Thursday, September 29, 2005

Raised coffee = Writer's Salute

Very sad to hear of the death of Helen Cresswell, creator of the Lizzie Dripping books (which I foolishly never read because they were clearly girl's books) and the Bagthorpe Saga, which went some way towards making me want to write by showing that everyday life can be far funnier, moving and more exciting than anything with goblins in it. I still grapple with this realization on a daily basis to be honest.

Trivia fact: look in the dedications page of one of the Bagthorpe books (can't remember which one), and you'll find the name of a certain Oriane Messina, which I didn't find out until I'd known her for a couple of years, and which immediately made me look at her with the awe and respect with which I should have looked at her anyway.

Up until I got the paper I was wallowing in the sort of hangover that can only be brought on by trying to divide three bottles of wine between two people*. I awoke with a severe headache, nausea and an Unexplained Injury (an interesting bruise on my upper right arm), that was sadly not brought about by some kind of frolicking-based activity with another person, as my fellow drinker was my closest friend who I've known since I was about fourteen, and who because she's a girl, I conscientiously walked home the five hundred yards round the corner, that being the full extent of my chivalry when hopelessly pissed.

The route back however, does take my past the corner of Kimberley Park populated by the Bushes In Which Things Happen, so the only explanation is that something jumped out and punched me, without me noticing.

Anyway, I've sobered up now, on every level, so I'm going to have some posh coffee courtesy of Agent Sarah, and get on with work. Sad news though.

*The true level of my pissedness can perhaps be ascertained by the fact that I was watching Sahara and at one point clearly remember shouting 'This is the best film I've ever seen in my life!'.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Son of Thunderwolff

I'm not actually off to Snives (say it in one word, like Snozzle (St Austell) and Snagnes (St Agnes)) til Saturday, so I'm around a few days yet, you lucky sexy bitches (see? I can't do it).

Slightly random update: This made me laugh.

Danny Stack has his first (very) short film 'On The Death Of His Wife available for viewing by Windows Media or Real Media. He's described it as 'no-budget' and for a writer's first film, it's admirably dialogue-free. Certainly worth a look.

This link to Triumphs and Tribulations of a Victorian-Era Superhero by way of thanking Evans for providing free accommodation in London last work, and being sparkling company as ever. She also snuck me into a preview screening of Land of the Dead, which oddly enough looks more like a mid-Eighties John Carpenter film than any actual mid-Eighties John Carpenter film ever made. A bit disappointing, frankly, apart from one fantastic shot at the end, where (spoilerish alert) the head zombie leads his people out of the abandoned city across a walkway, the whole thing seen in silhouette. I don't know who set up that shot, but it makes all the rest worth sitting through.

Watched a bit of Love Soup last night, but I'm afraid the moment it became apparent that Tamsin's character's love interest was an American Man, I was possessed by a monstrous spitting fury and had to go and do something else instead. Rather unfair on American Men, who I'm sure are all lovely, but I can't stand dramas that seem to have one flirtatious eye on US telly, like a rather cheap hoor winking a gammy eye at a man not only out of her league but also very clearly gay. Let it go. If you write good stuff, they'll buy it.

Oh dear god, have I just tried to give advice to David Renwick? I think I'd better have a lie down**.

Also, it seemed a bit slow. Still, other than that it looks great, and anyone more rational than me (so everyone then), should go and watch it.*

*Think I got away with that.

**Also I just called all of UK TV a cheap whore. And said that US TV was gay. Whee! Blogging is fun.

Monday, September 26, 2005

I've actually said 'crikey'. In real life.

Fantastic screenwriting blog, and it's only been going two months. He can swear properly too, which is something I've dabbled with but never been able to pull off. When I get drunk I sound like Emma Thompson, and when I swear, I sound like, well, Emma Thompson, swearing. It's an odd thing.

