Saturday, April 30, 2005

Draugr

Agent Ginny recently sent me details of the BBC's ''Continuing Drama Series Writing Academy " (aka 'Apprentice SoapMaker'), in a sort of 'this probably isn't your cup of tea, but I thought I'd let you know' sort of way.

The conclusion we came to was that unless Eastenders is about to introduce a new character called Gaping Olaf, a zombie viking (operated by four puppeteers), it's not really for me. Still might be worth forwarding details though, just in case there's anyone out there who hasn't heard about it yet.

And Gaping Olaf isn't quite such a stupid idea as he sounds. The Laxdoela Saga (written about 1250*) contains details of:

...the draugr, or dead, returning in great numbers, mutilating and killing anyone they encounter, wiping out entire regions, forcing people and animals to leave their dwellings. Unlike the ghosts of classical antiquity, these dead are not described as "images". They seem to be endowed with real bodies, as if the cadavers themselves, having returned to life, had left their graves. (source: a book I took a couple of photocopies from, but neglected to write down the title - d'oh)

Now that's what I call a saga. If zombies hadn't recently been done, I'm trying to think of a phrase other than 'to death', but I can't, then a viking vs zombie epic would be on the cards. But they have, so it isn't.

More stuff about draugr here. It's a great word - particularly the a's and u's and g's. 'Slaugh' (a kind of spooky celtic goth fairy) is a good one too. Really good monsters should have names that are not only spooky to look at, but hard to pronounce too.

Quick forum update from Izzy:

It's set up at the mo to let people read the posts, but not actually post anythng until they're registered/logged in. then you should get buttons saying 'add reply'.



*Nearly ten to one. I love that joke. Hoo boy.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Thanks Izzy!

Blue Cat forum now up here, thanks to Izzy from Cornish Rambler

Having a bit of a sort-out this weekend. I'm going to give toy-fu a separate site for updates, as it's swamping the blog somewhat - then put collected chapters up at toy-fu.com when they're ready.

Going to go and suggest more topics now - Izzy may come to regret this..

Bluecat Forum? (now inc. Toy-Fu 18 - eyes)

Evans has sent me this excellent litter story, coincidentally on the same day I wrote some scenes about... litter. Maybe it's not a coincidence, maybe I'm just obsessed (also, Elephants Yeah).

Jane said: James, is there any chance of introducing a forum element to the blog? Much as I adore Toy-fu and TCC (the aficionados' abbreviation for the Curious Cabinet, dontcha know) I also really enjoy the comments. I've just back-tracked through to read the Sissinghurst exchanges. If we had a forum, we could chatter amongst ourselves without missing things... just a thought.

james and the blue cat said: A forum? Could be the egomaniacal straw that breaks the egomaniacal camel's back... Also I don't know how to set one up. That said, it would be nice to give the GW C4 comedy zoners another forum, as it seems to have gone a bit dead over there, and it seems a shame when some of the threads fade away... So if anyone has the time to set up a general chatting place (and maintain it - I don't have the skill or the time), let me know, and I'll link to it from here.

And the more I think about it, the more I think that would be a really cool idea. Call it the Bluecat Forum (leave off the 'james and the', lest my plans for world domination become all too transparent). But someone else would have to do it. And there'd be rules. Many, many rules. No emoticons or signiture wacky quotes for a start. I'm sorry, but I have to draw the line somewhere. I'm all for icons though, obviously.

I thought I'd crowbar TF18 in here as well:

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Funny one-act plays

I Go By Many Names has asked if I can recommend a funny, one-act play (I think for a 6th-form production, but correct me if I'm wrong Igo). Anyway, I can't, because I know nothing at all about plays/theatre/greasepaint stuff.

Suggestions so far:

cello said..." 'The Bear' by Chekhov, is, I think, both funny and in one act. Just 3 people too."

Um, that's it. So if there are any more potential single-act hilarities, please list them in the comments below...

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Toy-Fu - Parte the Firste

The rest of the first chunk/chapter/bit of toy-fu now has its own site at toy-fu.com. It doesn't so much end as... stop, but I'll start some new stuff soon. People seemed to respond to it (and notice little tiny bits even I'd forgotten I'd put in, like some of the more lurking spiders), which is great. I really must learn to take better photos though.

More animated stuff: an excellent video for The Arcade Fire's Neighborhood 3 - Power Out (via stereogum). They had me at the 'looking up into the snow' moment, frankly. I'm a big fan of simple, cartoonish characters against realistic, textured backgrounds (like Tintin, although I disapproved of the animated versions, as they seemed ironically flat and lifeless compared to the books. Scott McCloud could probably tell me why).

And Funeral is undoubtedly the best album I've heard so far this year. Lovelovelovelove it. I want there to be a proper chamber pop music festical. All indoors, a wide variety of teas, and lots of frockcoats. And proper toilet facilities, with polite queing.

I keep thinking about the Neo-Victorians in Neal Stephenson's 'The Diamond Age', and the more I think about it, the more I want to go and live there. All the nice bits of Empire, with none of the ghastliness. Maybe it all stems from an Arcade Fire concert. The gentlest, most polite revolution in history...

Monday, April 25, 2005

Online role playing game World of Warcraft: last night


WOW screenshot
Originally uploaded by jamesandthebluecat.
(the screenshot there isn't from last night, it's just an example)

So, the way these work is each character on screen is a real person, hunched over a keyboard somewhere. Individually one is given various quests to do, but sometimes you get a quest you simply can't do on your own (go into a dungeon and kill lots of monsters, that sort of thing). That's when you have to find a group to team up with, and the little chat/text box in the left hand corner really comes into its own:

INT. DUNGEON - NIGHT

Four fantasy types (a MAGE, a ROGUE, a HUNTER (me) , a PRIEST and a PALADIN) are about to attack various monsters when-

PALADIN: Hang, on, my wound is bleeding, brb (be right back)

The PALADIN freezes.

