Thursday, June 21, 2007

Gig news

For those of you who read the post about being in a progressive rock band way back when, here’s a news item from the Twelfth Night info page:
The event by Andy Sears and Clive Mitten will have a warm-up gig on November 17th at the Peel in Kingston. Tickets will be available from 19th June. You are able to obtain tickets directly through the venue via credit card on 020 8546 3516. You can also send a cheque payable to Peel Leisure Co., 160 Cambridge Rd, Kingston KT1 3HH. Tickets will be £10.00 in advance.

And it doesn’t stop, two more gigs are being planned, and will possibly be recorded for CD and DVD!
The guys are doing what I suppose could be termed a ‘nano-tour’ - some gigs in London and Manchester during November. Whether all of the remaining band members are involved is still currently up in the air, but the gigs are the first time in *ahem* years that Twelfth Night material has had a live airing, so are a must for fans of the era.

I’ll probably be involved somewhere along the line with the gigs, and I'll keep you posted as to exactly how. If you’re really unfortunate, some of you may well even get to enjoy the rare, umm, “treat” of seeing me on stage at some point during the proceedings. ;-)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Fat Kids = Dead Kids

Okay, having worked with various related lobbying organisations and pressure groups across the years, as well as simply walking about on the streets of Britain with my bloody eyes open, it’s particularly hard to deny the obvious and blinding evidence of the public deciding that being a fat fucking mess is (apparently) a worthwhile lifestyle choice.

Now, I’m not advocating a size-zero, unattainable figure for anyone. The mistake that all the campaigns to get the Great British Prole™ not turning into Flabba the Butt have made up until now is that they have almost solely focused on image. The “bikini diet”, “get fit for summer” and “two weeks to get you from dead to an über-abs goddess”. Okay, I made that last one up, but we’re all familiar with having seen this sort of crap in various tabloids, exhorting the masses to puff and pant (a teeny-weeny bit) and take up some ridiculous diet.

These are generally water-loss diets, or complete twaddle like the Atkins “revolution” (remember how well *that* worked, eh?) that encourage at most a two-week regime of consuming ground-up mung beans or lentil shells in a juice made of fruit you’ve never heard of (and that probably comes from Saturn). I’ll cover the utter bullshit that is “superfoods” in another post, otherwise I’ll blow a bloody O-ring... :-(

People are different shapes and sizes. Much like certain genetic markers predispose some of us to become alcoholics which means that they literally cannot touch booze again for the rest of their lives, certain people are big and will remain big. This is perfectly okay. It does not, in and of itself, mean that they are unhealthy. On the flipside, there are ‘regular’-shaped people who are as unfit as they can be without actually being dead.

Campaigns to stop the national health service collapsing (literally) under the weight of conditions brought on by obesity absolutely have to be based on health and not on image. How much of an insult to someone is it to tell them that their shape is ‘unapproved’ by society? Conversely, having a mountain of a woman waddle down the street, with rolls of fat and bingo wings exposed by clothing designed for a slim woman with trim abs and a firm ass, often brings me to wistfully muse at length on the legislation that forbids the ownership and wilful use of cattle-prods in polite society.

More even than this, it has to apply to men. Guys, if you have a big gut, it means that fat is also wrapping itself very firmly, like a sinister and lethal duvet, around your overworked heart. It is, without doubt, killing you. Also, you look like a fucking slob and will rarely be taken seriously in life. This is due to the fact that people mentally equate a disregard for appearance with a disregard for most other life-skills. And how devastated do you think that your family is going to be after you’ve killed yourself early, you selfish sod?

Valerie Elliott, The Times’ Consumer Editor, has reported that:
Mars UK, which has tried to curry favour with health chiefs by halting production of its super-size chocolate bars, has simply re-packaged the products. Instead of reducing the size, Mars has split each product in two, selling both parts inside one wrapper.

The products have simply been re-branded as a ‘duo bar’. Mars Duo still weighs 85 grams (3oz) and contains 386 calories - exactly the same as the criticised king-sized bars. Similarly, Snickers Duo is sold as two bars. But the product weighs 100 grams and, with 511 calories, has exactly the same calorific content as the former king-size bar. Health campaigners are now accusing the manufacturer of cynicism and are questioning the company’s commitment to improving the nation’s diet.

What I love is that ‘questioning the company’s commitment to improving the nation’s diet’ bit. That’s like questioning the commitment of Mugabe to Zimbabwe’s agricultural policy.

