Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Future fathers, learn from my mistakes.

There probably is a technical term for all the various motions a baby goes through in the womb, before its head engages with the pelvis, and it begins its dramatic entrance into the world.

However, you are under no circumstances, whether you're sitting in the waiting room of a maternity unit or not, to refer to this stage as 'circling the plughole'.

Lesson ends.

Note: Patch hasn't given birth or owt yet, it was just a check-up.

Friday, August 22, 2008

I done played it too much + Friday Music Video

5pm Thursday, August 21st

Your Server was exploring the dungeon and preparing to battle the mighty dragon when it encountered a horde of good-looking, expert Tiny Adventure players.

Your Server made a server load check with a difficulty of 3700 . . . and rolled 1

Your Server was dominated by the exited players and its CPU was trampled. Your Server headed back to the shop to purchase a huge upgrade for itself and will be back tomorrow. The horde of players was thanked again for their enthusiasm and patience.


Please check back tomorrow afternoon (Friday August 22nd)


(emoticons model's own)

To fill the ENDLESS GAP until this afternoon, a video of Ed Harcourt's 'Born in the Seventies'.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Tiara Burnyhands for the win!

In Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition, Tieflings, as any fule kno, are a race of beings descended from a mighty human empire whose regular interbreeding with demonic beings caused the downfall of their civilisation, and a range of crossbreed demihumans with big horns, pointy tails, and a certain whiff of brimstone.

In a similar story of bravery and foolhardiness, I recently had a go at providing some online content to an upcoming BBC drama series. I wish Tieflings had been around then, because they could have really helped me out.

Wizard of the Coast, the new(ish) owners of the Dungeons and Dragons IP, have just released a Facebook application that allows thee, oh gentle noob, to have a crack at the whole roleplaying game thing. Well, sort of. What it does is allow you to generate a character, then watch as they go on an adventure in (more or less) real time, chewing your nails each time they fall for a flamethrower trap, or are ambushed by drow, and cursing the system mechanics that allow you to spend your discovered gold pieces on potions of healing, but not actually use them until the end of the adventure.

The app is good. Go to it:

D&D Tiny Adventures Facebook App

But how could Tieflings have helped me out in the swampy morass that is BBC 360 degree commissioning?

Well, the big thing with drama series at the moment is for them to have an online element, so that in the wasted few seconds that viewers aren't watching television, or iPlayer, there can still be a way for them to do something that involved having the BBC logo hovering somewhere in their vision. And the online content has recently been very good. Some might say that the online content has been, of late, rather better than the shows they're supposedly supporting. I wouldn't say that though. Noooooo.

So, the thing I was working on was for a new BBC Drama series, which by the way looks as though it will kick ass, in a near-deserted, post-apocalyptic Britain sort of way.

Now for me, the draw of all those 28 Days Omega Legend Of The Dead type things is how I, personally, would survive. And I would, ho yuss. Well all right, I wouldn't, but it's fun to imagine how I might. I want to put myself in the setting, actually be there with my home-made crossbow, my carrier bag full of looted fizzy pop, and my ethanol-fueled hillbilly-armoured Hopper Bus. And I was trying to explain in the meeting that a sort of online-roleplaying element type thing would be OMG the perfect accompaniment to the series - you could either put yourself in it, or randomly generate a starting character with a random number of looted health packs, batteries and shotgun cartridges and go from there.

Except it was really difficult to explain, because it sounded like a wanted a World of Warcraft type thing, which needs a budget of kerjillions and a flying aircraft carrier base (Blizzard have three of these, they sound awesome), whereas in fact I wanted something closer to those old Fighting Fantasy books, which of course sounds much less nerdy.

So, having failed my Bluff roll, we eventually settled on a series of video diaries which would interlink with the main action in the series, as overseen by the series creator (an equally cool idea by the way). And then momentum at a higher level seemed to evaporate completely, and I never heard about it again.

Next time I get asked to come with ideas for online content to accompany a drama series though (and who knows, it might even be for my own show), I can point to the D&D Facebook online app and say 'Look! Like that! Only with ninjas/spacemen/architects/whatever'.

In the meantime, if anyone wants to send Tiara Burnyhands some potions of healing, they would be gratefully received, ta.

EDIT: actually, not sure you can do that yet. But if you click on 'Friends', you can send +1 healing points. Thanks Piers!

