Monday, July 31, 2006

Zap and Pow

Thanks be to Sparrowhawk, who suggested I get the Intego Virus Barrier to cleanse and purify my iBook, because it seems to have worked.

What I liked about it (even apart from the working) was that they clearly realized that the average Mac user's knowledge of how computers work is gleaned solely from the film 'Tron' (which, spooky woo, was on this weekend, but I thought this before I saw it again). Thus the Virus Barrier interface is designed to look like a particularly futuristic First Person Shooter, complete with Eighties-style LED countdown as it checks files.

Now because my knowledge of how computers work is gleaned solely from the film 'Tron' , I like to ascribe a look to each application as it scurries around the inside of my laptop. I have a whole range of in-head concept designs ranging from:

1. Cool sexy robot ladies like the ones from that Bjork video,


2. Cool sexy robot ladies like Morrigun from the ABC Warriors.

And Intego knew this, because when after about twenty minute the Virus Barrier found an infected file, it sound 'Infected file found' in a slightly breathy female voice. And later when I clicked on 'repair file' it said 'virus deleted' with just a hint of haughty froideur (may have made that word up), with an underlying tone 'and when sir is ready to stop arsing about and give me a real job to do, sir is surely aware that sir only has to ask...'

Also, can you believe the foyer of BBC TV Centre isn't a wi-fi zone? Sometimes I wonder what exactly I pay mice licence fees for*

*that was a genuine typo, but I'm going to keep it.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Your new favourite band...

... might just be Anathallo. A little bit Sufjan, a little bit Arcade Fire. Have a look at the site, then maybe do a search on Hype (there, I've done it for you), and see what people have been writing and posting on their mp3 blogs for more info.

They need a couple of listens though, and I'm not sure I'd want them in the house, as they'd probably talk a lot about God, then insist on cleaning your oven for you, even though it was already reasonably clean, and then they'd go and stand outside in the sunshine, raising their beaming faces to the sun, and saying 'Isn't life just mysterious and wonderful!', and probably overtip taxi drivers and make you feel small and worthless.

Actually I've gone off them a bit now. But I will be getting the album.

So I got a text from PP at the weekend, saying 'Had a big gay fight in Canterbury, was sacred (I think he meant 'scared') and am now in your old house, and the neighbours are complaining'.

To understand the sheer joy this text brought, you have to realize that I lived in one house in Canterbury, then moved out because of hideously noisy neighbours, into a place on St. Peters Street. There followed one month of blissful relative peace, then new people moved in. Nice people, who put in polished wooden floors (I peeked) and had nice furniture and said hello when they saw me, and played breakbeat at one million decibels.

My flatmate and I had already realised the walls in the new place had the sound-absorbing qualities of a pot of basil when we heard the previous occupant sneezing, and jumped a mile because it sounded like she'd come round to our place to do so. But that had been it really, and you can't complain about sneezing, it's rarely deliberate.

But then the new people moved in, and I discovered with a sinking feeling the bloke one's mum had bought the place for them, so they weren't likely to be going in a Murray, or indeed a hurry. The music was very annoying enough, but then came the loud sex. Worse still, on one occasion when we had to raise our voices to be heard over the loud sex, we realized the girl one had gone out to the shops half an hour ago. Ew ew ew.

Anyway, we asked them politely a number of times to please keep it down a bit, and were greeted with bemused stares and incredulous giggling, and eventually we gave up and moved out, but neither of us could afford to go anywhere new, so me and Best Mate ended up moving back in with our respective parents in Cornwall just as we turned thirty. A personal triumph for both of us.

Anyway, the news that a big bunch of happy gay men have moved into my old place and play big gay showtunes* at a volume that causes said neighbours to bang on the walls every single saturday night has made me believe firmly in karma, in this case delivered by noisy gay people, which makes it even better. Marvellous stuff.