The only bad thing about the blog is the white writing on a black background, which has the same effect as when you've been to the optician's when you're about thirteen and she shines that light in your eyes, and says 'now look over my shoulder', and you can smell her hair, and later on stagger out into the street blinded by what you think might be love, but turns out to be slightly singed corneas.

Agent Sarah sent me a pack of extremely high-quality ground coffee, to get me through the final two weeks of finishing the book, for which she too will forever have a special place in my heart. I was aiming for the end of September, but that's not going to happen, so I've booked a small flat in St. Ives for the first week in October so I can be away from all distractions, and write the crap out of it. I'm sort of at the two-thirds mark, but I'm not entirely clear what that mark is, as there's about three plot points that mark the final third of the book, and if I was cleverer, I'd have made them all take place at the same time, in the same room, but I'm not, so I didn't. Goshdarnit.

I will however be breaking my self-imposed artistic exile after... one day. To play Dungeons and Dragons (in a place called Mount Hawke, which sounds appropriately like a huge brooding castle, perched on the edge of a demon-haunted moor, and strangely enough, that's exactly what it is*). One of the guys who plays is a policeman, and last night had the added bonus that he came straight after work, and sat there in full uniform rolling dice while his radio rattled off details of minor rural crimes. It was like a particularly good Big Train sketch, and at one point I had to go into the kitchen and quietly hug myself with glee. At least I assume it was straight after work. Maybe one of the other players needed to be kept under observation or something, making it the least subtle stakeout in the history of the world. Hmm.

Celebrity Gamers. None of them come as a shock particularly, apart from Faruzia Balk, who I've always rather like, being slightly partial to a Wonky Mouth. Bruce Willis plays Warhammer, too. Seriouslah.

I'm going to have some more coffee now. Wheeee!

*It's not really, obviously. It's a small village composed principally of outdoor** garages and rhodedendrons.

** All right, detached garages. Garages on their own. Garages, to quote Izzard, with no fixed portfolio.

Friday, September 23, 2005

More laundry

London was fun. Not sure what's going to happen from various meetings, but I got to look at impressive bits of CGI and say 'ooh' quite a lot. And I meant it too. Spent most of the journey back on the train wishing I'd gone into animation instead of stupid stupid writing, but cheered up when I remembered that I'd looked at animation courses back in year nineteen umpty-three, and they'd all looked like quite hard work.

On the other hand, you get to turn up to people from television channels, pop a silvery disc in a slot, let them watch brightly coloured things move, and then say 'cash please, if you want to see more where that came from, unmarked notes, we'll send the lads round as usual.' As opposed to sending in a script, which relies on people taking a chance, using their imagination, or as mostly happens in my case NEVER GETTING BACK TO ME EVER. In the words of that bloke from that film - 'Fuck y'all'.

Not you though. You're okay.

Crumpled shirt issues at the hotel (I own about seven linen shirts, and it occured to me the other day that instead of just buying different colours, I should maybe think about, you know, wearing them occasionally), which lead to this fab conversation with Yuri and the attractive Eastern European girl on the reception desk. I know it may seem as if I exaggerate sometimes for dramatic effect, but I promise, in this case, not.


ME: Is there anywhere here I can iron a shirt?

YURI looks at me as if I'm mad, for at least ten seconds, which doesn't sound like much, but try it. It's a long time.

ME: (weakly) No?

YURI: There is the laundry room.

ME: Can I iron my shirt in there?

YURI: We have an ironing board.

ME: (because I've talked to Yuri before) Is there an iron in there as well?



AEEGOR: We had one.

YURI: We did have one. But we no longer have one.

AEEGOR: Because of the fire.

YURI: Yes. there was a fire.

In the end, I go two doors down to another hotel I occasionally stay in, which I am convinced is also run by the Russian mafia, which I know has an ironing board and iron set up in a downstairs hallway.

ME: Hello. I occasionally stay in your fine hotel. Tonight I am not staying in your fine hotel, but I wish to use your ironing facilities. I will use them briefly, and then I will be gone.