UPDATE: "Tiara Burnyhands easily dodged the bandit lord's attacks and quickly subdued him, humiliating him in front of his band of thieves. Tiara Burnyhands was hailed as a hero when she returned the village's meager treasures."

In your FACE, bandit lord!

Ooh, I have actually got work to do.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008



All right, one ripe and one almost ripe tomato, but it still counts. Endless weeks of rain have turned the new garden into a spawning pit for slugs and snails though, so it's amazing anything has survived.

An early decision to place the compost bin almost directly outside the back door had to be rethought after clouds of flies starting invading on a regular basis, setting the radio to their favourite stations and demanding cups of tea. So it got relocated to the end of the garden, and I built a second tip out of leftover bits of wood and brick thusly:


And I'm finally getting round to taking apart that futon base I've been lugging from house to house for fifteen years and turning it into a raised seed bed (very raised, I'm going to prop it up on a couple of old tea chests, so theoretically I can do gardening without any back-breaking bending down at all).


And with the aid of Jane Perrone's Allotment Keeper's Handbook, I'm going to put the finished bed out in September, which is when the Cornish weather traditionally turns radiant and lovely. Just after all the holiday makers go home. Sorry about that.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Friday, August 08, 2008

The Cornish Zombie Movie: A Subgenre of One

Finally found the trailer for 1966 Hammer Horror movie: The Plague Of The Zombies, in which an evil squire forces undead locals to work in his tin mine. I have a feeling actually seeing it will only sully the perfection of its existence, but it does look pretty good, particularly the horseriding poshos WHO HUNT HUMAN QUARRY. Apparently this is EXACTLY what David Cameron was up to on his local holiday in Padstow, but it was all hushed up by the media.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

More outliney stuff

Television's Richard Preddy says in reference to the post before the post before this one (I thought I'd bump it here so it wouldn't get lost):

"Story generally depresses me. i thought maybe I simply wasn't any good at it until we were talking to Adam Chase about Friends and he said that sometimes they'd break a story in an afternoon, more likely in a few days, but sometimes in months.
Stories are hard.

Also: I know the "mind is constantly aglow with whirling, transient nodes of thought [...]" quote is from Blazing Saddles but does anyone know if it's original to the film?"

I'm fairly sure it's original to Blazing Saddles, although if anyone reading this knows better, do write in. Mel Brooks was quite fond of a pointlessly erudite reference in his earlier films as well; hence the throwaway 'Prince Mishkin' line in The Producers. It was a time when you could make jokes like that in American films without execs weeding them out, terrified a single reference the audience didn't get would cause rioting in the streets. Le sigh.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Outline 2: The Reckoning

Couple of things from the previous post about writing outlines.

M'colleague in wordsmithery (kill me now) Spacemonkey, said:

"It took me years - YEARS - of endless genius 40-page pitches for things, covering every single aspect of the show, to realise that a deft one-or-two pager does the business far better.

Because Producers and Executives are Not Like Us.


B) they like to feel involved, so you give them something they can imagine themselves into, rather than something fixed and perfect and done.

C) actually, an idea that's really working and has earned its simplicity can probably be boiled down to that magic one-page anyway.

...which were very good points.

Mike said:

"Don't suppose you fancy posting an example of what a good treatment should look like (obviously for a fake project you have no intention of really doing)? All the examples I can find online are American and therefore a bit breathless and excited, which as an Englishman I find off-putting."

So I thought I'd put my money where my mouth is, and make available not only an outline that did get a option (from Hartswood Films), and then a script commission (from Channel 4), but also the final draft of the resulting script, which so impressed Channel 4 they never got back to me again.

Whether the outline's 'good' or not, I'm probably not best placed to tell, but it did at least lead to actual money going into my bank account, which frankly is good enough.

So, here's the pdf of the outline, and here's the final script, which bears not a great deal of resemblance to the original outline other than it's got blogs in it. And I'd probably lose the Sigur Ros opening now, they've become a bit overused.

UPDATE: Patroclus would like it pointed out that the outline was written before we started going out, which would have given me free access to her excellent proofreading abilities. Hence it has almost as mistakes as words, although I reckon she fails to recognise as the hallmark of a true creative who isn't afraid to stick it to The Man and shizz.

Peace out.