The fact that parents freely hand over sugary crap to their kids whenever they whine for it, plonk them in front of brightly-coloured scribblecast telly to shut them up and seemingly have no time to educate them about sensible food and moderate exercise is, in the words of many leading experts, ‘child abuse’. Arguments from parents about having busy lives and such should have been thought through (or even about) before breeding, sorry.

Caroline Flint, Public Health Minister, when asked what she was doing to tackle obesity, turned in this grammatically-challenged eructation of incomprehensibility:
We have developed a robust social marketing/consumer insight framework to inform and enable targeted work at a national, regional and local level to tackle childhood obesity. We have also been working closely with a wide range of stakeholders across the food and activity sectors, including representatives from Government, commercial and not-for-profit sectors. A core expert review group have (sic) validated the approach taken and outputs to date.

Err, it was all English words, but not exactly in English sentence order. As far as I could fathom, anyway...

So, unsurprising that the manufacturers are skipping and laughing on the sidelines while ministers spout, well, just a bunch of words, really.

If there’s going to be a change, it needs to be in the form of how this is tackled. Campaigns must be primarily about health and fitness, and not image. Fitness enhances the body’s immune system, improves life-expectancy, counteracts many forms of depression and enables the body to much more aggressively deal with many life-threatening illnesses. It almost sounds like all those old-time Victorian cure-all syrups and tinctures, doesn’t it?

For the life of me, I can’t work out why there would need to be a remedy for women. Are they a disease? Did I miss a meeting?

In summary, all of this has rather tedious and uninspiring solutions. Eat regularly from a variety of foods and, above all, perform some amount of exercise. That’s it, I’m afraid. Not terribly glamorous, eh? Whether it’s something monstrously energetic like going for a run, or just adding a small amount of walking to the working day, keep in mind this one thing: Exercise is cumulative. That means that if you manage to do six little, ten-minute bursts in a day, you’ve exercised as much as you would have done in an hour. Not bad, huh?

For good examples of real-world, useful exercises, take a browse through the Mayo Clinic’s online plans, in particular, their core program.

How likely is it that government and big business are going to really help you out? Not terribly, I’d hazard, so don’t buy into stupid diet plans and gizmos that promise eternal happiness in the form of tight thigh muscles and certainly don’t eat the crap that’s being foisted on you in the form of too much processed food and high-sugar drinks and snacks.

Hmmm, now where’s my ThighMaster and Bullworker..?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Excellent elegies

Well, well, well...

It looks like the monster that GD and I have betwixt us engendered mayhap have...

Sorry, went a bit Garth Marenghi there for a moment.

It seems that a project I dreamt up about a millennium ago (and had the acuity to involve Good Dog in as soon as possible) is beginning to garner some interest in the right kind of circles. Jim H, this is the one I was banging on about in Toronto... ;-)

As some of you may have read over at GD’s pad, our mysterious friend at Granada has made some positive comments about the first episode of a series we’ve concocted. Working with GD on this has been a ball, mainly as his abilities as a screenwriter are phenomenal. I’m sure that much of the door-opening the scripts will hopefully do will be in the main caused by their immediacy and sureness of tone. With GD’s input, the initial concept for the show has been through many tweaks, some of them major, though lots that would take scenes from good to great. Though based on what I thought up several years ago, it would certainly not be anything like the show it is now if GD hadn’t been the kind of writer he is.

Though the concepts behind it all are all quite simple, in some areas, the threads are quite a slow-burn. There are more than a few examples of pulling the rug out from under the audience, and much that will reward the loyal viewer that sticks with it across the projected eighteen seasons (I’m kidding...). Though this may make it all sound a bit of a slave to the ‘series arc’, that’s very much not the case on an episodic basis. Even though the show has been shelved to ‘mature in wood’ (as Adrian Mead would describe it) many times, there has always been something in it that fires us up in the same way that, say, the Sopranos or Heroes would. I think (or hope) that we’re attempting to create the sort of TV that we’d really love to watch. And that alone has us aiming way above most of the fare on UK telly.

Whether or not we’ve hit any of our targets remains to be seen, but it’s already something that has (I think) pleasantly surprised our friend at Granada. Which is nice. ;-)

PS. You all have to sign fifteen million non-disclosure agreements now, so you don’t steal our ideas... :-D