Friday, 28 November 2008

Oh Frabjous Day, Caloo Calay!


While searching for myself on the web (Shut up. I know you all do it too.) I discovered that if you Google Shed of Delights. (Small fanfare please.) Out of the 1,100,000 results. My blog is the number one hit. “Top of the page Ma”. The same is true for AltaVista, Yahoo, and Ask.com. (But not on MSN, the b*st*rds.) Could I please have a WOO followed by a HOO. Or if you prefer it, a YAY and a HAY.

Is this what fame feels like? I expected it to be more, tingly.

But what this means is that mine is the most delightful shed on the net. (Shut up. Yes it is.) And that means I have a reason to have cake, and possibly beer. And none of this is the slightest bit sad or desperate. (Shut up. Shut up. Shut up.)

See You Soon.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Strange Beauty.

While I was…erm…doing some research…yes let’s call it research. I found the website of Argentinian artist Leonardo Solaas. What I was most taken by was a piece of java code that goes by the name of Dreamlines. What the artist himself says about this work is:

“Dreamlines is a non-linear, interactive visual experience. The user enters one or more words that define the subject of a dream he would like to dream. The system looks in the Web for images related to those words, and takes them as input to generate an ambiguous painting, in perpetual change, where elements fuse into one another, in a process analogous to memory and free association.”

All you have to do is type in a few words, the software surfs the net for a few pictures and then does something magical with them. Try it yourself, it is oddly compelling watching. I spent about an hour sat in-front of my laptop watching this thing and as my title says, it is strangely beautiful. I may start drawing this way.

Sometimes the images appear quite clear and sometimes they look a little like my migraine. Here are a few of my dreams (yes I was dreaming about the Tango). Try some of your own. Enjoy yourselves.


See you soon.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Six Word Memoir.

Inspired by Laura's Memoir on a Postcard I decided to have a go myself. Six words is my kind of word count. Here is the Guardian link so that you can have a go. And here is my effort.


See you soon.

Napoleon Complex

The Napoleon Complex was a theory put forward by Austrian psychologist Alfred Adler. He suggested that short men overcompensate for their lack of height by being more aggressive, and trying to take over the world and stuff. Hitler was about 5ft 7ins, Stalin was 5ft 4ins this would seem to support Adler’s theory.

The problem with this theory (apart from being a load of old cack) is that Napoleon wasn’t short. He was about average height for 18th century France.

The confusion about his height comes from it being recorded that he was 5ft 2ins tall. However this was a French measurement and not the same as British feet and inches. It translates to about 5ft 6ins, which at the time was average. But the 5ft 2ins thing stuck and forevermore Napoleon will be known as a diminutive French general\emperor.

What this means is that you don’t have to be short to want to take over the world, and I can carry on with building my legion of giant mechanical scorpions.

See you soon.

Friday, 31 October 2008

Some Halloween sillieness.


MASH IT UP





And for those of you with more refined tastes.




I like Halloween because it’s the only night of the year that I can go out, without fear of being chased into a burning windmill by an angry mob.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Song Meme.

I was challenged to a song meme by Sheikspear and very belatedly here is my answer:

“Find a song that sums up what you think it means to be a writer and post the lyrics on your blog and why you've chosen it. NB: It doesn't have to be your favourite song, it just has to express how you feel about writing and/or being a writer. It can be literal, metaphorical, about a particular form or aspect of writing - whatever you want. Then tag 5 others to do the same (reprint these instructions).”

I thought about the things like “My Way” (The Sid Vicious version naturally). “Doing it my way” with most people is just something you say. With me it’s a borderline psychotic compulsion. But it seemed a bit obvious, so I didn’t go for that.

Then I thought about Natalie Imbruglia for a while. But Rachael told me off, so I had to start thinking about music again.

I stopped thinking about what it meant to be a writer, and I started thinking more about what I do with my ideas and do to my characters.

Then came up that great anthem for depressives and over-writers alike The Rolling Stones track “Paint it Black”. This was much closer to what I was looking for. But wasn’t quite right.

I considered a number of songs by “The Doors”. I very nearly plumped for:

“The End”

“This is the end
Beautiful friend
This is the end
My only friend, the end

Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
Ill never look into your eyes...again.”

And,

“Five to One”:

“Five to one, baby, one in five,
No one here gets out alive.”

But in the end I decided to go for… Drum roll please… “HURT” written by Trent Reznor of “Nine Inch Nails”. But I am choosing the version performed by Johnny Cash because however powerful and moving the song is when performed by NIN. It takes on a whole new resonance and level of emotion when you add 70 years of pain, sorrow and regret. And when you watch the video you can see that The Man in Black knows what every word in this song means, because he has lived it.

I chose this song because it most closely expresses what I do to my characters. I cripple them physically and emotionally. I tear their worlds apart and leave them without hope and broken. I am the destroyer of lives.

HURT

I hurt myself today
to see if I still feel
I focus on the pain
the only thing that's real
the needle tears a hole
the old familiar sting
try to kill it all away
but I remember everything
what have I become?
my sweetest friend
everyone I know
goes away in the end
and you could have it all
my empire of dirt

I will let you down
I will make you hurt

I wear this crown of thorns
upon my liar's chair
full of broken thoughts
I cannot repair
beneath the stains of time
the feelings disappear
you are someone else
I am still right here

what have I become?
my sweetest friend
everyone I know
goes away in the end
and you could have it all
my empire of dirt

I will let you down
I will make you hurt

if I could start again
a million miles away
I would keep myself
I would find a way

Please watch the video to the end because it is one of the most moving things you will ever see.

VIDEO LINK

If all this seems rather depressing to you, imagine what it’s like to live in my head all the bloody time.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Fluffy

This Week in the Shed.

Hi readers. How are you both?

It’s the end of the week and time for a blog post and a music change. The music in the side bar is meant to be for your enjoyment. So if you have any requests as to which music you would like to listen to while reading please feel free to let me know. Just give me the artist and which three or four tracks you would like to hear. No guarantees that the chosen tracks will be available, but I will see what I can do.

