Sunday, December 24, 2006

These are not my sour grapes!

A quick one (which is all I can manage now I’m so old...) to refer you to a lovely post by The Last Duchess, and the fallout from her and her hubby’s inventive lights for Christmas.

Whether you’re a supporter of CND in the UK or not, or feel that the peace logo has been hijacked by other causes (they’ve never really hung onto it long when it’s been tried), you’ve seriously got to worry about the sort of person that drops in a note complaining about an “awful 1960s Peace sign”. The twat.

I’d be more interested in assisting in the cremation of those buffoons who plaster their entire houses in enough lights to get the city of Las Vegas ringing up and asking why they’re experiencing a blackout and whose gardens resemble a runway from LAX...

Blessings to one and all from smiling, cheery, avuncular old Riddley here at Sluice Mansions.

“Bah” and indeed “Humbug” ;-)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Torchwood twaddle

Having been alerted to this excellent summation of the many areas in which the execrable Torchwood fails to be worthy of pissing on if it was on fire, I feel duty-bound to reproduce in full. (crib-sheet for colonials - “fanny” equates with “pussy”, not “ass”)


Hello Jack, I found this in a spaceship.
It has made my tits huge.

Watch out, it’s got monsters in it!



I’m just that good, baby.
[he smokes a cigarette which also hatches]


Can I have a fag please?

That’s what I say half the time - I’m totally bisexual.
How do you like them apples?

It genuinely means nothing to me.

Right, whatever bitch, I’m off to stand
on top of St Paul’s Cathedral. Laters.


I think I fancy Owen.

Girls and boys having sex is boring and for children.
Do something adult for blimey’s sake.


Haha! You totally farted.
Welcome back to the team.
You didn’t follow through did you?
That would be super-gross forever IDST

There’s a monster made out of bras on the roof!



Two monsters come through a Welsh rift. They look a bit adult / sexy and like they can possess humans / take human form and have sex.

Hi there!
I’m nonchalant as fuck, me.

You are not like the others Captain Jack Harkness,
it’s like yow ded or sommat.


Jack, my fanny itches.
I think it’s probably aliens.
Gasp! Aliens!

Don’t blame us like.
You probably got barnacles from doing it
with a space whale, you mucky boot.


Me too!
Let’s all think about cocks.



Thank GOD they were allergic to human semen!

And I’ve got some left over for when they come back!

I’ll put that into stor… where did all the spunk go?
There was seven gallons of spunk right here.




This just about sums up the level of thought behind the show - need I say more?


Monday, December 18, 2006

Bloody excellent, Bond!

Erk. What a very good film Casino Royale is.

Aside from comparisons with the rest of the franchise, most of which seem to exist in some kind of critical vacuum (or at least an alternate dimension where wanking the studio’s money-cock until it shoots its load over the screen time and time again is somehow seen to be a GOOD THING), it compares very favourably with action movies in general.

Tightly plotted, subtly scripted (yes, I did just use the word ‘subtle’ in a piece about a Bond movie) and believably played by a cast who can act and, probably more importantly, are being allowed to act. There’s a lot to like about the film.

Daniel Craig - if you’ve never seen anything else of his, buy Layer Cake and see how it’s done. An intense man, yet not caught up in that to the point of trying to ‘be’ intense, with the most ridiculously blue eyes outside of a Viking. It wouldn’t surprise me if he pops up in a longboat at some time with a horned helmet, on a pillaging run somewhere...

Eva Green - hmm, aside from an accent that careers wildly around the home counties (a valiant effort in all honesty), she has a brittle vulnerability in the role of Vesper Lynd that makes Bond’s reaction to her very believable. She also doesn’t telegraph her character’s true motivations, making for a very real internal struggle. Great stuff.

Judi Dench - it’s almost too easy to throw superlatives at Dame Judes, but she really is that good. Restrained, delicate and at turns imperious in the role, she’s an actor with a range most would happily murder their parents for. It’s only when you sit back and think about how right she is able to make every line, bit of business and nuance feel that you begin to experience something close to awe about the craft. In her hands, M is a complex, driven, assured woman who is taking a risk with her new ‘double-oh’ agent, but is under no illusions about how it will play out for him if he fails to toe the line.

No silly gadgets, no daft invisible cars, very little in terms of quips (and those that are in the script aren’t tediously overworked innuendo), no “look at how obscenely fucking rich I am” ostentation and a protagonist who is perfectly believable in the lonely, disaffected world of the spy/assassin.

In fact, many of the most memorable moments in the film are small in nature. When a gun is thrown at Bond, instead of ducking, he catches it without thinking and throws it straight back at the guy, hitting him in the head. This is in the middle of an astoundingly choreographed action sequence of running stunts at the start of the film. The whole sequence is great, but small touches like that, that make the man human, are vital to his overall believability.

