Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Time and Relative Dimensions in Ketchup

There's that thing in films, although they don't do it so much now, where the camera sort of focuses in on the person (often a screaming woman, or a Hero going 'what the'), whilst at the same time the background zooms out. I think they do it in the first LOTR movie, when that bloke from Lost is wittering about carrots, and Frodo gets an inkling that the Black Riders might be coming, so everything goes whooshy (my professional script directions are better than this)*.

Anyway, this morning, I tipped a small tin of baked beans into a white bowl and opened the microwave door... to find a white bowl with exactly a small tin's worth of baked beans already sitting there.

So everything went all out of focus and strange and a bit whooshy, and for a moment I genuinely thought I had transcended the boundaries of space and time, and was just starting to wish it had involved something more exciting than legumes**, when suddenly I a) realised that these beans were cold, and b) remembered I had put some beans in the microwave on Sunday morning, where I had clearly forgotten to pay them any more heed.

So, I got it all sorted out in the end, although at one point I had a white bowl of baked beans in each hand and was having some difficulty picking out which ones I should heat and eat and which ones I should throw away. I think I made the right choice, but I'm still not sure.

Oddly enough though, I do have a new winter wardrobe (I buy new clothes about twice a year, but get very excited), which is mostly earth colours, with the ocasional rather daring white accent (white buttons on black linen shirt, white laces on fat new trainers, pale spots on new brown shirt, black bootcut cords ) but (this is relevent) teamed with my autumny black coat from last year which I forgot about, I think I look rather Doctor Who-ish. Of course, only the beans know the truth.

The new Dare video by the Gorillaz (I would link to it, but I can't make it work) by the way, illustates perfectly the Sexydance I did when was testing my ensemble for flexibility/Dalek-fighting suitability, and shows my, what I loosely term 'technique' has rather a worrying amount in common with the dancing stye of a twelve year old imaginary japanese girl. Particularly the arse moves. I may have to recalibrate.

*Steve Mangan said his favourite ever GW stage direction was 'Guy reddens slightly', which if you think about it, is slightly easier to write than do.

** Possibly not the right word.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Moving steadily further from reality.

Originally uploaded by jamesandthebluecat.

Ori gets with the viking zeigeist. And Fay gets new glasses. Acting is way more fun than writing. But then writing is way more fun than having a proper job, so I'm not complaining. I may or may not, for example, have purchased some viking lego, which I may or may not be planning to write off to tax.*

However I have been rather immersed in my kid's book of late, to the extent that when I popped into the local museum to have a chat with an old schoolfriend, I couldn't remember a) her married name, b) her kid's name, c) our mutual friend's kid's names d) what day it was.**

What didn't help was that the art gallery had a dragons head stuck up on thewall, which I'd never noticed before. It's the sort of thing I would notice normally, as well. I stared at it for quite some time wondering if I'd lost it completely.

AND, bloody and, I finally found that Sigur Rós song that made my heart explode in a good way when I saw them live was 'Olsen Olsen' off the Ágætis Byrjun album. It's never been the big things that make me happy. The phone call from Patrick that they liked my sample stuff for Green Wing and wanted me to write for them full-time went like this.

PATRICK: So we'd like you to write for Green Wing full-time.
ME: Do I get any extra travel costs? (I lived in Canterbury at the time, so I was only an hour and a half away)
PATRICK: Um, I thought you'd be more excited.
ME: Look, I can't chat now, I'm wanted back on the till.

Sorry Patrick.

*As always happened when I was a kid, I couldn't find some vital bit and started composing a furious letter to Mister Lego ('Why oh why oh why/Some poor child could have/I'm not normally one to complain/In this day and age/Oh, sorry, found it') because it was in front of me all the time.

** And yet if asked, I could tell you without having looked at a Warhammer book for years that the four principle Chaos gods are Khorne, Tzeentch, Nurgle and Slaanesh. And the extra one, for double points, is Malaal, who cannot abide the other gods, and to be honest, I can't blame him.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Lionheart is still the best album cover though.

I can't hang on for September. I'm declaring it officially Autumn now, I hope that's okay with everyone. Britain's rubbish at summer anyway. It skips along like an annoying girlfriend, all white teeth and floral dresses, then suddenly it's floods of tears, stormy looks and wet leaves in your hair. At which point the metaphor shatters into a thousand tiny pieces, each reflecting the whole (meta-metaphors? Or am I trying to be too clever? I probably am). Anyway, Summer, what we had was precious, and special and that, but it's over*.

It's getting easier to write the Cabinet book as well now, partly because I'm nearly halfway through, and it's really picking up momentum, partly because it's easier to write about a snowy seaside town when you're not looking out the window and seeing a particularly sunny seaside town full of people in shorts and sandals.

