Monday, December 31, 2007

Post 404

As promised. The (shamefully) shorter than last night Everything I have read for the past 3 months anal retentive compulsive list thing:

  1. Spies - Michael Frayn.
  2. Time to Come - not very good aged SF in a copy that was crumbling to dust as I read it. I didn't use a bookmark, I just turned the page I was on sideways.
  3. The 1972 Annual World's Best SF - ... Jesus wept! if this was the best!... etc.
  1. Indoctrinaire - Christopher Priest. The first two thirds were weirdly wonderful. The last third was an utter let down
  2. Hollywood a Go-Go - Monumentally dull cut and paste about the bewildering rise of the Cannon film group. You could almost smell the Cellotape as great chunks of Variety and year end financial reports were glued together. Had the desired effect of sending me to sleep within a pages for a few nights.
  3. Why Don't Penguin's Feet Freeze? -
  4. The Long Result - John Brunner
  5. Possible Tomorrows - a not very Good SF collection
  6. The Wind From Nowhere - J G Ballard
  7. The Drowned World - J G Ballard
  8. The Drought - J G Ballard (That's me Ballarded for a bit.)
  9. The Alien Ones - Leo Brett (R A Fanthorpe). Not as abysmal as some of his stuff but still incredibly dreadful.
  10. The Chrysalids - John Wyndham.
  11. Seize The Day - Saul Bellow
  1. Man Plus - Frederick Pohl
  2. Starcross - Phillip Reeve. The rather jolly good ripping yard follow up to Larklight. Ripping good fun.
Abandoned for a variety of reason: The Blue-eyed Salaryman - Niall Murtach (Bored the pants off me. Hardly 'Hilarious' Daily Mail). Rock 'N' Roll Babes From Outer Space - Linda Laivin. Great title, fucking awful book, Sean Wright would like it. Also described as 'hilarious' on the back cover. Farewell to Berlin - Christopher Isherwood. Collected Stories of Franz Kafka, The Tactics of Mistake - Gordon R Dickson.

(Phoebe you can come out of the shower now)
Sorry, but it is that time of year again:

So, every movie I have watched in the last three months: The usual mixed bag of crap, real crap, and utter crap with the odd staggering work of genius thrown in for good measure. 159 movies watched this year (one of them in a real cinema!) Did I keep my last year's New Year's Resolution to 'Watch less crap' this year? Did I? Did I fuck! I started the year watching Sgt. Kabukiman NYPD and it went down hill from there.

As an added bonus this time there is also a list of all those movies I abandoned for various reasons, but mostly because they totally stink: (Phoebe, it's okay, it will be over soon.)

  1. Creature
    - Dire Alien clone with Klaus Kinski, who was obviously a bit short of the readies that week. The Something Unexpected But Inevitable (SUBI) event 15 minutes in: After a seemingly safe landing, the heroes' Space ship crashes through the moon's shallow crust and is buggered beyond repair.
  2. Colussus and the Amazon Queen
    - Dear god! (15 minute SUBI: Our hero meets our heroine and discovers his companions have been taken captive by buxom Ponygirl Amazon Women with insane, first series Star Trek hair dos).
  3. Danger!! Death Ray
    - (MST3K) One of the more weirdly punctuated titled bad movies I have watched recently. Pretty shit.
  4. L'Effrontee (An Impudent Girl)
    - Delightful French awkward adolescence movie. Charlotte Gainsbourg was wonderful. She had to be - she was on screen for 95% of the time. The only wrong notes were the spelling mistakes in the subtitles.
  5. The Giant Gila Monster - Public Domain rubbish, a dead cheap, dead crap, monster movie (get it here!) that I have been wanting to tick off my list for a while now. (That's not a real list, Phoebe, it's just an expression - I'm not that sad.)
  6. La Belle Noiseuse: Divertimento
    - Well that's two hours of my life I want back. Two hours of watching rich French people telling each other life was unbearable in incomplete sentences. The subtitles for this movie had more ellipses that any other movie I have seen. I am so glad I didn't suffer the four hour version.
  7. Little Miss Sunshine - not as good as was expecting given all the good reviews and word of mouth but an agreeable way to spend an hour and a half.
  8. Silence of the Hams - I have been told I posses an almost inhuman tolerance for bad movies. This piece of garbage strained it beyond belief. Total and utter crap.
  9. Repo Man - I love Repo Man.
  10. Straight To Hell - Straight to eBay.
  11. Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter
    -"Igor, go to your room!". What a piece of crap! I now want to see the other half of this 1966 drive in double bill - Billy the Kid versus Dracula.
  12. The Amazing Colossal Man
    - (MST3K)
  13. The Brothers Grimm
    - I tried so hard to like this movie. I mean really really hard - I failed.
  1. Amazon Women on The Moon
    - if you ever find yourself in possession of this DVD skip the movie and watch a lovely little deleted scene called The Unknown Soldier.
  2. The Wolf Man
    - The 1941 Universal version with Lon Chaney Jr.
  3. The Vindicator
    - Canadian 80s SF shite. But even worse than that, DULL Canadian 80s SF shite.
  4. Werewolf of London
    - Universal's first (1935) bash at a werewolf movie and not bad at that.
  5. Battle of the Worlds
    - Delirious dreadful 1960s Italian SF (another one of those movies that made less sense the second time I saw it).
  6. Asignment: Outer Space
    - Ditto
  7. Hercules and the Tyrants of Babylon -
  8. They Came From beyond Space -
  9. Bedazzled
    Peter Cooke and Dudley Moore's 1968 masterpiece
  10. Bedazzled
    - The Brendan Fraser and Liz Hurley pointless remake.
  11. The Lady From Shanghai
    - Never seen it before. Loved every frame.
  12. Gold Diggers of 1933 - I am besotted with Joan Blondell, have been for years. The Forgotten Man number at the climax of this movie gives me the shivers.
  1. Bride of Frankenstein
    - Universal Studio's greatest movie of the 30s.
  2. The 39 Steps - (Hitchcock's version)
  3. My Dear Secretary
    - dreadful Kirk Douglas screwball 'comedy'.
  4. Strange Days
    - Overlong (thirty minutes of material stretched to two and half hours by throwing a shitload of money at it) this bombed when released. It deserved to.
  5. The Quiet Earth
    - What a great little film!
  6. 2 Days in Paris
    - which I enjoyed more than it deserved because it was the first time I had seen a real movie in a real movie theatre for about two years.
  7. Tron
    - I love Tron. Well, I love it after our hero gets sucked into the computer and the fun really starts the first act - the live action, '
    let's dump a lot of exposition and then put ourselves in peril' bit - is a stinker. Saw it for the first time (since seeing it when it first came out) in widescreen. Not squished up, panned and scanned, ropey old video.
  8. George of the Jungle
    - It's Christmas...
  9. Taxi
    - bof!
  10. The Big Lebowski
    - I Laughed like a drain.
Abandoned for various reasons, but mostly because they REALLY stink:
  1. Terror at Red Wolf Something-or-other
    - 1970's girls alone in big scary house crap.
  2. The Phantom Creeps
    265 minute (12 episode) Bela Lugosi serial edited down to an incomprehensible mess of a 78 minute feature film.
  3. Shadow of Chinatown
    - 300 minutes of garbage 1936 Bela Lugosi serial cut down to 65 minutes! Even more incoherently crappy than the last one.
  4. Laser Mission
    - Brandon Lee action crap. I lasted 15 minutes after adding Brandon Lee to my 'Dying Young Was A Good Career Move'' list.
  5. Equilibrium
    - Christian Bale, Emily Watson - and I turned off after 3 minutes. Some films you can just taste the shit coming from so far off. Set in a future where all emotions are illegal - ie no acting required for at least the first act - it was Fahrenheit 451, with added 1984, and tons of Matrix type ultra-violence slopped over - Balls to that.
  6. Werewolf Woman
    - no one expects much from Italian horror movies but this plot free mix of soft-core tits 'n' ass and gory violence bored me stupid. Abandoned after 45 minutes, 7 murders and more on-screen pubic hair than was good for any movie that doesn't involve a hunk coming round to fix the blonde bimbo's washing machine.
  7. Beast of the Yellow Night
    - Filipino horror movie took too long to go nowhere not very interestingly. I jumped ship after 15 minutes.
  8. Piranha
    I didn't get past the first real edit in the movie. Seriously. The first edit of the film was so inept I left. A record for me. Still didn't stop me being rude about it on the IMDb though.
  9. Devil of the Desert Against the Son of Hercules
    - I fell asleep (halfway through the title).
  10. Carnosaur
    - I gave up at the point where the traditional 'couple making out in the car about to be attacked by the monster on the loose' - were attacked by a glove puppet of a dinosaur. It looked like they were being savaged by an oven mitt.

