Tuesday, February 28, 2006

More money than sense

My iPhoto albums of my sister’s wedding arrived today, and very nice they are too, if a little pricey.

Why they had to be shipped from the U.S. is anyone’s guess. Don’t we have any printers in the U.K?

My other big purchase of the week was my first page of original comic art, and I think I might get into seriously collecting this stuff. These things look great at their original size, I’d love a few more on my wall.

It turns out that Andrew Wildman, one of the main artists on The Transformers in the eighties and nineties, lives in Chipping Norton. As does Transformer scribe Simon Furman. Chipping Norton is really a secret hotbed of international talent. Did you know Wentworth Miller was born here? Ben Kingsley lives up the road. Ronnie Barker retired here; Graham Garden and Dudley Sutton have strong local connections, Sam Mendes and Kate Winslett have a house a couple of miles away, half of Fairport Convention live here, and David Cameron, Leader of the Opposition, is our M.P. We do okay for a town of six thousand.

Anyway, Wildman exhibited in the theatre last week, and I picked up this great page of Galvatron bitch-slapping the hell out of Megatron:

I want more of this

Why is there saliva spraying from Megatron’s mouth? Who cares? Giant robots mixing it the frak up! Whoo!

Category: Books and Comics

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Six scenes

No, not a typo.

There have been some excellent posts from some fine scribes in the last week or so about getting started on a script. DMc has, so far, run two excellent posts about preparing to take a run at a spec script - yep, preparing, he hasn’t even got to the beat sheet yet. Jane Espenson, to whom we listen, brothers and sisters, when she speaks, has had plenty of useful things to say on the topic of spec scripts.

But the most helpful post of the week, in the “oh my God, how could I not have known that, what the hell do I think I’m doing here,” sense of helpful, came from John Rogers, whose great writing related posts have been so sorely missed, replaced as they have been by media analysis and comics promos.

Firstly, he lays bare, in the plainest of terms, the template for every SF/genre show in existence:

1.) Wow, have we got a problem. It is Very Bad.
2.) Whoops, no, we have an entirely different problem, and it's far worse.
3.) That problem? Yeah, that's going to kill us.
4.) Solve the problem. Marvel at the emotional wreckage. Prep for next week.

and then he says the thing. That caused me to look upon my outline and despair.

Really, you've got 48 minutes. 6 two-minute scenes an act. TV isn't haiku, but it's damn close.

Waitaminute. Six scenes? No-way. I’ve been watching TV a long time, and I swear there’s more than six scenes between ads. I’ve got fourteen in my first act outline and I struggled to keep it to that few. He’s got to be joking.

But no, the monkey’s kung-fu is strong. I pulled out my script books this afternoon and went through four episodes apiece of West Wing, Babylon Five and Freaks and Geeks, and damnit if they don’t average six scenes per act. Usually four or five in acts one and two, and ten or more towards the end of the script.

With two sentences, Rogers has finally got me to understand what a script should look like - for some reason, reading them never did that. For ages, I’ve had scores of scenes and storylines floating in my head, and no way of knowing how to arrange them, and parcel them out. Now I can see my script. It’s not written yet, but I understand its geometry and it is beautiful.

John’s is the kind of statement that illuminates. That flowers in the mind and enlightens. It says here, this is what you need to do. No more thrashing around in the dark, just write six scenes. Four times. And you’re done (like it’s ever that easy, but you know, it’s good to have a guide). It’s all I needed to know, and it’s the blinding obvious knowledge that’s escaped me so far.

Six scenes.


Category: Writing

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Haaaaaallelujah, praise the Lord!

Sing hosannas, for the day has come.

Long time Lighters (Lightees? Lightettes?) may recall my ongoing, unproductive and irrational project to write a screenplay display data about songs currently playing in iTunes. I have experimented with Audioscrobbler, though they can’t provide image data; waited for an apparently unforthcoming Applescript from Doug, and have so far found only a self-created, unwieldy, Automator action capable of doing the job.

No longer. Brandon Fuller, the living Saint Fuller, king of the iTunes plug-in, has released Now Playing for Mac.

Oh, the rapture!

Category: Computing and Web

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

More Apply eventness

What's all this about, then? The theorised missing products whose absence made January's Keynote so lame may be about to show up at last.

More Intel Insides? New iBooks (The MacBook Schmo) or Minis? Could be something implementing Apple's patented touchscreen system, rumours of which have been circulating for weeks.

Fun, they say? Surely not more socks for your iPod? Now that iPod integration is influencing people's car-buying behaviour, how about capturing the younger market with iPod handlebars on your bike. An Ive-revamped Chopper, pre-loaded with The Red-Hand Gang theme? Any takers?

Category: Computing and Web

Monday, February 20, 2006

Bring me my I-Spy book of druggy behaviour

Tonight’s Life on Mars...wow. It started of as another humorous, cheesy piss-take of The Sweeney, and then pulled-off a remarkable tonal volte-face. Everyone was top of their game. Philip Glenister, in particular, is doing a bang-up job. His subtle characterisation of Gene Hunt shows us a man who’s had to bury all his finest qualities to try and get the job done. The dude has been institutionally damaged.

Some have complained about the pacing of this show; that sixty minutes is too long, the case is wrapped up within forty-five, and the rest is just dressing, but I felt that tonight’s somewhat lengthy dénoument was absolutely necessary.

Just...man, bring on next week’s episode.

Category: Movies and TV

Intolerant old git

I will rip out the tongue of the next person who finishes a sentence with "big time."

So just watch it.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Software whore

Finally got hold of my beta copy of Montage, Mariner’s new screen-writing app developed especially for OSX.

Doesn’t seem too bad so far; pretty, although I’m sure there’s going to have to be a lot of work done before release. I’ll try and use it exclusively for the next two weeks and see how I get on.

