Monday, 30 March 2009

Reality Bites

Well, the petition didn't work. Maybe you just don't believe in William Shatner. Personally, I'm a Shatner-Agnostic. Still, no intervention from deities so I'm going to have to do this off my own back.

I've not written in anger in three weeks now. But, there's a deadline on the horizon. Baby C Due Date is less than two months away. 

And the BBC College of Comedy. I think I meet the criteria to qualify and, with the amount of appalling jokes on this blog, I should probably put my money where my mouth is. 

The only option to get all the things on my list done - and keep some kind of work/life balance. Don't want to neglect the Better Half or Kids A and B -  is to get that extra hour a day. In the morning. And that's going to mean getting up at five o'clock. 

But I made this choice to be a writer. Or struggle to be one. Can't moan about it. Just be warned that I might be grumpy over the next few weeks. 

I've made my bed and I've got to lie in it.... Mmmmm... Bed....

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Very Important Petition

I have started a Very Important Petition. Please sign it here

Saturday, 28 March 2009

30 Rock My World

I hold Aaron Sorkin personally responsible for my late dicovery of '30 Rock'.

"That script  would never have been made if the words 'by Aaron Sorkin' weren't on the title page," I thought as I stumbled to the end of 'Studio 60 On Sunset Strip'.

Even I, a struggling comedy writer with an ego in constant need of feeding, stroking and tickling under the chin, balked at the idea of sketch writers being some kind of morally superior people who, given a chance, would make the world a better place.

So when I heard of '30 Rock', I simply went with formula that if a T.V. programme about a comedy show written by Aaron Sorkin sucks, then a T.V. programme about a comedy show not written by Aaron Sorkin must suck AND blow.

But, Christ on a bike, its great. Funny, smart, and uniformly well acted. Its full of acts of utter randomness and - possibly - has something to say about modern television and celebrity. But I'm normally laughing too hard to notice.

The biggest revelation, though, is Alec Baldwin. Appalling human being he may be, but like some comedy hippo, he comes in, chews the scenery and steals every damn scene he's in. I was going to try and explain the scene below, but can't do it any justice. It has to be watched. Just watch Alec explode in a shower of comedy genius and leave the set covered in gooey joke-ectoplasm.

But it would be wrong to not mention the peerless Tina Fey, the creator and star of the show (and how many times has that sentence been written about a woman, sisters? Not many, I'll wager). Remember, Alec wouldn't be this funny without someone making him that funny. 

But, Mr. Sorkin, my forgiveness is cheap. Just send me the first season of '30 Rock' and we'll be back on speaking terms. 

Friday, 27 March 2009

Crashed and Burned into the Red Planet

Like Beagle 2, I've bounced off the atmosphere and careered into a crater and do not stride the Red Planet contest like some writing colossus. 

But as least I've gone where no simile has gone before.

Lucky really. I've re-used quite a few gags from that entry in other stuff...

Big up to whoever does win it. Fingers crossed it's someone from the blogosphere...

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Unimportant Meme

Yay! My first tag, courtesy of the lovely Laura.


1) Put the link of the person who tagged you on your blog..

2) Write the rules

3) Mention 6 things or habits of no real importance about you.

i. I will only ever use Moleskine notebooks because I like to pretend that I'm Ernest Hemingway.

ii. I have not had a bath for at least 8 years. 

iii. I have never watched "Watership Down" all the way through after being traumatised by it as a child. My mother had to turn it off half way through.

iv. This, in turn, has left me with a sense of unease whenever I hear Art Garfunkel's voice and so I hold him personally responsible for me not being able to get into Simon & Garfunkel.

v. I cry with alarming regularity. But so did John Peel, so I feel I'm in good company.

vi. I have played guitar for 16 years, but I'm nowhere near as good as you'd think I should be.

There. I think I'm last and least on this meme, so there's no-one left to pass it on to....

Oh, and kudos to the person who downloaded the Betty Rubble picture from yesterday's post. I hope it helped.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

All Time Top 5 Part 5.

1. Betty Rubble - "The Flintstones"

Truly, until they draw a cartoon Tina Fey, there can be only one winner.