* I'm guessing. It might be Kylie, obviously.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

not so sub-text

I'm working loads at the moment, which has come as a shock, obviously. The giveaway of how freaked out I am by all this came when I realised I had lost track completely of how much stuff I had promised to get in by first thing this coming monday morning, so I started writing the list up on my whiteboard, muttering worriedly to myself, and suddenly noticed that halfway through writing 'drama outline for big broadcasting company', I had in fact (and this is true) written 'oh fucking hell'.

Consequently I have been re-checking all the work I've done to make sure I haven't slipped in any particularly Freudian cocks.

Slips! I meant slips! You have to make that joke, or they take your license away.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Other James has a movie

Other James being James Moran, screenwriter and all-round Good Egg. He done wrote an flim, and it looks really rather good.

ALSO: A different trailer entirely. Hmm. That actually looks rather well put together - nice to see the CG animation reflecting the style of the original comic books (which for the uninitiated, were much bolder and more interesting than the late '80's cartoon).

ALSO ALSO: Peanut Reviews Some Films. I do like Peanut.

AND: Some simple but effective O! News goodness.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

virus with shoes

Seriously, I got a virus on my mac. You have to try really hard to get one of those. I was in the apple store earlier today and overheard a member of staff tell a customer that 'you can't get viruses on a mac, it's totally impossible', which made me want to say 'well, why have I got one then?' and also 'so how come you sell antivirus software, hmm? You smug, lying, balding, smug man.'

Actually, to give apple their due, it is incredibly hard to get a virus on a mac (pretty much the only way you can get one is if it lurks in a Word attachment, technically hidden in a macro, although I reckon this one was lurking behind the word 'concierge', which always seems suspicious).

In fact, thinking about it, the different store assistant I tried to get some advice off of was also french. Maybe he put it there. I normally try to avoid naming and shaming, as like spider-man, I am aware that the awesome power of the blog comes also with an accompanyingly terrifying responsibility, but seriously, if you're even vaguely high up in the apple store on regent street please sack the french bloke, whose information-passing-on-technique consists of saying 'yers, we doo 'ave the anti-virus software' and taking down the box I had pointed at just a second before.

'So,'I repeated with the patience of a particularly patient saint, 'to repeat my earlier question, does it remove a virus that might be on there already? Or is really more of a barrier against you getting them in the first place?'

He sighed frenchly at the display copy, turning it over in his calloused, wine-stained stinky french paws and shrugging slightly.

'Eet ees anti-virus software' he said, and tried to press it into my clean english hands. I would have none of it, frankly, and took an un-besmirched one off the shelf instead. And then I put that back as well and decided to do a bit more research and as a last resort get it off amazon instead. AND BURN APPLE TO THE GROUND.

Seriously though, I want him sacked. The heat has made me ruthless. I am utterly without ruth.

Other than that, gosh I had a few days. Oh, it was the Fifth Doctor (who was also a vet, and worked in a university surgery) who I bothered a bit. I was at this studio, and I got lost, not helped because they were building the set around me even as I wandered about, including a hedge that grew up while my back was turned - I was expecting David Bowie to start singing a song about goblins any minute - and then I saw said actor, who I knew was heading back to the main part of the set. So I said loudly 'ooh, I'll follow you back to the main bit because I'm lost, so I'll follow you back to the main bit, because I'm lost', and he frowned at me a bit, because to be honest, I could have just followed him, I didn't have to announce what I was doing (twice), but that's what happens when you meet childhood icons, you try and treat them normally, then realize afterwards you have in fact behaved a bit oddly.

Anyway, the important bit is that for thirty rather awkward seconds or so, I trailed behind him down a corridor.

So I 'accompanied' him. I was 'in his company'.

So, working it through to its logical conclusion, I was, for those few short moments, 'a Doctor Who Companion'.

Yes, yes, you may touch me.

Later on, he went to do a bit of acting, and I'm pleased to say I hadn't put him off at all, he was jolly good. I considered popping up behind a bit of set and giving him a big thumbs-up and mouthing 'It's all right, I found my way back, look!' but decided that would be semi-unprofessional.