I must be feeling uncharacteristically magnanimous right now - I’m also trying out MarsEdit and Camino at the moment, for blog editing and surfing, respectively. P’raps I’ll do a big write up in a few weeks.

Until then - much, much writing to do.

Category: Computing and Web

Words to the wise

A recent post by Amos linked to the mighty 43folders, where Merlin mentioned Elmore Leonard’s Ten Rules of Writing. These made me think of Kurt Vonnegut’s own Writing 101, which reminded me of a couple of paragraphs from Stephen King’s On Writing, which put me in mind (for some reason, probably because I read the two at the same time) of a section from James Hawes’ Dead Long Enough.

Writing 101

1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
4. Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.
5. Start as close to the end as possible.
6. Be a sadist.  No matter sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them—in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
7. Write to please just one person.  If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible.  To heck with suspense.  Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.
        Kurt Vonnegt

On Writing
You can approach the act of writing with nervousness. Excitement, hopefulness, or
even despair - the sense that you can never completely put on the page what’s in your mind and heart. You can come to the act with your fists clenched and your eyes narrowed, ready to kick ass and take down names. You can come to it because you want a girl to marry you or because you want to change the world. Come to it any way but lightly. Let me say it again: you must not come lightly to the blank page.

Don't wait for the muse. As I've said, he's a hardheaded guy who's not susceptible to a lot of creative fluttering…just another job like laying pipe or driving long-haul trucks. Your job is to make sure the muse knows where you're going to be every day from nine 'til noon or seven 'til three. If he does know, I assure you that sooner or later he'll start showing up, chomping his cigar and making his magic.

The scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better.

        Stephen King

Dead Long Enough

We are all trained to lie. We are so used to being pummeled with bright things we cannot afford and lives we can never have and beautiful people we can never touch, that our whole lives have become, have had to become, one vast exercise in lying to ourselves. Medieval peasants may have looked up at the bright lights in the castle and told themselves it was all nothing to do with them. But medieval peasants did not see their God-like betters poncing around in Hello! magazine every month. We all dig this deep dark ditch between what we want and what we dare admit to wanting. So there was nothing easier for me than to close the door and say no, not my type really. Not for me.
        And even to believe it myself.

        James Hawes

Today’s message to you all is to fill that ditch. Admit, commit, and submit.

Category: Writing

Thursday, February 16, 2006

All new, all blue

Having completed the decoration of my new house, I decided to build a new monkey enclosure. I think we’ll be very happy here.

This template has been cobbled together with bits of code pasted from all over the web, so I'm afraid I've been rather rude in its construction, and apologise to anyone who feels hurt.

Please, enjoy the new design. With any luck, there'll be some decent new content to go with it, soon.

Category: Meta

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

an entry

I will speak when I have some something to say.

The wedding was in a 900 year old church, the reception in a sixteenth century coaching inn once owned by Keith Moon. My sister looked beautiful. I have ordered my first iPhoto album to commemorate.

My brother still doesn’t have a full-time job, but is somehow - just - managing to hold on to his flat.

I’m enjoying my new place, but living alone means having to get used to unfamiliar sounds at night, and, no matter how self-sufficient you think you are, it gets lonely.

Alone with my countless books and DVDs, it all suddenly seems like a rather hollow lifestyle. I have a stack of things to read and watch, and I’m just ploughing through one to get to the next. How pointless is that?

The last three weeks have seen me get way, way, off schedule, but most of the delays have been unavoidable.

My readers have spoken. You want the growly me back. Fair enough.

And R’IP G’kar.

Friday, February 10, 2006

A blog without a poll is like an arse without a hole

Controversy abounds. My recent rebranding appears to have been as ill-advised as the formation of the beleaguered CSA. All I wanted was to be loved, but I have unwillingly become the banal face of evil.

And so I offer up one of my many aspects to the pyre.

Stag Night

I am, right now, quite incomprehensibly pissed.

My sister is getting married this weekend.

I love her, and I like her fiance very much, but this whole thing still feels very unreal to me.

For some reason I can’t believe anyone could love my little sister, like that.

It disturbs me.

More Glenmorangie, please.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

What blogs were made for

James' ode to his new mug.

An actual mug, for coffee, not a "face of evil extruding from the screen" type mug.

Linked to because it made me laugh, and this is my blog, so there.

Category: Uncategorised

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Give us a cuddle

Back in November, mysterious one-time visitor hopejnr left the following remark in my comments section:

Was so scared by your photo on the right that I didn't dare post a link to my site at the end of this message as I had earlier intended to do. Not that you are bad-looking, just the pose and the stare, I guess...

I thought nothing of it, some people can’t deal with the passion and intensity of the true artist. And then I found hopejnr’s site which turned out to be a blog that invites people to share their relationship problems, the first post of which read:

Don't get me wrong. I'm not one of those Psycho types. My Daughter is about 23 (I'm 53). I love her to bits but find that I am also sexually attracted to her. I think she is too. Is this normal? What would a shrink out there say?

And here I am, scary.

Yesterday, the good Mr Moran made the following, thoughtless remark:

Your photo scares me a bit, the way you suddenly glare out of the screen at me when the page loads. I just thought you should know that. Makes me feel like I've been caught doing something illegal.

It hurts, I tell you, this heedless disregard for my sensibilities. Here I am, trying to project hospitality and grace, and people keep shirking from me like I’ve got a disfigurement.

So I’ve changed the fucking photo. Ladies, would you take this man home to meet your parents? Guys, fancy a pint?


Category: Meta

Thursday, February 02, 2006

I'm back, baby!

My new broadband wasn’t supposed to go live until tomorrow, but that sweet little light on my router has just started to flicker.

It’s so sad, really, but I finally feel whole again.

Category: Computing and Web