Autumnal songs:

Have to be slightly menacing; ideally two thirds thrashing guitars and angry drums, one third about fireworks and cats with the Trio Bulgarka on backing vocals (I want them on my backing vocals, when I'm in Tesco's. 'Where is the, where is the, where is the cheeeeeeeeeeeeeeese!), thus below. I've written a Kate Bush song into my road trip movie - the main characters sing along, and I copied out the lyrics and everything. They can change the setting, the period, they can take out the tornado or the giant orange, but Kate's staying in. Unless it's hard to get the rights, in which case I suppose I can find something else.

Thee More Shallows - '2am', from More Deep Cuts

The National - 'Mr November', from Alligator

Kate Bush - 'Rocket's Tail', from The Sensual World

* Not you, Summer. A different Summer. Obviously.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Monday, August 22, 2005


Doing quite a lot of Cabinet stuff at the moment, so here's more randomness to tide yous over.

There must be someone I know who has kids into lego, and then I could buy them this. I'm not going to buy if for myself - one has a draw a line somewhere*.

Although if I were going any further with the Viking Heist Movie, I would almost certainly be able to buy all that stuff, and claim it as '3D storyboarding'. Or something.

Interview with Bob Stein about interactive media whilst in Halo 2. So they're being shot and, and occasionally shooting back. One day all chat shows will be like this. And I'll start watching telly again. Currently I'm only watching Scrubs and Lost, the DVD set of which I'll soon be purchasing SO I DON'T HAVE TO SIT THROUGH ALL THE GODDAMN ADVERTS EVERY TWENTY SECONDS.


*Anyway, Argos doesn't have the ones I want.

Sunday, August 21, 2005


Wandering along a country path today, I saw a large Alsatian spinning madly on the spot, while a man next to him, holding a lead, threw up rather extravagantly into a bush.

I can only assume they were having some kind of contest, which the owner lost. Perhaps he'll be sleeping outside tonight, while the Alsatian reclines comfortably on a sofa, picking languidly through a box of Dairy Milk whilst watching repeats of Top Gear. This is only a guess.

I really wish I'd asked now.

Maybe I'll go back.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Ooh, get her, etc.

These days, m'esteemed colleagues Fay and Ori are all over the papers like a (funny) rash. Ori's funny women article is in todays Guardian, and a fine piece of writing it is too. I may have to go and watch Blazing Saddles one more time, and fall helplessly in love with Madeline Kahn all over again.

Listen again to the Bearded Ladies.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Some joke about 'stacks'.

Gamekeeper-turned-poacher (or rather professional script reader who's now making his way writing his own stuff) Danny Stack has started up a blog, and a cracker it is too, with plenty of inside info on what film companies are actually looking for in scripts - so have a look at what he says, and remember, unlike most people wittering on about scripts, Danny knoweth wherof he speaks. He also has a very nice Irish accent, so if you read it in a sort of lilt, you'll enjoy it even more.

Music for Moomins: new Sigur Ros tour dates. Me and PP are going to see them, so all of you should as well. Heard a new 'un off the forthcoming 'Takk' album, and it's lovely - verging on the poppy if such a thing can be imagined.

I put Danny's blogs under 'blogs' to the right, and now I think I should have put it under 'writing'. Life is too complicated. I took the link to Orbyn's site down, as it's finally dropped off the net, but Orby, if you start again, let me know. You gave good link.

Toy-Fu 32 - Shiny

Monday, August 15, 2005

Deliberately vague stuff about meetings.

Some meetings, I think they just want you to come in so they can check you don't have two heads and carry round a picture of Hitler. And the meetings themselves can be very odd affairs, when the conversation you had seems to bear absolutely no relation to the outcome.

You can have quite a grumpy five-minute meeting that seems to go quite badly (I have had meetings where the executive has looked at me in exactly the same way you would look at a man who has turned up with a live squid in his mouth), and come out of it with your own office and Zooey Deschenielellel's phone number. And you can have nice fluffy chats in which you seem to get on fine, but then leave the building to the oddly specific sound of Locks Being Changed.

Anyway, in one of the meetings Friday, I got to say 'Well, I think the script could work without the Frost Giants or the Nordic Gods making a direct appearance, but I'm drawing a line at the Trolls'. Which is something everyone should say at a meeting at some point. This wasn't the BBC, this was a different meeting, set up at the last minute, and it seemed to go quite well, but obviously you never really know. The best thing was, in the time since they'd read the first script, I'd gone on to write a second, making me look like a Veritable Powerhouse of Story. Also, on the way up the stairs to the meeting, I met the guy who'd had the meeting before me. He looked at me dolefully with his second head, and I noticed that in his left hand he clutched a slightly grubby picture of Hitler. So I'm cautiously optimistic about my chances.

