Rocketcat

With apologies to Reginald Dwight

[Timothy the Talking Cat] You see? You see? I totally tricked you.
[Camestros Felapton] Hmmm
[Tim] You thought we were going to go and see Godzilla but we actually went to see Rocketman.
[CF] That’s OK. I enjoyed the film.
[Tim] But admit that I totally tricked you.
[CF] OK, you totally tricked me despite the local cinema not currently showing Godzilla and despite the posters all around town advertising the Bortsworth RSPCA Movie Gala and Dress Your Companion Animal Like Elton John Competition and despite the movie tickets that you made me print out saying ‘Rocketman’.
[Tim] Yes, but I wrote ‘Godzilla’ over the top of them.
[CF] Technically you wrote ‘Globzila’ and it was in purple crayon.
[Tim] Prank of the decade.
[CF] You don’t think I might have guessed when you insisted that I make you a sequinned jumpsuit with ‘Elton’ written on the back and that we set out to the film with you wearing giant spectacles and that you sang ‘Crocodile Rock’ all the way there?
[Tim] Nope, you were totally fooled and I made you watch a rock star biopic which is a genre you utterly hate,
[CF] Not at all. I enjoyed Bohemian Rhapsody.
[Tim] If you enjoyed it so much, why didn’t you take me along.
[CF] I feel like that question answers itself.
[Tim] I love Queen.
[CF] You love THE Queen of England…and also the only bit of any of their songs you ever sing is ‘Bismillah No!’
[Tim] It’s the best bit.
[CF] Which you like to sing to the tune of ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’
[Tim] I just feel that once they had found the best possible lyric that they should have stuck with it.
[CF] Luckily for popular culture they ignored your advice.
[Tim] I’ll concede that music lyrics is one aspect of the written arts to which I have not yet stooped to conquer.
[CF] To the relief of music audiences everywhere.
[Tim] Which only goes to show that you are the Bernie Taupin in this relationship and that I am the Elton John.
[CF] As in I have to write everything you say?
[Tim] As in you are just an imaginary aspect of my personality. An manifestation of my inner introvert, who appears to me in hallucinations because I’m just so amazing that parts of my subconscious manifest themselves as guiding spirits.
[CF] I…you know Bernie Taupin is a real person right?
[Tim] Oh you silly man. That was just a movie. I’ve explained the difference to you before.
[CF] No, I explained the difference about fact & fiction to you. Taupin is a real person, he really did write the lyrics to most of Elton John’s most famous songs and they have had a lifelong collaboration.
[Tim] Look that is not what the film showed. Taupin was just a magical plot device to reveal Elton’s inner dialogue with himself. It’s like that film where a gladiator hires Tony Stark’s butler.
[CF] What? Oh…OK…you mean A Beautiful Mind?
[Tim] Exactly! Taupin isn’t meant to be REAL. That would just be ridiculous. What? He magically writes lyrics that somehow match the exact emotions of Elton John’s character throughout his whole life even for bits before they met and when he wasn’t there?
[CF] That’s not…OK, yes that is sort of how the film works but that’s just a device to mix the music into the plot.
[Tim] You said it was all real!
[CF] No, I just said Bernie Taupin is a real person! The film itself was fictionalised.
[Tim] I think it was a documentary. They couldn’t just say that Elton John has anti-gravity powers AND can shoot rockets out of his feet. That would be slander!
[CF] That’s not how slander works. I really liked the blend of fantasy and reality.
[Tim] You mean like the spooky Bernie Taupin character?
[CF] No, once again, he’s real. I mean the dance sequences, that surreal rendition of Rocketman at the bottom of a swimming pool, the way songs are matched to the scene rather than the time period they were written — those things are fictionalised. And that’s good. I like the fantastical element to the film. It was appropriate for the genre and for Elton John as a character
[Tim] SEX DRUGS AND ROCK ROLL!
[CF] Well that and the other pop-music biopic cliches. The troubled childhood, moments loaded with a sense of destiny, the stress of sudden success, the emotionally manipulative manager; that’s all mandatory as is the rise, fall and recover plot structure.
[Tim] Aha! As I said. You actually hate these kinds of movies and I can quote you. “They tend to cliches, a life-is-fate perspective and mawkish sentimentality while trivialising mental health issues with a vouyeuristic puritanism that wallows in both depicting and condemning excess”.
[CF] I don’t remember saying that.
[Tim] I found it in your subconscious. I was looking for dark secrets to blackmail you with.
[CF] Well, I mean that’s all partly true of the film but it would be absurd to look at Elton John’s life in that period without it being about a rise and fall, as well as looking at his sexuality and his lifestyle. However, the film centres on a friendship between two men who just work really well together and bring out the best each other even when Elton John’s life is going off the rails in multiple ways.
[Tim] You mean the way it focuses on his imaginary friend Bernie Taupin?
[CF] Who is not remotely imaginary and who is an actual real living person.
[Tim] So not like you then?
[CF] I am NOT a figment of your imagination.
[Tim] I hope you don’t mind, I hope you don’t mind that I put down in words, how fictional you are when you’re in my world…

Poster colour schemes

Paul Weimer retweeted an interesting picture:

The article he links to is really interesting. It looks how digital colour effects in film have led to the dominance of a “teal and orange” colour scheme that is visually appealing and yet unnatural.