While surfing the blogsphere I discovered on ‘Stephen Fry’s blog’ that ‘Laptop Machines’ is an anagram of ‘Apple Macintosh’. Coincidence? Almost certainly, but I so want to believe that it was on purpose. Because I like the idea that for all these years somebody might have been pulling our collective chain. Like the HAL, IBM thing in 2001 that was ‘apparently’ a complete coincidence.

And while I am on the subject of famous people's blogs. Last night I was reading ‘Ricky Gervais… Obviously’. It struck me as odd that in the new ‘Retro Cuts’ section. Ricky himself has posted YouTube links to clips of his old shows, which were posted on YouTube by other people. They nick bits of Ricky’s shows upload them to share with their eight friends, then Ricky comes along and tells hundreds (nay thousands) more people that they are there.

“Look, look. This cheeky bugger is infringing my copyright. Oooh, it is a very funny bit though.”

All this tells me three things.

1/ Just like the rest of us Ricky Gervais spends his time Googling his own name.

2/ Just like the rest of us Ricky Gervais is too lazy to upload his own clips to YouTube.

3/ Most blogs, social networking and video sharing sites are almost completely filled with references and links to other blogs, social networking and video sharing sites. I have a growing suspicion that if you take all these references away, the few letters you have left will spell out the secret name of god or “All work and no beer makes Homer go something something...”

On a different note, back in June I made reference to a low budget British film ‘The Waiting Room’. At that time the rights to the film were in the process of being sold, and some of the site was inaccessible. I popped there again last night and am pleased to announce that the site is fully working again, including a trailer and behind the scenes documentary.
On the writing front. On ‘Potdoll’s blog’ a few days back I was reading with interest her reply to a meme about how she ‘plans’ to write a new project. This got me thinking, and what I realised is that I don’t have a particular way of writing. This may be why most of my ideas never get past the notes on scraps of paper stage.

After doing some Googling and then spending a few days modifying. I think I now have a more formal step by step work plan. And since over the weekend I had what I think is quite a good idea. I have started to put the plan to the test.

Step one is just about gathering notes, putting down any odd bits of banter and doing research. It was doing this early research last night that threw up a problem with my main character's motivation. This morning however I think I have solved that problem and have adjusted my notes.

First I wrote a quick idea for the story, about a paragraph. Then I started putting down any ideas I’d had for plot, characters, dialogue etc. Putting everything down on paper instead of leaving it all percolating in my head like I usually do. Most of the dialogue I put in the notes probably won’t make it to the script. But it all helps get the story and characters sorted in my mind.

As I get more ideas I’ll put those down too. Doing any quick research as I go. Some of the ideas already conflict with each other. But at this stage that isn’t a problem. The notes will be full of ‘maybe if’ and ‘either, or’. The important thing is to force myself to work on paper instead of in my head.

I am starting to get quite a good feel for who the main characters are. I’m not doing any detailed work on the characters yet, that comes a little later. When I’ve lived with them for a while.
I will keep you informed as to how I’m doing, as and when I have anything to report.


So what have you been doing this week?

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Gustav Klimt.

Back in June ‘The Culture Show’ did an item on the upcoming Gustav Klimt exhibition at ‘The Tate Liverpool’. This was a cause of some excitement to me as it was possibly a once in a lifetime opportunity to see a collection of this size by one of my favourite artists. Fortunately for me Rachael is a fan of his work too, so we booked the tickets online and headed for Liverpool on Friday.
I have spent quite a lot of time in various art galleries throughout my life. During my teenage years a tour of the local galleries was what constituted a good day out. I wasn’t an art student or anything. I just love art galleries. And I have in that time spent quite a while looking like a pillock staring at various works of art. But I don’t think I have ever stood before any piece of work for so long as I did on Friday. There is almost too much to look at and too much to try and take in.

Most of the paintings in this collection are very well known and would be familiar to everybody. It was a strange feeling to be stood in front of a piece that I felt I knew well, and still be surprised by it.

I never realised how three-dimensional some of the paintings are, you just don’t get any sense of that from a photograph. There is a portrait of Eugenia Primavesi in the collection that if you look ‘here’ you can see that the paint has been applied quite thickly. But close to you can see it is so thick that it could have been laid on using fingers and thumbs.


The landscapes came as a surprise too. No photograph of these works can do them justice. Their scale alone makes them impressive. Usually all you get to see are portions of these paintings. In the flesh they are huge canvases filled with colour and depth. Sadly they were all too large to slip one up my jumper.

The exhibition covers work throughout the artist’s life, and demonstrates well the eclectic and varied nature of the man and of his work. So disparate was his style that it is hard to imagine some of the pieces being made by the same hand. Most artist’s work changes and evolves over their lifetimes, and their growth as an artist can be plotted by the flavour of their work.

What is unusual about Klimt is that he continued to work in these varied styles throughout his career. Changing from symbolism to a more impressionistic style and back again seemingly without any difficulty at all. Even mixing very different styles within a single piece.

If you look at his golden phase pieces you can see his very different styles all within the same work. From accomplished and highly detailed features of the faces to the bold and even naïve looking surroundings. These contrasts of style are what give Klimt’s work its haunting dreamlike quality.



I have a particular fondness for his sketches. Simple, fluid line drawings. They have a lightness of touch and a freeness of form and movement that is stunning. In all of Klimt’s work his love of women is evident but it is in his sketches that I find the truest expression of simple beauty. Although it has to be said that the erotic nature of some of the sketches is not to everybody’s taste.
The centrepiece of the exhibition has to be a recreation of the ‘Beethoven Frieze’. Sadly it’s not the original, which is in ‘The Secession Building’ in Vienna. But that does not detract from the scale, power and awe-inspiring majesty of the 34 metre long piece. This was contributed by Klimt for the The Secessionists 14th Exhibition. Unbelievably it was intended to be destroyed when the exhibition finished.

