Wednesday, 31 March 2010

TV Gold

There is many a delight gleefully crapping all over our eyes and ears via the medium of the television schedule these days and, judging by some of the competition out there, I reckon it can't be all that hard to pitch out a few ideas. I'm sure that all of these are imminently due to be snapped up by some far-sighted TV exec who knows televisual gold when it pokes him in his expense-account induced girth so keep an eye out for them come the winter season.

60 Minute Housebreak

Two teams of chirpy conmen attempt to break into a top-list celebirty's nouse and steal as many of their expensive celebrity trinkets as possible in just one hour. The winning team are the ones who have managed to fence as much of the dodgy gear as possible to Dave down the Nag's Head before the rozzers get wind of it. Presented by celebrity cockney Danny Dyer.

Celebritry Punchface

This show distills the format in which a Z-list celebrity is subjected to ritual humiliation at the hands of the public down to its purest form. The vote lines open for your chosen celebrity and, once the vote has closed, the remainder of the show is spent having a burly security guard called Dave simply slapping them about the face. Oh, the hilarity.

Eat Some Food
Some people cook for some other people who come round to their house and eat it. Oh no, hang on, that's already pretty much every reality-type show on at the moment.

I'm fairly sure that any one of those would get me at least a twelve week commission. Maybe more...

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Aiii! Gojira!

In keeping with yesterday's discussion of underrated pleasures, let's talk a bit about Godzilla. I've mentioned in the past that I'm a fan of these slices of cinematic fried gold. Sure, they're not to everyones taste but sometimes only the sight of two grown men in rubber monster suits smashing each other into cardboard replica cities will satisfy*. With that in mind, you can understand my complete lack of excitement at the news that a Hollywood studio has once again bought the rights to the big green lizard and plans to return him to the screen.

It was twelve years ago that this was last attempted and let's just say that the results were woeful (thanks to Independence Day's Roland Emmerich). With that in mind, here are my top tips to the new production team as to what to do to avoid stinking up the joint 1998-style:-

Don't Turn Him Into A Giant Crocodile-Style Jurassic Park CGI Rip-Off
Now, I'm not necessarily saying that they should break out the rubber suits again** but that doesn't mean they should change the overall look of the big fella. I mean, it's an iconic look, the sort of half-tyrannosaur-half iguana thing so why mess about with it for the sake of modernisation? By all means use CGI to realise the creature but make sure that it stays true to what was popular about the character in the first place.

Don't Give Him Kids
In the original run of films, Godzilla's son (who's name was Minilla, fact fans) was a sign of the series taking a more family-friendly turn as well as being one of the worst ideas imaginable. In the American film, lots of little Godzilla babies running around was just an excuse to have a bit of Jurassic park-style raptor action. And, of course, in the cartoon, Godzooky was an abomination before the eyes of man. So, please, no mini-Godzillas.

Give Him Some Massive Monsters To Fight
If I'm going to see a Godzilla film, I want to see him stomping about, smashing buildings and fighting other monsters. I don't want to see him going up against Matthew Broderick. That's not what I've paid my money for. Giant monsters, please.

Of course, the best option all round would be for Hollywood to leave him alone and for Toho Studios to get the suit out of mothballs and start building tiny Tokyos again. Mainly because this might be one of those cultural things that just doesn't really translate. That's not gonna happen, though, so let's hope that maybe someone somewhere remembers the lesson of the 1998 version and shows a bit more appreciation for the character.

Think I'll stick to watching "Destroy All Monsters!" instead. Abunai! Gojira!

* In fact, I have a fondness for the kaiju genre in general - how can you not love characters like Gamera, a giant space turtle who sprouts rocket jets from his leg-holes once his limbs are fully retracted and flies through the air in a spinny leg-hole-propelled fashion?

** Which reminds me, Trey Parker and Matt Stone (of South Park and Team America fame) where supposed to be making a monster movie called Giant Monsters Attack japan! in a Godzilla-styley but I never heard any more about it after the initial announcement. Wonder what happened to that?

Monday, 29 March 2010

Underrated Pleasures

Some would say that they are guilty pleasures but I think underrated pleasures is a better way of putting it as you shouldn't feel bad about something that gives you pleasure (stop it, minds out of the trousers, people). They are the things that you don't think get enough attention - unjustly and undeservedly so. Here are a few off the top of my shiny head for starters...

Walnut Whips

No, this isn't a kinky thing. I am, of course, talking about one of these bad boys:-

I was utterly obsessed with them as a child, even though I wasn't particularly fond of walnuts. So, the walnut on top always got picked off and thrown in the bin so that the chocolatey cone with the whipped fondant filling could be swiftly demolished by my childish chompers (and no doubt suitably smeared over fingers and fizzog). Gorgeous Girlfriend bought some the other day and I was instantly transported back to Nana and Grandad's kitchen on a Thursday afternoon after school. Mmmm, walnut whips.