Most bewilderedly trance state inducing movies of the year so far:
UFO: Target Earth, Dünyayi kurtaran adam, The Fury Of The Wolfman.

Tomorrow: Every book I have read for the past 3 months - don't go away now!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Chapter 34

In which our hero suspects he has Middle-class children.

We bought white bread the other day. It was reduced to next to nothing in Tescos. We don't normally buy white bread but this was so cheap it would have been a criminal frivolity not to have bought it. It went on the table last night along with a huge vat of Veg Soup, some of it diced and fried for croutons, the rest of it piled on a plate for dunking. Daisy, who doesn't encounter the stuff that often, and only then out in cafes in the guise of toasties, picked up a slice and looked at it.

She turned it around and looked at the other side.

"Mummy?", she said eventually. "Is this brioche?"


Friday, December 28, 2007

I must stop asking myself questions. I really must. Today for example, after cleaning out Merriol's shed I found myself stuffing couple of grubby cushions, filled with those little white polystyrene beanbaggy ball things, into the washing machine. As I pushed them in I heard myself saying, "I wonder what would happen if one of these things burst while it was inside here?"

When will I ever learn? I mean when? Needless to say (but I'll say it anyway) Murphy, Finagle, God, or whoever is in charge of these things let me find out.

The answer to the question is that you end up hoovering the inside of your washing machine. Which is, I think, one of the weirder things I have done this week.

Another short scene from the screenplay of my life:

Int. Kitchen - Day.

Merriol has become fed up with being subtle about wanting to get me out of the house for some Christmas-related, secret wrapping reason known only to herself.


Look... Why don't you just go
out for a bit?


No. It's wet.

Merriol looks out the kitchen window at the sun shining on the surrounding hills from a cloudlessly clear blue sky.


No it isn't!


Yes it is. Two thirds of the planet
is covered in water - take a running
jump at random and you stand a two
in three chance of drowning. I'm not
going out there - it's dangerous.

I hate you.


Thursday, December 27, 2007

Boxing Day,

More eating playing with toys, dealing with the debris of yesterday, reading Mr Men books,(currently scoring high on my unreadable bilge scale - especially the new ones, the illustrations for which have none of the innocent, crude felt-penned charm of some of the earlier ones and look like they have been done on an ancient DTP package, cruddy rainbow gradients and all. They really are some of the worst illustrations I have seen in a kids book for quite a while.) and wondering quite why I bought so much cheese. We have a mountain of cheese in the Fridge, Camenbert, Brie, Stilton, Port Salut etc etc. Loads of it. A whole stink of cheese (or whatever the collective noun for cheeses is). I rarely go on cheese buying splurges - mainly because I seem to loose what little willpower I posses when presented with a choice and end up buying great wodges of everything. I always buy tons of the stuff. This time I bought so much of it some of it may actually be ripe by the time I eat it.

Luckily for my sanity Most (if not all) of the links off this site have expired. After my listening to 60 odd versions of Popcorn in one session nearly drove my whole family insane for weeks, maybe it is a good thing that I am not abusing my cheese soaked brain with 40 different versions of Nancy Sinatra's These Boots are Made For Walking...

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


It's Christmas.

My first coherent thought of the day after "yerwha...whathefuktimeisit?" and "gnugh...whatarethekidsdoingupat-thistimeofthemorning...?" was "Aha! It's Christmas Day. I won't have to listen to the fucking Disney Princesses Christmas Album again for at least another 48 weeks. Hurray!"

The rest of the day was much. I love being a Dad. It's now relatively early in the evening (for me) but I am going to collapse into bed and watch Tron. Best pressy of the day for me? 48 pairs of black socks. All the same. 48 pairs of identical black socks. 96 socks each indistinguishable from any of the others. Sock pairing is a thing of the past! I love my wife.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas is coming (in 18 minutes) and the goose is getting fat (or, in our case, leaking all over the fridge - but at least that means it has finally defrosted).

Here for all our friends and relations is this year's Family Christmas card:

For all our other friends and relations (you know who you are) here is our other Family Christmas card:

He knows when you've been sleeping,
He knows when you're awake,
He knows when you've been good or bad...
...welcome to Grotto 101

Merry Christmas folks!

And here (if you have the patience to dowload it) is the first 89 seconds (some of the opening titles) of the movie I'm not going to make this year - despite the extravagant promises I will be making myself in a week's time. 89 seconds. That's one sixtieth of a feature film. Apart from a few visual gags which probably aren't worth the effort I have no idea where (if ever) I'm going to go with this but I did wake up at 4 am the other night with this stunningly hillarious sequence in my head. I grabbed my bedside notebook and spent the next 20 minutes laboriously storyboarding the whole thing out in minute detail, giggling myself stupid as I did so.
When I looked at it the next morning I couldn't understand any of it. Not a word. Three pages of meaningless squiggles with the odd gnomic phrase written sideways in the margin. I just keeping telling myself Orson Welles had nights like that too.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


I got a phone call this morning. It was Tyler. In bed in Portland, He'd just bought for tickets to see the Mighty Boosh live. He'd stayed up till way past his bedtime (his words) to do it as the tickets went on sale, on-line this morning. The show is on Phoebe's Birthday end of November next year.

The show is in Glasgow.

Phoebe and Tyler are coming to stay! Phoebe and Tyler are coming to stay! Woohooo!

...and we're going to see The Boosh!

I need to start sorting out a babysitter...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

For some reason I was taken with this bit of an Amazon page I just came across: (you may have to click it to make it a bit bigger in order to read it properly)

This Penguin is Jesus

Hello, much neglected Blog.
Between the Panto, recovering from the Panto (i.e. doing all the housework that had piled up while we were doing it) I haven't had a lot of time to sit and think and have a good old blog. ...and going shopping for a couple of days in the teeming metropolis of Inverness. ...and doing all the housework that piled up while we were away. We stayed overnight in Inverness - something like 36 hours without the kids. Amazing! We did all sorts of grown up things: like eat whole meals without cutting anything up for anybody else, or telling them to stop wriggling or picking their nose. We got to see a movie in a real cinema too! The new revamped Eden Court has two small cinemas in the basement. The choice was between David Cronenberg's latest offering and something else - and since Merriol hates David Cronenberg's movies on principle it wasn't really much of a choice. It was only when we were sat in the seats that I let her into the secret that the movie we were about to watch - had subtitles.
"Man Beaten to Pulp in Cinema by Wife!"
Luckily 2 Days in Paris, didn't have too many subtitles and was a bit funny, and didn't have body parts flying around the screen, big boobed bimbos in space, or anything that looked like it has oozed out of the Cronenberg film playing next door to upset Merriol, so I survived the experience. The film was okay. I enjoyed it more than I would have done if I had watched it at home purely, I suspect, because it was the first movie I had seen in the cinema for two years. On the way back to the B&B we had chips and curry.

Sheer fucking luxury!. I find it hard to grasp that most of the population of the UK would think this was perfectly normal Saturday night thing to do. It felt so exotic, the sort of thiing you do on holiday. To hell with that, it used to be a normal thing for me to do on a Saturday night. Living out here in the boonies you forget the simple pleasures of life: a French movie, followed by a bag of chips and curry sauce as you step over the drunks and pools of vomit on the way home. I miss it. But not that much

Further to my 'fish wearing wigs' post the other day, the counter now tells me if you type 'smell my bum game' into - this blog is top! It's not only me. Other people need to get out more too. But then again whoever it was lived in Portsmouth former home to Europe's ugliest building so I don't blame them. Hmmm, it transpires that in a fit of madness it has now sadly demolished. We need to keep these things standing as warnings to future generations. I only saw it in the flesh (as it were) once - I've only ever been to Portsmouth once. It truly was an abysmal experience - the shopping centre not the town. Don't remember anything about the town apart from the fact it possesed the ugliest building I have ever seen, and there seemed to be an awful lot of abandoned submarines just lying around.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Fish wearing wigs. In Germany if you type 'Fish wearing wigs' into Google this blog comes first in the rankings. Woohoo! I need to get out more.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Well that's that over with . Ballachulish village panto is done and dusted for at least another year. Though we will never do another matinée. We did two shows on Saturday, one in the afternoon for the kids and those who didn't / couldn't come out late at night, and one in the evening. As the show was some three hours long (even though we trimmed it a bit as we went along for the afternoon show, it was a long hard day) but Jesus! the racket those kids made in the afternoon. It was just impossible.