Cat in "Red Dwarf"" once said "I'd go with Betty, but I'd be thinking of Wilma." WRONG! Wilma was nothing but a shrill harridan. Betty was where it was at. 

Just look at her. A perfect image of prehistoric loveliness, waiting for me with a nice plate of mastodon after a hard day at the quarry. But what could I offer her? Apart from fire? 

I don't know what Barney was doing clearing off every night to the Water Buffalos. I'm pretty sure I could take him in a fight for her honour. Does anyone else think that Barney looks like Rick Parfitt from Status Quo?

So, what have we learned from this long, drawn-out exercise? That my perfect woman would be a red-head with glasses? Shit. My perfect woman is Anne Robinson. 

I need to go and have a shower to wash the dirt off. 

Monday, 23 March 2009

All Time Top 5 Part 4.

2. Lisa Simpson - "The Simpsons"

Before everyone clicks "Unsubscribe" and starts clearing out their browser history, I'm talking about the 23 year old Lisa from the episode "Lisa's Wedding".

When I was 23, she would've been my ideal woman. Smart, humourless and so far out of my league that we're not even playing the same sport. 

Still, if my life with the Better Half has taught me anything, it's that you can get a girl who's way above your station simply through an emotional war of attrition until they finally give in. 

Plus it's a really sweet episode that has me crying like an 8 year old girl with a skinned knee by the end. 

Who will be number 1...?

Saturday, 21 March 2009

All Time Top 5 Part 3.

3. Velma Dinkley - "Scooby Doo"

Yes. Velma. Not Daphne. Velma. You've read it. You can't unread it.

I know most men would take Daphne over Velma. Hell, most men would probably take Shaggy over Velma. But not Fred. Did anyone actually like Fred? A man as smug as a dolphin.

Let's face it. She was the brains of the operation. Book-smarts are always attractive and I dig a girl in glasses. I reckon the roll-neck was there just to hide the love bites.

Friday, 20 March 2009

All Time Top 5 Part 2.

4. Ariel - "The Little Mermaid"

After yesterday's foray into the land of "Too Much Information", hopefully a more popular choice. 

I'm a delicate creature. As a child, I felt uncomfortable with the sexual tension in the Pepe Le Peu cartoons. Maybe this is a kind of therapy. Maybe it's just the on-set of an early mid-life crisis. You be the judge.

So, Ariel. Our relationship would have to transcend the physical and I'd probably have to get a bigger bath. 

As a side note, did you see "Nature's Great Events" this week? Apart from proving my suspicions that dolphins are smug bastards, I learned something. Apparently, female herrings all lay their eggs on the seabed together and the males all swoop over and cover them with what Sir David euphemistically called "a milky cloud". That's got to be the most democratic way in the animal kingdom of doing the nasty. 

Anyway, back to Ariel. I have a thing for red-heads and she can rock a clamshell bikini like nobody else. Though I'd probably ruin everything by coming home drunk and trying to cook Sebastian.

Is anybody still reading this nonsense?

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

All Time Top 5 Part 1.

"They", who know about these things, say that lists are good on a blog. I always do what "they" say. I'm waiting for them to tell me that jumping off a bridge will help my subscriber stats. 

But all I could think of doing is the Top 5  hottest cartoon characters. Which I will drag out over the next few days. Oh well. Here we go. This may end very badly.

5. Rebecca Cunningham - "Talespin"

A controversial choice. Many people have many problems with this one. OK, many people have only one problem with this one. She's a bear. But she's an anthropomorphosized  bear, so that's alright, isn't it? It's not like Gentle Ben floats my boat. 

But she's more than an ursine honey. She's a single mother who runs a successful air haulage business in the 1930's. Like some furry Emmeline Pankhurst, she's a trailblazer and a role-model for women everywhere. And that - in anyone's books - is hot. 

Actually, thinking about it, Sunnii from "The Gummi Bears" was quite cute as well. 

It's not a bear thing. Really.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Childhood Perversions Part 1

I'm not entirely sure on how many levels this is wrong. But I'm pretty sure it's quite a few.

Yes. I do now own one. 