Adam And Joe on BBC 6Music

I always liked their TV shows but radio is the medium in which they've really come into their own (and it was one of their radio shows talking about underrated rather than guilty pleasures that set off this train of thought). They're silly and funny and the fact that they have been friends since they were at school together and still seem to really make other laugh hysterically is always endearing. They're also both extremely musically talented as proved by their regular feature "Song Wars" in which they pick a theme and each compose a song on it for the following week's show which is then put to the listener vote. Sadly, they're on hiatus at the moment as Joe is making a film and, with the imminent demise of BBC 6Music, it looks possible that they might not be back on the radio as a duo anytime soon. Which would be a crime.

The Larry Sanders Show

Another one of those shows that got shown over here in dead of night slots (both on BBC and on ITV4 when they did a run of it a couple of years back) and never really got the attention it deserved. Sure, Larry himself is not a particularly appealing character as such but the show is made by the dream team of Jeffrey Tambor as "Hey Now!" Hank Kingsley and Rip Torn as Artie the producer. Fine comic actors both and at the top of their game in this series.

So, what are the things that you love what people should pay more attention to?

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Thief In The Night

The dead of night. Saturday. Across the land, the traditional weekend merriment is taking place, be that a debauched night on the town or a quiet night in plonked in front of the television. People are drinking, dancing, watching, shagging, laughing, sleeping, puking, snogging, snoring and a million other things besides. And yet, as Saturday night unfolds, a merry thief stalks the land undeterred by the presence of so many...

It creeps into homes, into clubs, into pubs, into offices, into cars, into anywhere and everywhere that there may be people. And it steals, without compunction, without guilt, without prejudice from one and all, old and young, rich and poor, black and white, men and women. As swiftly as it comes, it is gone, laughing as it leaves behind mass bewilderment and internal body-clock confusion in its wake. The populace awakes the next morning, says, "Eurgh, that's really the time, isn't it?" and grumpily shifts its way about it day.

Whoever invented British Summer Time is a git and needs a swift kicking. I want my hour in bed back, you pasty-faced swine. British Summer Time? Bloody Stealing Time, I say. Oh yes, not everyone could come out with an absolute zinger like that, I know, but hold your applause.

Now, go away and let me grump my way through the day. Some of us have got to go to work, you know...

(Yes, I did just write a post moaning about losing an hour's sleep on the weekend that I have to go to work on a Sunday. Well spotted.)

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Oh Body, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?

The early hours of Sunday morning. Sudden wakefulness is attained. Not a good wakefulness. A "something is wrong" wakefulness. Stomach. Stomach bad. Toilet. Toilet now.

And so begins a long day of bodily unpleasantness, all capped off with some lovely acheyness and shivering. You know it's a bad sign when you can't even muster the full attention span to watch something you actually would like to watch and are forced to stare at endless episodes of Come Dine With Me which seem to be designed to allow for you to doze off at three minute intervals as they are constantly recapping what has already happened and what is about to come up.

So Sunday passes in a blur of feeling like shite as does much of Monday only to be replaced on Monday night and much of Tuesday by agonising shoulder pain (presumably due to having dozed off in a funny position at some point during the day). Is this what it has come to? Has my body decided to turn against me so? Where a couple of days of feeling like crap results in additional aches and pains due to being ill in the first place?

Now, before I simply sound like I've already turned into a whingeing old grandad (and I realise that it may already be a bit too late for that), let me point out a recent sign of ageing of which I am extremely fond. For, you see, I have discovered new additions to the hairy growths upon the chin of your humble bald narrator. No, it's not the remains of last week's curry (I already knew that was there and I'm saving it for later). It is, in fact, a small selection of bright white hairs. I'm quite liking this. I'm hoping that it will lend me an air of, if not refinement and intelligence, then at the very least unwavering dedication to universal domination. Much like this fellow here:-

So come on then, Growing Older, let's see what else you've got, eh? Well, that is, as long as it's not things like standing in Tesco's in my underwear wondering why there are so many people in my kitchen looking at me funny and crapping in my pants every time I laugh. Let's just stick with the aches and the different coloured hairs for now, eh?

Friday, 19 March 2010

Over To You - Entries The Last

And so we come to the end of our week of reader suggestions and a huge thank you to those of you who took the time to come up with suggestions. As it's the end of the week, let's go out on a double whammy. First up, we have the following suggestions from Mr Jonny Yeah of Kooba Radio fame:-

Name:- Steve Lincoln
Object:- A Copper kettle
Dialogue:- "Basingstoke? I've never even been there!"
Title:- "Blepharospasm"

And here's what that gets you, Mr Y...