We're not putting ourselves through that ever again.

The evening show on the other hand went like shit off a shovel. It was just wonderful. I enjoyed every moment of it, as I suspect did everyone else. It was such a pity we live in such a small town. A couple more nights and we would have really started to nail it. I don't think we short changed anybody, everyone who has commented has said they thought it was funnier than the last show two years ago (less plot, more jokes, and genuine comedy underpants this time round) but it would have been nice to do a couple more performances to get some of the timings of the jokes worked out a bit better.

For instance, it was only on the last show I realised that I was standing up wrongly at one point. If, instead of just slowly standing up facing the audience, I stood up with my head bowed and THEN raised my face - the fact that I was suddenly wearing the beard I had donned while supposedly unconscious in a trunk was an awful lot funnier. Things like that are great to work out in front of an audience.

I just like getting the laughs. Getting an audience to laugh at something you have written is just a great feeling.

Merriol (and everyone else) took a brazzilion photos - and I'm nowhere to be seen in any of them because I was always on the stage either out in front of the punters, or pacing and fretting around behind the curtains trying to work out what was going to go wrong next and trying to fix it. The scariest moment of the night for me was waiting on the side of the stage hearing the fanfare that was Lucy's (the princess) cue to enter through the closed main curtains (Another short give-the-guys-a-chance-to-wrestle-scenery scene in front of the Main Curtains). She was on first, had a couple of lines, then I was to enter and the scene was to follow. I heard the fanfare and looked over to where she should have been and saw - only Andy the Stage Manager frantically mouthing and waving down the corridor. Nothing happened. The fanfare sounded again. Still no princess. I rushed over to Andy's side of the stage.
Me: (Shouted whisper) "Where the fuck is she?"
Andy:(Shouted whisper) "She's gone for a pee!"
Me:(Loud shouted whisper)"You Are Fucking Kidding Me!?" (As it happened she hadn't, she had forgotten the scene before was so short and was just in the wrong place, blissfully ignorant of the fact she was supposed to be on stage).

I dive out of the curtain stage right.

"Has anyone seen the Princess? I have been looking all over the palace for her. Hmmmm. maybe she is over there... "

I cross stage and exit behind the curtains again - and rush round to Andy. Still no sign of her!

I step out onto the stage again to keep up my hunting the Princess improv going and wonder how long I can keep this up before people will start to notice that something is going wrong. I'm just about to speak when I hear Andy hiss "She's here!"

Me: (as if noticing audience for the first time) "Ah! I seem to have already looked down this corridor. I shall go back!"


Enter princess.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Well the first performance went pretty well - for a village panto that has had precious little rehearsal and no technical run through. My most anxious moment happened was the moment I realised I had forgotten a Vital Prop. I was under the stage waiting to make my appearance through a trapdoor on the small thrust stage in front of the main curtain. I discovered that I didn't have the prop in plenty of time to get it so I worked my way back towards one of the other two trapdoors under the main stage to get some one to fetch it for me. Just to paint the picture a little more clearly for you here: Ballachulish Village Hall's stage is not good. The under-stage space I am crawling around in is just about high enough to stoop in and is full of junk. To get up through one of the three tiny trapdoors that have been hacked into it over the years with any kind of grace is next to impossible. I realise I cannot use the trapdoor in the wings the usual way of getting under and up out of there without the audience seeing you because last time I had looked there was a pile of props sat on top of it. The only other trapdoor is in the centre of the stage but - as good luck would have it - the scene that is being played is happening in front of the main curtains. (We deliberately write in scenes that can take place in front of the main curtains to give time for the sets to be changed. Closing the curtains between changes and expecting the audience to stare at a couple of big bits of red cloth while trying to puzzle out whether the crashes and thuds and muted swearing that come out from behind them is part of the show or not is just no fun for anyone. So we try to disguise the fact that people are doing frustrated wrestling with scenery by doing short scenes out front to cover the noise.) I was under the stage waiting to join in one of these short scenes so I figured it would be safe to nip up through the trap in the centre of the stage (the one without a pile of stuff on it) and get my prop. Wrong. Someone had misunderstood a cue and had opened the main curtains. My head popped up in the middle of the stage like some demented bewigged gopher. I don't think too many people saw me before I managed to duck down again (I didn't hear a laugh) but I felt pretty bloody stupid. By the time I made it to the trap in the wings the pile of stuff on top of it had been cleared and I managed to get my missing prop in time.

As a technical rehearsal it was great. Pity we had to do it in front of punters but there you go. The audience seemed to enjoy it. Laughed a lot. And at the jokes too.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

I got a spam today.
'If your warrior of love is too small, you may lose this war.'
'Warrior of Love'? I'm well used to getting thousands of spam offering to increase the size of my todger but none has ever used such a Victorian turn of phrase before. I'd guess the ISPs of the world's filters are getting pretty good at wheeking out anything with any of the million deliberate misspellings of 'Dick' that used to fill my inbox (ooh err missus!). D!ck, D|ck, Dic|<, etc. The people sending this stuff out are starting to have to resort to even more bizarre synonyms. I look forward to getting Viagra adverts in Latin very soon

Meanwhile the panto lurches towards its opening. We had a dress rehearsal last night which depressed the hell out of me and several other people. Everything took for ever and wasn't funny, nobody knew where or what was going on and we were having to guess where the scenery was supposed to be if it ever gets made. Very like the dress rehearsal last time we did a panto. Tonight was better. We had a fixing of things and worked out many new and interesting ways of shoving small children into tight places.
One bright spot of the evening was me realising - I DIDN'T HAVE TO SING! -The world has been spared my singing for another year - a bastardised unaccompanied semi-spoken version of 'I Remember It Well' from Gigi doesn't count as singing. But I do get to do a sort of Tango with a big hairy bloke in a frock, beaten up by a fourteen year old girl (including a knee in the knackers - oh the comedy), and I get absorb Noel Edmund's superpowers. The things I do for fun.

A joke I came up with today that will NOT be appearing in the next panto:
'Would an anatomically correct Barbie doll have a glitoris?'

I'll get my coat...

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Three days till I am on stage and I still don't know my lines. Very little blogging for the foreseeable future.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Last week sometime, some bozo in a government office somewhere in the north of England gave a couple of CDs to a courier who happened to be wandering past his office, and asked him to drop it off at another office somewhere else, "If he happened to be going that way, and it wasn't too much bother, thanks awfully. Bye, - Right. Now back to work. Three down... five letter word starting with M ending with N, middle letter possibly R, meaning less than brilliant in the thinking department... Hmmmm, it's being a bit tricky today...."

The discs never arrived at wherever they were supposed to be going and no one has a scooby where they are. Nobody has a scooby if they were sent to the right place as whoever sent them didn't even bother to send them by any traceable method - or even get a proof that he had even sent them at all. The discs held the names, addresses, dates of birth, and national insurance numbers of millions of people. Anyone who had anything to do with the insanely complex Child Tax Credit Scheme. Mine and Merriol's included. We know this because yesterday we got a letter from the Government's official apologisers (Formerly the Department of Public Cock-up Ameliorations, now outsourced and re-branded as 'Whoops 24') saying: "Gosh, sorry about this but we may have inadvertently lost a copy of all your details and they may be now be possibly in the hands of the Russian Mafia, The Reader's Digest, international paedophile terrorists, or the Little Green Men from Betelgeuse VI. Honestly it's a real mystery, your guess is as good as ours - but don't worry, there's no need to panic, we'll sort it all out - - - somehow." (I'm paraphrasing).

I heard on the news that there were details of something like 25 million names on the missing discs*. If everyone of them gets a letter like we did, that means the Government has just spent some five million quid apologising to us all for handing all our personal details (and those of our kids) to Betelgeusian terrorist perverts (I'm assuming 20p a letter - I hope they negotiated a price discount for bulk. Though it wouldn't surprise me if they managed to forget).

