Tuesday, 7 July 2009

A Headache With Pictures.

(I shamelessly stole that title from an episode of Futurama and I don't care who knows it.)

Things I have learnt in the year and a bit I’ve been blogging. Part 1: The Meme.

What is a Meme?

A Meme is a social/cultural concept or idea that evolves and changes as it passes from one person’s imagination to another’s. For instance, person A writes a list of ten things they would quite like to do. Person B reads this list and it sparks their imagination. Person B then writes a list of ten things that they fully intend doing before they die. Person C reads this and writes a list of the 10 things that everybody should do before they die. Or A, B, and C all read the same list and come up with three completely different ideas sparked by the original.

What isn’t a Meme?

It isn’t a set of tasks that you pass on to selected people. “This is a fun thing to do, pass it on to six friends”. We have all had them thrust upon us, done them and passed them on because they are a bit of fun and sometimes quite interesting. But as it doesn’t evolve or have a life of it’s own is it truly a Meme?

It also isn’t a funny video or picture, which you pass on to everybody you know. If you watch the behind the scenes tour of the set on The IT Crowd, Series 3, DVD Graham Linehan can be heard to say while pointing at a funny picture on the wall “This is a meme that was going around” (or words to that effect.)

Why does my head hurt?

Because while writing this post I’m starting to wonder if the Meme could itself be a Meme. A cultural concept which is evolving as it passes from one brain to another. So that it could be all of the above things or none of them and tomorrow could be something different. Maybe a Meme is more complicated than anybody realises and what it is actually is a concept which defies definition by constantly evolving and redefining itself. An Idea that can never be defined!

Is that blood coming out of my ears?

See You Soon.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Random Delights: September.

Hello to both my readers. I haven’t been posting much of late. This is mostly because all the ideas I’ve been getting have been rather negative and that is not what I wanted this blog to be about. I figure that there is no shortage of blogs where people just moan on and on about how crap everything is. But there are very few that try to say “this is brilliant, take a look at this” in an enthusiastic sharing kind of way. Or to put it another way (as I am sure some poet or other must have done) “If you can’t say something nice then shut your f**king cake-ole”.

O.K. September. The dance band and not the calendar month. Not that I have anything against the month but lets face it September is no October is it? You may recognise this track (Cry for you) as the one Fred Bowers did his break dancing to on Britain’s Got Talent. This however is an acoustic version, which is quiet frankly…well delightful. It gives me Amanda Holden’s goose bumps. Enjoy.



Oh, go on then. Here’s the normal dance version.



And I’ll even throw in a bonus track. September - La La La (Never Give It Up)



NOW BE DELIGHTED, DAMN YOU.

See You Soon(ish).

P.S. Did anybody see “That Mitchell and Webb Look” last night? There was a sketch about a crazy inventor who designed a giant mechanical scorpion. B**tards. That was my idea. I have the patent. They stole it. I’m going to sue. No…better idea I’m going to let my anger fester for a few years while I plan my rewengie and then unleash MY ARMY of GIANT KILLER scorpions to annihilate all life on this miserable planet. Yeah…that’ll teach em.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

300 (The True To Life Version)

This contains spoilers for 300 and it’s just a stupid bit of fun so if you haven’t seen/read it and don’t want it ruined go away and read something better.

There is a very cool scene in 300 right at the start of the final battle where King Leonidas at the bidding of the God King Xerxes throws down his helmet and shield and bows down.

But appearances can be deceptive and when it all kicks off again the narrator explains.

“His helmet was stifling, it narrowed his vision and he must see far. His shield was heavy it threw him off balance and his target was far away.”

Leonidas stands up and ignoring the battle raging around him, focuses on his target and throws his spear at Xerxes. The spear (in slow motion) fly’s over the battle towards its target. It’s shadow (in slow motion) crosses over the steps of Xerxes throne. It seems Xerxes life is over as the spear (still in slow motion) heads right for his head. But then at the last second we see that it is slightly off target and it just glances his cheek and ruins his jewellery.

And then a strange sound crossed the land. The sound of every Spartan man left standing, going “DOH”. The sound of disappointment with just a hint of “I knew this would happen!”

And one Spartan stood up and bellowed “What the hell was that? He’s right there. He must be nine foot tall. How could you possibly miss that. There were 300 men here and 299 of them could of made that shot. There are three Olympic medallists back there for Gods sake but would you let any of them take the shot? Oh no, you had to be the big alpha male. You just couldn’t let somebody else take a tiny bit of the glory could you? You couldn’t hit the side of a barn if you were ten feet from it and had a barn seeking missile. You do realise we’re all going to die now don’t you? Let the history books show that it was not the Persians that killed us on this day but our own sense of shame. Our glorious leader. You’re a useless, cack handed, pillock.”