It's driving me mad. Twicth, twitch, twitch. I can't think of anything else. Twitch, twitch, twitch. It's beginning to feel like it's been going on for years, an eternity, an eon. An eye-based distraction that is chipping away at my sanity. Why won't it stop?

I've tried everything to make it stop. I've squeezed my eye tightly shut, I've rubbed it really hard, I've tugged at the eyelid but still twitch, twitch, twitch. I've even started canvassing opinion at the office. That's always dangerous. Like hiccups, it turns out that everyone has a cure.

Steve Lincoln, our accounts manager, suggested that I should hold it against a chilled copper kettle. I mean, really? A copper kettle? Is that the best that people can come up with? I asked where I was supposed to get hold of one. He told me that he knew of a good antiques shop in Basingstoke.

"Basingstoke? I've never even been there!"

No, I guess I'll just just have to put up with it. Twitch, twitch, twitch. Just grin and bear it. Twitch twi- it's stopped! Oh huzzah!


Oh, great...

To round off the week, here's the last effort - the suggestions come courtesy of one Gorgeous Girlfriend (who, to avoid cries of nepotism, will not be eligible for the prize) and are as follows:-

Name:- Samuel
Object:- 5 Doudous
Dialogue:- "I don't need a poo!.... Mummy, I've done a poo in my pants."
Title:- "I Left My Sanity At Kingston Hospital Four Years Ago"

I Left My Sanity At Kingston Hospital Four Years Ago

Once upon a time, there was a young boy called Samuel. Along with his older brother, he was the apple of his mother's eye. He often did his best to test this devotion. Statements such as "I don't need a poo!.... Mummy, I've done a poo in my pants" were often deployed and, at these times, although the patience of his mother sorely pushed, still she was utterly devoted to him.

His toy of choice was the Doudou - a sort of multi-coloured rabbity thing. of these he had three but it was not enough. So his mother scoured the interwebs and located some more, bringing his Doudou total to five. So now he has five, nearly enough to completely obscure him as he lies in his bed, and happy is he. Happy, that is, until he decides he needs six....

So there you go, a week of writing that was prompted by you lot. I said back at the start of the week that I would pick a winner and this is now the toughest bit of the week. I've enjoyed writing them for completely different reasons and it's tough to pick. But, in the end, I'm going to go with Mr Irish Gumbo's suggestions as the prize-winner for this week for the sole reason that it actually gave me some inspiration to write for Squire Kirk once again after a rather long absence.

The prize... Yes, I said there'd be a prize, The only problem here is that I haven't picked it out yet. So here's what I'm going to do. I shall select an object from my stash of stuff, send it through to the Irish one and politely request that he write a blog post inspired by said object in return (which I shall link to here once he has done so). He's a man who likes a challenge so I'm sure he'll appreciate that.

Anyway, that's your week over. Back to stuff what I have chosen from tomorrow onwards. No, don't groan, you can't have it your way all the time.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Over To You - Entry The Fourth

We've still got a few more suggestions to go so may well round off the week tomorrow with a double flourish for a big finish. But that's getting ahead of ourselves. Back to today. Today's suggestion comes from Mr Andrew Mercer via The Book Of The Face and he gave me a real head-scratcher here until I worked out what the title was. Here are the options:-

Name:- Mary von af de McSmith
Object:- Lettuce
Dialogue:- "Fine, whilst you float in an orbit of self-pity, I'll actually do something about the situation."
Title:- "Daffodils On Your Piano"

Let's see what that gets us, shall we?

Daffodils On Your Piano

OK, so the lead singers got all the attention but, let's face it, they weren't the ones who held the band together. No, thought Freddy as he beat stick against skin, without me back here, keeping it all hanging together, she'd just be a karaoke singer. Sure, she'd been great for the profile of the band - she could belt out a tune and she looked a lot better than any of the others in skintight PVC - but if Mary von af de McSmith (one third Swedish, one third Scottish, one third English - don't ask how that works) had been left to run things, they'd all still be standing in Steve's living room and annoying the shit out of his neighbours.

The resentment had been building up for some time now, probably ever since the first Daffodils On Your Piano tour (the name had been her suggestion - she'd said they'd never get anywhere with Funtclap). Freddy remembered how the image of Mary The Superstar had begun to take over and they'd gradually started to become The Rest Of the Band. This was particularly prominent underneath photo captions ("Mary, here pictured with the rest of the band").

It had deepened as her behaviour became more erratic. She began to refer to herself only in the third person and started to display eccentric tendencies. She refused to be in the same room as lettuce and would only be photographed with her left hand over her right eye. Freddy didn't believe this was a sign of genuine mental instability. No, in his eyes, it was the desperate attempts of a slightly dim person who wanted to seem strange and exotic.