The third meeting was really more 'drinking outside', which was fun, particularly when a group of figures in black paramilitary garb started abseiling down a nearby balcony. After a moment, the gesticulations and an amusing 'tangle in the rope which involved showing of pants' it became apparent these were in fact French mimes, at which point everyone got really scared.

Random catch-up of things:

This Family Guy clip is already halfway round the internet, but it's well worth checking out if you haven't yet seen it - particularly as the show isn't usually known for the finesse of its animation.

Listen again to the Bearded Ladies (or hear them fresh Tuesday 6.30, Radio Four). I particularly like Fay's 'charwoman' sort of voice (she uses it in the car buying sketch), which makes me laugh enough that I need a second go to hear what she's actually saying. Although Ori is also excellent in everything she does, obviously. It's just a shame that the radio doesn't let you see her Eye-Narrowing, which she does very well. Ori may actually be the best Eye-Narrower in the business.

Tracy sent me this link to a Young Knives video, which she thought I might like, as it had a good dancy bit in the middle. It does, and I do. Not quite to OK Go standards, but I like videos shot in fields that were quite possibly owned by a friend of one of the singer's dads.

And Pashmina does a nice (in the conventional and Elizabethan sense, mhah) review of the new Pride and Prejudice film, which reminded me very loosely of a recent cartoon of a woman in a bonnet sitting in the office of a Regency-era literary editor, who says 'it's a lovely story Miss Austen, but all this effing and blinding will have to go....'

Also, accomodation this weekend was courtesy of the Mighty Evans, who also cooked a mean Morrocan Chicken Friday night, for which many thanks. I repaid her by waking her up at 7.30 Sunday morning by banging on the door very loudly and shouting 'I've woken up really early, so I'm going now!' for which, apologies.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Cabinet Donations

No, not money, I was kidding about eating cardboard. Just a reminder that if you go to the main cabinet site and click on the 'Museum Donations' bit at the bottom on the left hand side, it allows you to send in forgotten magical objects. The rules are they have to have been mentioned in a classic children's fantasy, and the object has to still be in existence at the end of the book (so no One RIngs, although a Narnian Silver Chairleg would be acceptable). Oddly enough the more mundane objects have a better chance of going in, as it's easier to put them in the narrative without disturbing the flow. Otherwise the book becomes a list o'lists, and it's quite dull to read.

Best ones so far have been the scorched blanket in which the Phoenix from Nesbitt's "The Phoenix and the Carpet" was wrapped*, and the Breakfast Bush* from one of the Oz books. It's handy if you can tell me exactly which book it came from (I should have put a page number thing in as well), but a series title will do just as well. I shouldn't be making you do all the work for me.

Can't guarantee these'll make it into the book, but I'll be updating the site at some point (with Matt standing over me, saying 'oh my god, what are you doing!, quite possibly), and I'll try and put as many new objects in as I can.

I'm just over a third of the way through now, so it's going to plan. Rosa just met the fabulous Witch Distraction Unit, and I've shifted the giant caterpillar bit to much further on in the book, so she's going to have to meet it all over again, which seems slightly unfair. Also I got an Asterix reference in, which I was pleased about. And next time I'm staying at PP's in Canterbury I may have to spend a day going through all his Tintin books, as I'd really like the Castafiore Diamond**** to make an appearance at some point.***

*Donated bySteve Dix

**Donated by Ursulaamy

*** Oh my god, I'm thirty two.

**** Emerald.


Just wandered out to a very pleasant outdoor cafe in Falmouth, where I had a cooked breakfast, then sipped coffee while making notes on the Cabinet, occasionally staring out to sea in a thoughtful sort way before making more notes. This carried on for some time, until eventually I was shat on by a seagull, which serves me right.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


If anyone's getting confused about the difference between scripts, concepts and treatments (I know I am) here's the original treatment for that film about blacksmiths starring Angela Jolly and Pitt Bradley. Or something. There's a nice picture of Angela in a man's shirt and wellies, which for some reason made my brain go all funny.

I'm still not sure about the ending (the baddies are all a bit anonymous, and though it's beautifully-choreographed, it's basically another emotionless fight scene where you're never in doubt about the conclusion), but interestingly, it's a bit at the beginning that seems to have changed (Jimmy Jackson sounded like a cool cameo for, I don't know, Simon Pegg?). I still think the agency bosses should have showed at the ending, to give it a bit more bite, but there we are. I'm going to blame it all on Akiva Goldsman. I think he's been leaving rotting vegetables in my fridge as well. Which would still be more fun to watch than 'I Robot'.

