Friday, January 27, 2006

real things and that

There are times, late at night, when I start to wonder if I ever really am going to save the world, like I planned to when I was eleven. It's seeming less and less likely.

Initial 'get powers like Superman' plan had to be reluctantly abandoned, replaced by some vague concept to use this whole 'internet' thing to create a new kind of techno-socialism, hindered only by the fact that I'm still not entirely sure what socialism actually is. And my techno skills aren't up to much either, although I did recently mend the bathroom extractor fan with a paperclip, which I think I'm allowed to mention twice. Also I wandered past my friend's art gallery the other day, and they got me to change a light bulb for them (shop full of girls) which made me feel like a proper chap for a while, leading to me growling softly to myself and eating steak for some time afterwards.

But I digress. Turns out someone came up with this whole techno-socialism thing before me. In Chile. In the early seventies. And he was British. And he even gave it a cool name. Possibly the best bit is when they find a room full of telex machines bought by a previous government who clearly had no idea how to use them, and link them in, like in Scrapheap Challenge. Sadly, the CIA then helped General Pinochet smash the resulting Interesting Thing with hammers, but wow, what a brilliant film this would make.

Also, on an vaguely connected note, if anyone knows anything about early British film director Bert Haldane (other than is easily available on the web), can they let me know? He was my great grandfather, and while I only found out last year that I was related to a proper director, but was he the 1920's equivalent of Steven Soderbergh, or Uwe Boll? It's worrying me.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


More statues are going missing across the country with 'Increasing demand for copper behind theft'. They should be careful though. Clearly he's really really strong.

Or they're walking of their own accord. Even as we speak, giant Henry Moore statues are sitting quietly in museum coffee shops, wearing big-brimmed summer hats and discreetly sipping coffee.

You know that bit in news programs where they turn to a man in a suit for 'more details'? I could totally do that.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Lies and debauchery

Felinity asked 'Is your London full of fancy MeeJa types and rife with fairytale and glitz? Because I work in the MeeJa (not the fancy kind, alas) and live in London, and mine is much less fancy/crazy than the one you see.'

In comparison to other jobs I've had, which have involved me: having to fend off bisexual, drug-crazed truckers: getting covered in human blood and worse of all: working in a pot pourri factory, yes, it's quite tinsely.

This Saturday for example, I shared nachos with her off Hyperdrive, had my hair stroked by Michelle Gomez, bought/received a drink for/from a Vogue model (Rob), gave a birthday kiss to a Guardian columnist (Ori), and had an option taken out on the muji notebook scribblings.

On the other hand however, I'm more overdrawn than I've ever been in my life, mainly because I'm still waiting to be paid for the last three jobs I did (two of which were well before Christmas) while a tax bill that has accumulated from my first two years of writing part time before I had an accountant is now hoving into view like one of those big ships from Independence Day, blotting out increasingly South-Western landmarks the closer we get to the end of the month. Currently people in Exeter Cathedral are wondering why it's gone suddenly dark, and it's my fault.

So you can look at it as one of those swing/roundabout equations. Living in Cornwall does lend a pleasingly 'special outing' feel to my London trips though, hence the way I write about it.

If 'having an option taken out' sounds rather sinister by the way, as though ninjas are even now heading down on the sleeper train, dossiers filled with black and white surveillance photos of me with 'Caution! Subject trained in multiple swordplay techniques!*', what has actually happened is that An Quite Famous Producer (not Vic, she's old news now) gave me an amount of cash, measurable in english pounds, for an outline and the first few pages of an idea I had for a comedy/drama/thing. She then gets limited rights over it, one of which is that she can walk into commissioning editors' offices waving it about, without being thrown to the floor by security guards, which is what would happen if I tried it.

Options are a sort of investment in the writer - no guarantee that it will get anywhere of course, but it's great to have someone like your writing enough that they're willing to put money behind you. And in front of you. Also I have had a number of free glasses of wine and some cheese. And that ain't bad.