ME: Wait, does he mean in Real Life?
PRIEST: Um, I guess.

Rest of characters hum, whistle, twiddle thumbs and so forth, while we wait for the PALADIN to return. I discover that if i type '/sleep' my character lies down and has a snooze, which is quite fun. Finally-

PALADIN: OK, back now.
ME: Are you bleeding in real life?
PALADIN: Yeah - keep needing to change bandages.
MAGE: Ddude! Wht hapenedd?
PALADIN: Accidentally got shot on firing range.

Silence. Eventually-

ME: What calibre?
PALADIN: 9mm.
ROGUE: Kome Onn! !!!!I kned to klll mansters! !!!Neerly 27th lvl now!!!!!
PALADIN: Yeah, I'm good.

Characters charge into battle. Much fun is had, and much treasure gained. Later, sitting amongst the fallen and dividing the spoils-

PALADIN: Guys, gotta take more painkillers. Feeling weird now.
MAGE: Ddude, yo sure yoo OK?
PALADIN: Yeah. brb

PALADIN goes still again.

MAGE: May be he should goto hospital.
ME: Mmmmm. Although...
MAGE: What?
ME: Well, we do need a paladin.
ROGUE: PADLINS ROCK!!! They can tottly resurect from ded!
MAGE: And we got that big end of level bit coming up... Is 9mm bad?
ME: .44 is worse.


PALADIN: Back now.
MAGE: Sure yoore okay?
PALADIN: Think so.
ME: I suppose you could always see how you feel- ohmigodheretheycome!
SCOUT: ATTACK ATTACK!
ROGUE: KLL THEMALL! WIPETHEM OUT!

Much fighting. Eventually we win.

PALADIN: Ok guys, I have to go to hospital now.
ME: OK, thanks though.
MAGE: Yeah, couldnt of done it with three of us.

PALADIN exits game.

ME: That was fun.



Sunday, April 24, 2005

Curious Cabinets


bust
Originally uploaded by jamesandthebluecat.
Wandered around the British Museum on Friday, vaguely meaning to look at things Viking, but ended up in a gallery devoted to different 'cabinets of curiousities' (the sort of strange random collections rich types used to accumulate before the museum as we understand it came into being - and the subject of the children's fantasy book I'm very slowly writing). And it's fabulous - exactly what you'd want a collection of collections to look like: glass-fronted shelves crammed with ancient books, coins, glassy*-eyed stuffed animals and so forth.


cabinet
Originally uploaded by jamesandthebluecat.
I would tell you where it is in the building, only I can't remember, and I'm not having much luck with the website either, but I did take some photos, so I'm fairly sure I didn't imagine it (wait - having had another look at the layout I think it's room 49 on the upper level). Anyway, well worth a look if you're around that bit of London.


*The repetition of 'glass' here really annoys me. Still, what's done is done. But it does annoy me.

Toy-Fu 12 - Jacuzzi

Friday, April 22, 2005

Toy-Fu 11 - Tower

Apparently he's very nice, and doesn't bear grudges.

Went to an exceedingly showbiz party last night, which was a great success in that I only elbowed the upcoming controller of BBC1 in the face the once. Sadly they weren't serving Green Wing Cocktails, but it can't all be about us. Sometimes you have to sit back and let the little people have their moment.

I did, however, indulge in a certain amount of SexyDancing with an unknown lady, who had frankly made her intentions clear from my arrival. Sometimes I forget the simple ways of Londoners, and make undue use of my sophisticated country charm to dazzle and confuse them, which is obviously unfair of me and very poor form. Although possibly she had picked up on the weird anti-glamour of me being without any doubt the poorest man in the room. Anyway, she acertained that GW Richard's girlfriend Laura wasn't my girlfriend and inquired into my marriage status. I warily informed her that I was single, and ran away, only to encounter her accidentally on the dance floor. At which point she started SexyDancing me, so I thought 'right, you sod' and started SexyDancing back.

The thing is, being a tall man comprised principally of feet, elbows and knees, I have to navigate a crowded party in the style of a giraffe tiptoeing through a pride of sleeping lions. And as you can tell from the BBC1 controller incident, this isn't always successful. Even when I haven't injured a) important executives and b) my career prospects, I usually make it to the far end of one of these parties with unconscious posh girls draped over my elbows like a maitre d' at a particularly odd restaurant.

But ah, when the dancing begins...

Okay, I'm not that good. But I can SexyDance like a good 'un, and last night I went too far. I was expecting nuns to be bussed in, purely so they could faint amusingly, or cover the eyes of small children who definitely shouldn't have been there. And then Blue Monday stopped, and the crazy lustful frenzy abated somewhat, and I realized that a) I had frankly taken advantage of a simple city girl, whose publishing baron father would now accept nothing less than seeing the two of us married within the week and b) I had to run to get my last tube.

So I ran away (again), only the annoying bit is, I went to give her a quick (and frankly rather chaste) kiss on the cheek before I left and she squirmed away (bear in mind she's been rubbing her arse against me for at least two songs). Obviously I thought she had perhaps slipped on a vol-au-vent, or something nasty left behind by Angus Deayton, so I tried again, and she recoiled once more. Other than shouting 'bloody hell woman, I'm not trying to tongue you', I wasn't sure what to do, so I left.*

Probably all for the best. Anyway, never SexyDance in anger, that's my tip. I'm heading back to Cornwall tomorrow, where I shall recline in a bejewelled chaise-longue in one of the many glittering salons and wow the courtiers with tales of the mysterious ways of the natives here in London Village. But I thought I'd better write it down first before I forgot.