Then came the day that he found her slumped on the floor of her hotel room after attempting to get high on packets of Lemsip. She was weeping and gently tearing the eyes out of pictures of Cliff Richard. Freddy had snapped. "Fine whilst you float in an orbit of self-pity, I'll actually do something about the situation."

He'd called the press. Daffodil On Your Piano would be playing their last gig and going their separate ways.

And so now he sat. watching her gyrate and strut her stuff for the last time. Except... except he didn't want it to end. He didn't want it to be like this. He didn't want it to be the last time they played "From Here To Brentford" or "The Other Leg". As he watched Mary do her thing, he thought that maybe, just maybe, they could give things another go. Plus she really did have a nice arse in skintight PVC. Freddy felt the beat. He'd stay back there and he'd keep it all together.

There you go, that's your lot for today. Come back tomorrow when we'll round off the week that you asked for. Well, some of you asked for. The rest of you just kept shtum.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Over To You - Entry The Third

And we head into Day Three with the inspiration still rolling. Today's suggestions come courtesy of the fine fellow Irish Gumbo and they read as follows:-

Name:- Roddy Slackjaw
Object:- Bronze astrolabe
Dialogue:- "Did you say 'horror' or 'whore'?"
Title:- "Heart Of Quarkness"

And so, because we're not at home to Mr Procrastination, here's what was requested:-

Heart Of Quarkness

Editor's Note:- In my attempts to document the life of my ancestor, Squire Kirk The Elder, I came across the fragment below. Sadly, despite exhaustive searching, I can find only this tantalising glimpse of the larger tale and it is that unedited yet incomplete segment which is presented here for your edification.

Part The Third

You join me, gentle reader, in the midst of an adventure of the highest peril. I realise that this is akin to saying that your humble narrator is breathing or clad in simple yet stylish attire, such is the regularity of high adventure intruding in upon one's life, but it is true nonetheless. There is a part of me that wonders whether maybe I have been cursed to live a life of drama and excitement when all this poor fellow craves is a regular seat at the Actonian Gentleman's Club and a frequently refilled snifter or two.

So you can imagine my feelings when I was rudely awakened by a dash of water to the face by the grizzled hand of Captain Roddy Slackjaw. We were still aboard the good ship Trepidation, we were still at the mercies of the dreaded Springing Shrieking Sharks of the Sixth Sea and we were still running dangerously on supplies of an refreshingly alcoholic nature. None of these facts did anything to fill me with feelings other than utter dread. It appeared that my ill-timed loss of consciousness was not going to allow me respite from our dire predicament and that I would indeed have to sit through the noisy horror of our imminent shriek-filled demise.

Suddenly a noise far more dreadful than the anticipatory shrieks of the starving sharks reached our ears. Dreadful that is for the sharks, for it was the sound of their only natural predator, the Giant Ululating Octopus (and trust me, if you have never heard an octopus ululate then you are fortunate indeed). We used this diversion as the perfect excuse to make good our escape, taking advantage of an equally fortuitous change in wind. We were once again bound for the island of Quarkness and fully engaged on our quest to retrieve the Bronze Astrolabe of Nostradamus.

As the wind filled our sails and the sounds of Shrieking Shark being loudly devoured by Ululating Octopus carried nauseatingly to our ears, Captain Slackjaw muttered something to me about our intended destination. My spirits temporarily rose and yet some inner instinct caused me to check what he had just said before giving in too fully to potential elation.

"Did you say 'horror' or 'whore'?" enquired I, rather foolishly as it turned out for the much clearer reiteration of his previous utterance caused my spirits to plummet once again to the slough of despond.

"One day'" I thought to myself as I gently allowed unconsciousness to take over and Captain Slackjaw made ready with the water, "I will have that quiet life I so dearly crave." Sadly, dear reader, I was mistaken...

To Be Continued

Editor's Note:- No further reference can be found to this tale in any of the remainder of the good Squire's writing.

Ah, it felt good to have a brief visit from the Squire again after a long absence. What will tomorrow bring? Well, you know how to find out, don't you? That's right, invent a time machine and nip forward to the future thereby enabling you to read tomorrow's entry without all that tedious waiting about for time to pass.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Over To You - Entry The Second

Day Two of "Baldy Bloke Do What You Say" and today's entrant is Mr cerebus660 who has submitted the following as his choices:-

Name:- Cainam Of Myn (try the old trick of reading it backwards)
Object:- A slightly soggy black pudding
Dialogue:- "Get that bloody helicopter off my roof!"
Title:- "The Unbearable Shite-Ness Of Being"

So, without any further ado, let's crack on with today's story, shall we?