Personally I would have at least tried offering whoever has the bloody things a Million quid, no questions asked, used notes in a plain brown envelope behind a radiator in Victoria Station, before clogging up the postal service. Could have saved millions.

* If they are lost at all, because, as there is no way of knowing what the bozo wrote on the envelope in the first place, the discs may well be sitting in the in-tray of the third deputy under-secretary for the standardisation of fish intestines on one of the smaller Scottish islands for all we know. He'll come back from his fact-finding mission to the Falklands next week, take one look at the staggering pile of paperwork that accumulated in his absence and throw half of it in the bin unopened.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Don't Step In That! It's A Big Electricity Man Hoop!

For a few weeks now I have been sucked into playing 'Name That Film' over on a flickr group called - er - 'Name That Film'. (There was sentence that could have done with a bit more thought behind it.) The purpose of the group is to post frames from movies up for everyone to see and then everyone else has to guess what film its from. Sounds simple enough but if you actually watch movies with the express intention of finding frames that are important in the context of the movie - but mean absoloutly nothing taken out of that context you can have a lot of fun. It's amazing how many inserts, POVs, establishing shots, moments of transition and just plain weird moments there are in every film.

It is sad and sobering (but gleefully fun) to realise that I instantly knew that this:

was from a Nancy Sinatra movie called The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini and that without blinking I recognised this:

as coming from The Wild Women of Wongo.

The rest of my successes so far are here,if you want to plumb the real depths of my depravity.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

I'm Stretching My Cheese To Make it Taste Nicer

Dread 7 Weird Things Meme.

I've been thinking about this on and off all day.

"Share 7 random and or weird things about yourself."

Right. Weird Things About Myself. I don't know how to do this. I don't know any weird things about myself. Everything I do is perfectly normal and logical and makes sense in the context of me. As soon as I start to think "Oh, I do this weird thing," and start to say so, I sound like a desperate saddo like Rik from the Young Ones. Desperate to be wild and with it and "Yeah wow! I'm so whacky! Me I'm really weird you know...!" Argh! Cringe. Cringe. Actually people used to think I looked like Rik Mayal (who played Rik) which I always thought was weird. OK, so that was number one. People used to think I looked like Rik Mayal.
Right. That's my way in. Other things people have thought weird about me:
  1. People used to think I looked like Rik Mayal
  2. I was so pissed off with the 'Millennium' and everything that had anything to do with it that when I was asked (on the day) to work for the night of the 31st December 1999 as a KP in the kitchens of a local 4* hotel (Their normal KP having presumably pissed off to London or Glasgow to earn £500 quids for a night's work doing exactly the same thing I was going to do) I only asked my normal hourly rate of five pounds an hour instead of the twenty, thirty, or even forty I might have got if I had asked for it. I hate New Year's at the best of times. Celebrating the start of a New Millennium a year early was just too much. I was much happier washing pots all night than being forced into drunken bonhomie with loads of other drunken strangers.
  3. People in Los Angeles though it weird that after living there six months I couldn't wait to leave.
  4. People think it weird that my CD collection is in alphabetical order and the CDs are the right way up in the cases.
  5. People seem to find my fascination with Very Bad Science Fiction movies a bit bewildering but it is so simple. I can't imagine why people don't get this at all. So here it is again. In slow motion. With subtitles - and a director's commentary track: Most of everything is mediocre. It just is. Movies are no different. Most movies are mediocre. There's this big fat bell curve with utter crud at one end and sheer genius gob-stopping works of art at the other. In the middle is this huge fat bulge of mediocrity. The interesting stuff is at the edges, and the sheer genius gob-stopping works of art end of the spectrum is very well explored and documented. Everyone knows that Roshamon, La Strada, Citizen Kane etc. are Great Films. No, it's much more fun poking about in the sewage at the other end and finding mind numbingly awful movies that redefine the bottom of the barrel. It's great fun watching people inventing and reinventing new and interesting ways of fucking up. And believe me after watching a few movies like Robot Monster, Teenagers from Outer Space, or anything with Hercules in the title, the bell curve suddenly shifts. In trekkie terms you recalibrate your appreciation. A lot of the mediocre suddenly starts to look good. A lot of the dreadful looks interesting. Still hasn't made any Star Trek movies worth watching though.
  6. I own a working Betamax player. Just in case.
  7. I own a sixteen and two thirds RPM LP. With nothing to play it on - one of these days.
I am now going to cop out and NOT tag anyone else with this. Sorry.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Argh! Phoebe just tagged me with the Dread 7 Weird Things Meme.

In the latest stage of the constant biological warfare the kids have been waging against my poor, beleaguered, middle-aged body, Holly has pulled a neat double-whammy over the last two days. Not only going down with one of those weird childhood Lurgis that no one has ever heard of till their kids get it (Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease), she has also managed to get fucking nits. So, in addition to introducing me to the germs that made me shit like a fire-hose for a fortnight, followed by the Let's See If Daddy Can Turn His Lungs Inside-Out bug I am now faced with the prospect of doing some serious long-term Great Ape style grooming.

Apologies by the way if you are one of the people who went to Ilona's writing thing and were seduced into thinking I might have something relevant of interesting to say about anything other than the state of my bowels and my children's current parasites. If you are one of the people who didn't go to Ilona's writing thing, I will explain: Last night I got a phone call from Ilona who was doing a creative writing thingie about "Writing Your Life" the next day. Could she use my blog as an example (an example of what she was careful not to say). I being the reticent, publicity-hating, shy, retiring, utterly unflatterable hermit that I am said. 'Yeah, go on then, but just make sure you spell my name right.'

Gah! I hate the thought of nits. It doesn't matter how many times it says on the leaflets and the packaging of the bucketful of Anti Nit Gunk* we have applied to her tender little bonce, that head lice actually prefer clean hair, and that every kid in the world will get the little buggers at least once in their life, it still feels shameful to me that my kid has got them. It really does.

On the plus side of the week (is this a plus? Almost certainly not, but...) I noticed a friend of mine had breasts. If you had asked me the day before this happened I would have, in theory, known she had them, she is after all a woman but suddenly, that day, I noticed them. We were blethering away about something and suddenly her voice just faded out and all I could think was "Oh my god! she has boobs!" I found myself drifting off, doing that male talking to boobs thing that males do. To boobs. Wow. Talking boobs... Boobs. Booby, booby, boobs...
...sorry did you say something?
Right! Now... To... Carry... On... The... Conversation... Without... Looking... At... Her... Boobs...

Your eyes are drifting down again, Baldwin. Up! Up!

It was very disturbing. Boobs can be scarily hypnotic.

Track of the Day: 'Music for The Khurdakistani Space Programme'

*We've updated the Great Ape style grooming a bit. Up to all-out, neurotoxin chemical warfare status.

Monday, November 26, 2007

I have slipped horribly in my Noblmopo commitment. I have also forgotten what it feels like to feel well. Or rather not feel ill. I'm not sure I've ever known what it was to feel totally well in a Health and Efficiency, athletic bounding around way, but somewhere along the way I have settled for not having any identifiable symptoms at any particular time as being as good a definition of 'well' as I'm ever going to get. Over the past couple of weeks I have been a walking symptom factory. My most recent set includes very fitful sleep (I woke up at 4 am this morning with an entire sequence for a screenplay I'm playing with storyboarded in my head. I drew the whole thing out. Couldn't make head or tail of it in daylight) and something is making me try to turn my lungs inside out every morning so I can wipe off the accumulated gunk that has built up in them overnight. Not pleasant.

If this carries on for much longer I will have to finally admit defeat and go see the doctor.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Dad? Can I Secretly Watch Some Telly?

Rehearsal tonight for the Panto. Everyone is horribly more off script than I am which is pretty usual as I do have this horrible horrible habit of leaving learning my lines till the last possible minute, but we did some good work tonight blocking out the scene in which The Dame and I end up doing the tango round her kitchen table. Mike wrote this scene and it is very funny. Lots to play with verbally as well as physically. Some great jokes and plenty of space for slapstick.

I must learn my lines. I must learn my lines. I must learn my lines.