Why Scooby Doo Was Rubbish...

...Even before Scrappy Doo - the Yoko Ono of the cartoon world - sent it down the toilet. 

I've worked in finance for a fair few years now. The credit crunch is all my fault. I forgot to carry the two in a calculation, tried to cover it up and it's kind of snowballed. My bad, as our friends in the American colonies might say.

So, I know what I'm talking about when I say that the business model of the average Scooby Doo villain was fundamentally flawed.

I present, for your consideration, this example; The Scooby Gang were investigating a haunted hotel. It seems that the janitor had only been pretending it was haunted, using holographic and laser equipment, in order to drive down the price of the property and then buy it cheaply.

Assuming there had been no meddling kids interface, he would've got the property at a rock bottom price, but surely he would've owed a huge whack on the hideously expensive military hardware he used? It was a completely false economy and bad business practice. And if he was so adept at using this highly advanced technology, why was he settling for life as a hotelier?

So this is my advice to all evil janitors and theme park owners. Just wait for a downturn in the market. 

Does this count as satire?

Sunday, 15 March 2009

My Great Big Internet Experiment

Here's Kid B throwing anything she can find into the river near our house. Mostly leaves. And twigs. And - given half a chance - my Blackberry. Bless her and her destructive tendencies. 

I've been thinking that I should take more photos. The Better Half bought a camera for my birthday a few years ago and it only comes out on special occasions. 

With Kid C on the way, I thought it might be good to do, maybe, one photo a day for the first year of his life. And, hell, it might make this blog look a bit prettier. 

I was tweeting while I was taking the above photo and thinking about Flickr and social networking and things. I can multi-task with the best of them. I was thinking that this whole social networking thing has made me less misanthropic. I'm actually interested in other human beings that I don't have a romantic or biological connection to. I want to know more. But not in a scary stalker way. 

How about this for an idea? Once a month, we get as many people as possible around the world to take a photograph at the same time, write a caption no longer than the now traditional 140 characters and then post it somewhere. Webcam, camera phone, Huge SLR job, anything that records an image. We'll either upload to a Flickr album or I'll set up a blog.

We'll alter the times to get a cross-section of life. So, first photograph on 1st April at mid-day GMT, second photo 1st May at one o'clock, third photo on 1st June at 2 o'clock. It could be a year in the world's life. 

It's all just a rough idea at the moment, but I think it could be really interesting. What do you think? Let me know. We've only got a couple of weeks before 1st April to mobilise the troops!!!

And thank you for letting me use the word "misanthropic". Always wanted to. Never had the chance until now.

Oh, Screenwriters Diary Newsletter out tomorrow. Sign up! I steal a joke from "Peep Show" this week!

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Slow News Day

Went out last night. Going out again tonight. This never happens. 

Last night, I popped out to see a friend play his improvisational post-rock and then we went along to a new bar in town. A drag queen on the decks, mood-lighting in the men's toilet and a barman who greeted me with "Oooh! Somebody's dressed to impress!" soon made me realise that it is the new gay bar in town. Still, it's nice to go to a place where both sexes ignore me.

I'm going to have to try and squeeze a quick nap in before I cut my hair and the outlaws arrive for babysitting duty. Remember to vote for the mighty, mighty Robert Webb on Comic Relief Dancing Thing this evening. If you've not seen it, you're about to witness something quite special.

My eyes!!! My beautiful eyes!!!

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Onwards And Upwards

Got the feedback from the BBC Writers Room today. Harsh but fair. But mostly harsh.

They couldn't even bring themselves to call it by the correct title in the letter.

"Hmmm... They normally say nicer things than this when they write to you," said the Better Half on reading it.

Still, positives to take from this are "confidently written", "sound sense of visual grammar" (Hah! Take that John Patterson and your "screenwriters don't understand the visual medium"!) and "commendable attention to detail". Oh, and "sharp and energetic dialogue".

So, time to pick myself up, dust myself off and get cracking with the new drafts I've been promising myself I'd write. It's all part of life's rich pageant. 


Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Big Fat Rant

Did anyone read John Patterson's article about screenwriters who move into directing in the Guardian at the weekend?