So it kind of is fairytaley and glitzty at the moment, but still my tax bill loometh. And if you remember your fairytales, the sort of gold you got given at those particular soirees had a nasty habit of turning into dry leaves in the morning, when you woke up under a tree with strange bruses down the left side of your body, your mobile phone filled with mud. So my advice is, eat the cheese while you can.

* Well, a couple of weeks of fencing and kendo, but it counts.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Streets paved with..... ewwww, frankly.

The time has come. The stars are right. This kind of planetary alignment may not come again for a thousand years.

And so, with only a sharpened stick and a laptop loaded with the best music videos of 2005* I must hie me briefly to London Town, where I shall meet Threshold Guardians (producers), Enter the Underworld (Tube) , encounter A Supernatural Helper with Mysterious Powers (agent), face my own Dark Shadow (early morning reflection in hotel mirror) and then nip back home with a Boon For My Community (hopefully, money to spend in Falmouth Tesco's).

And tales to tell, of course. 'Why, in the centre of London I saw a man, a-standing top a pillar, where he had been chased by lions and pigeons! I shouted at him to come down but he could not hear me!' That sort of thing. Rumours that I ran helter-skelter across London Road, terrified out of my wits by the belief that cars were 'angry metal rooms' will turn out to nonsense, thanks Richard.

Meanwhile, do check out they videos, they am all ace. Also, marvel at Latigo Flint's cattle calming song, and although it's unlikely, if anyone has any more local paper headlines as good as James's "Gay bishops could tear church apart"** - as James adds, presumably "with their BIG GAY HANDS", do let me know. I feel a Blue Cat christmas book coming on.

*The Chemical Brothers one is utterly bloody terrifying.

** Far too good to languish in the comments section of the previous post.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

'Dolphin Carnage'

Saddest imaginable local paper headline.

Unless of course it was the dolphins causing the carnage, stomping ashore in giant robot suits they had painstakingly constructed from kelp and pebbles, playing militaristic (yet oddly soothing) dolphin music whilst rending all the annoying humans limb from limb.

That would be fine.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Maybe I'll rub gravel on my elbows instead.

I was on Swanpool beach earlier, collecting sacks of seaweed for the garden as the sun shone low and surfers frollicked splashily before me.

In the immortal words of Yoda: what a pleasant way to spend a morning.

When I was quite young, I used to pour sand on my hair*, just for the pleasant sensation of rubbing one's scalp to get it all out again. If I'd thought of it at the time, I probably would have done it again, but alas, I've only just thought of it. I could go back, but it's a twenty-minute walk, and it's dark now. I'd end up looking completely insane.

*Like Patroclus does to her hair with chillies, in her dreams. It's Rub Things Into (Or Out Of) Your Hair Week in blogworld, I forgot to say.

Friday, January 13, 2006


By Danny Stack with a viral questionnaire*.

ONE (1) earliest film-related memory:

Watching Superman 3 (not 2, well spotted) at the age of eight, where, affected by Tarry Kryptonite, Grumpy Evil Superman is smashing bar bottles by using superstrength to flick peanuts. Upset and impressed me in equal measure.

TWO (2) favorite lines from movies:

Both bits really only make sense in the context of the film, but:

Bill Murray: I make it a rule never to sleep with possessed people. (beat) Well, it's really more of a guideline than a rule.... (Ghostbusters)

Minnie Driver: (affectionately) Psychopath.
John Cusack: (awkwardly) Don't... rush to judgement until all the facts are in. (Grosse Point Blank)

THREE (3) jobs you'd do if you could not work in the industry**:

Podium dancer.
Furniture designer.

FOUR (4) jobs you actually have held outside the industry:

Assembler of data-recording heads for the Turkish Underground (the transport system, not some form of political resistance, sadly).

Worker in a pot-pourri factory.

Wheeler of people into and out of operating theatres.