Despite saying I will do NOTHING other than act (and learn my lines) tonight, I somehow contrived to say I would make a pair of stilts for the Giant. As it is, she is the shortest giant ever seen on stage anywhere in the western world despite our attempt to make her look bigger by only having her on stage with short kids playing mini-me versions of the adult parts. (It looked good on paper). I now have to work out how to make her a pair of hands free stilts that aren't going to catapult her off stage into the audience. I am my best worst enemy.

Track of the day:
Killer Pussy - Teenage Enema Nurse In Bondage (4:14)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A while back I had a righteous rant about the hideous awfulnesses that had been done to the Kelvingrove. Today I turned this up in a coat pocket. It's the floor plan of the place. I picked it up when we were there in the vague hope of finding my way around. Looking at it for a moment before it went in the bin I was struck by something.

Surrounded by the wonderful all singing all dancing and terribly exciting interactive experience that is the new Kelvingrove, what are our happy smiling typical family doing? They're reading a book!

Amazing. Even their marketing people can't be bothered.
Two weeks to go to the panto. It's fingers out and start doing some work time. For me this means learning my lines. There are so many of them. Hundreds of them. All long, or complicated, or both. If I hadn't written or co-written so many of them I would be hunting the author down with a big stick right now. It was all so easy when it went down on paper. I keep forgetting when I'm writing that people have to actually learn this stuff. I keep forgetting I have to learn this stuff.
So, apart from the million and one other things I will be expected to do* for this show (and which I will try to refuse to do because if I do do them I will totally fall apart at the seams) all I have to do over the next two weeks is learn all this overly-complex bilge - though I am looking forward to the part where I rise from the dead wearing Noel Edmunds' beard and declaim "I Have The Power!" in my best He-Man voice. (Mike and I write very strange pantos - if the Mighty Boosh did a village panto it would probably end up looking something like this - though Ilona would probably make them put in songs, and 'romantic bits', and bunches of kids as well.)

* Ferrinstance: I spent four hours today going over the script with Mike and a fine-toothed comb writing down every prop and sound effect we could find, and then spent tonight chopping small bits out of Bach's Tocatta and Fugue in D Minor to fill some of them.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

There's been another outbreak of Interior Decorating Porn in the house as a copy of Ikea Family Live has turned up (possibly connected to the swift pilgrimage to the great Swedish altar of meatballs, and things with funny names Merriol made earlier in the week.) I get a curious, yet pleasurable, bewilderment from reading the strange semi-detached English these magazines are written in. I presume it's English.
'The MANDAL headboards allows a personal sleeping zone as well as giving status to the bed area.'
I think that means, "it's a bed!".
"When I draw the curtain I've hung beside it, I feel cocooned in my sleep zone."
What the hell is a 'Sleep Zone'? It's weird. Nothing else in the magazine is referred to as a Zone there are no Cooking Zones, or Relaxing Zones, or Nose-picking Zones mentioned, which is surprising everything else seems to be labelled and cordoned off. TV areas, relaxing areas, everything painted white with lots of drawers and 'storage systems', and 'space saving solutions' (shelves) to tidy everything away.
Very big on tidy are Ikea.
The magazine has articles showing ideal Ikea homes from around the world. China, France, Holland, Germany - and they all look the fucking same! Sterile (tidy) white boxes with no personality at all. One of my most treasured books is a little gem of a thing called Tokyo Style. I have no idea what it is really about as it is written in Japanese but that doesn't matter that much because the text is incidental. It's a picture book, page after page of photos of interiors of Japanese houses, no people just house interiors - real house interiors and they are all messy. Very messy. Huge piles of things piled on piles of other things, unmade beds, tottering heaps of stuff that reach up to the ceilings and fill every available square inch of wall space. It's brilliant. Whenever I get depressed about the state of this place, I go and look at a few pages. It cheers me up instantly. Gets things in perspective. What I need is Interior Undecorating ideas.

Dave Bowman utilizes the space-saving OBLISQ Storage System
to define his sleep zone

I'm off to my low status personal sleeping zone.

Oh, I did a cartoon tonight as well to make up my NobloPumpo shortfall of the last few days

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Well so much for PabloNomo. Sorry about that. I've spent the last few days half asleep, half on the toilet and 100% feeling sorry for myself. The bug I picked up on the massacre show dug itself in and invited a few friends. I have not been a well puppy for the past week - or a happy one. There's something about having your nose bunged up and your arse opened that will do that to you. Today I am feeling a little more human though still woozy from not having eaten for 24 hours in my latest attempt to starve the thing out of my system, this time aided by killer dose of loperamide hydrochloride ( C29H33ClN2O2 - or 'Imodium' to its mates, and I think I may well becoming one of them.)

As usual when in one of my Not Very Well, In And Out Of Semi-concious, Go To Bed And Wait Till Whatever Is Bugging Me Fucks Off states, I have been reading a lot, in the past couple of days I got through three of J G Ballard's early post-apocalyptic novels, and I've been watching bad Italian SF movies too, There's something weirdly dreamlike about them to start with, the bad dubbing, stilted language and plodding editing that lends them to being watched when you are half asleep. They actually start to make sense. Which is scary.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

"Never work with Animals or Children". One of those standard (fake?) theatrical maxims. I had always assumed it meant that you were going to be upstaged by the cute little tykes whatever you did and so might as well just phone your part in - but now I have come to suspect it's a health and safety issue. Small children are microbial delivery systems. Pathogen filled Excocettes, vectors for just about every bug going and a healthy experimental breeding ground for new and interesting varieties. After mixing with 60 or so of the little darlings for a week on the show I first succumbed to a case of the galloping trots ("Quick Watson! Fetch your revolver and some newspaper!") and now have a healthy dose of a grade A finestkind head cold. No blog entry last night because I was in bed by 8pm falling asleep to a deliriously bad Spaghetti SF film called Battle of the Worlds.

It's now 7.52. Time to climb back in and fast forward to the last bit I remember...

Monday, November 12, 2007

No more than a token sentence today as I have just spent the time I should have been blogging drawing a leek in Illustrator for a very weak cartoon joke.

It's a very nice leek though.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

I Feel A Bit Benty

Broke down the set today and gathered tools etc. etc. Lots of hammering, crashing, swearing and young girls in cheerleader costumes roller-skating past our ears. (The hall was doubled booked, our Get Out and the local roller disco formation ultra-girly roller-skating group. They were supposed to be staying up the far end of the hall near their incredibly bad, distorting sound system and their equally bad and distorted choice of music but kept straying down to where we were wrestling with miles of cables, lighting bars and one and a half tons of gaffer tape stuck to every available surface.)
During all this I managed to twat myself on the head, someone distracted me while I was taking down one of the lighting stands - not one of the scantily clad roller disco formation roller-skating ultra-girls but one of our lot who wanted to know where something was. By the time I had finished the conversation with him I had forgotten the nut I was about to undo was the final nut to be undone and, therefore, the only thing holding the heavy bar above my head in position - so when I blithely undid it, the bugger came down with a crash and cracked me just above the eye. It could have been a lot worse. I swore a lot, mostly at my own stupidity, and bled a lot less than I was expecting, much to my relief.

One of the tunes the roller disco formation roller-skating scantily clad ultra-girls played on their crappy, distorting sound system was 'Tomorrow' from Annie. I hate 'Tomorrow' from Annie. I have never dared Google the names of the people who wrote because I know that if I ever find out they are still alive I will be instantly overwhelmed with the need to do something about it.
When I'm stuck a day
That's gray,
And lonely,
I just stick out my chin
And Grin,
And Say,

The sun'll come out
You can't! Try it. Right now. Stick out your chin. Grin. Now try and talk...
It's impossible. No one can do it. Not without sounding like a total drooling imbecile anyway.

Mmmmm, Italian Style Lasagne

last night of the show tonight and I stank the place up. I was awful. I was totally unfocussed for the first act, gave myself a stern talking to in the interval, and was just getting into the swing of things when I bollocksed up the opening line of my final speech just before the massacre scene. I rescued it but I was fucking furious with myself. My prop retractable bladed knife snapped as I skewered the chieftain and I had to cut his wife's throat with an empty handle. I managed to disguise the fact that I was wandering around stage killing people with a small, very blunt piece of plastic by ostentatiously wiping blood of a blade that wasn't there with a cloth. Once I was off stage I ripped another of the prop knives off the end of a wooden rifle to which it had been taped to act as a bayonet. Back on stage to stab my doxie in the belly (my character was a real evil shit) and managed to add extra authenticity to her demise by practically concussing the poor girl as I whacked her in the face with my shoulder as I stabbed her. Then off stage left and rush round behind stage to enter stage right picking up two rifles on the way (one minus its bayonet) to shoot and then bayonet - or at least severely poke - the last two victims.