*The bells of London Church were tolling midnight as I left, and in my haste one of my trainers fell off. Still, I'm sure that won't lead to anything.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Toy-Fu 10 - Journey

Bobstay-Holes*

Congratulations to Jonathan Whitehead who's just been nominated for a 'Television Craft' BAFTA for his brilliant music on Green Wing, for which I keep meaning to give him proper credit, but never do, and Pippa Haywood (aka Joanna Clore), who's up for a Rose D'or.

While this is all getting luvved-up and speechified, I now want to thank Laura and Kate, who last night brought me respectively: drinks and a dictionary of obscure nautical phrases. Oddly enough I found my (new) hotel quite easily last night whilst slightly tiddly, but then got completely lost this morning and ended up wandering around Bayswater Park, which is quite a nice park, but still. Unless I imagined finding the hotel last night and actually slept in a tree, which is not un-plausible.

I also want to give belated thanks (I'm getting into this now) to Kt who sent me a fantastic birthday CD with all sorts of melodic and choral loveliness, including the full cover of 'When Doves Cry' by her band Touchwood. They're coming over in 2006, and I will be both listening to them, and drinking beer, maybe alternately, maybe both at the same time, I haven't decided yet.

Also, Matt/Precise-Minds/Gandalf's got a blog. It's very good, and has a very pretty graphic/heading/title thing/thing. Soon, Cornish weblogs will devour the world. But in a nice way. So go and say hello.

*"These cut through the fore-part of the knee of the head, between the cheeks**, for the admission of the bobstay; they are not much used now, as chain bobstays are almost universal, which are secured to plates by shackles."

** Steady.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Good Cause

The Mighty Evans (she of the Victorian-style heckling and blog/GW crossover fame) is doing a charity walk for the British Heart Foundation here. The only reason my name's not up there is because I will be handing over brown-envelope-style cash in a dodgy pub tonight. Others would probably prefer to use the interweb paying mechanism provided. Go to it, o webchums and tonight you will sleep the sleep of the just. And although I can exclusively reveal that there is not, in fact, a heaven*, you can be assured that you will have performed a good and kind act for its own sake - a much better deal all round.

*I'll stop the anti-religious stuff soon, I'm just having a phase.

NB: An excellent point by Ruth below in that I should have said where the Mighty Evans is walking to. She's walking along Hadrian's Wall (presumably with her arms outstretched, wobbling humorously and saying 'oooooh, I'm going to fall off.....') , with her friend Stace, who used to work in Canterbury Waterstone's as well. Not the whole of the wall, but a goodly chunk of it. Evans, feel free to add further details...

Stay Pressed.

The final episode of Casanova (I accidentally typed 'epidose' then, which was curiously apt), was blimmin' marvellous. I am not ashamed to say I wept a manly tear, and then, as blokes do, got quite angry afterwards and flicked V-signs at the telly when some Vatican-style Big Hat made a statement about the new Pope having to keep the moral agenda maintained by the old one. Because lying to an entire continent about the effectiveness of condoms against AIDS is quite enormously moral, isn't it? The spokesman then went on to say that in all likelihood, the new Pope would continue to 'hassle the gayers'. Which is clearly my job, only I do it in an affectionate way, which is much better all round.

I can't stand the way the religous right go on about the 'moral majority', as though anyone who can, you know, grasp the concept of basic evolutionary theory, has necessarily jettisoned any concepts of morality or spirituality along with it. Wankers.

On a separate note:

Never mind that shit, what people really want to know is, how can your shirt be so very neatly pressed when there be not a solitary iron in the entirety of your hotel? Hmm?

The answer is simple, my friend, I purchased a travel iron, of noticeable dinkiness.

Did you buy any other undersized travel items for your week-long stay in London Village?

I did, thanks for asking. I purchased a very small can of deoderant, and a tiny tube o'toothpaste.

Did you line them up on the shelf and use the miracle of perspective to pretend your hotel room was much bigger than it really is?

Yes. Although it also looked like I'd mugged a gnome.

Isn't it a bit weird, conducting an imaginary interview with yourself, on a blog already devoted to furthering your growing egomania?

Yes.

NB: Felinity asked when you'll see me at one of these awards ceremonies. The answer, quite possibly, is 'never'. Not, sadly, due to any kind of dignified moral stance, but a weird kind of reverse stage fright where I get so squeamishly embarassed on behalf of the people trying to be funny when they present the awards, only to be met by a wall of sullen silence, that I have to run around in very small circles with my fists clenched until I've calmed down.

I have to go and hide in the toilets at weddings when people make their speeches. Funerals are ok, as people rarely try and be funny at those.

So if you do ever see me at an awards ceremony, you'll know it's one I really really wanted. Or I've made a duplicate me, out of Lego.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Toy-Fu 8 - Jeff

BAFTA BAFTA BAFTA*

Stop me if I'm going on about it...

Many many thanks to everyone who voted (particularly the C4 and LiveJournal forums). You guys. And didn't Tamsin look pretty? Not at all like a puffin, as she stated in her Observer interview, although I too, have always been mad for puffins.