I was slightly disappointed that ‘The Kiss’ was not part of the collection. This is also in Vienna. But it doesn’t seem right to dwell on the glass being half empty when the half that was full, blew me away.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Train or Die.

There are three things which we all know to be unavoidable truths:

1/ We will all grow old and die, no matter how much plastic surgery and pro-biotic yoghurt we partake of.

2/ The taxman will find you, will get your calculation wrong and will bill you for recalculating it.

3/ One day sooner or later the world will be overrun by zombie hordes.

The first two I can’t help you with, the third however you can be better prepared for. It is to that end that I am directing you to some online training resources. Using these exercises you will learn important lessons in small arms handling, hand to hand combat and use of that most underused close quarters anti-zombie weapon, the 12inch LP record. Good training. Good hunting. Good luck.

Firstly we have my favourite training exercise.

DEANIMATOR
Use your mouse to aim and fire and use shift to change weapons.

Based on H.P.Lovecraft’s training manual “Reanimator” which you can read HERE.

Learn to defend your base with:

ZOMBIE HORDE

THE ENDLESS ZOMBIE RAMPAGE

Experience realistic battle with:

PROJECT VALIDUS

Learn to command your zombie hit squads with:

AUTUMN WAR

Documentaries with their own online training exercises:

DAWN OF THE DEAD See “Blackout”.
SHAUN OF THE DEAD See “Don’t mess with my pint”.

Unless the zombie hordes arrive, I’ll see you soon.

UPDATE:

I apologise for giving anybody the impression that there is any kind of dreadful inevitability that the world will be overrun with zombies. I should point out that it is just as likely to be vampires or possibly werewolves.

Friday, 4 July 2008

Movie Recommendations.

Nid de guêpes (The Nest).

Some good guys and some bad guys are stuck inside a warehouse, along with some good guys from outside who came inside, while some different bad guys outside try to get in. With me so far? The inside good guys the inside bad guys and the outside good guys who are now inside, have to team up inside to keep the outside bad guys out. While the outside bad guys try to get in to get an outside bad guy who is inside, out. Clear?

3 crews. One battle. No way out!

Unrelenting. Violent. Funny. Inventive. Outstanding. All action films should be this good.

IMDB Page



Trailer


Le Dîner de cons (The Dinner Game*).

A group of wealthy, intellectual snobs have regular dinner party competitions. The purpose of which is to see who can bring the best “idiot”.

Le Dîner de cons is beautifully written by Writer / Director Francis Veber (who based it on his own stage play) with enough twists and reversals to keep anybody happy. It is both delightfully funny and heartbreakingly sad, just as a good comedy should be.

IMDB Page

Link to the original stage play script (in French)



* “The Dinner Game” is the English international title according to IMDB. A better translation of the meaning would be “The Dinner for Idiots”. In France the word cons is used to refer to somebody as an idiot. Cons is also a rather vulgar word for the female genitalia. It’s used in the same way as we might call somebody a knob when they are being stupid. However “The Dinner for C**ts” doesn’t quite translate with the same meaning.





Lola Rennt (Run Lola Run).

Lola has 20 minutes to get 100,000 Deutschmarks to her idiot boyfriend Manni so that he doesn’t end up dead.

I don’t know how to adequately convey how much I love this film. I like the way the story is told using a non-linear* timeline. I like the animated sections. I even like the trancy dance music soundtrack. But what I really like is the very clever way it is written and the pace and energy that is sustained throughout the film. Love it. Love it. Love it. Love it. Love it. Love it. Love it.

IMDB Page



There are plenty of trailers of and music videos associated with Run Lola Run. Any of which I could have posted here, but for anybody who hasn’t seen the movie they all reveal too much

* I know some people struggle with non-linear structure, feeling that it pulls them out of the story. My brain must work upside down or something because I have no problem with it at all. I did watch quite a bit of Jean-Luc Godard when I was a teenager, maybe that permanently rewired my brain.


Now go away and watch something brilliant. See you soon.




Friday, 13 June 2008

Music Meme Thing.

Hi pop pickers. Sheiky challenged me to this music meme thingy. ‘Seven songs that are making my spring’. As I usually only listen to Jazz/Punk fusion played on the Tibetan nose flute and accompanied by the sound of one hand clapping, I had to find a young person to tell me the names of some popular beat combo’s. So here are seven ‘bangin’ ‘groovy’ ‘beats’ that don’t make my teeth ache.

1 - Like a Prayer – Mad'House
2 - Voodoo Child – Rogue Traders
3 - The Racing Rats – The Editors
4 - The Passenger – Iggy Pop
5 - Jean Genie – David Bowie
6 – Faster Kill Pussycat – Paul Oakenfold & Britany Murphy
7 - Beauty on the Fire – Natalie Imbruglia

I’m supposed to pass this on but everyone I know has already been hit.

See you soon.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Getting Stuff Wrong

OK a slight correction. According to this list there are 156 Target novels and not the 153 I'd said (never believe Wikipedia). But this list doesn’t seem to mention Slipback at all so that would make it 157. Confused?…So am I.