Holding Q&A's for authors in Canterbury Waterstone's. Bernard Cornwall - lovely man, Ruth Rendall - rather hard work, AS Byatt - sweet and funny, Barry McGuigananannn (used to be a boxer) once rang up about an event, and when I said it was sold out and we couldn't sell any more tickets as overpopulating the venue counted as a fire hazard, actually said 'Do you know who I am?'. I've always had a soft spot for him since, the cheeky little tinker.

THREE (3) book authors I like:

John Crowley (Little, Big, Aegypt)
Kim Newman (Anno Dracula)
Kate Atkinson (Emotionally Weird)

TWO (2) movies you'd like to remake or properties you'd like to adapt:

John Wyndham's 'The Kraken Wakes' (rights currently held by a grumpy man living in a bunker, apparently).

Gustav Meyrink's 'The Golem'. It hasn't dated well as a novel, but some of the images (the face of the golem appearing in a wall) are fantastically spookah.

ONE (1) screenwriter you think is underrated:

Daniel Waters

THREE (3) people I'm tagging to answer this meme next:

Um, Patroclus, I Go By Many Names, random acts of violets. Don't feel obliged though. And Igo's is friends-only, I think so no-one will know. Apart from me, as I'm down with the kids.***

* Not meme. Never that.
** Can't bring myself to call it the 'biz', I just can't.
*** Come on. Settle down.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Me ovarian shorn dry.

Maus Congeniality has a brave stab at decyphering Cocteau Twins lyrics, and writing as someone who once genuinely believed there was a Nine Inch Nails lyric that read 'My skin is baggy at the knees'*, I am most impressed.

On a similar note, here's Fellowship of the Ring captioned in World of Warcraft speak, which will make sense to approximately three people (via Screenhead)

And finally, best use of the word 'toink' in a webcomic.

* Apparently it was 'My skin is begging to be pleased', which is actually rubbish. Trent should have got me to vet his lyrics for him. I'd have sorted his hair out for him as well, but it's too late for that now.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Hurrah for telly!

Life On Mars was bloody bloody bloody bloody bloody excellent. Sadly my critical faculties go out of the window when I really like something, so that's as detailed an analysis as you're likely to get, but I'd encourage everyone to watch this. Proper grown-up telly, first UK thing for ages that I would happily hold up against the best US stuff.

I'm slightly biased because the main bird on it looks like that Zooey Deschanel of whom I thoroughly approve, but even taking that into account, it was great. Thank blimey for that, I was starting to think I just didn't get telly any more.*

And that was after an hour of Richard Dawkins going up to hectoring religious types and saying 'yes, but that's bollocks, isn't it?', which was enormously enjoyable. Not so much as exponent of the Louis Theroux 'hang them with their own petard' school of interviewing (opening an interview with a conservative christian US evangalist with 'ooh it's a bit Nuremburg Rally' was entertaining, but not that productive) and I'd like to see a proper dialogue with the more thoughtful end of religiosity next week, but still, most interesting.

UPDATE: Agreed - the american man had scary lips. But not as scary/impressive as the lego church.

* I don't mean reception, although I still can't get Channel 5, but never mind. Bygones.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

I think he said 'vulva'

Slightly odd dream last night in which I went for a meeting with a particularly grumpy Hugh Laurie*, who asked me lots of trick questions while I sat on a chair which had annoyingly short legs.

I mention this only because today, the ever-reliable Twitchfilm have news of the release of the first in a series of four 'A bit of Fry and Laurie DVD's'. Closer inspection reveals that these are Region 2 only, and I can find no details of plans for a Region 1 release. Fortunately however I am a Neuromancer-style techno-jenyus and have hacked my cheapo DVD player into taking all regions, and it's quite cheap to order stuff from the States anyway, what with the dollar being a bit low, as it's no longer based on science.

UPDATE: Patroclus has pointed out that that the UK is in Region 2, and that I am, in fact, a dur-brain.