Thursday, 2 April 2009

The Unimportance of Being Me.

1) Put the link of the person who tagged you on your blog.
My ball and chain,
My trouble and strife,
My "Er indoors",
My bloody wife.

2) Write the rules. (O.K. but see point 8)

3) Mention 6 things or habits of no real importance about you. (See points 8 and 9)

4) Tag 6 persons adding their links directly. (As Sheikspear Rob and Elinor don't seem to have been hit by this yet, they have now.) (I know that is only three but see point 8)

5) Alert the persons that you tagged them. (Done and Done)


1/ I can’t smell it when milk starts to go off.

We have a rotation system in the fridge so that the freshest stuff is always in the same place. However we also have a milkman that delivers as and when he feels like it, on alternate days anytime between 9am and 6pm. So even though it has just been put in the fridge there is no way of knowing how fresh it actually is. A quick sniff will tell you this, but not me. This does add an element of Russian roulette to my making a hot drink or a bowl of cornflakes.

2/ When I was in junior school I had a duffle coat, which I loved.

It was a proper Paddington Bear one, which I wore every single day rain or shine, summer and winter until I grew out of it. Did I cook in summer? Yes I did. Then why did I wear it? Because I loved my Paddington Bear duffle coat. P.S. It did come in very useful on one day when I split my trousers from my left knee all the way round to my right knee. Without my duffle coat that would have been a very draughty walk home.

3/ My feet are growing by one shoe size per decade of my adult life.

If I make it to my 100th birthday and I get my telegram from the queen, I shall be reading it wearing clown shoes.

4/ The right side of my brain is dominant.

You can check this out by following this link. Basically it’s an animation of a woman that could appear to be spinning in either direction. Which side of your brain is dominant dictates which way she appears to spin. It is possible to force her to spin in the other direction by firing up the other side of your brain. In my case this involved doing some mental arithmetic. The left side of my brain kicked in and hey presto she changed direction, cool. The odd thing was my reaction to the change it felt completely wrong and quite freaked me out. I was much happier when about 30 seconds later my right brain kicked in again and she started spinning the way nature intended.

5/ During a tug of war match I sprained my ankle.

As my foot rolled over at an unusual angle there was a clearly audible crack. I remember just before the searing pain hit, thinking “Oooh that can’t be good”. Not realising how badly sprained it was I continued to hobble around on it for about a week until it started to turn black and swell up. Two weeks off work, under doctors orders to sit with my foot up watching telly “Yay Hay”. P.S. Because the phrase “Tug of war match” might put you in mind of me as a walking wardrobe of a man. I should probably mention that A/ I was on the loosing team and B/ The winning team was made up entirely of children.

6/ For a while I lived my life by the roll of a dice.

In my early teenage years everything I did and every decision I made was as a result of rolling a dice.

7/ I used to model for art classes.

This statement is truthful and accurate. It is also (quite deliberately) misleadingly incomplete.

8/ I don’t like being bound by rules.

I am compelled to break rules even if they are self-imposed.

9/ I never know when to stop.

10/ GOTO 9

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Saturday, 28 February 2009

Friday, 27 February 2009

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Monday, 23 February 2009

Super Moine

Please excuse the bad language in this animation. As I will forgive yours when after watching it you say "That was @$XX*ing good".



See you tomorrow.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

The B,b,bright side of the dark side.

If you’re not in touch with your inner seven year old goth chick like I am. You may have not noticed a little piece of joy called Ruby Gloom. The show was developed as a way to sell pencil cases and other merchandise. However, imaginative writing and animation have made it a cut above the average kid’s show. In fact the show was nominated for a Gemini (Canadian TV) award.

The opening credits are a delight. They remind me of the excellent closing credits for Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events but with a catchier tune.



Worthy of special mention is a pint sized Emotastic character called Misery. Ruby is far too cute and annoyingly positive, Misery is much more my speed.





And finally all you need to know about writing suspense.



Official Site.

Is it wrong that I enjoy this so much?

Remember “Things could be worse and they usually are”

P.S. I found some brilliant animation recently, I’ll be posting some each day this week so pop back regularly.

See you soon. Unless you see me first.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Pet Writing Hates Meme.

A while back Sheikspear memed me with a challenge to list my pet writing hates. So rather belatedly here they are.

1a/ A lack of time. Since it took me five months to get round to doing this post, it’s no surprise that number one on this list is not having enough time to write. Or indeed read, watch decent films, I haven't blown my nose since Tuesday...etc, etc. (I kid you not, we have a three foot wide shelf, full of new DVDs waiting to be watched.)

