Friday, February 26, 2010

Not So Much A Blog, More A Way Of Scoring Points

None of my schoolfriends believed me when I maintained that there was something... unexpected on Penelope Pitstop's car dashboard.

But this screengrab vindicates me. Oh yes.

And now, with this decade-spanning disagreement finally resolved in my favour, I can move on with my life.

NB: There is a possibility the above is slightly exaggerated to justify showing an innuendal image. Do not panic. All is well. Please do not adjust your 'nets.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

"Seeing Is Believing"...

...has not been true since Winsor McCay and Gertie The Dinosaur, but it's startling to see just how much greenscreening there is in use, especially in TV shows where you might not expect it.

I mean: Ugly Betty? Seriously, I'd never have expected that.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Free Politics-Related eBook

Not everyone's bag, granted, but you might be interested in the free copy of Daniel Blyth's X Marks The Spot which you can get from the Waterstones website.

I haven't read it yet meself, but as it comes up as being both 'humour' and 'politics' on my eReader gadget, I think it'll probably be interesting. Seems to be available both in ePUB and PDF forms, which is a nice touch. Mind you, you have to sign up for e-mail updates from the publishers, so you may feel the game isn't worth the candle, as it were.

Anyway, have a look, see if it's your thing or not. And don't say I never give you anything.

Or, at least, that I never point you towards an opportunity to get something for nothing from someone else. Hmm, that doesn't sound quite so good, does it?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

No, Of Course I Haven't Seen It. I Like To Comment From A Position Of Ignorance.

You've probably seen the adverts for the film Valentine's Day. Two thoughts:

1. Can we agree that this looks rather like Love Actually, with a shift of location and time of year?

2. Given that the film was released on Friday 12 February in the UK, I hope the studio behind the film aren't going to be shocked if last weekend's box office doesn't equal that of the opening weekend...

And yes, the posters for it do resemble those of He's Just Not That Into You, but you'd spotted that already, right?

Monday, February 22, 2010

I Probably Shouldn't Look Gift Advice In The Mouth, But Still...

Over on the Guardian website, they've recently published a two-part article called 'Ten rules for writing fiction', which makes for pretty interesting reading. Part one is here, and part two is here, though reading them in order is probably best.

As I say, I think there's a lot of useful advice in there, though some of it doesn't apply to all genres or whatever (I don't suffer from adverb-phobia, for example), though it's not without flaws; unfortunately one author seems to have rather forgotten the brief and veered towards details of how he writes, whilst another rather impractically suggests "When still a child, make sure you read a lot of books" - fine advice in itself, but I'd guess most Guardian readers are likely to feel it's too late to do that if they didn't at the time.

And for the few children who read the newspaper, it's preaching to the converted.

Childish and envious snarking aside, it's nonetheless worth a look, as one of the recurrent messages is the always unwelcome but equally true reminder that you actually have to get on with the writing part, until the story's finished.

Yes, yes, I know: I was hoping there'd be a magic short-cut revealed as well.

Friday, February 19, 2010

10 Things I've Learned From Watching Come Dine With Me A Smidgen Too Often

1. Anyone described as being a 'self-confessed foodie' is usually a bit of a pain

2. When shopping in your local deli/butcher/fishmonger, be sure to mention that you're holding a dinner party, and address the person behind the counter by their first name more often than is normal in conversation

3. Not supplying drink for your guests, even if it's for religious or medical reasons, usually leads to them getting a right arse on

4. Musical entertainment, whether provided by you or hired professionals, is not a good idea if you want to win

5. Any female contestant not in some kind of relationship will be labelled a 'singleton' in the commentary

6. Depending on how the group is constituted in terms of gender, a butler (with or without a shirt) may be popular

7. Don't try out something new on the night of your big event (actually, re haircuts and outfits and the like, this rule applies to much of life)

8. Rare is the person who can lift the silver salver without making the money move in some way. Less rare is being able to see the cameraman reflected in the surface of the salver

9. It's impossible to stand in the kitchen and talk to the camera about the meal you're preparing without acting like you're either Nigella L or Hugh F-W

10. Dave Lamb's voiceovers for Come Dine With Me are like the commentary for Masterchef, but with an awareness that - ultimately - we are only talking about cooking here.