It a performance now immortalised on video. Why they had to shoot this performance not last night's much better show I don't know but I'm planning on seeing if I can get myself edited out

I'm glad that's over. In three weeks time I will be stinking up the stage in the village panto.

Friday, November 09, 2007

The show tonight clocked in at 2 hours 45 minutes. A whole 15 minutes shorter than last night and this despite the fact we actually did more of the play. Apparently last night a whole page or so was skipped (in a scene I wasn't in I hasten to add).

Part of the tightening up might be due to the pep-talk we got before the show from Ilona telling us to get our arses on and off stage faster between scenes or might be partially due to the fact that the projectile vomiting stomach bug has swept through the cast and no one wants to be on stage when disaster strikes.

I spent the entire day today running to the toilet and lying down feeling sorry for myself while trying to ignore the weird and disgusting noises emanating from my belly. I also spent the day not eating anything in the sincere hope that I would be empty by show time came round and wouldn't suffer the ignominy of crapping myself on stage in front of a paying audience. Something I don't want to contemplate any more than I imagine you do. Especially not in a rented costume.

Anyway, it seems to have worked. I haven't eaten for 24 hours now and apart from the odd boiling toad noise from my guts nothing disastrous has happened. Tomorrow is the last night. Hurray! My brief but brilliant career as an evil slaughterer of innocent children will be over. Leaving me three weeks to learn my part as an evil scheming Baron for the Panto.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The show, it turns out, is three hours long. No disasters that I noticed - none in my bits anyway For a first night it went remarkably well. Which is all very well and good for us and the paying public, but doesn't make for an interesting story. I even got my character's name right for a change.

I'll try and think up some disasters for tomorrow.

Oh God. We're on tomorrow night.

The set looks good.

I'm being disingenuous. I just have the Oh God We're on Tomorrow Night whim-whams. I've been living on coffee, fags and terror for the past three days as we get this thing ready and apart from a barely suppressed willingness to commit bloody murder on one cast member who is driving everyone up the wall, I think we're doing pretty well under the circumstances. The latest of which was tonight seeing our director vomiting copiously into the bushes outside the hall as we were leaving. If I didn't know that both her kids had just recovered from a stomach bug that involved copious amounts of vomiting I would take this as a bad sign. As I do know that her kids have just recovered from a stomach bug that involved copious amounts of vomiting, I will merely spray her with disinfectant when she come round tomorrow morning to make sense of the illegible notes she gave about the programme.

The set looks good.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

We ran the whole show today for the first time. We started at 5 (ish) and ended at about 10 (ish) having lost over half the cast along the way. They had to go home halfway through because it's a school day tomorrow.

4 hours. It felt much longer. We will run it again at least twice tomorrow and we should knock off at least half an hour from the running time just by me alone now knowing which side I'm supposed to be coming on from.

If you have ever been behind stage during an amateur or mixed amateur/pro show like this - especially one with a lot of kids - you will know this, but the entire time the audience are sitting there enjoying the show there is a frantic babble of conversation going on behind the scenes:
"Which bit is this? Which side do I go one next? Christ! When am I on next! Fuck! I'm on the wrong side of the stage! Get out of the way, Get out of the way! Get OUT OF THE FUCKING WAY! Where's my hat?"
All conducted in various degrees of manic whispered shout. Today's hissed whispered babble was louder and more confused than normal. People had costume on for the first time. A few people, me included, had two costumes on, one on top of the other to speed up a dress change. Instead of taking one costume off and putting another one on we just have to take one off. Well, that's the theory.

The lighting has been the big techy problem. Today I spent the morning winching half tonne lighting bars up and down and hanging lights. Later in the day it turns out that some previous user of the hall has managed to trash some vital section of the lighting racks, and the cable that connects the bits that do work to the lighting desk doesn't seem to be doing much either. Kiree, who is driving the lighting desk, is one of the calmest unflappable people I have ever met. Faced with near calamity in the lighting department she raises an eyebrow and mutters " That's interesting!" before doing a few more workings out scribbles in her note book and going off to fix it. Don't know how she does it. I would just want to hide.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Another day locked in the aircraft hanger recreating the Massacre of Glencoe with ballet dancers, Girl pipers, bad actors, and a cardboard mountain - parts of which changed colour several times today accompanied by the sounds of increasing frustration and confusion from Felicity who is painting the set.
Felicity is a lovely woman but does have this dreadful habit - which she gleefully acknowledges - of leaving everything till the last possible minute. Literally. The last show I worked on that she was involved with she was still painting the scenery as the audience were taking their seats. I was first person on in that show and instead of the usual "Good luck!". or "Break a leg," or "Knock 'em dead!", just as I walked on the give the first line of the show, the stage manager leaned over to me and whispered: "Don't lean on any of the scenery, it's still wet."
Felicity's trouble today was that none of the colours she was mixing looked right when she put them on the flats. The purple she was trying to get kept turning into a blue. It took me and Kiree, who is doing the the lighting for the show, a while to convince her that if she was mixing the paint over there <-- under the nice, pinky white Mercury vapour house work lights and then painting it on the flats over there --> which were bathed by the nice bluey-white Halogen flood lights we had rigged up for her, of course the bloody colour would change.

The rest of the day was similarly frustrating. Lots of stop, start, nothing getting finished, trying to work out what to do next faffing about and waiting for other people to stop faffing about and decide what they were going to do next so you didn't get in their way, etc. etc. etc.

The usual pre-show chaos.

I managed to run away and avoid a lot of it by hiding behind the cardboard mountain and pretending to add more bits to the supporting structure. It is now pretty robust now. I screwed a shitload (that's a theatrical technical term) of wood to the back of it and piled it high with concrete blocks swiped from the skateboard park next door. Later Andy turned up with a pile of weights he 'borrowed' from a gym somewhere and we piled them on as well. We are nothing if not inventive - and safe. It would take a bulldozer to knock the thing over now.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

3 (or 4ish)

So, day three of NoMoPabloOmo (though technically it is now day four - though not in anywhere west of me yet).

Today was spent in the Nevis Centre in Fort William avoiding looking at the stage. The stage there looks HUGE and I spent the entire morning doing anything and everything I could think of to avoid actually erecting the set I had built to fill it. This included laying carpets,erecting small thrust stages that were twice as big as I had been led to believe, eating too many disgusting but addictive marshmallow snowball thingies off the techie food table and generally fannying about.

There was no way on earth that what I had made flat-packed in Ballachulish village hall was going to fill the space. It was going to be a humiliating failure I just knew it. Like the tiny Stonehenge in Spinal Tap, only flat. Finally, sometime in the afternoon, I gave up and dragged all the parts up onto the stage and with a help from Andy and a couple of other guys screwed it all together flat on the ground and then, with a few other people helping, lifted it up into place. Much to my surprise and relief it didn't fall to bits. The relief was short lived because in my anxiety to get the thing up I had forgotten to organize any way of keeping it up when (if it ever) it got there. A few moments frantic running around followed as we improvised some bracing so we didn't have to have people standing behind it holding it up for the whole run. Then we got to have a look at it completed for the first time. First thing Ilona said was "It's bigger that I thought it was going to be - is it too big, do you think?"

Andy and Ilona make Ross and Paul walk
about being Very Scottish on stage while
they contemplate the relative bigness of
a cardboard mountain.

Other highlights of the day (you may want to skip this next paragraph Ilona) include Paul (Sound engineer and heroically conciousness and love struck Redcoat) mentioning, in passing, that he really aught to start learning his lines. I responded by launching into one of the speeches I had learned yesterday.
That's great." he said, "Where does that come?"
"I'm not sure," I said, "but I know I'm saying it to you."
"I have to read the script again. Don't I?"

And I have to stop mangling a line in the middle of a speech I give just towards the end of the play - just before the massacre scenes. Finally, with the order to kill everyone in sight in my grubby little mitt, my character launches into a impassioned rant about what a rotten lot of murdering thieving bastards the MacDonalds of Glencoe really were and how they had raided his family lands the year before. Somehow the line keeps coming out as "They burned all the cattle and stole our houses!" A surreal image which might distract ever so slightly from the tragedy that follows.

