Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Comedic Writers And The Facial Hair Thereof: Robert

Originally uploaded by jamesandthebluecat.
GW co-writer (and sometimes appears as 'Charles the stern CEO') Rob Harley. So far, very gingery beards, which is scientifically interesting. Bearded Ladies to follow.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Comedic Writers And The Facial Hair Thereof.

Originally uploaded by jamesandthebluecat.
Part one in an occasional series: Richard.

UPDATE: A Call To Arms: are you a Professional Writer of Comedic Material, in possession of a Beard that is in some way Unlikely or Unusual? If so, send photographic evidence of your Improbable Hirsuteness to james at james hyphen henry dot co dot you kay, and I shall display them for the World to See.

No Prizes!!!!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

How to totally disorient* yourself.

Go out for a Catch Up drink with Best Mate (BM), in which grape and grain are mixed. Best bit of conversation:

ME: So, did you catch the last Green Wing?
BM: Mmm.

Long pause.

ME: It's okay if you didn't reall-
BM: I didn't really like it.
ME: Well that's okay.

Another pause.

BM: I mean there were a couple of bits I liked.
ME: (immediately) They were probably mine. I probably wrote those bits.
BM: They felt like you.
ME: Well there you go.

Come home, drunkenly post on other James' blog. A number of times.

Wake up at six in the morning feeling fresh as a daisy. Go for a swim, buy paper, return home, fall asleep again.

Wake up at midday, now thoroughly confused, with no idea what time it is, where you are, or, quite possibly who you are. It's oddly freeing.

* or 'disorientate'? Hmm.

Friday, May 26, 2006

I also incorrectly guessed the entry level for MENSA.

This morning, halfway though helping set up a whippet agility show, I was roped into helping out with a live quiz on Pirate FM, during which I forgot Woody Allen's name*, and heard someone claim that the capital of Sweden was Stockport. Later I was asked if I wanted payment in the form of fish.

Ladies and gentlemen: Cornwall.

It's 'Woody Allen'.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


I don't understand this. Although the 'snaaaaaake' bit makes me think of David Byrne for some reason. It's quite funny, I just don't understand it.


UPDATE: Oh, okay, it's the World of Warcraft cover of this, although I still don't understand.

This is one of those 'dancing hamster' net meme things I only come across two years after everyone else is totally bored of them, isn't it?

UPDATE 2: okay, I hate it now. However it did remind me, via the comments below, of the alpaca song, which fell off my ipod around 2003, and had been sorely missed.

I've got loads of work to do, by the way.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Quick GW round-up

The 'Brief Encounter' bit in in Ep 8 I'm guessing was written by Fay and/or Ori? (nope - see UPDATE below.) I'm ashamed to say I completely missed the reference, never having seen the film, and was wondering why Caroline suddenly started spouting rather melodramatic lines that didn't seem to fit with the rest of it. D'oh!

Current rumour is that the DVD of series 2 will be out in September/October*. Episode 9 (actually a feature-length episode, which should provide a spot of closure for the whole enchilada) should be going out around christmas time. I'm guessing it will come out on a separate DVD, maybe sometime around March/April next year? Last bit just a guess.

No current plans for a series 3. Partly because of the difficulty of getting all those actors back for the same period of time, and partly because the nature of GW gives it a limited lifespan anyway. Series 2 was much plottier than 1, for example, and the exaggerated plotlines means there's only so much further you can go before descending into bathos. Don't rule out any combination of crew/cast working together on other projects though - who knows what the future will bring?**

* Although I've got this sort of thing very wrong before.

** Prophets, soothsayers, and Doctors Who, I suppose, thinking about it.

UPDATE: in comments below rob said...

The Brief Encounter reference was mine, and was a somewhat controversial inclusion. Victoria was dead set against Tamsin having any hint of a clipped Celia Johnson accent, with the result that you now have to know the film extremely well to spot what's going on. Despite the associated visuals, which a lot of people recognise straight away, the melodramatic words are not enough to make the connection. So I agree with you, it ends up sounding rather bizarre.