If not, it's here

I know you're busy people, so if you don't read it, I'll quickly summarise. John believes that screenwriters who become directors make bad films because they approach the project from a literary perspective rather than film. 

Balls. Big fat hairy balls.

Screenwriters aren't idiots. They are film-makers. (Though being and idiot and a film-maker aren't mutually exclusive in some cases) They understand that film is a visual medium. A script isn't a novel you put in front of a camera. I'm pretty sure all the screenwriters on the list had the intention of stepping in front of the camera in the end, not just so they could film their 150 page monologue and keep it from the big scary producer. 

He states that Billy Wilder only ever made four great movies and so should be discarded from the ranks of great film directors. BILLY FUCKING WILDER!!!

Name a director that made more than four great movies? Hitchcock? Kubrick? The list is pretty short. 

Woody Allen started out as a screenwriter and then moved behind the camera and he made a couple of corkers before going down the toilet. 

Having read his column for a while, I think Patterson comes from the NME school of journalism. In their eyes, everything populist is unworthy of consideration purely because it is populist. But, hey, come and check out this four hour Ukranian film about spot-welding. It'll blow your tiny mind!

Sorry. I'm tired and grumpy today. I think I may need a nap.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Cold Turkey

Right. Can I write this blog post before my chilli con carne is cooked? I've got 13 minutes.


After finishing the last draft of "Stuck Between Stations", I decided to take a week off writing. That and the day job were starting to take their toll. But, already I'm jonesing for scene headings and transitions.

Must go stir rice.

This has been compounded by the fact that, last night, I received a nice email from somebody. Well, the fact that he emailed was nice, the contents were not. It appears that this gentleman had inadvertently been sent my BBC Writers Room feedback. And it wasn't good news. He's putting it in the post to me. "Oh, well," I thought. "Another letter for the pile." and I went to bed.

But, this morning, I woke up and discovered I'd taken it really quite badly. I was in a quivering blue funk all through the drive to work. Even though I've got a proper prod co interested, who can take it through other channels to the Beeb, I really thought this bad boy was the one to pique the Writers Room' interest. 

While the prod co are having a read through of the new draft of "Stuck..." (already got some notes back. Could take things in a really interesting direction), my mind has returned to 'Four Horsemen" and, naturally, now I'm full of righteous indignation, the ideas are flooding out for that one, though I've promised myself I won't touch Celtx until next Monday. 

Still, I also said I wouldn't touch the fags again and I've bought a pack of those. No chuffing will-power. Still, my father didn't raise a quitter. 

Chilli and blog. Done.

Must go and save the burning rice. Love to you all. 

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Burn After Reading

Yes! Finished the new draft of "Stuck Between Stations". Just some tidying up to do and formatting and we're there. I think. 

I haven't watched a film I haven't recorded off the television for a long while, so the Better Half and I settled down with some crispy duck, wine and "Burn After Reading".

I'm a huge Coen Brothers fan. "The Big Lebowski" is in my Top 10 (I am an ordained minister in the Church of the Latter Day Dude), they write some of my favourite dialogue ("Do these balloons blow up into funny shapes and all?" "No... Unless round is funny.") and anybody who keeps Bruce Campbell in employment is ok by me.  

Though I'll be the first to admit that - when it comes to their comedies - they pretty much make the same film. Idiots, driven by greed or lust, have their plans ruined (normally by an act of extreme violence) and everything spirals out of control. 

But they make it seem so effortless, and 'Burn After Reading" is no exception. Clocking in at 95 minutes, it's lean with no flabby middle to slacken the pace. It feels like they just knocked the script out in an afternoon, grabbed their mates and went and shot it (and I mean that in a good way). It flows. 

The cast are uniformly great, with Brad Pitt doing his usual trick of bugging the shit out of me for months and then making me forgive him with one acting gig. While Pitt got all of the attention, personally I feel Richard Jenkins (playing a character with one of the greatest backstories ever in film) and J K Simmons tiny cameo stole the film between them.

So, yes, watch it. Two thumbs up. And it's really short, so if you don't like it, it's not like the whole evening has been wasted. 