"Take that you cattle burning bastard and where's my Winnebago?"

Friday, November 02, 2007

Another Micro blog tonight as I'm getting an early-ish night. Tomorrow I have to be in Fort William early-ish erecting the half-painted scenery I constructed earlier in the week, and which I have to stand in front of in four days, wearing a radio mike, and, I hope, speaking the words I have been dunning into my head all afternoon.

So, to save my face on day two of DaGlo Pablo, please lend an ear to darling daughter number two who, at the tender age of three, has more natural comic timing that I ever will.

Overheard this morning:
Daisy (Singing):

A, B, C, D, E, F, G...
...W, X, Y, Z...
Now I know half my ABC,
won't you sing along with me...

Tomorrow: Tales of set-construction, swearing and other arty, temperamental stuff.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Seven Little Guys Called NoBloPoMo

Well, Write More Fucking Blog Month* gets off to a flying stop. I am just going to bed, having just been woken up from being asleep on the kids bedroom floor for an hour and a half. I fell asleep while reading them a bedtime story. It's not yet 10 pm. Who ever thought November was a good month to do this - when half the computer owning world is suffering from having their internal clocks buggered about with by the weird, and possibly pointless, transition from Summer Daylight Saving Time to Winter Pouring Daylight Down the Drain and Dumping it Out at Sea Time - needs their head examined.

Good Night all.

*A rallying cry inspired by the famous Australian meat marketing slogan of "Eat more beef, you bastards." The standard by which all advertising should be measured.

Monday, October 29, 2007

I've Been Robbed.

This weekend we went down to the big city to meet Brain and Di for the afternoon and I finally got to see what they have done to The Kelvingrove in Glasgow. The Kelvingrove re-opened eighteen months ago after an extensive, and expensive (£27 millions quids worth of expensive) restoration. I love the Kelvingrove. It's a magnificent building, a high Victorian basilica of the arts and a monument to the stinking richness of the city at the time it was built. A hugely impressive and solid building, it used to be stuffed full of treasures from all over the world eclectically displayed, sometimes oddly juxtaposed by time and random acts of curation, but full of goodies and oddities. It was, in short, a marvellous place to go and look at things and marvel at the ingenuity and creativity of the human race of the all the ages from all over the world.

What it is is now is a series of coffee shops with a kids' playground strung between them.

They spent 27 million quid fucking the place up. It is terrible. There's no room to look at anything and often no way of finding out what it is you are trying to look at. Most of the wall space seems to be taken up with laminated signs telling you fuck all about anything but asking "How do you feel...?" about this that or the other. The galleries that used to be stuffed full of paintings, and furniture, and sculpture, and artefacts of every kind are now stuffed full of patronising uninformative notices and grandiose display cases that are more about showing how smart and clever the twats who redesigned this place are, than showing to best advantage anything that they may contain. They are so busy interpreting everything for you they don't let you see anything. My lowest point came when I was presented with a glass case full of armour (most of it unlabelled) - at one end of the case was, for no discernible reason, a pair of arms from a suit of armour and underneath them was, for an equally indiscernible reason, a stuffed armadillo. Then I got it. Arms + Arms + Armadillo. Oh, ha bloody ha. They must have pissed themselves with self-congratulatory smugness when they thought that one up.

The kids needless to say loved it. It was full of things to push and crash and flap and squeeze. But so is everywhere else these days. If everywhere turns into a huge feely bag for five year olds where are they going to learn about all the other things in life that are important. If every museum is reduced to the level of the Early Learning Centre with interactive brightly coloured plastic and patronising Janet and John notices, how are they ever going to learn about stillness, and awe, and respect for the arts. If all art is is a bit of background decoration upon which to hang a 'Hands-on Interactive Learning Experience', where are they going to learn about beauty and the sheer overwhelming gobsmacking joy of discovering something wonderful for themselves? How are they going to make the thrilling discovery of hidden treasures if there are only two over-interpreted objects in every room?

The Philistine fuckwits who did over the Kelvingrove wouldn't know an artist experience if it bit them on the arse. Take Dali's Christ of St John of the Cross for example. I'm no great Dali fan myself - too much of the chocolate box painter / showman made good for my taste, but people like him and the Kelvingrove's painting is a famous work of his. So famous in fact that it features heavily in the museum's literature. Why then is it stuffed in a corner with two huge spotlights shining on it? Spotlights which reflect so brightly off the glass, that you can't get close to the painting and see it? It is just a terribly piece of hanging. There are others. Avril Paton's equally iconic (in Scotland anyway), wonderfully voyeuristic painting of a Glasgow tenement block, The Window on the West, is hung way way too high. Far higher than it was in the Glasgow Museum of Modern Art where I last saw it. The only reason it is hung so high is because the structure of the building means there is a stone dado in the way of hanging it any lower. It's in the wrong space. The viewer's eye line needs to be level with the top floor of the block for the painting to do its work, not halfway down the building. Hanging on the wall next to The Window on the West is a massive, floor to ceiling painting. It looked interesting. I would have liked to have been able to step back and look at it - but I couldn't, because there was a huge Janet and John book disguised as a 'learning zone', or some such shite, plonked directly in front of it - which meant you couldn't do anything other than look at the bottom of the the painting and stare up at the rest somewhere near the ceiling, and so it went on, and on etc. etc. etc.

It was a depressing experience. It's crap. The whole place is crap. It didn't used to be. And I feel robbed.

27 million fucking quids worth of robbed.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

I think I need more sleep. I have just spent an hour giggling myself stupid mixing this out of tracks found over at I'm not sure why, but it just had to be done.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

In a fit of script avoidance. (Must learn Archibald Cuningham's impassioned - but mercifully short - speech for the Lament show tonight. Loads of bile in a heavy costume) I have signed myself up to NaBloPoMo which stands for National Blog Posting Month - A blog entry a day for the whole of November. Why? No idea. I just liked the sound of 'NaBloPoMo'. Sounds like a Spanish artist: Nablo Pomo. You must have heard of him, used to go drinking with Picasso and Dali. A great practical joker, Pomo used to turn Dali's canvases sideways on the easel when no-one was looking. Sometimes Dali would be so wrapped up in his work he would continue for hours and only notice his friend's little jape when the painting was completed:
"Pomo, you great twat! You ruined my picture! This watch I painted, it goes round a corner now. It looks like it's bloody melting!"
Other times Pomo would sneak into Dali's studio and tilt his easel back a little bit more each day.

What a wag.

So. November. Blogging every day sounds a lot more achievable (and worthy) than NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month. 50,000 people have signed up to that one. Does the world really need fifty thousand more novels? Maybe I should start NoMoWriMo. No More Writing Month, where no-one writes anything. Nobody types anything at all for thirty days, no-one witters on drearily about their kids' talented drooling, no-one inflicts their 'poetry' on anyone else, no-one struggles with that difficult second novel. No-one writes ANYTHING for a whole month. Apart from shopping lists and notes to the milkman. I think that would be allowed.

We might all get some reading done.

I'm going to cheat and count cartoons as blog entries.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

I hate advertising. Always have. I turn the sound off during the commercial breaks on the television and then go for a piss (whether I need one or not) so I don't have to look at the pictures - I take the remote with me in case anyone else in the room is tempted to turn the volume up in my absence*. I don't listen to any commercial radio, and throw junk mail straight in the bin unopened.

Over the past few days I have finally realised what it is about the bloody stuff that I loath so much. All advertising is designed to make you buy something or, at the very least, feel good about some 'Brand' so you will buy something off them later - or not mind if they do something really shitty in a Third World country because well, they did do those funny adverts with the monkey after all, so how evil can they really be.
There are various ways you can be made to buy something. You can be made to want it because it will make you feel better. It will make you happy if you use this product or that. Or you could be persuaded to want something because evil things will happen if you don't. Paranoia advertising - "Look at all those fucking germs lurking down your kitchen plughole!" stuff.

Or snobbery. "People will sneer at you if you haven't got the new cool technological gee-gaw in your pocket." - or, even better - "If you get the new cool technological gee-gaw in your pocket NOW! you can then you can sneer at THEM!", That will make you feel better "Ha! Ha! I'm officially cool You're not!" and you'll have a nifty up to the minute do-dah which you won't know how to operate properly but everyone will be jealous of it and you for at least three weeks - till it becomes obsolete.