It should be clear that Caroline isn't talking directly to Guy, but musing out loud, as a wry acknowledgement of the parallels she sees between her love triangle being played out on a steamy platform and the scene in Brief Encounter (of which she's likely to be a fan, given her fondness for trains and romance).

A touch of accent would have put that line into inverted commas, and suddenly even those who'd never heard of Brief Encounter might at least have worked out what she was doing.

On the other hand, it must have been very satisfying for the first person to spot it. Perhaps there could be an award at the convention.

As for the significance of the words in the long run....
... well, we'll just have to wait 7 months to find out, won't we?

Sunday, May 21, 2006


An excellent trip up to London. I knew that engineering works was going to necessitate taking a coach from Falmouth to Truro, where I could catch the proper train to London, but had I expected the coach to carom, career and ricochet around EVERY WINDING LANE IN CORNWALL? Foolishly, no, I had not. What joy. What larks.

Eight hours later I was still trying not to throw up on my X-Men t-shirt, a congruence of imagery that probably wouldn't scream professionalism. So when I finally got to my meeting with Big Comedy Executive, already feeling a tad disoriented, you can probably imagine how close I came to actually falling over when I pushed open the door to be greeted by Lenny Henry pointing at my chest and shouting 'WOLVERINE!'.

Fortunately I was able to pull myself together and make quite a witty remark about how Big Comedy Executive had clearly set aside an afternoon to meet everyone with the surname 'Henry'.

Unfortunately it came out 'WurghaweavenunHenry!'

LENNY HENRY: (kindly) Yes.

Not that LH would have any clue to my identity, but it turned out Big Comedy Executive didn't actually know who I was either. Clues being the questions a) ''who are you?' and b) 'what's this meeting about?'. So even had I been on tip-top physical shape, on my way back from Professor McEnunciate, Voice Coach To The Stars, it still wouldn't have worked.

Fortunately the next evening was the cast and crew screening of ep 8 of GW (previous post seems to be the place for comments on that one), so I was able to stride manfully up to Close Personal Showbiz Chum Tamsin Greig, who knows LH fairly well, and ask her to explain to said LH that if it ever came up in conversation, the tall bloke with Wolverine on his chest was trying to explain about the combination/coincidence of surnames, and was not in fact a drooling moron.

TG: Well if it comes up, I'll be sure to tell him.
ME: Ta.
TG: What was your surname again?
ME: Henry.

Long pause.

TG: Yes, well you see, you started it so very long ago.
ME: (impressed) Oh, touche.

Also I got to see The Da Vinci ohnoesI'vefallenasleep.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Reasons not to be a writer 4322:

The woman (UPDATE: actually 'woman' sounds a bit terse - how about 'nice lady with a very pleasant-sounding voice'?) at Channel 4 who deals with writer's payments is only in the office three days a week.


Later this week I have a meeting with a Top Comedy Exec* to whom I have, erm, 'referred' in this very blog. I used to worry about execs reading this blog before they met me. Then I realised most of them haven't even read the scripts before they met me.**

Anyway, I decided that deleting any references to said exec on this blog would be an act of utmost cowardice. So I went ahead. But now I'm writing about it anyway! I might be insane.

Apparently he is terribly nice though. And extraordinarily handsome. Either way, I suspect we're going to end up playing...

Buzzword Bingo

A game for two players. Player 1 ('The Producer') faces Player 2 ('The Writer') across a large desk.

The Producer has in his hand a sheet of paper, on which is written a list of words, known as 'Buzzwords'. These words are changed each financial year. The Writer is not allowed to see these words, although the rules do allow him to memorize a number of Buzzwords from the previous game.

The Buzzwords for last year, for example, were: 'grotesque', 'dark', uncomfortable', 'surreal', 'single camera' and 'trag-com'.

The Writer suspects that Buzzwords this year are: 'family', 'warm', 'silly', 'multi-camera', 'bold' and 'trad-com', but without being able to see the Producer's piece of paper, he has no way of knowing.