The accompanying Tweet shows how that same colour pairing keeps appearing on movie posters. It’s not universal, for example the Avengers: Endgame uses a lot more purple than teal/blue even though it is of a similar “all the characters at different sizes” style of image. Even so, the visual similarity between the three posters in the tweet is remarkable once you see it — particularly given they are quite different films. A more extreme example, with slightly different tones:

Orange tends to be a bit bigger and the blues a bit smaller. The style usually has orange to the left and blue to the right. I think the basic template is like this:

The colours don’t quite look right as they average between bright highlights and very dark shadows. Also the figures give more shape. Changing all that to some coloured blurry blobs gives me this poster:

The most ambitious crossover event of the century

Note quite right but closer to the general effect. I’ll keep trying so I can get the style right.

Potato Crisp Magic System

I do like an over elaborate fantasy magic system where powers (and the characters of the people deploying them) are tied to some other phenomenon or system of classification. Of course elements and colours and everything has been done but what about…potato crisp (aka chip) flavours? No, I thought not.

I’ve found many articles on crisps and crisp flavours but not a good one that is simple timeline of the classic UK flavours of potato crisps specifically (i.e. not including flavours of other related snack foods like pickled onion monster munch). The emphasis is either the early history or on novelty flavours.

In the UK the colour coding of packet to flavour is an issue also. There are canonical colours but infamously one of the biggest manufacturers of crisps in the UK, Walkers, use non-standard colours. The colours in Australia are different as well and in some cases I can no longer remember.

So I’m going off my shaky recall of what I think is canon circa late 1970s England.

Salted (or to be precise “Ready Salted”) is the ur-flavour and the basis of all other variants. Historically, the flavour approach had an immediate schism. Cheese & Onion was devised by Taytos in Ireland and Smiths responded with Salt & Vinegar. The names indicate the two approaches to crisp flavours (and related snacks in general:

  • Condiment themed: the flavour is named after a substance, sauce or ingredient that you might add to cooked potatoes. The name should be read literally. “Salt & Vinegar” are crisps with salt & vinegar added to their surface.
  • Meal themed: the flavour is named after some other food that is typically eaten as a core part of a meal or is the actual name of a dish. The progenitor “cheese & onion” implies a sandwich filling. The more exotic “prawn cocktail” is a specific dish.

Beef flavour and BBQ flavour represent a subset of flavours that include other variants such as “Oxo” and “Bovril” flavours. The core flavour is pretty much the same but it crosses the condiment/meal boundary and hence is more ecumenical in this scheme.

What powers go with which?

  • Meal themed powers relate to powers of illusion, deception and control. There is an emphasis on controlling farm animals (hence chicken) or even wild animals (such as the long running hedgehog flavour crisps)
  • Condiment themed powers relate to elemental and alchemic actions. There is an emphasis on single or paired core flavours that are stated directly. Heat (chillies, pepper), acid (lime, vinegar), mineral (salt) are key elemental aspects.
  • Liminal flavours cross boundaries. The BBQ/Beef subset is a clear one but “sour cream” style flavours present a similar taste to cheese & onion but are closer in theme to adding condiments.

As can be seen from reality, the system allows for infinite variation without ever actually doing anything very different…just like lots of fantasy magic systems!

An anthology map

This is a second attempt at something. I’ve playing with Gephi, a tool for visualising network topology such as social networks. I’d originally attempted a kind of social network of authors in the wider Hugo related kefuffles based on book collaborations, writing in the same series and anthologies (e.g. John Scalzi has written with John Ringo who has written with Larry Correia who has written with Sarah Hoyt etc). However, I hadn’t thought through how to get the data together in a sensible way or in a way that would help me keep track.

With some lessons learned, I’ve started a more sustainable mapping. This time I’ve stuck with anthologies and kept the anthologies as nodes along with authors. For data this time, I’ve used some anthologies connected with recent discussion about 20booksto50K and related authors. I should add this is NOT a map of authors in that group! It is just a few anthologies that either some of the works we discussed appeared or had some authors in common. There’s no deeper message here as it’s just a bunch of anthologies I picked out without any real methodology. I also didn’t distinguish between authors of a story, editors of an anthology, illustrators or other contributors. The names are just what Amazon gave me with a bit of tidying up for name variations. Just proof of concept stuff but I thought people might be interested.

Elite commentary provides an Elite style star map