The Unbearable Shite-Ness Of Being

The Lord High Prestator was a man upon whose lordly shoulders the weight of world rested heavily. He was the Cainam of Myn like his father before him and his father before him and so on and so forth, back as far as remembering went. Myn had once been a proud and prosperous land and the Cainam was a ruler with which to be reckoned. Alas and alack, those days had passed and the kingdom of Myn had fallen on hard times.

Gone was the former glory and splendour of the once marvellously regal palace. The lordly robes of the Cainam, once of the finest cloths and furs, were now provided by the local Mynian charity shops. In its heyday, the royal court was host to resplendent banquets which filled the bellies of the guests with sumptuous treats and delightful sweetmeats from around the world. Now, they were lucky if they could rustle up some dishevelled looking sausages and a slightly soggy black pudding.

One day, as he dejectedly contemplated the dilapidated shell of a building around him, the Lord High Prestator became aware of a great commotion. Noise filled the air and, pausing only to gather up a retinue of half-hearted and under-paid courtiers, he made his way out into the courtyard.

The sight that greeted was one set only to deepen his gloom. For there, approaching from the west, was the royal helicopter of his cousin, the Grand High Ferard, ruler and Cainam of the neighbouring kingdom of Otpelk. Otpelk had skirted the hard times by continuing to be opulent and wealthy and, having spent some time wallowing in the mires of poverty, Prestator had begun to harbour festering feelings of resentment.

"Get that bloody helicopter off my roof!" yelled his High Lordship as the vehicle touched down. Fortune favoured Cainam Ferard for he had chosen the one remaining toughened section of roof upon which to alight and it did not collapse under the machine's weight.

"I bring good news, oh cousin!" exclaimed the newcomer, sweeping his rather fine and extremely regal robes in the direction of his more squalid cousin. "Wondrous news indeed!"

At this, Prestator's heart began to lift. Maybe this was it, maybe this was the return to fortune and glory that he so richly deserved. Maybe his affluent cousin was here to raise him and rescue him from the doldrums. Hope began to flutter in his dour heart.

"What news bring you, cousin of mine?"

"Oh, it's a corker. Basically, you've run this country so far into the ground that I can now afford to buy it wholesale and annex the whole place as part of the newly expanding Greater Otpelkian Empire. You get to be the first step on the way to world domination. Isn't that spiffing?"

Prestator, former Cainam of Myn and now Chief Executive Prisoner in new Royal Executive Prison of Lesser Otpelk (Formerly Myn), was also the first person to be incarcerated for attempted regicide. Mind you, the food was a lot better these days...

Monday, 15 March 2010

Over To You - Entry The First

Last week, I ran a competition (of sorts) asking for you, the lovely readers, to give me prompts from which to weave you a story (of sorts). Well, you entered in your fives so here's the first of a week's worth of entries which you asked for (and if you didn't ask for it, well, you should have when you had the chance, shouldn't you?) Today's entry comes courtesy of Lady Euphoria Deathwatch and consists of the following elements:-

Name:- Dancer Dave
Object:- Goblet Of Forty Beetles
Dialogue:- "I told you ten times not to do that and now you're stuck like that"
Title:- Sitting On A Cold Stone

So, here's what that gets you....

Sitting On A Cold Stone

His name was Dave and he loved to dance so his friends all called him Dancer Dave. By their own free admission, they were people of somewhat limited imagination. He would dance at home and dance in the pub. He would dance in the street and dance on the bus. He would dance with his friends and dance with anyone who happened to be passing at the time. Terpsichore was his muse and he loved her dearly.

Sometimes he would stop dancing. No one dances all the time. Unfortunately, when he wasn't dancing, he liked to sit. This wasn't a problem in itself - lots of people sit for much of the time and they are, for the most part, very happy with the experience. No, it wasn't so much the sitting as much as it was the choice of sitting location. For, you see, Dancer Dave had a liking for sitting on cold stone (partly to cool down his overheated buttocks and flanks from all that rhythmic movement) and, as we all know, such activity can lead to a medical affliction of the botty area.

Serious Steve, Dave's equally literally monikered friend, was wont to warn him about the dangers of such repose.

"I wouldn't sit there if I were you, Dancer," quoth Steve, "you'll get piles."

But Dancer Dave would heed no advice and continued his stone sitting ways. And lo and behold, the grapes of the arse did indeed begin to hang betwixt his tender cheeks. Now, Dave was not a man who was overly fond of the medical profession. He had a suspicion of doctors and what he termed "their high-price quackery". So instead, he ventured to visit his friend Herbal Harry for some unofficial medical advice.

"Oooh," sympathised Harry, "I see your problem. Nasty. Well, me old mucker, try some of this. Two of these three times a day and you'll be right as ninepence. Oh, and that'll be two hundred quid, please."