The game begins when Producer offers the Writer a cup of coffee, or glass of water. The Writer turns this offer down, or, if he wants to use the Tortured Genius Gambit and asks for a glass of water and a neurofen, then the game begins.

The Writer must attempt to use as many current Buzzwords as possible in the time allotted for the meeting. Each time the Writer guesses a correct and current Buzzword the Producer will Lean Forward In An Interested Way. Each time the Writer accidentally uses one of the previous years Buzzwords, the Producer will Wince Uncomfortably.

If the writer manages to get five Buzzwords in a row, the Producer will jump up from his chair and shout 'House!' (nothing to do with Hugh Laurie). The Writer will be declared the winner, and must return to his base to await news from his agent.

Agent will then contact Producer. A new game, known as 'Contract Wrangling' will begin. This will go on for some time.

*Not that one, the other one.

** Celine from Pathe did both. Go Celine!

UPDATE: apparently Buzzword Bingo already exists as an actual teambuilding game. Dear god in heaven. Possible alternative names: Cliché Seesaw, The Shibboleth Shuffle, Wanker's Tennis.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Da Vinci Code II: I Know What You Did Last Supper

How I wish I'd thought of that. If I had, I would quite rightly be crowned King of Jokes, and not have to pay council tax for a year. Instead it was sent to me by Evans, who I think sourced it from some kind of mystical Ultimate Joke Shop, probably tucked about halfway down Diagon Alley. If that's what it's called, I only got up to about halfway through the third book, although I did once meet JK when doing a signing at Waterstone's Canterbury (she was doing the signing, not me, although Bernard Cornwell did once ask me to sign a Bob the Builder book for his nephew, I'm just saying), and she was wearing leather trousers and looked astonishingly foxy. This was before she was a squillionaire too, so clearly I liked her for who she was, although she's married to a GP now, so I missed my chance.

Get yer Bearded Ladies tickets here. Did you spot Fay as the nurse who shouted 'Hello Doctor Statham' at Joanna's crotch? If so, well done you.

So, my Powerbook died, which was fine, as it was still under guarantee, and I'd backed up all my stuff on the ipod, and I've got my old laptop over at Matt's anyway.

Then the ipod died. The music's all gone, and it goes unrecognized by any computer I attach it to, but it seems likely that the files are still on it, so, you know, when the Powerbook comes back it might all be okay.

Then over the weekend, my old laptop coughed, spluttered, and died. The only way to get it back on its feet was to restore it to factory settings, which of course wipes out everything on it. Including my posh Final Draft scriptwriting utility, the actual CD for which is stuck in my old laptop, currently somewhere near Bristol.

Fortunately, having grown increasingly aware of Steve Job's increasingly vicious vendetta against me, I had backed up most of my files on CD.

Unfortunately, it turns out only about half of these actually have anything on them.*

Woo hoo!

Many thanks to Matt for helping me get my old laptop at least up and working, and apologies for taking up most of your afternoon. I trust the Jaffa cakes in some way softened the blow.

In a weird sort of way though, it's actually quite a cleansing process. I can go back and reload software I actually use, rather than stuff I bought because I wanted the lifestyle (hello Word Office, goodbye iLife). And I drove back from Matt's house in bright sunshine, through some very pretty country roads, playing an old compilation tape I must have made sometime around 1998, and suddenly remembered how much I loved The Damned, who, when followed by McAlmont and Butler, make a singalong challenge too life-affirming to resist.

So I didn't. Apologies to all.

* When I put in the CD containing mp3s of the rarest and most beautiful finds (odd Postal Service remixes, bits of Fredo Viola, some Moondog, acappella covers of computer game themes), a text box appeared saying 'You have inserted a blank CD. What would you like me to do with it?' and I had to go for a bit of a walk until I calmed down.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Bearded Ladies tickets/Heroic Rodents

Tickets are available for the recording of The Bearded Ladies first proper grown-up televisual pilot/extravaganza on May 26th, 7pm, over here. These, as if you didn't know, are Ori and Fay, who co-wrote and occasionally appeared in Green Wing, and Charlotte McDougall and Susue Donkin, who aren't anything to do with Green Wing at all, and are probably fed up with it being mentioned all the time.