Sunday, July 16, 2006


Originally uploaded by jamesandthebluecat.
More of a red herring I'm afraid - the Doctor Who thing will have to wait, as I'm back off to London tomorrow, and lost most of the day today after my iBook caught a virus from an ad director (something my Aunt Hilda always warned me would happen).

In the meantime, head over to DIY Rockstar for a twinklingly cute/pleasingly whooshy remix of the Postal Service's "We Will Become Silhouettes'.

You know what? Love The Postal Service, never been that bothered about Death Cab For Cutie.

I KNOW!!! MADNESS!!!!!!!

Dog Update: no pants have been directly sighted. However, a number of unsupervised toilet breaks have been made, and he seems in good spirits, so it looks as though they may have passed through, sans commemoration.

And also just quickly, if you can work out how to do it, download all the Adam and Joe podcast things (AB's blog is here, and I think you can linky about until you find it), then listen to the seventh one - particularly the increasingly silly and incoherent football songs. I got the giggles really badly on the train, and thought I had it under control until the last one, at which point, reader, I slightly snotted myself.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Sorrry sorry sorry

Argh - I've just got in and checked my email, amongst which was a politely-worded request from someone asking me to critique a Spongebob Squarepants spec script they had written.

I have been sent a few spec scripts by people, and unfortunately, I just don't have time to mark people's work for them. Not if I want to get any writing of my own done, which I'm afraid to tell you, I do. Also, I do kind of worry that if I read someone's script and it contains elements similar to something I'm already writing myself, unpleasantness will result, so it's best to keep things nice and simple by not reading other people's work at all ever.

Also, I have never seen a single episode of Spongebob Squarepants (although I do have a copy of a song from the soundtrack called 'Best Day Ever', a fabbo Beach Boys pastiche), so I wouldn't have the faintest idea what an excellent Spongebob Squarepants spec script was if it danced up to me wearing a hat with a flashing neon sign saying 'I am an excellent Spongebob Squarepants spec script '. And I've got no idea how American animation scripts are laid out. So all in all I am not the best candidate for that particular task.

All of which I was going to put in the reply, but I've only just got in, and am quite literally tired, and I seem to have somehow both deleted the email and emptied the trash bit as well. I am jenius.

So apologies, Spongebob Squarepants spec script man, on a number of levels. However I would say this: if you've got the format right (fairly easy to check, there's all sorts of sample stuff drifting about on the internet), and you think it's pretty funny, and at least one smart friend has cast an eye over your script and not vomited in embarrassment with the reading of it, then for god's sake send it off to the appropriate authorities, not a lanky english writer with the haircut of a sensible lesbian (and, apparently, Take-That-era Robbie Williams - there will be recriminations for that, La Patroclus, don't think there won't be). Good luck with it mon frere.

And no photos. If I start putting regular photos of myself up on the blog, it's just the slippery slope to referring to myself in the third person and singing songs about keeping it real. Although Patrick did inform me that I will be on the 'making of' bit on the GW2 DVD, being really very rude about actors indeed*, so that's something.

Also, I slightly annoyed an actual proper Doctor Who earlier today, but that's a whole different thing.

Sleep now.

* In a nice way.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


I decided, as I was going to London, to have an expensive haircut.

They took off a bit more than I wanted.

I now look like quite a sensible lesbian.

Still, at least they found the inner me.

Monday, July 10, 2006

"Mangan has lovely eyes. Densely lashed, they are the muted moss green of Sligo after rain." *

Jack Rosenthal
Originally uploaded by jamesandthebluecat.
First of the four-part Jack Rosenthal's Last Act was just on Radio Four, and very good it was too. I know SM was a tad intimidated by acting Jack's role whilst flanked by the man's widow (Maureen Lipman) and daughter (Amy Rosenthal), but he needn't have been, he was great. Even though you couldn't see his muted moss green Sligo eyes.