PIETR: Are you staying here tonight?

ME: No, but I'd like to use your iron anyway.

PIETR: Fine.

I iron my shirt, and on the way out, tip Pietr a two-pound coin. I enjoy this, because both the act of tipping and the heaviness of the coin make me feel like a victorian man in a book.

I return to my other hotel, bear in mind less than two minutes later, with a freshly-ironed shirt over one arm, and I confess, a certain bounce in my step, as (to move my metaphor on by at least one king) Bertie Wooster would have upon the defeat of a particularly virulent aunt.

YURI and ATTRACTIVE EASTERN EUROPEAN GIRL ON RECEPTION are quite literally agog. Here is a man who left their establishment with a crumpled shirt and returned moments later with an ironed shirt. I suspect this has never happened before.

And this is my favourite bit, because it's true.

YURI: Sir, where are you from?

ME: (slightly carelessly) Cornwall. And yourself?

YURI: Sir, I am a Greek Cypriot.


AEEGOR: I am Spanish.

ME: Oh.

I need to travel more. Or maybe less.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Furious shrieking anger, for approx 30 secs, then it passed.

Yes, the blog is a tad sparse at the moment, I know that, and I can barely sleep for worry, but I'm just trying to finish my book. Which I will be attempting to continue to write while I tart myself around the countryside like an great hoor for various meetings over the next couple of days, so if anything urgent comes up, I'm on mobile.

If you don't have my mobile, but are a highly respected film director who has picked up on the frankly understandable buzz surrounding m'scripts and wish to talk, go to Gilliam would be good, I hear he's on a tightrope at the moment, projectswise. Spielberg, Lucas, no. Either of the Scotts - always. You know that. George Armitage? You'd be great for my superhero thing. I'm willing to invest in you. Call me.

Apropos of nothing, that 'Goal' thing has the wonderful wonderful aura of something that's going to fail like a huge stinky thing. A three film trilogy about football? Directed by Danny Cannon? It's going to be rubbish, isn't it? So no more weekend supplement stories about it while my back's turned, mmkay? Ta.

In the meantime, here's a great article about the US religious right that gives you even more reasons to be scared than before (huzzah), but also even more reasons to find people who are seriously considering going on an Alpha course and slapping them until they recover (huzzah). It's all the same thing. I'm sorry, but it is.*

Here are some boxes

And some lesbian pulp fiction cover art.

*A bit random, I know, but I saw a poster for the Alpha course today and it made me want to curl my hands into manly fists and shout and shout and shout and shout.**

** trademark repeat courtesy of GW Richard.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

He-Man sings a song

Oh dear god.

Just to make it clear, I have absolutely no nostalgia for mid-eighties cartoons. Silly singing however, slays me every time. It's a weakness.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Exactly the video I would have made...

... for new Sigur Ros track Glosoli.

Meetings 2

Oh look, it's the same as the earlier one, but in a much posher surrounding. Marble walls and unicorns or something. I dunno, write your own.

Much more interesting, is the recent compilation of nomenclatures from Cornish censuses stretching back to the 16th century. If I was writing the kind of children's book that required oh-so-hilarious names, I would be jealously hoarding this intel as though it were a chest o' precious gems. But I'm not, so here are my favourites, in no particular order:

Abraham Thunderwolff
Freke Dorothy Fluck Lane
Elizabeth Disco
Edward Evil
Offspring Gurney

and finally,

Gentle Fudge

The Falmouth Packet titled this gorgeous slice of gorgeousness, with the same sensibility that brought the world 'The Bushes: What's Going In Them' , 'Really Strange Cornish Names'. And I can't bring myself to argue.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Meetings 1

It really is autumn now (sorry about that), and the air is thick with the smell of bonfires, squirrels and meetings. Both Ori and Danny have recently written about meetings, Ori laying bare the searing insights into the human soul that arise when more than two GW writers get together, Danny explaining the varying time scales of film meetings and their implications.