You may have spotted me on stage last night, clear skin glowing, my aubern tresses freshly curled, wearing a really rather posh frock from- no, wait, that was Fay. In fact I didn't get to my hotel til late last night, so I shall look forward to the fabulous gossip from Fay and Ori who scrubbed up lovely, I thought. And I shall tell them as much when they arrive. They might be a bit late late though, as they'll be weighed down by the MASSIVE BAFTA** AWARD.

Sorry. And more seriously, well-done Vic, who did, frankly take a bit of a risk on this one (and not just by letting me quit the day job). She done well, and we all heart her very much.

I'm in the office bright and early and am slightly freaked out to see the writers' room has been thoroughly tidied, and the table pushed to one side to make way for the editing suite. Always a scary moment when you're still writing the thing. Now, how to end... how to end...

* Actually was it a BAFTA? Or was it a Pioneer Award? Or both? Confused. I will look into this.
** See *

NB: excellent photo here (well, click on to 6 of 12) of half the GWers grinning madly while the other half try and repair the backdrop they accidentally pulled down. For some reason that makes me even madder with pride than the award.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Happy Birthday PP!

If you go over to Spoilt Victorian Child, you'll see a link to a Magnetic Fields cover of 'If I were a rich man', which I personally arranged for Stephin Merrit to play as a birthday treat for you. Or summink.*

And over at the pants press sketchblog there's a lovely/weird animation called Snobo - you need bittorrent but there's a link on the post (14th april), and I managed it, so it can't be that difficult.

Off to catch the train now.

* At a big showbiz party, where we ate pickled swan and took turns to ride a unicorn.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Don't stop moving (everybody's groovin')

Many thanks to Matt (aka Gandalf) from precise minds who tidied up the design here for me, as incorporating the toy-fu stuff knocked everything else slightly out of whack. But it's all back in whack now. Magic stuff.

Just put the first ten pages of my 'evening class' sitcom up - over here. It's an attempt to crack the narrative/sketch format, and at the same time include puppets and vikings. And trannies as well, just to make sure it's the biggest costume budget of all time. Ah well, I go where the story tells me.

Very pleased to hear David Tennant's been confirmed as the new Doctor Who - a little frisson ran through the GW office when we heard that news, unless a frisson is a kind of dog, in which case it didn't. But yes, having come rather late to the Casanova party (and never having seen him in anything else) I think David Tennant would suit the part down to the ground. Or in fact a rather different part, as a big chunk of the joy of Doctor Who (from the production point of view) must surely be that every now and then you can completely re-invent the character. And the setting. And the rest of the cast.

Toy-Fu 7 - Sneeze

Friday, April 15, 2005

Goddammit, where are my glasses?

Oh no, there they are.

Tch.

Quite sweary today (sorry Carol)

Back in Cornywall now after more fun meetings. Film meeting was particularly odd, in that a man burst into the office to give the lady I was meeting a bunch of flowers for chasing thieves away from his parked bike, particularly impressive since the woman concerned looked like a slightly slenderer version of Naomi Campbell (but much nicer).

I was having one of my less coherent days, unfortunately, and when I was asked why particularly I wanted to write films, I said it was because 99% of the films I've seen in the last ten years have been 'just.... fucking... fucking.... shit.' She got up and very quietly closed the door at that point, although the fact that she was still on my side of it has to be counted as a victory of sorts.

Although I may have squandered it by later using the sentence 'God, it's so bloody fashionable to be dark, isn't it?' to a black woman - meaning to talk about current vogues in comedy commissioning, although of course it suddenly sounded like I'd segued into rather regrettable racism. Slightly awkward pause, although I was quickly able to list a few examples of current comedy stuff I can't stand (no names, as I might bump into them) at which point we seemed to be back on track. She barely blinked, although I can't help noticing she didn't attempt to share any chocolates. I probably would have picked out the one white one anyway, so maybe it's for the best.

I was about to use the phrase 'I've only ever had one black friend in my life', when I realised I can't even remember his name, so clearly I can't even count him. Anyway, he used to go out with a friend of mine, and he was (and presumably still is) a law lecturer as well as being a very large man indeed. His favourite joke whenever he saw me out was to steal whatever of mine I'd left lying around (bag, coat, laptop) and race off at high speed, then stop and turn round so he could see the resultant clash of emotions fly across my face:

1. Oh my God, someone's stolen my bag
2. Still time to chase after them
3. Shit, it's a huge black guy, that's slightly more frightening
4. Guilt/Rage
5. Oh for fuck's sake it's (insert whatever his name was)
6. Bastard.
7. Rage/Guilt

And then he'd give me my bag/coat/laptop/current girlfriend back and smirk at me. Sometimes my liberal/Guardian-reading sentiments would clash so severely with my primitive/Daily Mail-reading dad upbringing, all my synapses would misfire at once, and I'd collapse in the street, foaming at the ears.

Anyway, I think he's dead now.

Toy-Fu 6 - Ed

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Strange animated/puppety things


catwithhands
Originally uploaded by jamesandthebluecat.
Just working through a phase of trying to cram puppets into every single project I'm currently working on (including a new sitcom spec script I've just finished about evening classes), so it seems only right to guide you o gentle reader, to the new video by Mercury Rev, called In a Funny Way, and this piece of creepy-ass weirdness called The Cat With Hands.

Also, Learn to breakdance via Flash Animation

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Never mind that shit, here comes Mongo!

You know how you get songs stuck in your head sometimes? I also get bits of comedy films looping for no reason on long train journeys, and on the way up to London yesterday, this bit from Blazing Saddles was all I could think about. I think I may have said it to the ticket inspector. Hey ho. It also slightly ruined 'Return of the King' for me. You know that scene where Gandalf is telling whichever hobbit he's with that death is nothing to be feared just before the trolls kick the door in? That line popped into my head, and made me very slightly giggle.