Although to be fair to Mister Goldsman (not an easy thing to say), I bet he realised quite a long time ago than in screenplays you only put the name of the main characters in capital letter the first time you mention them, not, as I've done, all the way through the script. Otherwise the effect is of someone SHOUTING completely RANDOMLY, and makes me look like a BUFFOON. No-one at Green Wing ever said anything though. Maybe they were just being polite.

Got a meeting with the BBC film department Friday (apparently this is an almost unprecedented event, so I'd better wear a nice shirt*). Agent Ginny is currently chucking copies of the new script (codename: road trip) to all the people who were foolish enough to show the slightest enthusiasm for the first one (codename: monsters).

Weird thing is, the road trip script took less time to write than the Viking Heist Movie treatment. Seeing as it's always better to go in with a finished script, that might be the way to go, although it could play hell on the TENDONS.

*But not wellies.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Oy! Or - 'News to us'

Article in today's Times about (name changed to protect both our careers), head of BBC 3, in which he says:

"...the creative teams behind Channel 4’s Green Wing and Peep Show (“I wanted them off Channel 4 and with me”) ... are all currently developing projects for BBC Three."

Cue mass emailing around GW writers to find out who he's talking about. We haven't worked it out yet, but we plan on being very excited for that person when we do. In the meantime I'm asking Ginny to send him the script for Romey Loves Jools , with an email saying 'Oy!'.

The "big new sketch shows Tittybangbang and Man Stroke Woman" that he's talking about, by the way, were the ones I sent stuff in for and never heard anything back. So they'll be shit*.

Also, while we're going all mediay, Fay has a very sweet interview in the Guardian, next to some advertising bint.


One huge fit of paranoia later (it's like you find out all your mates have gone off to see a film you were really excited about), we'd determined that absolutely no-one from the Green Wing writing team had been given pots of gold from BBC 3 - although we hadn't tracked down Stuart Kenworthy. Just as we were having visions of the Stu-pot swanking around Soho with a big hat on, saying 'Ooh, look at me! Ai'm the creative team behind Green Wing, you know', whilst small Peruvian children fanned him with ostrich plumes, he got back to us and said no, he didn't have anything in development either, In fact, what it seems to boil down to is three of the GW writers having sketches in the Man Stroke Woman thing. Tch.

Although we haven't ruled out the possibility that by 'creative team' Mister Name Changed meant the caterers. Or the guy who does the lighting. Either way, Agent Ginny has sent him Romey loves Jools, which has been described as 'warm' and 'funny' and 'really suited to BBC 3', so he shouldn't let the slightly snide tone of this post put him off giving me some cash so I don't have to eat cardboard to survive through the rest of the summer**.

*Apart from the bits with Nick Frost in, or the bits written by GW Richard, Gary and Stuart. Those bits will be great.

** And if he doesn't like the tone, I'll just wait a year until the next crop of executives come round and try all over again***.

*** Might delete that bit later.

Toy-Fu 30 - Stuck

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Looky maw, I done a interview.

With Kalista over here. I think it was originally going to be for this site, but they were having issues, so I got my own space, which is good, as I don't always play well with others.

If you're thinking of coming to Cornwall, or thinking of thinking of coming to Cornwall, or just like the look of Cornwall (we don't have jousting owls every day, but there's always something on - today in Falmouth they're recreating the arrival of the news that the French Armada was defeated, but Nelson was killed. A coach (possibly a phaeton, I'm not sure yet) will be passing my window in a bit, at which point I shall wave my tricorne hat and shout 'Huzzah!' And then 'Boo!', responding to each news item as it comes).

But I digress. If you like the whole Cornwall thing, please go to saveoursleeper.com and add your name to the petition, as it might get scrapped, which would be a shame. And as Cornwall is the poorest county in the UK*, it would make quite a crushing blow to the local economy, which we could really do without. So please go and sign the petition, it would mean a lot to me. Ta.

* And yet has some of the highest house prices outside London - damn you, advanced capitalism!

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Road Trip Movie Done, Arms Hurting

Finished the screenplay Monday evening, and I now intend to start a course called 'Write a Movie in Three and a Bit Days'*. Only I've strained my tendons somewhat (and had too much coffee) so although I had to finish off some storylining stuff today, I took a break this afternoon and wandered up to the castle, where there was some jousting:

and some giant owls:

My tendons are still a bit ouchy, so that'll have to do for the moment.

*Not necessarily a good movie, but still.**

**Who am I trying to kid, it's fantastic.

Toy-Fu 28 - Going In