. I've got another TV producer to talk to, and I'll make an effort to see that this one goes somewhere. All in all, I want to make sure I'm busy enough to justify not working. If I ever confess here that I've been doing nothing all day, everyone reading this has to shout at me.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Absent friends

I'm really going to miss my dad phoning at the crack of dawn tomorrow morning, incoherently drunk already, to wish me a happy Christmas.

Hope everyone out there in internet land and beyond has a magical day! Happy Christmas, merry wishbone, happy Holiday, pleasant Festivus, anything else you might care to celebrate, do it with style.