But nowhere near as good as Paula's mum's partner, whose name I've forgotten, but who made the terribly moving scene where Lurtz sends a third arrow into Boromir even better by shouting 'One hundred and eighteeeeee!'.

For those confused about the Lovecraftian Mushroom reference, look over here. I was particularly thinking of his "The Colour Out Of Space" story, which is fabulously creepy, and like all Lovecraft's stuff, slightly funnier than it's meant to be.

If anyone feels like it, you can go to the BAFTA site and vote for Green Wing in the Pioneer Award. If you think a load of old speeded-up footage, silly walks and knob gags deserves to be in an award with the word 'Pioneer' in it. It's a tricky one. Probably get one of your mates to vote for the One Day of War programme though, and then I can go to bed at night in the hope someone out there might have a vague sense of perspective*.

Monday saw some interesting emails about the screenplay, on the first day of Agent Ginny's two-week holiday (so clearly it's her that's been holding me back all this time**). It seems to be working its way up to bigger and more mahogany-ish desks, so the waiting game continues for the time being. However the 'eggs-in-one-basket' approach seems to have got me surprisingly far to date, so I'm keeping fingers crossed.

The fact that it's evidently quite a big-budget film than I had originally imagined (the fact that one of the action scenes contains thousands of CGI mini-monsters, and I've specified that each one has to look slightly different could contain a hint at to where the money will have to go) doesn't seem to matter overly, although one of the options I'm looking at is re-writing it for a lower budget that would allow me to be much more involved with the production, rather than see it head away into the stratosphere and end up as something completely different- i.e. set in space with Keanu Reeves (which as it's set in a creepy old country house, with the protagonist being a teenage girl, wouldn't exactly suit). Although I guess the mini-monsters could stay.

Viking Heist Movie is definitely my next project now, inspired by the clapperboard pressie. I'm having a meeting this afternoon with another film company, so it's good to have something else in the bag, even if it is just a brief outline and some character names - in fact there are whole workshops you can go to all about preparing your back-up for when your initial pitch falls flat and you're asked if you have anything else you've been working on. The hero is going to be a herbalist, called Numpti. Not sure whether that's a good thing or not.

Other than that, it's Green Wing 2 all the way - the first few scripts are being filmed now, but we still need to work out where we're going with the second half. Suggestions to have them all hanging off a cliff in an ambulance again have been, sadly, rejected.


* Forget that - just realised the award is sponsored by Pioneer, so I might get a plasma telly (or an eighth of one maybe).

** Joke

Monday, April 11, 2005

Free (and very good) music

So this bloke called osymyso who done music for Shaun of the Dead (and possibly Spaced as well, not sure) is putting up his new album, or a version of it anyway, up at this bit, with Simon Pegg doing a bit of percussion, apparently. I loved the earlier bits of this (particularly 'It's all about fun, right?') as well as some other stuff on the site like 'Fiver to Bigwig' which is funny, but also oddly moving. But funny.

He also did a thing called (something like) updownupdownleftright, which had bits of various things from computer game soundtracks, some of them being orchestral versions, which I had on my old computer but it died and I lost the track, which was a shame, so if anyone knows where I can find it again (can't see it on the site) can they let me know?

I fell asleep earlier today, lying in the sunshine* reading Noggin the Nog (research for the Viking Heist film, best job in the world etc) listening to Sigur Ros playing stuff about Odin. By rights I should have dreamt about snow, and Nordic chess pieces (Noggin was based on an old chess piece you can see, I think, at the British Museum) and wolves and that, but I don't remember dreaming at all. What a waste of an hour. But then I didn't go into the street and start a fight, or play thumping bass music, or wear a baseball cap, so really the world should be grateful for my restraint. Harrumph.

* Obviously I only worked on the Viking Heist Movie after I'd spent all morning writing some frankly very funny stuff for Green Wing, including a marvellous scene where Guy - well, I've said too much already. Great stuff though. Just in case Rob's reading...

Bathroom O'Doom

I'm starting to think my bathroom contains its own (admittedly rather petty) Hellmouth. Or possibly it was built on the site of a mysterious Shrew Burial Ground.

Things I have discovered gaining access to my bathroom:

-Slugs.
-The Ghastly Plastic Homonculus.
-Snails.
-The common Bathroom Spider (no surprise there, I suppose it would be more sinister if there weren't any).
-A large Black Cat (I was in the bath, and it stuck its paws and head through the open window, which is quite low, and thus only about a foot above my face - I don't know who was more surprised, but it didn't enter the room fully, correctly surmising that any further journeying on its part would be A) wet and B) complicated).
-The Yellow Lovecraftian Mushroom

I can now add to the list:

-A Vine (don't what kind, there was just a tendril making its way up through the tiles, -I suppose I should have let it continue on the off-chance it might bear grapes and therefore pay for itself in the long run).
-A thousand million ants.

The ants I got up with my dustbuster which I emptied out of the kitchen window. I heard them all shouting 'wheeeeeeee' *as they dropped two stories** down onto the patio, falling very slowly due to their small mass.

Seriously, I make sure I never fall asleep in the bath these days. I might wake up to the gentle croaking of tree frogs, with tropical ferns caressing my face as monkeys run off with the soap.

One possible area of blame is the regular revolting retching noises my co-occupant makes when she brushes her teeth with an electric toothbrush first thing in the morning and last thing at night. I used to think she was just pushing the brush a tad too far back, but now I'm starting to think she might be summoning some kind of Hell Dimension Portal...



* And then, slightly later: 'Again! Again!".

