Sunday, December 06, 2009

London Underground's Inspector Sands

Something I've come across several times in London, but never remembered to look up afterwards - the sort of experience I suspect the iPhone is ushering into history, along with the pub quiz and bothering to describe individual music videos - is the announcement for Inspector Sands.

It goes out over the Underground tannoy system, in a style seemingly calculated for maximum creepiness: a very loud, obviously pre-recorded loop of a well-spoken lady saying "Would Inspector Sands, please report to the operations room, immediately." It stands out a mile from the resigned, heavily-accented service updates you usually get, and runs on a permanent loop reminiscent of the "Base will destruct in X minutes" warnings at the end of 1970's Bond films.

It's very obviously a coded warning, but I've never seen anybody, staff or otherwise, pay the slightest attention to it. I'd secretly hoped this made it more secret and exciting, but now I discover that it's just a fire alarm warning and not a very important one at that. An alleged TFL worker in the comments says that it's just a first-stage warning - it's not until two separate fire alarms are triggered that it steps up to the more obviously significant "please evacuate this station immediately". As such, it's recommended that if you do ever find a fire, be sure to trip two alarms because nobody will take it too seriously otherwise.

UPDATE: The inestimable John Walker points out that this has been spoofed to good effect by Mitchell & Webb, and has posted the clips on his site.

Other tips: the "please evacuate" drill is used any time they want people to bugger off, so don't panic too much if you ever hear it, and "if you need to stop an oncoming train, hold both hands over your head while looking at the driver." The commenter helpfully advises not to stand in front of a train while doing so. All handy tips for urban living.

In other vaguely-related news, this is pretty awesome: Arriving at my home tube station late last night I was greete... on Twitpic

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Four Things Overheard At A Left 4 Dead Wedding

Wedding cake, over here!
You may vomit on the bride
You have startled the mother-in-law!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Four Cocktails Named For Left 4 Dead

The Boomer Bile
The Lazy Smoker
The Flaming Hunter
The Rage Quit

UPDATE: Because I am in a position to indulge daft whims like this, OXM actually tapped up a cocktail waiter to create a series of gaming cocktails. Remember, kids, you can do this sort of thing too if you grow up to work in media.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


I'm a big fan of Twitter, these days. This isn't the reason, but it could have been.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Monkey Dies

A snappy shorthand for commercial reality is recorded in the often-interesting, occasionally-wrong blog of Keith Boesky: why publishers don't want film licences, particularly King Kong.

"This is exactly the kind of things you said you are looking for. You have two and a half years until the release of the film, the budget is fixed and large and the promotion will be huge."

"Doesn't sound like us. We need big franchises."

"What's bigger than Kong with the director coming off Lord of the Rings?"

"Something with a fixed release 2 years out, guaranteed marketing budget in excess of USD 80 million and guaranteed sequels."

"Wow, that's a tall order. King Kong is kind of unusual though, is it worth an exception."

"No, can't commit. The monkey dies."

Small wonder that Flash minigames are more de rigueur for marketing purposes at present.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Interview Technique

This made me smile: The Onion's Nathan Rabin points out an old interview in which Amy Heckerling makes the mistake that interviewees should never, ever make:

AH: Did you see the movie?

O: Yes, I did.

AH: Did you like it?

O: [Pauses; makes "don't ask me that question" gesture.] Um... There were parts about it that I liked. There were things I liked about it. [Note: This is a lie. —ed.] And it was short. You know? Really short. Only, like, 83 minutes.

I usually do better in these circumstances, although otherwise I'm a terrible interviewer. I've always known this, and have been reminded this week by other people transcribing interviews I have done pausing occasionally to look at me with quizzical, sad expressions at the nonsense I am putting to the luminaries of the games industry.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008