1b/ In the little time I do get I’m usually too tired to think. I have a physically demanding day job so in the evenings lifting a mug of tea and trying to remember how to drink it, is about the limit of my mental abilities. (Ahh, the life of an international super model takes it out of you.) Trying to deal with the subtleties of script development when all your energy is being used just to keep you awake is a guarantee of turning out rubbish.

2/ Thinking up some perfect scene/ dialogue/ prose etc, when you are walking or driving home. Unable to write it down you keep going over it in your head. It’s perfect. It’s character defining, it’s award winning, it’s bloody brilliant. Never before has anybody been able to sum things up as perfectly as this. You are staggered by your own genius. But just before you get to the safety of your desk, somebody you vaguely know says “Hello” you politely say “Hi” and in that instant, like Kaiser Soze “Puff…and it’s gone”. The industry standard response to this is: “OH @#&*!!!%”.

3/ Spending a considerable chunk of your life working on a story idea. Only to find out that for the same amount of her life your wife has been working on a very similar idea. The industry standard response to this is: “OH @#&*!!!%”.

P.S. Two or three reworks later our ideas are far enough apart now and the reworking I think has turned out better stories. We also talk about what we are working on much earlier in the development stage. It’s good to talk.

4/ Having a really good idea, which seems to just pour out of you without any real effort on your part. It all just seems to slot in so beautifully it’s like it was just waiting for you to write it. Only to have somebody say “Isn't that the plot of (insert name of major Hollywood or obscure foreign language film here.)” The industry standard response to this is: “OH @#&*!!!%”.

5/ Never being able to find a parking space wide enough for your giant mechanical scorpion. (Sorry that’s from a different list.)

Note to self. Get “OH @#&*!!!%” printed on a tee-shirt.

See you soon.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Reimagineering.

Remake, reinvent, re-create, re-imagine, replicate, imitate, copy. My heart is starting to sink every time I hear words like this. It seems that every few days another remake is announced. And sometimes, like in the case of The Fall and Rise (Rise and Fall) of Reginald Perrin, and The Edge of Darkness the originals are such perfectly realised things. It’s hard to see why anybody would attempt a remake. IMHO.

In this industry there is nothing new about the idea of remaking a film, play or TV series. And there is nothing wrong with that in itself. After all adaptation is one of the foundations on which the industry is built. If something has already been filmed/preformed it shouldn’t stop you from doing it, if you think you can do something new, different or truer to the original story. I don’t have anything against the idea of remaking things.

Reinvention can work very well, Doctor Who and Battlestar Galactica spring to mind. (I’ve never been able to get into Battlestar Galactica but I am reliably informed as to its quality. O.K. Rachael told me.) It can also fall flat on its face like the remake of Survivors. (I’m not going into why I believe Survivors was a failure here. That is a subject for another post.)

I believe the reason that some remakes do work is down to the attitude towards the original of the people who are remaking it. I think you need to start by finding all that was good in the original. All that stuck in your memory, all that you loved. All the things that made you want to remake it in the first place. Once you have that list of positives, you have something to build on which shows respect to what made the original great. Instead of trying to fix all that was wrong or all that you didn’t like. Which means you are looking at the original in a negative way and not with any kind of respect. Respect is the important word.

It is also important to be brave and imaginative about how you approach your rework. If you go about it in a half-hearted way, worrying about offending people, then you are not going to do it justice. If you show it too much reverence, then it is going to stifle your creativity and you’re not going to change it enough. In which case what is the point of the rework? Am I contradicting myself? I don’t think so. What I’m saying is if you decide that you can add something or tell a story differently then you need to have no fear and really go for it. If you don’t think you can do something at least as well as the original, then don’t touch it. Go and do something completely different.

I believe that the same rules apply whether you are re-adapting from the original source or from a previous adaptation. IE: remaking a film/TV series or adapting form the original book/play. I know that adaptation, reviving and remaking are all different things, but they are very closely related. So I’m not worried about talking about them all in the same breath.

I have a couple of videos to illustrate my point. The first is the brilliant Morcombe and Wise breakfast sketch. Enjoy.



The next is a dreadful, half-hearted, pale imitation.



But this is what happens when you really go for it.



I think this has been really well done. And it is obvious to me that the people who made it loved the original. Showing respect. Showing bravery about making changes. Being imaginative. And just having fun with it. Well done to whoever made it.

These last two clips were going to be in a post called “Stuff needn’t be boring”. But I thought that the title was quite boring so I didn’t bother.

The first one is a very simple and imaginative music video that was all over the internet a while back.



The last clip is a straight copy of the above video as performed by four lads in a high school talent show. However, they go for it so completely so whole-heartedly and with such honesty, that instead of being a simple copy, it is a delight. Well done to Matt Bersi, Hieu Tran, Ian Fisher, Stephen Behrens. Enjoy.


See you soon.