Jack Rosenthal was, and shame on you if you didn't already know this, one of Britain's finest ever television writers - everyone's supposed to like Dennis Potter more, but I only saw the frozen head one, which was rubbish. I did see Eskimo Day a few years ago though, and it blew me away, being character-based, funny and true and sad all at the same time. Most of the Green Wing cast also appeared in the recently-shown (though not recently-made, shame on you ITV obviously, not the BBC, why even a basic amount of research would have sorted that out, JH you monstrous plum) 'Ready When You Are Mister McGill' (Stephen played the writer, so was quite grumpy, rode a scooter and had big black circles under his eyes). I managed to track a few of Rosenthal's other pieces down ("The Knowledge" is particularly good) and they were all of the same quality: always informed by his Manchester working class Jewish upbringing, but never limited by it.

When you start writing, especially for telly, a large proportion of which is frankly, shit, it's easy to set yourself the target of being "better than X". What you need to aim for is being "hopefully almost as good as Y". When I get to write my own stuff, if I'm still doing it in twenty years time and it's ever even mentioned in the same breath as Jack Rosenthal, Tim Firth or Victoria Wood, I'll be happy. Obviously there are other names, but I'm actively hoping to work on shows they're involved with at the moment, so it would only cover them and myself with shame were I to mention them (as well as being quite a good get-out clause).

A big chunk of the Rosenthal back catalogue is now available on DVD (another reason why the internet is teh brilliants).

Dog Update: no knickers passed as yet, although these things can take three or four days, presumably depending on the consistency of pant.

* Hahahahahahaha

Sunday, July 09, 2006


Originally uploaded by jamesandthebluecat.
I'm wondering if a blog posting was really the place to start listing my mother's dogs instances of antisocial behaviour, as they need to be updated so frequently, some kind of wikipedia article might be more appropriate.

This weekend for example, he ran into the field behind Boslowick shops (called, appropriately 'Boslowick Field'), sourced a discarded pair of knickers and ate them.

'I'm hoping they'll work their way through and come out in one go,' said my mother worriedly.

I'm beginning to wonder if your more orthodox Muslims might have a point about the woofies, and the disgustingness therof. I shall have to re-read my copy of the Koran, and see if it has any helpful tips.

I'm still wondering, of course, how the knickers got there in the first place. Boslowick Field, being about five minutes from where I grew up is, I can attest from personal experience, comprised of equal parts yellow grass, crisp packets and dogshit (not from my mother's dog, oddly enough he only poos flowers), and is not somewhere you would go for any kind of romantic assignation. Mind you, I haven't been there for a while, Falmouth has poshed up a bit of late:


TILLY and JONTY are enjoying a picnic, nibbling neatly at tiny sandwiches with the crusts removed.

Then: a strong gust of wind.

TILLY: My pants! My wonderful pants!
TILLY: That strong gust of wind appears to have blown my pants completely off!
JONTY: My darling, I shall retrieve them!

Jonty chases after the unmentionables as they are whipped about by a playful summer zephyr. Tilly, ameliorated by the sudden burst of fresh air, makes some notes for a modern dance piece, which will be later performed to great acclaim at the annual Rumours Winebar Arts Revue.

Jonty returns, empinkened by his activities, but ultimately empty-handed.

JONTY: My darling, I have failed you. I'm afraid you must proceed with the picnic at least partially en déshabillé*, as t'were. Would it help if I too, were to remove my undercrackers and hurl them towards the gazebo?
TILLY: No, sweetie-pumpkin, although your offer moves me terribly.

They gaze into each others' cornflower-blue eyes and kiss sweetly, until Tilly suddenly wrinkles her pretty nose.

JONTY: My darling?
TILLY: You appear to have stepped in some flowers.
JONTY: Eurgh.

* spelling corrected by patroclus, who must be more righterer than, as her version has more pokey bits above the letters, and she has a house in France ('en house') which is good enough for me.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Nature is all bastards.

Earlier I saw a seagull pick up a smaller seagull by its tail and start chucking it about. Then I got home to find a snail on my pot of basil, felling the stem of each plant like a tiny malicious lumberjack. So I hurled him to the ground and stamped him into a paste.

I felt guilty about this for a while, but then another seagull mugged the cat for its biscuits, so I chucked some water over it, and it flew away, squawking. I stood over the cat until it had eaten its fill then went inside, muttering darkly. Later I plan on nailing crooked bits of wood over the window and hugging a shotgun while I rock backwards and forwards.