A hero whose flaws don’t lead him to navel-gazing or leave him wracked by guilt for what he does. A hero who is propelled by his flaws to become the best in the business.

Excellent stuff! Go see it.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Ho fucking ho

I was going to come up with something about the crass commercialisation of Christmas (easy target, huh?) but, as usual, The Onion beat me to it.

Enjoy extending withering looks (and muttering some newly-forged expressions) at the other shuffling shoppers in the mall after reading this glowing chunk of holiday cheer.

Of particular chunky loveliness are shitheel, douchelord, twatbomb and the inexplicably tautological cock-knob (a personal favourite).

Joy to all, etc. etc. etc. ad nauseam...

Monday, December 11, 2006

Eye on the ball

Isn’t it a lovely thing when you get to help a friend out in times of need?

Even better still when you get paid for it...

News in brief (ish):
With Christmas looming, my dear friend the Healthcare Goddess is under the cosh with several projects that she’s concerned about dropping balls on. Most of these require research materials being collated, distilled and re-presented to their target audiences. Not exactly the world’s most taxing job individually, but when you’ve got eleventy billion of them happening at once, it can get a little out of hand.

Halfway through November, it didn’t look like there was much work to be had for us in the run-up to Christmas, and I assumed that it was likely only to change for the busier in January, once most of the clients had recovered from sifting budgetary paperwork. So, I told the HG to throw as much work as she could my way, in order for her to meet deadlines and maybe sleep every once in a while!

I’ve been happily crunching through the odd bit of research for her, along with being a sounding-board for various business concerns, for the last few weeks. And she pays me for this, the lovely woman! She’s now in more of a position of control of the work and not quite as worried about fire-fighting and letting clients down as she was. She may even be able to prepare for her holiday soon, you never know.

Even better has been a sudden influx of work from an unexpected quarter (ie. a new client), who are ridiculously happy with the quality of our work (as well as our prices) and are intimating that there’s a vast amount of work for us for the new year. Having seen the standard of the stuff they were being handed before, I’m not surprised. A video interview for an internal presentation being done on a palmcorder with the audio from the mic on top of the camera, with no white-balancing, led to the subject sounding like he was at the bottom of a mine-shaft, with a bad dose of jaundice. And this was given to the client (a large, multi-national pharmaceutical company) by one of the biggest creative/advertising agencies on the planet.


But what an opportunity... ;-)

So, it’s heads-down for a while in the run-up to the Festering Season and a positive vibe for the New Year.

I’m sure I’ll get another post in before then, but hope you all have a great time and eat enough for an army of locusts where possible. Hope the positivity comes to you all too.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Reasons to watch good telly...

Another blogger, Irascible Ian, makes a good case for the unconverted to join the legions of worshippers at the altar of BSG...

Check it out here.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Mmmmmmm, English!

Or, The Joys Of Torture...

Something lures about English, to native speakers possessed of a bit of fluency, a fancy for comedy and a weak spot for the works of Chris Morris, Armando Ianucci, Charlie Brooker and John Stewart.

That thing is: deliberately mucking about with the English language.

Not in the "text-speak" gibberish that the (generally) illiterate unhosed spout forth on MySpace, nor the incomprehensible twaddle found in forums by those too lazy to reach all the way up there for the spell-checker (or doing what the rest of us had to do without seemingly dying of the effort - pay attention at school).

This is more like grabbing semi-related words and making them, nay forcing them to make an odd, off-kilter sense. From Chris Morris’ concocted phrases such as arse-candle, fuck-nut, cold shit action and the frankly terrifying roboplegic wrongcock to John Stewart’s Midtacular coverage of the recent merry-go-round of electorial pageantry on display in the US, there seems to be a resurgence of word-smithing and striking anew of phrases and terminology.

Good Dog asked me the other day for a more colourful term of derogation for use in a blog entry. Sick of the overuse of words like wanker, asshole and twat, he wanted something with a little more panache to enliven the vitriol.

I suggested an old favourite of mine, slubberdegullion. Not in everyday use (more’s the pity), it’s a term which you don’t get confused about (like the US has over bollocks). You know if you call someone a slubberdegullion, you aren’t being complimentary.