** Don't try and work out the weird topography of my house. You'll go cross-eyed, and all the milk in your fridge will turn cheesy.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Knew you'd be here tonight.

Somehow, I've always been able to connect emotionally to electronic music in a way I can rarely do with, I don't know, 'traditional' music. Much as I love the pour-your-heart-out catharsis of all the Rufuses Wainwright and Eds Harcourt, there'll always be a hole in my soul only that can only be filled by the likes of Kraftwerk, The Art of Noise or Sigur Ros. There's a purity, and a blankness there that lets you fill in the space with whatever's in your own head, very much like I imagine talking to an angel would be like. I'm talking about your proper terrifying androgynous, alabaster-winged, flaming-sword-holding messengers-of-the-Almighty-type angels, obviously, not the crap hippy ones that hang around crap hippy women in MBS sections in bookshops, invisibly whispering nut-roast recipes and Alanis Morissette lyrics.

My point is, if you get the chance to listen to anything by the above-named a hundred miles north of the Arctic Circle, standing knee-deep in snow while reindeers wander about in the pine trees behind you, making quiet raindeery noises, you should definitely take it. Currently I really want to go back. Basically repeat the whole experience, but this time with an iPod so I don't have to rewind compilation tapes with a pencil to save Walkman batteries.

And to that list of musical loveliness you can add Four Tet, for whom Mark Heap's only gone and done a video, over here. And a lovely piece it is too, well worth the many bruises I think he may have received during the making of (via stereogum, with links to other formats if QuickTime doesn't work for you).

Which leads me onto posting this sombre, beautiful, slightly-threatening track, a Four Tet mashup/soundclash/bastard pop/whatever by Poj Masta, which seamlessly incorporates Kylie's 'Slow' into.... well, a song by Four Tet. Not sure which one, annoyingly, but if I go through my CDs to find it, I'll get distracted by Aphex Twin remixes and will never be seen again.

Of course it completely stuffs up my earlier point (whatever the fuck that was), by using sung words by an actual live human person, although Kylie's voice is so disembodied here it may as well have been sung by an frost-covered robot angel anyway, so I think it all works out again. Hurrah.

Seriously_Slow.mp3

Friday, April 08, 2005

Toy-Fu 5 - Finger

Pressies!


clapper board
Originally uploaded by jamesandthebluecat.
An excellent pressie from Paula. With a clapperboard, and the film's best lines already written, full-blown production can only be days away. Also, my nan's let me have a goatskin rug she had in her old home, so that's the costumes sorted....

32. Crikey. Apparently 33 is the biggie, as you inevitably compare your achievments in life thus far to that of Our Lord (well, not mine really, but Your Lord sounds rather accusatory). And at least he had some practical skills to fall back on, so if the water into wine thing didn't impress anyone, like it was a Galileean AA meeting or something, he could at least knock up a quick bookshelf. Or an occasional table.

Moving swiftly on from my crap stand-up routine, but still on religion (hurrah) PP asked me about the physical state of the Pope, and I was able to tell him that a light preservative had apparently been applied, so there's no danger of his nose turning black and falling off like happened with the last one. More Pope news as it comes (probably read the Polly Toynbee article in today's Guardian for a slightly more serious take on Mr Pope's less than joyous legacy).

And apropos of nothing (other than I like to use the word 'apropos', so I suppose technicall it's apropos of itself) The Cuddly Menace has been around for a little while now, but is well worth another read. Very funny.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Green Wing USA - May 19th

From the BBCAmerica site:

"Green Wing, premiering Thursday, May 19th: From the award-winning team behind Smack the Pony comes Green Wing, the new comedy series that's part soap opera, part drama - but all surreal and innovative. Set in a hospital, despite a general lack of medical attention, Green Wing follows new surgical registrar Dr. Caroline Todd through hew first day at work and beyond. Among the bizarre cast of characters Dr. Todd encounters, how will she tell the good guys from the bad - and what sort of Guy is Guy Secretan, the smooth talking anaesthetist? Even as her first day draws to a messy conclusion, Dr. Todd intends to find out."

Ladies and Gentlemen of the USA (well, the three of you with BBCAmerica), prepare to get your Green Wing on.



NB: For those confused by the BBC/C4 thing Pashmina explains...

"BBCA buys the rights (it's a separate company, advertising rather than UK licence-fee funded) - lots of C4 stuff gets shown on BBC America, for some reason the US networks think British TV is a bit too quirky for them.. Think of it as a one-stop-shop to provide good telly for desperate anglophiles. They're showing Shameless this season as well."

No idea when it'll go to Oz though - sorry KT.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

The best lines from my (as yet unwritten) Viking Heist Movie:

"Sven? Get the cart, now!"

"This is my last job Jens. My beard's getting too white for this shit."

"That's not my raven."

"Frieda? What did you put in... in the mead... "

"Then we reverse up the fjord, let it all blow over and we're home in time for wenching, and songs about wenching."

"Wait, this hoard belongs to Olaf Bloodaxe? The Olaf Bloodaxe?"

"Pull over lads, it's a longship."

toy-Fu 4 - Quiet

And a sash saying 'Miss Truro'


2005rufus024
Originally uploaded by jamesandthebluecat.
Brilliant photo taken by Christina - Rufus last night was, in every sense of the word, fabulous. A very slightly iffy start when he told us that this was the first date of the tour, so could we be "critical, and sort of... English", which isn't the best thing to say to the Cornish. British, grudgingly, yes. English, no.