The one thing all advertising seems to have in common (and I feel really dumb for only having really worked this out at the tender age of 48) is that to be effective it has to make you feel unhappy.

Advertising is all about identifying people's miseries then dangling the magic carrot that will cure them.Advertising is all about telling people they are sad, lonely, miserable, depressed ugly and stupid - then selling them the cure.

I don't know how many adverts the average person is exposed to during the day but that bombardment of negative messages must have a qualitative effect. I don't need overpaid 'Creatives' telling me I'm shit.

That's what my family is for.

*This is a total lie - but a good idea.

Meanwhile if anyone has a copy of the original of this they can lend me, I WANT!

Any film that has dialogue like:
"Follow our example, Comrades!
Unite into a family of workers in a
Martian Union of Socialist Soviet Republics!"
has to be worth a look.

The full 100 minute version is, by all accounts, a total chore to watch but the Martian sequences look extraordinary. Especially the battle towards the end. I remember the 1950s American remake Flight to Mars being a total turd. And I don't remember there being impassioned speeches about the dignity of Labour and the Rights of the Proletariat, lumpen or otherwise. It was all running around corridors with zap guns, and girls in short skirt heaving their interestingly large 1950s pointed Martian boobies (well maybe not a total turd) at hunky square jawed Space jocks.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The other day while laying the fire, and reading, as you do, the month old newspapers that I was scrunching up before laying the sticks. I came across this gem of a letter in The Sunday Times. It was in a section of the letter column devoted to pouring scorn on Germaine Greer for an article in which, I'm guessing here, she had the temerity to suggest Diana Princess of Wales didn't walk on water, didn't cure the sick with a glance, and may well have gone to the toilet from time to time like the rest of us. From the general tone of the letters you would have thought Ms Greer had accused The Sainted Diana of being someone who regularly snorted pure heroin off the nipples of prepubescent girls before pummelling kittens to death with a meat tenderizer. Most of them were just the sad outpourings of lonely people. One of them just made me laugh,
Power Play: What a pity Diana died when she did. Had she survived to inspire the men of our nation, our rugby team would be winning every match and the war in Iraq would be won.
Ken Wilson
I suspect this was written tongue firmly in cheek just to see if the paper would be foolish enough to print it, but it wasn't hard to see the ten year dead, simpering, Hug an AIDS orphan, anti-landmine, people's Princess as some sort of British boy's comic cartoon hero. Smashing the Taliban with one hand, and, with the other, kicking the winning conversion in the Six Nations Championship before nipping off to the showers with Johnny Wilkinson and the rest of the team*.

Sort of like Tupper 'The Tough of the Track' who used to appear in 'The Victor' when I were a lad, a working class hero who would eat vast quantities of Fish and Chips, probably fought Germans with his bare hands "Achtchung! Die Englander!" but always made it back, despite all the odds, to win the Three Peaks Race in his bare feet - but with tits and a tiara.

What's the point of all this? I have no idea, except for the past day or so I have had the nagging desire to do a comic strip in which Diana does just that; Diana of the SAS blasting her way through hordes of Kalashnikov wielding Taliban with her trusty British Tommy Gun while barking out lines like "Like eat lead, yah? You Ragheads, Okay? Cool!" Before jumping in her trusty British Harrier Jump Jet and whizzing back to Twickers to run out with the England team and thrash the Froggies 53 - 51 after a nail-biting climax.

I am so tempted...

*Okay, I'll give you that bit. I can imagine that bit - her climbing into the showers with the entire England rugby team - I don't want to, but I could. If I wanted to. Which I don't. (I also know you don't kick rugby balls with your hands, either of them.)

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Don't Say "Bungee Jumping Mermaid!" - That's Rude!

I sometimes wonder how some people manage to make it out of bed in the mornings without straining their brain.
This afternoon I was in the queue for the till in the village shop, loaf of bread in one hand bar of chocolate in the other, it's a small Co-op with tiny Post Office (pronounced 'po - stoffice' round here). In front of me in the queue was a lady of middle to advance middle years who I didn't recognise (i.e. almost certainly a tourist) and behind the counter was the new lad, I don't know his name, who is friendly and helpful but still finding his way around. She is attempting to pay and he was having trouble with her card.

He stabbed at a few keys on the till. Shook his head and apologised. "I'm sorry. The system hasn't recognised the card, could you put it in again, please?".
She pulls out and then reinserts her card. He waits for a moment. But it's obvious from his expression that the same non-recognition thing has happened again. I can see the doubt on his face. I can see him wondering whether it something he has done, or hasn't done. Should he call the supervisor? He decides to have one last go.
"I'll cancel the transaction," he tells her, "and we'll try again. Could you take your card out again, please?"
He presses a few more buttons on the till as she removes her card. The queue has grown in length by now, and those of us who can see what is going on are exchanging typically British "tut tut, I don't know..." type micro-eye contacts. The rest who are around the corner next to the crisps and can't see what is going on, probably assume that someone up front is buying a Lottery ticket, a process which any time I have seen it acted out, seems to take the entire shop staff, several keys, and a lot of apologising, "The machine is usually a lot faster than this, the lines are slow today. Was it a Lucky Dip you're wanting?"
The lad finally gets the amount re-entered into the till and asks the woman to insert her card for at least the third time. She slides it into the machine. Still no joy. He is feeling awkward. What's he supposed to do? He's new on the job. He's never encountered this situation before. He's just on the point of saying something when the woman pulls out a twenty pound note and some loose change. " I'll have to pay with cash." she says, "I don't know my PIN number for that card anyway..."

Sunday, October 07, 2007

I am getting really worried about me. The other day listening to some Radio 4 remix of the Desert Island Discs format I heard this brilliant piece of music.. I mean it really knocked my socks off and about half an hour ago I downloaded it.
I love music. I don't know a lot about it (but I know what I like) and I am in constant awe of friends like Chaz who understand what keys are and what to do with them, and can make music. I've always had eclectic musical tastes (thanks, Pa!) and have never been a great fan of any particular type. Back in my student days I still managed to listen to Steve Hillage, Gong, and all that other Hippy - "Ooooh take me on magic trippy teapot ride!" - druggy stuff and alternate it with loads of Bang your head on the table, "Gonna cut my liver out and nail it to your door" punk (other druggy) stuff, depending on my mood (enhanced or otherwise).
These days I flit from old Blues, to Techno, love mashup, Enrico Morricone, and minimalist composers like Glass, Reich and Nyman. From time to time I will have short crazes for Jazz or Baroque organ music but Never. Ever. In my entire life did I think I would ever ever ever! listen to...

Bert Kaempfert.

Bert K, it turns out, had earned his place in musical history by being the first person to pay The Beatles to go into a recording studio, but his album Swinging Safari makes me want to upgrade him. It's a work of pure genius. It stands in direct ratio to my usual cheesy listening as a great slab of honking, live Roquefort does to a individually wrapped Baby Bellette or a sterile slice of Dairylea. It is wonderful. I want more!

And it got Popcorn out of my head!

When I think of all the Bert Kaempfert LPs I have idly flipped past in the charity shops over the years I could kick myself. I'll be buying James Last LPs soon.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Sorting through the pictures on my phone today I came across a few that weren't of the kids, or of total strangers - the number of pictures I have on my phone of people who are total strangers is quite worrying, - or floors. I seem to have taken a lots and lots of photos of floors. I don't remember taking these but I guess I must have done - though why is a good question. (God, I hope this is my phone). Anyway, I thought I would share some of the oddness I found in there. You lucky people.

This year's Truss Award for most misplaced apostrophe
on a professionally made sign goes to:

This was from a 'continental' market in Fort William.

I just don't understand that one at all. Even if it was supposed to say "Made of Stuff" it would still be pretty weird.

The white hot heat of oil lamp technology
reaches the far north of Scotland
And finally...

I wonder what a 50% official Power Ranger looks like.

There, that wasn't to painful was it?

Missing CD? Contact vendor

Free CD
Please take care
in removing from cover.

Copyright (c) 2004-2007 by me, Liam Baldwin. That's real copyright, not any 'creative commons' internet hippy type thing.

(this copyright notice stolen from

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