Here’s a section of Sir Thomas Urquhart’s translation of Rabelais’ Gargantua and Pantagruel, dated 1653, drawing heavily on vocabulary used in Scotland in his time and featuring a variant spelling of slubberdegullion. Dive in and experience utter wordgasm:
The bun-sellers or cake-makers were in nothing inclinable to their request; but, which was worse, did injure them most outrageously, called them prattling gabblers, lickorous gluttons, freckled bittors, mangy rascals, shite-a-bed scoundrels, drunken roysters, sly knaves, drowsy loiterers, slapsauce fellows, slabberdegullion druggels, lubberly louts, cozening foxes, ruffian rogues, paltry customers, sycophant-varlets, drawlatch hoydens, flouting milksops, jeering companions, staring clowns, forlorn snakes, ninny lobcocks, scurvy sneaksbies, fondling fops, base loons, saucy coxcombs, idle lusks, scoffing braggarts, noddy meacocks, blockish grutnols, doddipol-joltheads, jobbernol goosecaps, foolish loggerheads, flutch calf-lollies, grouthead gnat-snappers, lob-dotterels, gaping changelings, codshead loobies, woodcock slangams, ninny-hammer flycatchers, noddypeak simpletons, turdy gut, shitten shepherds, and other suchlike defamatory epithets; saying further, that it was not for them to eat of these dainty cakes, but might very well content themselves with the coarse unranged bread, or to eat of the great brown household loaf.
Why oh why oh why is that not the way in which we converse these days?

I’m particularly enthralled by the ones that stand out by their sheer normality, such as “staring clowns” or the fact that he then mentions “other suchlike defamatory epithets”. You mean there were more? Like this? Wow...

I’ve also dreamed up my own (undoubtedly inaccurate) rendering of the last sentiment, “the great brown household loaf”. “They’re not allowed cakes, so they should eat shit”. Charming, eh? The next time you want to slyly insult someone, tell them to go and eat of the great brown household loaf.

Get these terms into everyday use and do it now. Better still, lob them into a bit of dialogue. No-one will notice...

I really do insist. ;-)

For more fun, check out World Wide Words, in particular their Weird Words section.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Cough, splutter...

Wow, it’s been a while, eh?

Technically, I’ve been ill. I say technically because, though I’ve been coughing like a bull walrus with bronchial pneumonia after a good cigar, I’ve not felt remotely ill. Which probably explains why I’ve been generously handing around whatever version of the plague I’m going to manfully survive this time...

Anyway, while away, there’s been a slight resurgence of a type of work (graphic design for print - posters in this case) that I’d assumed had died a death for my little company. Partly this was due to not pursuing it as most of the clients we’d had were TV-company-related, and therefore unwilling to pay anything like what I know the work should cost. Therefore, as a type of work, it took up too much time, meant listening to clients who were demonstrably clueless with regard to formulating a brief or conveying said brief in human sentences to someone with an IQ larger than their shoe-size, entailed endless revisions as the clients always seemed to need to run it past everyone they’d ever met, and took time away from more productive work, even if that consisted of staring vacantly out of the window while working out the structure of an underlying story theme in an as-yet-unpublished-or-commissioned piece of fiction.

So, a friend of a friend (hereafter known as MD-Negative - for his refreshingly un-dictatorial manner as MD of a marketing company), working in the same market as the corporate filming we often do, rang and asked if we could take care of six posters for internal communications. After a short and refreshingly brief preamble, he suggested a daily rate that the end client was looking to pay. This was orders of magnitude higher than anything we’d be getting working for the knuckle-draggers in TV marketing, so I said yes.

With as much of a brief as MD-Negative could give us in the absence of a great deal of help from the end client, work got underway. Three days and six relatively pleasing (to me, anyway) poster designs later, the end client finally supplied us with the corporate branding manual we’d been after from day one. Ho hum, reworks ahoy!

What made these reworks far less painful than those encountered in the telly arena was the obviously respectful way in which our opinions were solicited about the overall designs, the sympathy over the lack of direction (which MD-Negative was experiencing just as much as us), and the fact that additional work was unequivocally going to be paid for, as it was through no fault of ours that we’d not been supplied with the correct information with a looming deadline.

I quote, without any smugness, an excerpt from an email received once the dust had all settled:
Can I just say again the stuff you are doing is excellent, and your flexibility and patience with all the changes is fantastic. So different to the creatives I am used to dealing with - an absolute pleasure!
Not bad, eh? Due to me not losing my rag over the end client’s infuriating inertia, we’ve not only kept them very happy with a handful of posters, we’re now filming with them next week and have ended up on their approved suppliers list. Huzzah!

One of the things that I used to berate an ex-guitarist for (bear with me, this does have a point) was not dabbling outside his musical comfort-zone. He played rock, and that was that. No funk, jazz, blues, classical or anything other than ‘chunky’ rock. Though his playing was good, there would be things in certain songs that he would just not get and would always sound laboured. If he’d nipped out into uncharted territory every once in a while, he might have been able to add other dimensions to his playing.

One of the great joys about writing with Good Dog is that our backgrounds are, in some areas, wildly different. In my opinion, this is a great thing, as there are always things in our histories that have an unexpectedly useful bearing on a script problem, plot point or character facet.

Yep, stepping back outside the current stream of work and “keeping your hand in” in a particular style of work pays off.

I bet that almost all of the writers out there unwittingly mine their ‘previous lives’ for material.

And why not? It’s better than watching Torchwood... ;-)