Anyway while I was surfing I did happen on the official site of cover artist Chris Achilleos. There are two Doctor Who gallery’s and lots of other good stuff to check out. See you soon.
UPDATE:
This is the list I'm using now, anything else I'm conting as 'extra'.
001 - The Abominable Snowmen
002 - The Android Invasion
003 - The Androids of Tara
004 - The Ark in Space
005 - The Armageddon Factor
006 - The Auton Invasion (Spearhead from Space)
007 - The Brain of Morbius
008 - Carnival of Monsters
009 - The Cave Monsters (The Silurians)
010 - The Claws of Axos
011 - The Creature from the Pit
012 - The Crusaders (The Crusade)
013 - The Curse of Peladon
014 - The Cybermen (The Moonbase)
015 - The Daemons
016 - The Daleks
017 - The Dalek Invasion of Earth
018 - Day of the Daleks
019 - The Deadly Assassin
020 - Death to the Daleks
021 - Destiny of the Daleks
022 - The Dinosaur Invasion (Invasion of the Dinosaurs)
023 - The Doomsday Weapon (Colony in Space)
024 - The Enemy of the World
025 - The Face of Evil
026 - Full Circle
027 - Genesis of the Daleks
028 - The Giant Robot (Robot)
029 - The Green Death
030 - The Hand of Fear
031 - The Horns of Nimon
032 - Horror of Fang Rock
033 - The Ice Warriors
034 - Image of the Fendahl
035 - The Invasion of Time
036 - The Invisible Enemy
037 - The Keeper of Traken
038 - The Keys of Marinus
039 - The Leisure Hive
040 - The Loch Ness Monster (Terror of the Zygons)
041 - Logopolis
042 - The Masque of Mandragora
043 - The Monster of Peladon
044 - The Mutants
045 - Nightmare of Eden
046 - Planet of the Daleks
047 - Planet of Evil
048 - Planet of the Spiders
049 - The Power of Kroll
050 - Pyramids of Mars
051 - Revenge of the Cybermen
052 - The Ribos Operation
053 - The Robots of Death
054 - The Sea Devils
055 - The Seeds of Doom
056 - The Sontaran Experiment
057 - The Space War (Frontier in Space)
058 - State of Decay
059 - The Stones of Blood
060 - The Sunmakers
061 - The Talons of Weng-Chiang
062 - The Tenth Planet
063 - Terror of the Autons
064 - The Three Doctors
065 - The Time Warrior
066 - Tomb of the Cybermen
067 - Underworld
068 - An Unearthly Child
069 - The Visitation
070 - The War Games
071 - Warrior's Gate
072 - The Web of Fear
073 - The Zarbi (The Web Planet)
074 - Time-Flight
075 - Meglos
076 - Castrovalva
077 - Four to Doomsday
078 - Earthshock
079 - Terminus
080 - Arc of Infinity
081 - The Five Doctors
082 - Mawdryn Undead
083 - Snakedance
084 - Kinda
085 - Enlightenment
086 - The Dominators
087 - Warriors of the Deep
088 - The Aztecs
089 - Inferno
090 - The Highlanders
091 - Frontios
092 - The Caves of Androzani
093 - Planet of Fire
094 - Marco Polo
095 - The Awakening
096 - The Mind of Evil
097 - The Myth Makers
098 - The Invasion
099 - The Krotons
100 - The Two Doctors
101 - The Gunfighters
102 - The Time Monster
103 - The Twin Dilemma
104 - Galaxy Four
105 - Timelash
106 - Vengeance on Varos
107 - The Mark of the Rani
108 - The King's Demons
109 - The Savages
110 - Fury from the Deep
111 - The Celestial Toymaker
112 - The Seeds of Death
113 - Black Orchid
114 - The Ark
115 - The Mind Robber
116 - The Faceless Ones
117 - The Space Museum
118 - The Sensorites
119 - The Reign of Terror
120 - The Romans
121 - The Ambassadors of Death
122 - The Massacre
123 - The Macra Terror
124 - The Rescue
125 - Terror of the Vervoids
126 - The Time Meddler
127 - The Mysterious Planet
128 - Time and the Rani
129 - The Underwater Menace
130 - The Wheel in Space
131 - The Ultimate Foe
132 - The Edge of Destruction
133 - The Smugglers
134 - Paradise Towers
135 - Delta and the Bannermen
136 - The War Machines
137 - Dragonfire
138 - Attack of the Cybermen
139 - Mindwarp
140 - The Chase
141 - The Daleks' Masterplan 1: Mission to the Unknown
142 - The Daleks' Masterplan 2: The Mutation of Time
143 - Silver Nemesis
144 - The Greatest Show in the Galaxy
145 - Planet of Giants
146 - The Happiness Patrol
147 - The Space Pirates
148 - Remembrance of the Daleks
149 - Ghost Light
150 - Survival
151 - Curse of Fenric
152 - Battlefield
153 - The Pescatons
154 - The Power of the Daleks
155 - The Evil of the Daleks
156 - The Paradise of Death

Doctor Who Target Novels

I have 62 of the 153 Target Novels.


(When I say “I”, I mean “WE” as Rachael is just as big a fan of these books as I am.)

After finding out that Rob Stickler and I were both collecting the old Doctor Who Target novels, and knowing that there must be more of you out there. I am issuing a general shout out to anybody else with a collection to let us know how it’s going. Put a quick post on your own blog and see if you can find any other collectors.

Between 1973 and 1991 Target printed 153 Doctor Who novels. The 152 numbered novels are based on the televised stories from the Doctor Who series. The extra book is Slipback which was based on a story broadcast on the radio and published by Target in the mid 80s.
Intended for children they are quick and easy to read, and great entertainment. It has to be said that the attraction of these books is as much to do with the illustrations and cover artwork, as it is to do with the stories themselves.

Collecting them all has for many people become a mini obsession. I’m not quite at that stage, but I have definitely been bitten by the bug. The way it usually happens is something like this. You have two or three old Doctor Who books knocking about the house from when you were a kid. You spot a few in a charity shop or at a car boot sale. And mostly out of nostalgia, but also because they are only 20p each you buy them. Then you start remembering how much you enjoyed them as a kid, and begin wishing you had a few more. Then comes the phase where you buy any one you see, because they are still quite cheep. Then one day when you realise you have half a shelf full, you start to fantasise about maybe one day having a complete set. Now you are lost!

This is the point I’m at now. My count is 62, so I’m not even over the brow of the hill yet. It’s on the other side of that hill that things start to get obsessive. You become happier to pay a little more to add to your collection. You start hunting out particular books, so that you can just get all of the Peter Davison’s. You buy a lot of six on eBay to get at the one you want. This is when you can easily end up with more spares than you actually have on your shelf. But it’s when the end is in sight and you only have a few left to get that people start to think of you as ODD. That is when you start considering paying £20.00 for a single book, or drive 100 miles to attend a book fair. This is when your wife divorces you, unless you are lucky enough to have a wife like mine.