Go to them, oh blog readers, sit amongst the audience and laugh your roaringest. Don't cough though, it's frowned on.

In other news, RUNEPAW (AKA the Viking Mice Roleplaying Game) has now begun in earnest. I was going to put up an excellent picture 'Marsha Klein' sent me, of a hamster in a horned helmet, but it's on my old laptop, which is currently somewhere in Bristol. However the characters have been chosen, and the game proper starts in two weeks.

Characters are: Strixa, a mouse warlock with a small spark elemental, Odin, a grumpy mouse druid with a hunting spider companion (Odin is secretly terrified of his 'pet', which follows him everywhere, so consequently always sleeps with one eye open), and Bjorna, a stoat barbarian with one eye and a large axe.

Two as-yet unnamed characters: m'colleague Paul's mouse bard, and Constable Trout's samurai lizard (I wanted one character from a non-standard background, like Ibn in The Thirteenth Warrior, or the Native American martial artist in Brotherhood of the Wolf).

I've got two weeks to work on the first scenario, which I think will involve spooky mouse versions of Nazgul, some really really big spiders, and possibly an owl. Details will be going up on when it starts, along with campaign rules and stuff on the off-chance anyone wants to run their own game.

UPDATE: Well, not an update as such, more an late addition - the fricken' amazing CGI/puppet/whatever 'Tyger'. Go and watch it now. What with this and the Sultan's Elephant thing in London this week (gutted I missed that), it's been a good week for performances involving stylised fauna.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Stone heart... beating....

Huge kudos to Steven Moffat's Doctor Who episode 'The Girl In the Fireplace', which made me shed a manly tear.

Even with the fabbo D. Tennant in the title role, I hadn't been able to get into the new series much more than the last, and I still don't like the direction/lighting/music*. But this one pushed all the right buttons for me: emotional without being soapy, witty without being just jokey, and lots of lovely visual flourishes (I will always be a sucker for horses in space stations). For me, this does what SF does best: takes a bizarre concept (a spacestation with time windows into 18th century Paris, allowing the hero to visit a woman at various points in her life) and work through the real emotional implications. Won't talk about the end, but it had me blubbing since.... D. Tennant in Casanova.

Hmm. Maybe it's just the big sleeves.

Still, it's the first Who episode I've seen that I would happily rank up there with the best episodes of Buffy or The West Wing. Cracking acting by gorgeous lovely Sophia M as well, which kept the whole thing humming with saucy energy. Too too often in British telefantasy, half the actors get confused and think they're in a pantomime. Christopher Ecclestone said something in one interview about running through fight scenes in Who with a big grin on his face, so 'the kids would know it was going to be all right', which made me want to roll up a newspaper and bop it sharply across his nose.

NOTE: There's a downloadable commentary with Steven M. and Mickey Thing over at the bbc site which is well worth a listen.

* Actually I'm not sure that it's any of these. I think it just puts me off straight away because of the slighly harsh-looking digital video thing, whereas I'm almost always going to prefer film/graded DV. I'm at the very limits of my technical knowledge here, and there's a lot of reverse snobbery about graded DV (that 'filmised' look that GW has). There's no point slapping it on everything of course, but I can't help feeling Who would look just that bit cooler if they scuffed up the film a bit.

If anyone's reading who a) actually knows anything about the technical details and b) is now angry with me for being wrong, do say so. I'd love to know some actual facts about this.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Mmm... New Starbuck...

From the ever-entertaining (and frequently nekkid) Pants Press Sketchblog comes...

Battlestar Galactica, Simpsons-style.

I believe under these rarified conditions, I am legally entitled to use the popular internet phrases 'squee' and 'yay'.

Laptop dead

Which is fine, as it's still under guarantee, and my old laptop is over at Matt's, and everything's backed up on the iPod anyway. So it was with a sense of almost-slighly-smug satisfaction that I plugged the iPod into the old laptop, only for it to make an odd whirring noise, then wipe itself.