Certainly a less polished show than the Barbican, but somehow much more fun. I think there may have been an element of 'let's just muck about and see what works' and it was all the better for it. The striptease was a particularly marvellous moment, and never have I seen so many burly security guards staring down at their feet and blushing. Although I feel the rendition of "Gay Messiah' (dedicated very sweetly to the Pope) may have discreetly changed the life-course of one or two of the white-shirted guardians of order. I should possibly point out that dignity was maintained by the band retaining their undercrackers (glittery, in Rufus' case) and they went on to swathe themselves in towelling bathrobes bought from Truro M&S that very afternoon to do two more songs. However I worry the photographer from the West Briton* may have left his lens cap on at the crucial moment. Let's wait and see.

Ash Atalla (producer of 'The Office') in his latest Guardian column said that amongst recent emails, "James said I wrote 'pointless crap' but would I mind reading his sitcom script". Someone's already asked, and no, it wasn't me.

I held a door open for that Ash Atalla in Talkback once. He didn't say thank you. Nor did Angus Deaton, although at the time I think he had other things on his mind. Sarah Beeny however, gave me a lovely smile yesterday when we gently ushered her out of our meeting room yesterday, which we'd already booked from nine thirty thanks oh-so-very-much.

Well I say 'ushered', although in fact it was really more a 'waiting for people to leave' and I and three other GW writers stormed in to demand our room back, only for the sense of self-righteous vengeance to falter slightly when A) none of the people in (our) meeting room looked up or acknowledged us in any way and B) all the other GW guys chickened out and ran away, leaving me standing alone with angry words dying on my lips and one hand slightly raised for no reason. So I pretended I had gone into the wrong room and left again.

We tried again about three minutes later and it worked better this time, in that they were leaving anyway. Still, as I said, a lovely smile.

The Guardian newsblog had a link to McSweeneys, which isn't always, I feel, quite as funny as it thinks it is (not a hanging crime, thank god), but I haven't looked at it for ages, and I thought this was quite lovely.




* The local Falmouth paper is, by the way, called 'The Falmouth Packet'. Some people choose to find this funny, and I know of at least one person in Kent who has it delivered weekly just to laugh at the name. More refined types will understand that the Packet ships were the little boats that went out to the big ships to pick up and deliver packets of mail. I didn't even realize 'packet' could be considered a rude word until I went to university, which goes to show something I haven't worked out yet in its entirety.

**
Matt says:

I think you're wrong on the packet ships. The packet ships _were_ the big boats, they didn't have tenders that i know of.
They were called packet ships cos they were shipping packets, v early mail delivery all around the world.I believe the packet ships themselves used to come in and tie up just above Tesco's, which is where "the moor" comes from.probably more water there at that point.... not 100%, but pretty sure that is right.

Matt

Toy-Fu 3 - Lightsabers

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

I think it was a King Charles spaniel.

Just looked at this site in Explorer rather than Safari, and understood what Igo was saying - just when I thought I had become an HTML genius. D'oh. I may even put the toy-fu thing on a different site, as it's already overwhelming the blog somewhat. Or I may not. My ways today are whimsical and capricious.

I had one of those slightly cheesy film moments upon leaving my hotel this morning, as I stepped out of the sunshine, put my sunglasses on and neatly tapped a stray football back to some foreign students having a pleasingly gentle kickabout on the pavement. I was fully expecting to be hit by a falling piano shortly therafter, or to be crapped on by a pigeon, but nothing yet.

I had another one of those last month back home, when a rather cute, I believe the term is 'honey', managed to entangle her puppy's lead around my legs while I was window browsing, leading to flashing smiles and apologies all-round. The only element preventing this being the opening scene of a romantic comedy was the fact that my best mate Sass was with me, and we were standing close enough together to look like a couple. So I pushed her down some steps, which rescued the scene somewhat, but we never got as far as swapping phone numbers, sadly. It did occur to me later that this could be some kind of Victorian-style pickpocketing ploy, and that she might come from a whole family of 'tanglers', but my library card was safe and sound. Or maybe she didn't have the heart to see it through, and my graceful acceptance of her poor doghandling skills rescued her forever from a life of crime.

Attending rehearsals last night, I was pleased to note that 'I came all the way from Cornwall for this' has now become a stock phrase for when a scene falls slightly flat. We discussed having the motto carved on my tombstone, but it would of course mean I would have to be buried outside Cornwall for it to make sense, and I had to travel enough when I was alive, frankly.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Toy-Fu 2 - Lookout



The tube in the background is aloe vera gel. Nothing weird about it, I just like my tinctures.

Toy-Fu 1 - Thursday



There's something faintly mystical about the fact that this works (as a jpeg I mean, not in humorous terms, that's much more debatable). Not just that, but to get the picture to fit, I had to alter the blog template to widen the main bit slightly, and that worked too. I am slightly freaked out now, because I didn't have to call Matt once (although I'm sure he felt a disturbance in the force, as though one small voice cried out 'hmmm... no wait, I've got it', and was still).

Odd Crossover

I enjoyed last night's Doctor Who much more than the first one - which certainly did fantastically well in the ratings, inducing spasms of glee in anyone trying to get a series about anyone other than cops or (ahem) medics, past an official commissioning editor with a big hat on. And if Christopher Ecclestone really isn't going to be in a second series, I really don't see it being a problem. After all the regular regeneration of the main character into a completely different actor gives everyone involved a chance to reboot the look and feel of the show to an extent impossible anywhere else.

I'd love to know how much they had to pay for the rights to 'Toxic' though. I know GW tried to play about ten seconds of 'Hey Ya' for the party scenes, only to have the LA office of their record company laugh hysterically at the very idea, They'd apparently turned down about a million quid offered by some film producer who wanted to smother his soundtrack with said choon, so imagine how little they cared about small british comedy show. I think the song's too familiar anyway - it's a strange business, soundtracking.