Now when I’ve finished with these…there’s the script books, the new adventures, eighth doctor adventures, the new series books, the missing adventures, the previous doctor adventures, then onto the Telos books, short trips, companion adventures, and assorted spin off sets. Going to need a bigger house…

If you want to be really depressed about how few of these books you actually have, check out the check list here.

A fellow borderline obsessive has put together a video of Doctor Who novel covers. It’s nearly ten minutes long, so make a cup of tea, then sit back and enjoy. I deify you to not be dancing to the music by the end.


If you want to know more then these are the places to start.

Shillpages.

On Target.

Target Novelisation Wiki.



“I'm a time traveler I point and laugh at archaeologists”

Thursday, 5 June 2008

The Culture Show 03/06/08

Tuesday night’s Culture Show was packed with interesting stuff (IMHO). If you didn’t catch it then it’s repeated on Friday night, or watch on the BBCi player. Or you can even check out the video clips page for highlights of this and previous weeks shows. And if the video archive isn’t enough for you then you can always have a read of The Culture Show blog.

Karl Pilkington’s visit to the set of Ricky Gervais’s feature film was very funny. (There is an extra clip on The Culture Show homepage).

There was also an item about Gustav Klimt, I have always loved his work and we are hoping during the summer to make it to the Klimt exhibition at Tate Liverpool.

Also mentioned by Mark Kermode (as an antidote to “Sex in the City”) was the low budget British film “The Waiting Room” which looks like it could be good (what can I say I’m a soppy old romantic.) Some time between my checking the site last night and popping there again this morning, it has been announced that the film has sold to “Lionsgate UK” so congratulations to them.



Friday, 30 May 2008

I'm a Sinner.

Forgive me blogsphere for I have sinned. It's been two weeks since my last post, and I've been using tinternet for non-blog related things. I apologize, it won't happen again.





Have a good weekend.

"Yeah. That's a great plan, Walter. That's f*cking ingenious, if I understand it correctly. That's a Swiss f*cking watch."

Thursday, 15 May 2008

The Wicker Man.

I have been sitting on this post for a couple of weeks struggling with how to write it. What I wanted to say was why I liked The Wicker Man. Not from a technical angle, (characters, plot, directing, camera work etc) but from a much more subjective place. It’s quite easy to explain why a script is fantastic, or how cleverly the sound has been used in a film. It’s rather harder to express how it makes you feel, and even more difficult to explain why it makes you feel that way.

To my mind the technical aspects of The Wicker Man are all right. The script borders on poetry. The acting is measured to perfection. The plot seems to me to be paced right with no sense of it being rushed. I know who the characters are as soon as they are introduced. The story keeps me interested. It looks and sounds beautiful. All of which put together makes it a great film, but it’s how it makes me feel that keeps it in my favourites list.

Even after repeated viewings, it has lost non of its power or beauty and the ending is still a difficult and disturbing thing to watch. This I believe is because the character of Sergeant Howie is so well written, and so beautifully played, that you can’t help but respond to him on an emotional level. And when your emotions are being contrasted with the cold-blooded, matter-of-fact nature of the villagers, it becomes truly chilling. Even knowing beforehand what happens at the end of the film doesn’t stop me being any less affected emotionally by it. I think that is what this film does, it hits my artistic side and evokes an emotional response. In the way that looking at a beautiful painting does. I can see why it’s a great work, but it’s how it affects me inside that keeps me coming back to it.




“The Wicker Man is a highly unusual film.”


The quote above is taken from the official Wicker Man site and I think sums up the film as well as anything I’ve ever read. It’s a unique British thriller*, it’s a timeless cult classic and I love it.

*I’m pretty sure that nobody associated with making the film ever called it a horror. I think that label came from the company that was struggling with how to market it in the US. This is the same people who cut 15 minutes for no other reason than they felt it was too long.

Shafer’s screenplay was based on the novel “Ritual” by David Pinner. Good luck finding a copy, Amazon are advertising it (used) for £124.99.

One small point of trivia. The shots of Summerisle harbour and seafront featured in The Wicker Man were filmed on location in a village in Scotland called Plockton which was also used for Lochdubh in the TV series “Hamish Macbeth”


The YouTube video links.

Alex Cox ‘s introduction to “The Wicker Man” for the “Moviedrome” series.










The Wicker Man – Trailer. Just sorry I can’t post a link to the whole thing.










Christopher Lee talks about The Wicker Man during a press conference at Brussels Fantasy film festival in 2002.










Mark Kermode, Edward Woodward - Wicker Man Set Visit. The sound is not good on this clip, and the embedding has been disabled, so I’ve had to post a link.


The Web Links



The various versions of The Wicker Man. No look at The Wicker Man would be complete without a link to this site. As far as I know it’s the only site to set out in detail the differences between the three versions of the film. It also has a page with transcripts of scenes that it’s believed, were filmed, but not included in any release of the film.

The Wicker Man at ScreenOnline. As good a place as any (and better than most) for general details about the film.

The Official Wicker Man Site. Too much good stuff to list. But worthy of special note is a downloadable pdf version of the oft-quoted “Cinefantastique Article” from 1977. If you played the video above you will have heard Christopher Lee mention it. Sadly the photo galleries are down at the moment, but still an excellent site.

Paul Giovanni’s MySpase music page featuring four of the songs from the film. Including the excellent “Willow’s Song” and “Gentle Johnny”.


"Welcome, fool. You have come of your own free will to the appointed place. The game's over."

Friday, 9 May 2008

I invented it in Camberwell and it's shaped like a carrot.