The strangest meetings of all tend to be actual television channel executive meetings. Mainly because the channels (and correct me if I'm wrong) tend to commission producers rather than writers. Which gives any meeting I've had with executives from the major television channels a slightly bewildered air, as both of us try with the utmost tact to find out what the other one actually does.

The tone of these meetings will also depend greatly on the status of the person in whose office you are meeting. Unlike big LA film companies, where the lowliest post boy hires himself an office and wears suits he has recently mugged off a minor Scorsese (Nick Cage), in Britain it's reasonably easy to tell what end of the scale you're encountering. Hence:


Door creaks open, tearing a thin curtain of spiderwebs. The office is dark. There are no windows, and the bulbs have long ago been taken away by senior management.

A thin white hand stretches out from under a solitary three-legged desk, covered in the bones of small animals.

VOICE: (hisses) Did you bring the biscuits?

ME: Um, is the right place? I had a meeting at three-

VOICE: Biscuits!

Fortunately, I managed to pick up some Peek Freans on the way. I slide them towards the hand, careful not to go too far from the door. The arm extends (surely too far, and too long) and the biscuits vanish. Munching ensues, and the packet is suddenly spat out into the air.

ME: Right. So, about my Romey loves Jools script....

VOICE: You must leave now.

ME: Bloody hell, I came all the way from Cornwall for this!

(Always work the catchphrases. You never know)

VOICE: Soon, he will come. The murderer of comedy...



ME: Oh bollocks.

VOICE: I tell you this because of the biscuits.

ME: Okay, thanks.

I get up and leave, closing the door behind me. Behind me I hear the sudden scuttle of a mouse, a scrabble of claws and a high pitched keen of victory. Back to Cornwall for me.

.... is the lower end of the scale. I'll do the top end tomorrow.

* actually Jon Plowman, who turned out to be perfectly charming and encouraging. Turned down my script though.

Monday, September 12, 2005


See also 'Dammit'. Just done a crowd scene for the Cabinet, in which I was able to sneak in a description of an old man whose left arm is a swans wing. A tiny reference to the Brothers Grimm story 'The Six Swans', and very pleased with it I was too. I could even see a picture in my mind's eye of what he'd look like... and then I realised that's because he's a background character in one of Neil Gaiman's Sandman books (he seems to hang around Dream's castle with a mop). So I had to rewrite that bit.

I'm slightly behind schedule on the Cabinet, partly because I spent all of last week GWing, but also because my thousand words a day, which I calculated should by now have me at the two thirds point, has instead left me at the 'just over halfway through' point. Still, the pace is picking up now anyway, and a thousand words a day isn't that much if you're making stuff up as opposed to say, writing a report, or an essay. My end of September deadline is still doable - I just have to be a bit more focused. So a break for toy-fu for the moment (Matt is putting together an updated site for me, I'll link when it's ready), but it'll be just as cutting edge and politically relevant when it returns.*

Also watched Fanny and Alexander on cello's recommendation, and spookily marvellous it was too. Any film which in the first twenty minutes can make me say 'well, it's a bit slow so far-OHMYGODTHATSTATUEJUSTMOVED!' and fall off my hotel bed has to be good. And an excellent jumpy bit at the end, as well. Brrrr. Also just as I was starting to wonder how the library in the Bishop's house looks so like the one I've imagined for the Cabinet, we move to Isak Jacobi's emporium, stuffed with statues, mirrors, pictures, marrionettes, an androgynous telepath and a puppet of God, and realised exactly how I'm going to do my spare room if I ever get my own place.

*as in 'not very'.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Joke Squad.... Assemble!