Talking of things that Didn't Quite Happen, sometimes you pretty much know something isn't going to make it on-screen, but you just have to write it anyway. This was my attempt at a GW/Popular British SF series crossover done for the recent Comic Relief night. When you take into account budget, licensing issues and also the sheer bloody stupidity of the thing, it's really not a surprise this didn't go anywhere (the fact that I didn't bother writing any actual dialogue rather shows a lack of commitment, I feel). But I thought I'd put it up anyway. Apologies to anyone who hasn't seen GW, as this will make even less sense:

FADE IN

EXT. PASSAGE/SPORTS HALL - DAY

Striding in slow-motion down a passage, like modern-day gladiators, accompanied by stirring martial music, we see three pairs of heavy-looking boots.

Camera slowly tilts up to see MAC, GUY and MARTIN, attired in serious-looking (but strangely archaic, Quiddich-like) armour, over which they wear their white coats. Each clutches a topmiler helmet under one arm and stares defiantly into the distance.

Superimposed over this image is the logo ‘GUYBALL - WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS FINAL, 2005'

Now they move into the sports hall proper. Montage of GUY, MAC and MARTIN checking their armour, putting on their topmilers and checking each others’ straps. All is utterly serious. This is the final. No pissing about here.

When they are fully ready, they assume their positions, and the camera turns, showing us their opponents for the first time.

Three DALEKS stand on the other side of the court, in roughly equal positions to GUY, MAC and MARTIN. Each DALEK wears a topmiler.

A moment of silence as the two teams check each other out. Then a whistle blows, and the game is on.

Montage of high impact, bone-crunching action as MAC, GUY and MARTIN take on the DALEKS:

DALEKS using suction cups to carry the ball about.
MARTIN tries to take on a DALEK and fails, bouncing off it painfully.
GUY cheats and is caught out.
One of the DALEKS is injured and MAC calls a time out to check it is okay.
GUY kicks a DALEK. It turns to face him and he runs away.
One of the DALEKS is intercepted by MAC, and the ball goes flying into the air. GUY goes for it and misses. For a moment, all looks lost, then MARTIN soars triumphantly into the air and catches the ball in his topmiler.

CUT TO:

INT. SPORTS HALL PODIUM - DAY

MAC, GUY and MARTIN are lined up to receive their cups. GUY flicks a v-sign at the DALEKS. A bolt of (cheaply superimposed) energy zaps past him. They all look a bit scared.

FADE OUT

Friday, April 01, 2005

(One of) The plural(s) of 'cannon' is 'cannon'. (possibly)

Excellent argument with my dad about cannon. We drove past the main roundabout on the way to Truro, which now has two large examples of Tudor ironmongery on it. Which made my dad sigh and shake his head (worrying, as he was driving) and say 'hoo hoo, they won't be there tomorrow'. To which I said, well, I think they'll be quite hard to steal, and he said, they've got wheels, and I said, yes, but they'll be hard to sell on, and he said no, and then said rather emphatically, up-country.

I abandoned the discourse at the point, but if anyone's crossed the Tamar into Devon recently and spotted a dodgy car boot sale stuffed with dodgy cannon, second-hand battlements and suits of armour (mostly complete)... don't tell me about it, as it means I've lost.

Also on conversations in cars, I had to dash from Islington to White City for the BBC meeting, so rather than wandering the streets looking for the nearest tube station I waved down a taxi, which turned out to be driven by Harry Enfield in his 'Oi Lance' period, if anyone remembers that. Or if it wasn't him, it was so close I was genuinely checking for the hidden camera. He took me to Angel tube station, and seemed slightly embarrassed for me that it was only about two minutes away. Explaining that it was less that I wasn't up for, as he'd put it, 'The Walk' (he said it in capitals, it was really weird), than I just didn't know that bit of London very well and felt that blundering about flickering through the A-Z sent off all sorts of signals that would attract urban predators, malcontents and ne-erdowells, after my iPod.

To which Harry Enfield said 'Thing is mate, you're a grown-up aren't you? Maybe take a bit of responsibility for your life'. Which made me go quiet for a bit, although he then asked me that if was from Cornwall, could I tell him if waxing a board really made that much difference if you're surfing. I that I wasn't that sure, and we agreed that it couldn't, not really, because if it did, someone would have the job of waxing battleships, and we both knew people in the Her Majesty's Royal Navy, and neither of them had mentioned it.

Anyway, I tried to spend the rest of my London trip in the mindset suggested by Harry, and it worked well. There was a mini-GW convention just round the corner from Talkback - much fun. I just hope my and Rob's rather gory tales of tongue-related ailments/injuries didn't gross anyone out. And that was before the drinking really began. PP's worries that I should file my travel plans with the police, the coastguard and him were of course totally unfounded, and the experiment will surely be repeated in the summer, so a big shout out to T, F and P. Peace out.

And then I introduced the Mighty Evans to Mark Heap (GW's Dr Statham) in an impromptu post-work booze-up. It was like one of those comics crossovers where characters from entirely different continuities team up to combat evil, or in this case, more booze. The reason I'm writing this all down is because I went on to get the sleeper home, only I didn't sleep very well and now the past 24 hours seems like quite a strange dream, although worryingly, I think the bit where Mark and I planned to raise a secret guerilla army to combat street impertinence and/or littering with random acts of appalling violence may have really happened. Still think it's a good idea though.

Sleep now.