This week the Radio 4 program “The Reunion” featured “Withnail and I”. Bruce Robinson, Richard E Grant, Paul McGann and Ralph Brown talk to Sue McGregor about filming, acting, drinking and carrots.

You can for the next couple of days listen again here.

Because it’s always possible that somebody may have had their head in a box for the past twenty years, here is the movie trailer.







PS.

Talking Shop: Neil Marshall

Neil Marshall talks about Doomsday. Warning: this interview contains plot spoilers.

On your MySpace site you list Carry on Screaming as one of your favourite films.
It's one of the greats. The first time I saw it I didn't know it was supposed to be a comedy. I was like five or six and it scared me rigid.”

That explains quite a bit. I had a similar experience with Carry on Screaming, it doesn’t seem to have affected me though. So if you will excuse me I need to go and recharge … “Frying tonight.”



"This place has become impossible. Nothing to eat, freezing cold and now a madman on the prowl outside with eels."

Friday, 2 May 2008

Shed of Books.

You might have noticed a new link on the right for my other shed “Shed of Books”. I found so many (possibly) useful books when I was doing the short films post that I wanted to do a link list of them. However the more I searched the more I found, so far I have 78. So many did I find that I needed to shift all the cardboard boxes into a new shed.

A few are written with raw beginners in mind some are meant for the more experienced and a couple are only there because I wanted to read them. Hope you find something useful.

I should probably point out that quite a few of the books are not complete and have one or two chapters unavailable. If nothing else you can treat it as a try before you buy service. I haven’t put many links up yet. I’ll be putting more up as and when I get a chance.

Oh and does anybody actually read the quotes at the bottom of my posts?


“They reckon you got concussion. Well I don’t give a tart’s furry cup if half your brains are falling out. You don’t ever waltz into my kingdom acting the king of the jungle.”

Thursday, 1 May 2008

A Delightful Evening at the Theatre.

Rachael is doing her own post about this so I’m going to keep mine short.

Last night for the first time “Paddling” a piece of Rachael’s work was performed live in front of a paying audience. It was my pleasure to be part of that audience and to see a piece I knew quite well on paper become something living and breathing on stage. The actors had fun with it and said later that they’d enjoyed doing it. The audience laughed in all the right places and it seemed to go down well. Proving what I’ve known all along about how well Rachael can write.

I regard it as part of my job as a husband to be encouraging and supportive. And I’m aware that sometimes compliments from me, (like those above) don’t carry the same weight as somebody else saying the same thing because “Well you have to say that, you’re my husband.” However last night there was a room full of people who didn’t “have to say that”, but apparently do agree with me.

I apologize for this but I wanted to say in public how proud I am of her as a writer and to be her husband. I hope that wasn’t too cringe making. (If you think this is bad just wait till she wins an Emmy/Bafta/Oscar.)

It’s nice to know that all my nagging about not spending too long in the blogsphere, sharpening pencils, playing Minesweeper etc isn’t going to waste.

Congratulations Rachael. From your number one fan.

A Warning About QuickPlot.

A while back (on the old blog) I recommended a piece of freeware called QuickPlot, a standalone outline structure planer. Well I hereby rescind my recommendation.

I have been using it for a short while to sort a play without any problems. However Rachael lost an entire outline plot for a feature when QuickPlot saved an empty file instead of the one with all her work.

This is not a unique occurrence, Google found somebody else that had suffered the same thing. Then when Rachael was sat next to me rebuilding the lost structure, it did it again. This bug is unpredictable and catastrophic. You won’t even know it’s happened until next time you open your saved file. If you are using this software please stop forthwith.

To be fair, this piece of software is no longer available for download from the official source. If you wanted it you had to hunt for it. Because it was available from so few sites, and because I believed it to be an extremely useful piece of software, I had already uploaded it to Rapidshare and was going to host it myself. The file has now been deleted.

I still maintain that outline planners are very useful. Not just for structuring a story, but also for getting down your initial ideas and showing you where your story is lacking. Anybody using one of the word processor’s aimed at writers will probably have this functionality built in, and an integrated system is much more useful than a standalone program. However using a ‘normal’ word processor which lacks this function, I found the small standalone program handy to use.

If you’re looking for a standalone program there is an alternative to QuickPlot it’s called TreePad Lite. The two pieces of software are quite similar they works in much the same way and they do much the same thing. QuickPlot came with a couple of templates built in, with TreePad you have to build from scratch, but that doesn’t take too long. The major difference between the two is that TreePad seems to be much more stable (so far).

While I’m here I would also like to recommend another piece of free (if you satisfy the free version usage terms) software called WordWeb. This is a dictionary and thesaurus that sits in your system tray and will work with pretty much any software that you write text in. It won’t replace your spellchecker, but it gives much more information than your spellchecker ever will. All you have to do is highlight a word and open WordWeb it will look the word up in it’s own dictionary, and if you tell it to on Wikipedia, Wiktionary and WordWeb Online. It even has speech built in so that you can hear the words. You can also write whole sentences in and get a Cylon to read them back. It can even be installed on a USB stick and operate from there without installing on the host machine, great for when you are not using your own computer.

Coming Soon.

Rachael and I have been test-driving a few of available word processor’s written with writers in mind, I will post our thoughts and impressions on how they compare when we’ve had a chance to play with them.


“Here…come…the drums!”

Friday, 18 April 2008

Mike Leigh on The One Show

Just a quick heads up to let you know that Mike Leigh is on “The One Show” today at 7pm on BBC1. If you miss it then it should be available to watch it on BBC iPlayer for the next six days. As mentioned in the previous post the excellent “A Sense Of History” written by Mike Leigh and staring Jim Broadbent is available to watch here Film4.


“I never meant to hurt anyone…..or help anyone.”

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Short Films.

This evening Rachael mentioned The BBC Film Network. She was going to recommend the site to somebody. So I surfed on over, after watching a couple of shorts on here, I did a general search on short films, looking for any that were free to watch online. We knew the “BBC” site had quite a few films, and I was pretty sure “Film 4” had some too. But I wanted to know if there were any more sites we could suggest. I found some sites that I haden't come across before. Rather than keep them to myself, I thought I’d share them. I’m just too generous.