It's kill or be killed down here. Earlier someone saw at least twenty basking sharks in the bay. I don't think they were basking, I think they were planning, frowning at waterproofed maps of all the local electricity transformers. But I'm ready for them, oh yes.

More meetings in London next week. I would be looking forward to these, except I had two meetings last week. At the first I drank too much and accused all the other GW writers and producer of being 'failed performers'*, then spent the following day on Rob's sofa emerging only to be sick (something of a theme with GW writers at the moment). Then I went to another meeting only to be greeted by a severed arm in a case, which definitely hadn't been there the previous week.However I felt better by then, so was able to say 'Ah, that'll be Other James's with the correct degree of insouciance, which may have helped me win the chance to pitch for a comedic sports movie (I hate sports) with the tag of (culturally significant epic saga) retold in the setting of (ludicrously uncool not-quite-sport). It's unlikely to actually go anywhere, but at the end of the day I had a meeting in a room with a severed arm in a case, and how many people can say that?

* there was an actual proper 'sharp intake of breath' from everyone, it was great, although I feel bad now.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Things you thought only happened in sitcoms part 512:

I just opened the cardboard folder thing I keep all my financial stuff in, and a huge moth flew out, making me shout and very nearly fall over.

In other news, the BBC have smooshed together their comedy and film departments, and are looking for "mainstream comedy hits".

Now I'm not entirely sure what the "mainstream" is these days, or if it even exists, but I have a four-word pitch I am so excited about I'm going to put it out there in the public domain. Although to make it would need quite a lot of fiddly paperwork sorting out the rights with marvel comics, but here goes:

Captain Britain = Simon Pegg.

I thank yow.

UPDATE: excellent discussion over at Patch's about imaginary bands - go over and add yours now, and we can get the imaginary festival up and running. And that's as good an excuse as any to plug a deleted scene (not one of mine btw) from GW S2 which unnacountably made its way onto YouTube in all its clunky, brutally-pixillated glory.

Leave Matron out of this, you bastards!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Telly comedy stuff

You'll have to act quickly before it gets replaced, but Radio Four's Front Row had an interview with Stephen Moffat and Simon Nye, whose nineties comedy series 'Joking Apart' and 'How Do You Want Me?' are finally being released on DVD.

I missed Joking Apart the first time round, but interestingly, it's being released by a fan who grew tired of waiting for the BBC to release it, so bought the rights and brought out a DVD himself, all of which is rather awe-inspiring. Follow links for details on how to order a copy yourself.

How Do You Want Me? I did see first time round in 1998. I've been waiting for a release ever since (are you spotting a pattern here?) but finally a copy arrived this morning. Dylan Moran* is of course brilliant in it, as is the much-missed Charlotte Coleman, but look out for striking turns from Peter Serafinowicz, Mark Heap and (my personal favourite, and a million miles from her Dibley character) Emma Chambers.

And while I'm doing a DVD catch-up of things I have waited a million years to come out, Tim Firth's All Quiet On The Preston Front is also sitting in a warehouse waiting for you to get on and buy it. Series Two is out July 3 (which is today apparently), which is also tops and lovely, and made me realise you could write about real people with an actual sense of humour and not patronize an audience. Preston Front always made me regret jettisoning my Lancashire accent as well - I moved to Cornwall when I was eight, got teased for having a weird northern accent, and so lost it immediately like the rootless feckless arse I would later turn out to be. This deprived me of the chance of ever using the phrase 'Scarrie's Igloo' with the proper intonation, something I will always regret.

*Dylan Moran did a live stand-up thing at the Hall for Cornwall (I think he was as bemused as we were). Just as he started the second half, someone shouted out 'Those shoes go very well with that jacket!'.

Moran stared at the chap for a while, while he (and we) let the comment sink in. Finally he turned to the audience.

'Fifteen years I've been doing this job,' he said eventually, 'and I've never been so unnerved by a heckle...'