Herbal Harry handed him a bottle as he gently booted Dancer Dave out the door. Rubbing his tender parts tenderly, Dave examined his new acquisition. The label said "Goblet Of Forty Beetles" and the contents appeared to be exactly what it said on the tin.

So take the tablets did he and little change in his haemorrhoidal existence did he see. Serious Steve was not about to change his name to Sympathetic Steve.

"I told you ten times not to do that and now you're stuck like that," said Steve.

And so distrustful Dancer Dave with his dislike of doctors lives a life of discomfort and distress with his distended derriere. Still, at least he doesn't have diarrhea too.

Well, there you go. There's your fist effort and, hopefully, it was to Lady E's liking. Who will be next up tomorrow? Well, there's only one way to find out, isn't there?

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Once More Unto The Breach, Dear Friends

Every day, the battle lines are drawn. Challenges are issued and gauntlets are thrown down. Glorious victory achieved and crushing defeat meted out. But never a word is spoken, never a cry is uttered. For this is not a war of weapons, a war of gun and sword, of fist and tooth and nail. No, this is a war of delicate non-verbal communication and enforced but insincere politeness. A war where the tut is a valuable asset and a withering stare part and parcel of the armour one clads oneself in.

Commuting, gotta love it.

The first battle of the day shall be known as The Battle Of Who's Nearest The Door When The Train/Tube Stops. Positions are taken up. Sidelong looks of subtle irritation are given to the person who's in Your Place and are nimbly deflected by a studied concentration on the free metropolitan newspaper. The initial skirmish seems lost. But wait, the driver has pulled slightly further forward today. You are first at the door. First blood goes to you.

But the war drags onward. No sooner is first sortie won than the fray is resumed with The Battle Of Left Or Right To Get The Seat. In this clash, fortune favours the bold and an indecisive man is a standing man. However, fortune is a fickle mistress and, on this occasion, right has yielded a large selection of seated German tourists. Defeat is bitter and unpalatable. But all is not lost...

There is a chance to claw back victory from the jaws of defeat. A cunning man will position himself so that events will move in his favour when someone relinquishes one of the holy and much coveted seats at the next stop. Unfortunately, in this challenge, fortune favours with the ill manners of a dying dog who manoeuvre themselves to body block you whilst the person becomes upstanding thereby enabling them to deftly swing into the newly vacated seat ahead of you.

And so, the destination is reached. A minor victory at the start of the campaign seemed to bode well for the hardened campaigner and yet, by the fickle caprices of cruel and merciless fate, he was last the last man standing (well, he and fifty others).

He can console himself with one small thought. The campaign may be over for today but the war, oh my friends, the war goes on...

Still only one more day to the weekend, eh?

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

So, Erm, Yeah...

Firstly, nice to see that I got enough responses to my request for story ideas yesterday to get the week's worth of storytime fun posting well and truly underway. However, what happened was that I got ahead of myself and wrote one of those. So now I've used today's allocated amount of blog time with a blog that won't be posted until next week (I'm not telling you whose, you'll have to wait and see).

I was all pleased with myself, thinking, "Yeah, you're really working there. You've got ahead of yourself. You've already got a blog in the bag for next week. You can sit back, stick those size 11 feet up and relax. Relaaaaaax." *loosens belt, undoes zip, puts hands behind head, releases gentle fart of relaxation*

"Aha," you're thinking, "I begin to see where you've gone wrong (no, not just with the farting). Also, I begin to see why A-level maths was a mistake for you."

Yes, I've done my sums wrong, haven't I? Because one blog written for next week does not equal one blog written for today plus one blog written for next week. D-, Nicholas, go to the back of the class and put on the pointy hat. And face the wall. No, turn your chair right the way around. Further. No, ignore him, everyone, it's the only way he'll learn.

So, the upshot of this is that there is no blog topic left in the old head for me to write about today. I'm just here to tell you that there's nothing for me to write about today so you should probably save yourself the bother of reading this. Sorry.*

* Disclaimer:- Author's feelings of remorse may not be genuine and any resemblance to genuine feelings of remorse is purely coincidental.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

And It's Over To You

I like a bit of a challenge and a good excuse to get the brain fired up and firing on all cylinders. So here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to offer myself up to your tender mercies and slightest whims. Yes, I'm going to write a series of blogs based upon your input.

Here's what you need to do. You need to provide me with the following:-

  • A character name
  • An object
  • A line of dialogue
  • A story title

And I will task my feeble brain with weaving those elements into some sort of coherent story. Yes, it's risky, it chancy, it's a gamble - mainly because I may not get any suggestions but also partly because I may be opening myself up to a frightening world of depravity and filth. Although anything which may get me sued for libel is probably best left in the confines of your own head.