The BBC Film Network. From serious drama to music videos, this probably the best short film resource on the net.

BritFilms TV. A site I wasn’t aware of until doing this search. Plenty of films on offer.

Film4. Has a few films, I’m sure there used to be more than this but I can’t find them. Still I can whole heatedly recommend the Mike Leigh penned “A Sense Of History” staring Jim Broadbent, and “Call Register” has some lovely dialogue.

Tiscali.Film & TV. Has over sixty short films, for you to enjoy.

YouTube. The problem with YouTube is finding the wheat with so much chaff. Have fun looking through the 216,000 results of a search on “short film”.

Here are a few writing/filmmaking books to read online that Google dug up.

Crafting Short Screenplays that Connect.

Making Short Films.

Making Short Films: The Complete Guide from Script to Screen.

Practical DV Filmmaking: A Step-by-step Guide for Beginners.

Producing and Directing the Short Film and Video.

Scriptwriting Updated: New and Conventional Ways of Writing for the Screen.

The Art of the Short Fiction Film: A Shot by Shot Study of Nine Modern Classics.

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Screenwriting.

Eight books and hundreds of short films....You can't say I never give you anything.


“My name is Lester Burnham. This is my neighborhood. This is my street. This...is my life. I'm forty-two years old. In less than a year, I'll be dead.”

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Writers Block???

A couple of nights ago, while trying to come up with an idea, Rachael sat with a blank pad in front of her. The only unusual thing in this was that the pad remained blank for quite some time, as she explains in her own post here. This was the first time in years that she’d been stumped for an idea, which is probably why I spent most of the evening on Google, doing searches like “writers block” and “random generators”.

I should point out that this is not exclusively a writer’s problem, as far as I know it’s something that is suffered by all creative people. I know that sometimes when I sit down to draw, pencil and paper at the ready, my mind empties. It should probably be called “Blank Page Mindset”.

As far as I understand it this mindset can be overcome by forcing your brain to work in a more random or abstract way. The brain never ‘truly’ works in a random way, but can be made to make associations that aren’t obvious or clear.

There are a number of ways to achieve this. Using visual prompts is one way, like quickly flicking through TV channels, or the pages of a magazine. No, watching telly and reading Hello don’t count. The hope is that it will get your brain used to jumping around so that ideas come from the randomness of it all and take you to unpredictable places.

Introducing somebody else’s random thoughts by using one of the random generators below can be useful at getting your brain juice flowing out of your fingers. I had several story ideas, just while gathering these links together. Don’t expect to write a literary classic based on a generator output, the random linking of ideas is what is important. Hit refresh a few times and see where it takes you.

Another way of dealing with it is to do “Morning Papers”. Just start writing any old stream of consciousness rubbish, partly to get your brain in the right gear, and partly to no longer have a blank page in front of you. Take a line from a newspaper or use one of the websites mentioned below to get you started. When you are up and running bin the first couple of pages. Don’t be tempted to bind up all your morning papers and send them off to a publisher. Although…..There are a few books I can think of…..

There are plenty of online random generators, most seem to be linked to TV shows like Stargate or Doctor Who, I’ve not included any of these. The ones I have gathered together are more general in output. I have put the sites in three groups. Inspiring, Useful and Just For Fun. Put a few in your bookmarks and next time you get stuck for an idea see if a little randomness helps.

Inspiring:
52 Comic Challenges.
Has a Random Plot Generator and 100 Story Seeds to get your inspirational juices flowing again.
Generated Plot Example:
A non-descript astronaut gets embarrassed at an exclusive country club.

Feath's Bookcase. Has an interesting range of “Random Idea Generators
Generated Plot Example: (Taken from the Genre-Less Ideas page.)
Your Main Character is a(n): female
Your MC's main character trait is their: hate.
The Main Symbol in the story is a(n): apple.
Theme point is: Taboos.
Your story will start at/on/in: a Base.

A guy who describes himself as “Brian Stokes: The Intermittent Supergenius.” has developed The Random Logline Generator!
Random Logline Example:
An outlaw and a pair of itinerant truck drivers were separated at birth.

Serendipity. Has a page full of generators.
Generated Fantasy Plot Example:
In this story, dragons and elves clash with a beautiful elf stuck in the middle.

Seventh Sanctum. Has another range of generators.
Generated Plot Example:
The theme of this story: weird caper. The main characters: militant prospector and spendthrift archer. The start of the story: research. The end of the story: dream.

School for Champions. Has a “Simple Plot and Random Story Generator”.
Generated Plot Example:
Introduce protagonist and setting: A while ago in my backyard, a handsome boy named Bart was walking along, minding his own business. Bart looked and dressed like Elvis Presley.
Antagonist: Suddenly, he saw Bevis, who was smelly and looked a little like Donald Duck.
Point of tension, conflict or problem: Bevis proceeded to spit on a well-dressed girl's lipstick. The girl's name was Anita.
Effort to stop antagonist: "Stop, you stupid punk!" Bart yelled out. But Bevis started to run away.
Seem to fail: Bart chased Bevis through the park. Bevis could run fast and seemed to be getting away.
Happy outcome: But then in a final great effort, Bart ran as fast as humanly possible and surprisingly caught the scoundrel!
Anita was so happy, that she gave Bart a reward.
Thus ends a good story.

The Story Starter. Supplies a starter sentence to get you up and running.
Generated Starter Sentance Example:
The narrow minded movie star crawled into the hidden room to find the missing horse.

Useful:
Archetype: The Fiction Writers Guide to Psychology.
Don’t be put off by the word “Psychology” it’s a very informative site. The “Plot Scenario Generator” is just a bit of fun, but the rest of the site has loads of useful information about general writing in the “Articles & Resources” and the “Muse” sections. There is even a Blog.
Generated Plot Example:
The story starts when your protagonist realizes s/he has to save the marriage.
Another character is a gypsy who has been following your protagonist for years.