...Which is probably why I watch the show a bit too much, as the above rather shows.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

BBC Writing For Continuing Drama Q&A

So, the good folks at BBC Writersroom are holding another one of their Q&A sessions, this time about Continuing Drama, and they'll also be talking about the BBC Writers Academy. Attending will be John Yorke, whose name you might recognise from the end of the credits for a lot of TV shows.

It's at the Drill Hall in London (kind of equidistant between Warren Street and Tottenham Court Road tubes), on Thursday 4 March from 6:00pm. It's free to get in, but you need to send an e-mail asking if they can add you to the guest list, otherwise one of their scary bouncers will throw you out.

I've made a vague plan to focus this year on non-visual media (by which idiotic turn of phrase I mean the novel and writing for radio), but this sounds like a good chance to grab an insight into an area which I'd certainly be interested to write for (I'm not ruling TV or films out forever, I just want to prevent myself being the jack-of-all-manuscripts and finisher of none), so I think I might give it a go.

Full details can be founded right here

And in case you think that the accompanying picture is inappropriate, I'd politely disagree; it refers to events in the Queen Vic on most evenings.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

"In my experience, those who beg for mercy seldom deserve it."

No, I haven't gone all hard-boiled; those are the works which you have to use as a first line if you decide to enter Alibi's search for a new crime writer competition.

The first line is supplied by Stuart MacBride, and then it's up to you to complete the story (between 2000 and 5000 words in all) and get it to them by noon on Saturday 16 May.

The prizes are pretty decent, I feel - they'll pay for you to go to the Crime Writing Festival, and you get 100 crime books (though as one of the other prizes is an e-reader, these might be eBooks, I suppose), and they make your story into a downloadable e-edition. I've certainly seen worse prizes, and entry is free.

Full details are available here. I'm planning to give it a go, let me know if you decide to.

Actually, thinking about it, I might go for something a bit hard-boiled, or noirish, might be interesting to try writing in a very different voice from the usual...

Sunday, February 07, 2010

This Offer Only Good Until Midnight (I Think)

Available for the first time on DVD since it was first shown on BBC TV in 2006, Stephen Fry's two-part documentary series The Secret Life Of The Manic Depressive is released tomorrow...

... but if you click here and buy it today, you can get it for 45% off the release price of £15.99.

If you haven't seen it - and statistically, I'd imagine that's fairly likely - it's a very solid documentary, with Fry and people such as Robbie Williams, Tony Slattery, Carrie Fisher and Richard Dreyfus talking about how their life's been affected by bipolar disoder.

Very much recommended, and a portion of the profits go to a mental health charity, so I politely suggest you click the above link. Trust me, it's worth every penny.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Now You Can See (Well, Hear) What I've Been Up To While I Haven't Been Posting This Week

I'm pleased to be able to point you towards the latest episode of the BBC7 comedy show Newsjack, which features a joke by little ol' me.

Here be the link to the show's page, which also includes the iPlayer link and a credits list (rather charmingly alphabetised by forename). My gag is the one about SuperInjunctions in the Corrections segment about two minutes from the end.

There'll probably be a link for the podcast in the next couple of days, and my rampant egocentricity means I'm very likely to post that too. (EDIT: Crikey, looks like it's already available here. That was quick.)

Anyway, as you can probably gather, I'm more than a little bit pleased about this (which is why my usual English reserve has been overwhelmed with the desire to self-promote so shamelessly); my first paid work for the BBC, and not, I hope, the last.

Though, as ever, that's rather up (or indeed down) to me, innit? Back to the writing...

Thursday, February 04, 2010

No, No, There Were Supposed To Be Plans For A Batman Musical...

I don't want to pre-judge, but is it just me, or is this the most insane idea for a musical ever?

For every Sweeney Todd, there is, after all, at least one Capeman.