If I'm lucky enough to get five suggestions form you lovely people out there in Blogland, I'll make a week of it. Let's give you a deadline to spur you on, shall we? Deadline is midnight this Friday (12th March). Either leave your suggestion as a comment or email it through to me (to hide your shame at your own unspeakable depravity, presumably).

Incentive? Really? Oh , alright then. My favourite suggestion will receive a prize of some sort culled from my own personal collection of stuff and also things. Actual prize to be determined but, rest assured, it will probably be fairly random. Please note that the judge's decision is purely subjective and also final. Judge's opinion can be swayed by promises of pies and/or alcohol.

My blog is in your hands...

Friday, 5 March 2010

Overlooked 80s Films - Part The Last

Hmm, well, I looked back at my original list of ideas for this themed set of blogs and I only had four options on it. And I've used them all. So I set about thinking what would the fifth option be for today. And I decided to go with a suggestion for this one because, let's face it, it is a bit overlooked. Labyrinth hogs all the glory with its songs and its goblin and its terrifying David Bowie tights but this deserves a bit of attention too.

Day Five - The Dark Crystal

Yep, it's a bit of Jim Henson and we all know of my fondness for anything Muppet-related. The difference being that this one used to terrify the hell out of me as a small child. Not so much the Skeksis although they were pretty creepy. No, it was the Garthim - those huge clicking, chittering beetle-like monsters that are sent out to do the Skeksis dirty work. There was something about them that filled me with a sense of dread.

It's a great fantasy film and pretty dark for a family film - a far cry from Kermit sitting in a swamp singing about rainbow connections. I mean, I see why Labyrinth gets more of the attention - you can sing along to it and it's got funny moments; the Dark crystal is fairly bleak most of the way through - but I still have a fondness for it.

Fact It Good

- It's the first film to feature an entirely puppet-based cast with no humans.
- The Skeksis were originally supposed to speak in their own language with subtitles but test audiences didn't like it so that was dropped.
- A CGI sequel has been in the works for some time. This fills me with foreboding.

Right then, that's your lot for this week. Everyone off down the pub. It's your round, mind.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Overlooked 80s Films - Part The Fourth

Here's one that seems to have faded from the consciousness a bit but is a bona fide classic. It launched a man with the acting ability of mahogany on the path to blank-stared mega-stardom and is clever and more full of heart than it's nearest equivalent, Wayne's World. In the words of Mr Rolf Harris, can you tell what it is yet?

Day Four - Bill And Ted's Excellent Adventure

As far as your teen-based time travel comedies, Back To The Future hogs all the glory. Don't get me wrong, it's a much deserved classic but spare a place in your heart for this little gem. We all know the score - Ted "Theodore" Logan and Bill S Preston Esq. are the class dunces who are somehow destined to bring peace to the world. That is, if they pass their history test... Keanu Reeves has never been more perfectly cast - called upon to play a brainless dork, it's a perfect match for him. He's also ably supported by a nice comic turn from Alex Winter who pretty much dropped off the radar after this (turning up on directing duties every now and then).

It also has great fun with the whole time travel, paradoxy, cause-and-effecty type of thing - particularly in the scene towards the end where they have to remember to use the time machine in order to set everything up to help themselves in the first place (ah, you get what I mean). It's one of those rare films that has an enjoyable sequel, too, by throwing in a whole bunch of new elements rather than just rehash the first film.

Fact Me 'Til I Fart

- As well as the sequel, the film spawned a cartoon, alive-action series and a comic book (which was great fun - written and drawn by indie comic book creator Evan Dorkin who was left to his own devices).

- The film Bio-Dome (a Pauly Shore film which apparently stars Stephen Baldwin and features Kylie Minogue) was adapted from a proposed screenplay for a third film. Sounds like the franchise ended just in time...

- Jane Wiedlin who plays Joan Of Arc had a hit in 1988 with the song Rush Hour

Well, it's Thursday now so I reckon I'll squeeze out one more of these to round out the week. Chin chin, chaps and chapettes.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Overlooked 80s Films - Part The Third

Still going on an eighties theme this week. We've had sentient robots and reader-immersing books so far so what's the plan for today? Well, let's switch back to the technological today for another slice of eightiesosity (is that a word? It is now).

Day Three - WarGames

Yep, it's about as eighties as a film can get, dealing with two major pre-occupations of the decade - the rise of the home computer and the imminent threat of global nuclear war. It's probably one of the first nerd-based film where the hero is your geeky type who spends a large chunk of the film tapping away at keyboards to access things (scenes that have become pretty much standard for any hacking action needed in a film).