Which is how I thought we should start all GW comedy writing meetings from now on. It would have been nice if someone else had joined in though, particularly with the 'sticking the arm up in the air like a Power Ranger, only manlier' bit. I wasn't really expecting Richard to join in, it's not his kind of thing (although he wore a pastel t-shirt the other day - hi Richard), but Rob could have tried. I like to think the meme's been planted though, and one day in the future, at quite an important meeting Rob'll suddenly find himself assuming the stance and shouting the words. Maybe at a wedding, for double points.*

A quick tableux : in the lift on the fourth floor of Talkback, holding a very hot cup of coffee. The floor dropped about three inches when I got in, then the doors closed while I was dithering about maybe taking the stairs instead.

Utter silence for a moment, then the lift dropped another couple of inches, then stopped. It really did seem like there was quite a high chance of plunging five storeys (I'm including the basement) into the ground. And in one of those strange moments, where humans act in a way that is both sensible, and completely insane, I carefully held the coffee away from me. At about arms length.

Anyway, I didn't die, and perhaps I never will. Someone got in the lift after I got out, and I thought 'should I say something?'. And then I thought 'nah'.

One who we thought had left the blogging fold has returned with a great new name. I agree wholeheartedly that life should have a change button, but I'm already freaked out when my Mac asks me to 'choose my identity'. Once I stared at the screen so hard, coloured lights started flickering across my vision, twisting and arcing as though I was staring into the mind of god. Then I realised it was just the screensaver, but still.

And World of Warcraft asks you if you want to 'enter world', not 'leave world', which would make more sense, unless I'm overthinking it.

I did some work as well this week, and social things, which was nice, and saw bands which were good. It's not all silliness.

Planet Sketch which did some work for, now has its own website. GW Stuart got way more on it than me though. I hate him so much.

*Still, it's better than the Black Power salute I used to give at meetings without ever really thinking about it. I stopped doing it, sadly not because it's Wrong Wrong Wrong, but because I walked into a meeting a while ago, and one of the actors did it to me first, and I just stared at him, jaw agape, thinking 'I have nothing, I only had that one thing, and now it's gone. I am bereft'.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Shambling Mounds in Central Park

Worth breaking my self-imposed radio silence for. Scroll down to Cult warning for NY hacks.

I've just started a fresh D&D campaign with an old friend from school who I haven't seen for about fifteen years (and his wife, which he didn't have in school - I would have noticed). We played with no discernable irony, and my first level Paladin killed quite a few Beastmen which was good, particularly when I misunderstood how many hit points* my character had and insisted on taking on their leader alone, only to find out later on that my arm was basically hanging on by a bit of skin and sinew (a state which long-time blue cat readers will know is the traditional state for a paladin regardless of game medium) . Anway, I won, and it was great.

While I'm geeking out, there should be a technical term for the joy one feels when it turns out your hotel bedroom is just on the edge of someone's wifi zone. Wiphoria?

Also. I have become somewhat obsessed with this site.

*If anyone's wondering, yes I have. But to be honest, not for a while.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

It's oh so quiet

Not much blogging at the moment, due to a sudden rush of work (hurrah!). That's actual paying work, rather than the filmscript, children's fantasy novel and treatment for an animated kids series that I've currently been working on, all of which are entirely on spec. Good for the soul though - the feeling I get finishing a chapter of the Cabinet, or bashing out a silly road movie script is like nothing else. Sometimes I genuinely get quite giddy.

Thanks to lee for pointing me to the wikipedia page on dolly zooms and GW Richard who printed me off the relevant page from Free Dictionary which will give me an hours reading on the train home, as I'm quite slow with facts.

The quite quite marvellous Danny Stack has responded magnificently to a question I asked him about what to expect when you've written a
space vampire movie in the same week that William Goldman and, say John August have sold space vampire scripts (they haven't, it was just an example). I haven't written a space vampire movie either. One 'Lifeforce' was probably enough (imdb link ommitted entirely deliberately).

Anyway - normal service will be resumed in a week or so, unless something astonishingly entertaining happens in the meantime. Or, you know, I get confused about bowls of beans or something.

ALMOST INSTANT UPDATE: The best DVD review ever. There's something almost classically elegant about it.