My friend Matt has the sketch on video where Stephen Fry does a deliberately bad joke about politicians having no heart (or something), where Hugh Laurie looks on, dressed as a nurse, eyes boggling with fury. I'm only allowed to watch it once a year, for medical reasons. Anyway, when that DVD comes IN REGION 2 WHICH IS WHERE I LIVE, OBVIOUSLY, I can make that high-pitched keening sound all year round. My flatmate will be delighted.

* And I've never even seen 'House', but the posters are everywhere.

Thursday, January 05, 2006


I've just got back from seeing 'King Kong'. There was a brilliant moment when just after a very emotional scene (if you've seen it, it's that bit where Kong makes the gesture you've been waiting approximately one and a half hours for) the biplanes suddenly turn up, ruining everything, and the whole cinema went 'Tch', which I thought was the most British response imaginable, and left me welling with pride at my nation's marvellous capacity for understatement.


Just finished fourth draft of Cabinet, and given up proper coffee as I was getting palpitations. Hence:

Why does no-one want to do comedy in period costumes any more? Whenever anyone sends out a call for spec sketches for whatever ghastly fricking sketch show format is the rage this Tuesday, it's all 'contemporary settings' this and 'up to the minute' that.

Well stick contemporary up your bollocks, as a great Irish philosopher once said. Wearing olive green t-shirts and making jokes about ipods is already soooo ten minutes ago. I want people dressing up in silly costumes and arsing about with actual jokes, and talking in accents not their own. Like Big Train, that was ace. Jokes about the Boer War and Lord Palmerstone, that's what I want to hear.

Also, Jimmy Carr = twatfuckery of the worst order. It wasn't even a funny joke*. I don't like his suits either, he looks like someone who pimps jockeys. I think he and David Walliams share the same cold dead eyes, which they plucked from the cadaver of a shark which washed up on one of their country estates, using them to take turns scanning a great pile of various newspapers' media sections for jobs with the Daily Mail of the nineteen thirties.

* Unless the joke was about male gypsies having an astonishing sense of smell, in which case it was pleasingly surreal, and I apologise unreservedly.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

second draft

Just had some notes back on the first draft of an episode of I've been writing for a new children's animated show (unnamed, obviously).

Note reads: 'Make it less gay please'.

Annoyingly, the rampant gayosity to which they're objecting comes from my inclusion of a previous notes from one of the other producers, who wanted one of the minor characters to say something, well, really quite camp. I thought this was funny and put it in. And now I'm taking it out again, with a mental image of all the people in the office shaking their heads and saying 'I don't know where that came from, honestly, he's not right, it's probably all those pasties.'

This weird variation on Chinese Whispers happens a lot in children's telly, where there are usually at least three people taking turns to poke the writer with a stick, but often not actually talking to each other. I sometimes wonder if I could recreate the scene from that Sidney Sheldon mini series about a conwoman with a dimply chin (that wasn't the title) where she goes on a cruiseship and challenges two chess grand masters at the same time, then plays them off against each other by running from room to room, so they are effectively up against each other, and then they both claim a draw, which she's betted on heavily, or something, I forget the details.

If only I could perfect this technique, and apply it to the world of scriptwriting, I could rapidly become a millionaire and take over the world. But it does rely upon locking any spectators in a room until the whole thing has finished, and then making an escape in a speedboat, wearing a party dress, and I've lost my speedboat.

Other things I've had to take out of scripts for children's telly:

A humorous chase scene across wet cement.
Dramatic climaxes involving people tied to chairs.
A fight between a giant robot library and a sentient carpark.
My concept for a Tim Burton-style series about evil aliens called The HellieTubbies (like the obvious children's characters, only with stitches for eyes and foot-long claws). Apparently this would be The Most Sue-able Children's series ever.
A chainsaw fight.

The odd thing is, it's only the last one where I thought 'hmm.. not sure I'm going to get away with this...'