Another eighties staple? The cast. Matthew Broderick's here in one of his first roles in the pre-Ferris Bueller days and, for the second time this time, Ally Sheedy features in the cast. Now there's an eighties star. Never as popular as Molly Ringwald, she turned up in a load of flicks (including Breakfast Club with Ringwald) before pretty much completely disappearing. It also features Michael Madsen in one of his first roles, many years before Reservoir Dogs fame came a-knocking.

Fact Me Up

- The director, John Badham, also directed Saturday Night Fever as well as Short Circuit (it's a coincidentally interlinked week).

- A direct to DVD sequel called WarGames: The dead Code was released in 2008. What's the betting it's an utter pile of old toot? Anyone?

- "A strange game. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of chess?" (Alright, not a fact, more a of a quote but still...)

Another old school classic there. More next time. probably. Unless I've run out of steam and decide to do something else. We'll see.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Overlooked 80s Films - Part The Second

I've started off with a theme this week so let's keep on rolling with it for now, shall we? Yes, that was a rhetorical question, I'm going to do it anyway but I like to give the illusion that you're somehow involved in the process. I'm inclusive like that. What's today's choice then?

Day Two - The Never-Ending Story

Now, I'm pretty sure that some will, at the mere mention of those words, have the cheesy theme tune by former Kajagoogoo front man Limahl beginning to run round your heads ("The Never-Ending Stooo-ooo-reeeyyyy, Whoa oh oh, whoa oh oh, whoa oh oh.") Well, if I've got it stuck in there, no reason you shouldn't have it too.

Much like yesterday's choice of Short Circuit, it's not necessarily the most exceptional film in the world but it has a certain charm about it that carries it through. There are some nicely realised fantasy characters (was always fond of the Rock Eaters and Morla the giant tortoise) but I think the element that I was fondest of as a small and still behaired youth was the concept of the book gradually drawing the reader into the storyline and needing them to become the hero who saves the day. As a young boy and avid reader, the idea of the fantasy world of the book becoming real and either invading your everyday life or drawing you into its fictional world was extremely appealing.

Let's give you a few facts on this one. Everyone likes a good fact.

- It's a German production based on a German novel (but only the first half of the book, apparently - not quite that never-ending then)
- It was directed by the man responsible for Das Boot
- It spawned two sequels and an animated series and was remade for TV as a 13 episode series in 2001.
- The aforementioned Limahl theme tune was written by Giorgio Morodor who wrote the Academy Award-winning "Flashdance...What A Feeling!" and "Take My Breath Away"as well as the somehow non-award winning "Together In Electric Dreams". Hard to believe it didn't win anything, isn't it?
- It does, in fact, seem to have ended. For now anyway.

There you go. That's your lot for today. What's tomorrow's choice? Well, you'll have to come back and see, won't you?

Oh, alright, here's the video:-

Monday, 1 March 2010

Overlooked 80s Films - Part The First

There has of late been a trend towards eighties films becoming fashionable again. Many are adorning cool, geek chic, retro-style T-shorts and tend to be the major ones of the decade. You know the ones I mean - your Back To The Futures and your Ghostbusterses - justifiably classics and rightly revered. However, I would ask you to spare a thought for some of those films of the time which retain a soft spot in my affections and are being unfairly overlooked in favour of the big guns. I think it's time we lifted a few rocks and shone a light into the blinking eyes of a few old school classics that deserve a look in. I'm not saying they're in the league of the aforementioned big hitters but they deserve a bit of memory devoted to them. So, enough preamble, what's today's option?

Day One - Short Circuit

Yep, it's that timeless tale of girl meets boy except boy isn't so much "boy" as "relentless government killing robot that's broken its programming due to an electrical overload and now is developing a kind and cuddly personality that likes butterflies". You know, that old chestnut. It's a lovable if clunky film which has one major thing going for it - it's from those heady pre-CGI days which means that we get an actual robot in it (Johnny 5 himself) that looks like it has been made by government i.e. limited in actions and already heading towards obsolete.

"OK," some of you may be saying, "all well and good, oh hairless one, but you are forgetting the major minus point to this cinematic mini-gem." Alright, yes, so you have a point there - in the interests of health and safety, I do have to point out that this film contains unhealthy levels of Steve Guttenberg. In the films defence, I will only say that, for a certain period in the eighties, it was actually illegal to make any films without Steve Guttenberg in them. Fortunately, for everyones sanity, this law was quickly repealed and the stringent Anti-Guttenberg laws that subsequently came in continue to protect us to this day*.

So let's hear it for Short Circuit. It's not the greatest film in the world but it has a certain charm that only an eighties film can produce. And, after all, no disassemble Number 5. Number 5 is alive.

* Sadly, Guttenberg exploited the unfortunate loophole in the UK's Pantomime Act which allowed to appear in Cinderella at the Churchill Theatre in Bromley. No, really, this bit's true - he did appear in panto. Seriously.