See previous:


and I don't know what.


However however however... looking at the settings bit on the ipod screen (the old laptop won't even recognize it), I see that though the capacity is 37.2 GB, there is only 18.4 GB 'available'. Does this mean the backup stuff is still on there somewhere? Hmm... shall investigate.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Only a couple left now.

One of my favourite things, as long-term blue cat readers will know, is being shouted at in museums. As part of my long-held ambition to be shouted at in every museum in the UK, I was able to top being shouted at in the V&A, by being shouted at in the Natural History Museum, but, and this is the cool bit, going in the Earth Gallery (rocks and that). It takes a special kind of person to get shouted at for upsetting Mostly Rocks, I feel.

In Cornwall, going into a museum with a bag is a simple, everyday matter. No-one thinks twice about it. In London of course, it becomes Going Into A Museum With A Bag. In my defence, the layout where you're supposed to go past large blokes who rifle through your stuff is off to one side, so appears to be entirely optional. Also, I had my earphones on, and was listening to Lemon Jelly, who I haven't heard for ages. I saw the side entrance for people in wheechairs, thought 'aha, this might be a cunning way of sneaking past the inevitable hordes at the main entrance', and smiled slightly at my own cunningness. Perhaps at that moment my hair was ruffled slightly by the London breeze as if in affirmation of my carpe dieming, perhaps it wasn't. *

Anyway, I made my entrance, in the style of a young foreign prince, and swished past a lady in a red t-shirt, who let me go just slightly past, then shouted at me. To show that I don't take being shouted at by anybody, I then stuck my nose in the air, turned on my heel and flounced back out onto the street.

Unfortunately, by the time I got the main entrance, it was jam-packed with approximately nineteen million different groups of excited foreign people, and so with a heavy heart I realised I was going to have to attempt re-entry via the ill-tempered entrance to the world of minerals.

Fortunately, I didn't have to use my prepared story about being the body double for the actual young prince that I now really was, coming in properly for the first time (like Keira Knightly being a body double for Thingy Padme in Episode One, which was like a glace cherry of a confusing moment on a specially-made Confusing Trifle), as in the mere moments since I had swished out, the woman in the red-t-shirt had been demoted guarding some cupboards to one side. Clearly someone had noticed how royalty had been treated moments before and placed her in some kind of holding pattern before her eventual dismissal, and I like to think, public stoning. She glared at me balefully as I passed, my bag now checked, but was unable to do any shouting at all.

The rocks and that bit is very nice, and if you ask another attendant for directions to where the 'animals bit' is (oh words, why do you desert me when I need you most?), he will sigh only very briefly before sending you the right way, bypassing the hordes. I did spend ages looking at pebbles though, just so he didn't think I was using his special bit of the museum as a time-saving way of seeing dinosaurs, which of course I was.

I also had to research giant centipedes. If you see a centipede with a rounded body, armour plating and two legs sticking out of either body section, munching placidly on some leaf mould, then you have been set up. What you have actually seen is a millipede. The centipede, who is carnivorous, is probably just been behind you, jaws (which are actually modified legs) quivering in anticipation. No good jumping over a stream as well, because he can swim. Eek.

Later I went back into the V&A - the Modernism exhibition is, as Patroclus has already stated, quite marvellous. Once I'd got past the two teenage girls on the tickety bit, worthy of double act to be named, inevitably, 'Dappy and French', I then walked past a bored-looking large man, whose job it clearly was to stop cornish lunatics coming in carrying bags.

I held my bag up at him in an encouraging, playing along sort of way, only for him to shrug.

ME: Do you need to see my bag?

Very long pause. Finally:


Clearly word had got around: the tall chap, with the great hair? Impede him at your peril.

Ho yuss.

* It was though.

Monday, May 01, 2006


Boing Boing has a number of links to Stephen Colbert's speech at the White House press corps dinner, most of which takes place in a magnificently uncomfortable silence. I wasn't sure how far Colbert could take his faux right wing talk show character, but this would seem to be one of those 'we may never get this chance again, so fuck it' moments.