More than anything, I find their films inspiring. After watching them, I just want to pick up the laptop and start writing. I've got to do this pitching thing at the Screenwriters' Festival but haven't been able to get a handle on the style or - hell - content of the idea. But it occurred to me last night that it would really work as a Coen Brothers-esque comedy-with-body-count. And it's rekindled my passion for the project. 

And, if it doesn't work out, at least I can sit down and watch "Fargo", "The Big Lebowski", "Oh Brother Where Art Thou" and "Raising Arizona" again and call it research. 

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Sit-Com. A Different Way of Writing - Part 2

I'm on the 11th draft of "Stuck Between Stations". It's getting harder as each draft goes on.

The problem is, you write the first draft and it's packed with quality jokes. You know they're funny and insightful. As you re-draft, you're writing the same jokes over and over again and the repetition means they stop being funny to you. But, it's ok because you remember that they were funny once.

Now, 11 drafts in, I can't remember the original amusement I had writing them. It's lost in a fog of notes and re-writes. Lovingly crafted gags have fallen by the wayside in the name of pace and plot. That's no bad thing, by the way.

I tend to lose all objectivity at about this point and feel that I have no idea if what I'm changing is an improvement or just something different. I'm not doing anything wrong, just something different that's not right.

Still, hopefully I'll get to the end of this draft within the next few days, read it and realise that I was worrying about nothing. Hopefully.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

It Ain't The Years, Honey. It's the Mileage

Twitter is good. Twitter is wise. I've already learned stuff through the medium of tweeting.

First, I was introduced to soy lattes by Laura. Didn't particularly like it, but at least I tried it. And my Grandmother said you should always try everything once. 

True, it was the same Grandmother who once gave me a huge pile of pornography as a present. Trust me, the erotic possibilities of all porn is ruined once your Grandmother gives you a box of it.

Anyway, also through Twitter, Dean Lines stuck up a link to a transcript of a story conference between Lawrence Kasdan, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg as they bashed out the idea for Raiders of the Lost Ark. Here it is

I'm making my way through it and it's a good read. Thanks Dean!

You know who I felt most empathy for in "Raiders"? Pat Roach's huge bald Nazi. He's all chuffed because he's beaten up the action-man archaeologist - a good day's work - and then he turns around and gets a propellor in the face. That's life kids. For every fight you win, there's a face-chopping propellor around the corner. 

There, I don't think I can stretch that metaphor any further.    

Mobile Blogging

Blackberry Blogging again, between twitters, while at my desk.

Had a text from the Better Half this morning to say Kid A had taken a pair of scissors to Kid B's hair and hacked a load off. Am I a bad parent? I laughed my arse off.

I presume this means that he's back to wanting to be a hairdresser. Last week, he wanted to be a spaceman. I've never been more proud.

Juggling the job, parenting and trying to get all the writing done is taking its toll. Constantly tired. I'm just going to have to suck it up and plough through. There's a light at the end of the tunnel, I'm sure. Just can't see it at the moment.

Still no word back from the Beeb. Pulling my hair out. Convinced I've received a rejection letter but the Better Half has put it somewhere.
Best Regards

Dave Turner

Monday, 2 March 2009

Sequestered In Muppets

No time for love, Dr. Jones. Busy trying to get the new draft of "Stuck Between Stations" done. 

So, in the meantime, here's one of my favourite things ever. I'll justify it by saying that it's an ingenious and skillful piece of editing and film-makers could learn a lot from it. 

But, basically, it's the Hold Steady and the Muppets. I'm sorry, but if you don't like it, you're dead inside.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

The Boy Least Likely To

Back when I had some kind of life, I used to have an odd drink here and there with Jof, the singer with the Boy Least Likely To. I once beat him in a pub quiz. The Better Half also attended the same post-natal class as his good lady. This is about as close to rock'n'roll that I get these days. 

They're a lovely wee band. Perfect if you find Belle and Sebastian a bit too hardcore. Their new single is out tomorrow and album a week later.  You can pre-order it here and get some free shit. 

The video has some crazy kung fu moves and a Henry hoover. What more do you people want? Banjos? Oh. Well, you're in luck.