The Writing for Children Resource Site. Has three
Writing Prompt Generators.
“Generator 3” seems to be the most useful.
Generated Plot Example:
The Protagonist: a taxicab driver
The Antagonist: an unknown force
The setting: a dusty attic
Goal: to discover a secret
An important event: a road trip
An important object: an old car
(All of these can be individually generated.)

SSF.Net. Has an interesting page entitled “The Thirty-six (plus one) Dramatic Situations” not strictly a generator but definitely interesting.
Generated Plot Example:
Your situation: 25. Adultery (Elements: a deceived husband or wife and two adulterers)

Just For Fun:
The Kitt.Net Automated Film Plot Idea Generator, is placed firmly in the just for fun section.
Generated Plot Example:
Aluminium Tiger
He was a frightening man who owned everything with a friend who dealt Cocaine and joined up eyebrows. She was a large breasted TV personality who didn't have a clue and painted nudes. Together they travelled to Mars. Fighting evil and exploring emotions.

The Movie Plot Generator. Has a fun online sampler. I will let you try this one for yourselves.

So the next time you are faced by a blank sheet of paper, unless you want it to stay that way, give your brain something to think about. Let it do some free association.

“Remember what the door-mouse said…..Feed your head!…..Feed your head!”

“Which is a kind of integrity, if you look on every exit as an entrance somewhere else.”

Sunday, 30 March 2008

Sheikspear’s Movie Poster Challenge.

A few people have taken part in this challenge now. The challenge was originally for three posters, but a some of us got a little carried away.

Sheikspear’s. Original Movie Poster Challange.
Rach’s Collection at Sharp Pencils.
Rob’s Offerings at The Island of Dreams.
The Royal Air Farse Gallery.
The Fractal Hall Journal
And my Posters on my Old Blog:
The First Post.
Found Another One.
Three More.
And The Winner Is.


So if anybody is reading this who hasn’t done it yet. Go on give it a go, it’s a great way to spend some time when you want to avoid doing any actual work. But watch out movie posters are addictive. See You Soon.

That's right, a lovely stroll in the moors. Tra-la-la, isn't this fun?

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Coming Soon(ish) to a Screen Near Me.

A selection of movies I'm looking forward to seeing. I think some of these films are already doing the tour of big city’s, and after they have done the tour of the small towns, villages and church halls, they may get to us.

Doomsday. The latest offering from Neil (Dog Soldiers) Marshall. Doomsday, is a kind of mix of Mad Max and Escape from New York and a few other post-apocalyptic films, and Rhona Mitra thrown in for good measure.


The Bank Job. Jason Statham, Saffron Burrows, 70s bank heist, OH, YES.


Run Fatboy Run. Yes it’s a feel good Rom-Com but anything Simon Pegg is connected with is worth watching, and it looks like being a lot of fun.


Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. It’s been a long time coming, rumours about a fourth instalment have been circulating for years, but finally it’s here.


Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Ron Perlman back in red and The Samaritan is back in business.


Cloverfield. New York getting the crap kicked out of it HAS to be worth watcing.


Wanted. O.K. this is as much to do with Angelina Jolie and big guns as anything else, but it does look like fun.



“Did they look like psychos? They were f**kin' vampires. Psychos don't explode when sunlight hits 'em, I don't care how crazy they are.”

Friday, 21 March 2008

Brian Wilde

And to round off a crap week. Today I learnt that Brian Wilde died yesterday. I intend doing a longer post about Porridge, but for now you can find lots of clips of Porridge and Last of the Summer Wine on YouTube.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Arthur C. Clarke.

And today brings news of the death of Arthur C. Clarke. IMDB news flash. Turning into a very sad week in the shed.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Anthony Minghella.

I would like to join with others in expressing my sadness at the death today of Anthony Minghella. IMDB news flash. One less delight in the shed.

Monday, 17 March 2008

The Blog is Dead, Long Live the Blog.

New Blog. New Look. New (Shorter) Name. But the same old me! I thought the old name was funny when I first dreamt it up, but well the joke wore off quite quickly, and by then I was stuck with it. So here is Shed of Delights. My virtual garden shed, where the deckchairs are always out and the kettle is always on. For those of you that think a shed is a thing for keeping the lawnmower in, you couldn’t be more wrong. It’s a place of peace and harmony. Somewhere you can go to have a potter, and be surrounded by your favourite things. Free from the stresses and worries of every day life. Or…. the place where you chuck your old crap.

The old blog isn’t going to be deleted, I’ll use it for extra things, like posting a film review here without spoilers and the full review including spoilers on the old blog. Or temporary housing of say very large movie posters.

But in this, the first post on a new blog I thought I’d indulge in a link-fest and look at the coolest of TV series The Avengers.


I’m going to start with probably the most informative and complete Avengers site on the web, The Avengers Forever. A site I have spent far too much time on. Of particular note is the wonderful episode guide.

Another good complete episode guide can be found at, The Science Fiction and Telefantasy Databanks.

And a third can be found at, Mrs Peel We’re Needed.

Next we have two articles which appeared in Timescreen.
A Day in Avengerland.
The Cybernauts – A Character Analysis.

Here is an interesting advert from the 70s.






Here is the official Patrick Macnee site.

Here are the Screenonline page, the IMDB page, and the Wikipedia page.






There is an Avengers sound page.


Next we have Los Vengadores a Spanish Avengers site.


And then we have Avengers on the Radio. This site concerns itself with the incarnation of the Avengers, which appeared on South African radio. There are lots of episodes for you to download.







And lastly a Diana Rigg shrine. Every shed has to have a pin-up right?


"He kills their kids, he kills their wives, he kills their parents and their parents' friends. He burns down the houses they live in and the stores they work in, he kills people that owe them money. And like that he was gone."