Saturday, December 19, 2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Hacking the drones

A YouTube link to a news article about how 'militants' hacked into the drones that are hunting them.

"most" ???

My continuing drone attack watch. Here's a fun little sentence from the online Reuters site.

The United States has launched 48 drone strikes this year, killing more than 400 people, most of them militants, according to a Reuters tally.
Don't you just love the word 'most'?

We ate some fish, most of them good. We executed some criminals, most of them guilty. We torched some houses, most of the inhabitants survived. We talked to some politicians, most of them lied.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


The shelves of lore and previous posts in all their glory.

What scared us most is that we've almost filled all the shelves with the DVDs we had stacked on the floor.

The TV shows the wee girl getting her first even unaided win in the Wii Play table hockey game.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Two Bass Git

Some friends have lent me a double bass to play with, as they don't use it during the summer. I'm slowly getting the hang of it.

It is a very different beast to the wee electric bass I own. No frets for a start, and it's damn large.

It's so much fun to play, though. The Star Wars Imperial March sounds so right on the upright. In a wrong sort of way. I'm working my way through some Jazz Walking lessons on it at the moment.

Soon I'll be a Three Bass Git, as I managed to get a cheap acoustic bass on a TradeMe action. It was a great way to break my online auction virginity. Now I'm hooked ... curse you, whoever you are that outbid me on the H.P. Lovecraft Cthulhu book.

Lurking in the Ham Bush

Beware the Ham Bush!

Here's an edible elephant my darling wife constructed one day to encourage the wee girl to eat her lunch. That's kiwifruit grass, an olive eye, Marmite mouth and eyebrow, and a bread body with ham skin.

The wee girl quickly brought the hapless creature down with a well aimed fork, then skinned it alive before devouring the beast until only a bread skeleton remained.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Let your fingers do the blogging

There are three Apathy's in the Wellington phone book.

Three people are Sadd

There are seven Joy's

Hope has 29 entries

No-one is Angry.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Nog Blog

Low-fat Eggnog

4 egg yolks
4 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups low-fat milk
1 cup rum, brandy, whiskey or bourbon
Nutmeg to garnish

Use half of the sugar to beat with the egg whites. Slowly add the sugar once the whites start to firm a bit, and keep beating until the whites have nice firm peaks and a glossy sheen. Place aside.

Use the other half of the sugar to beat with the egg yolks. Really have at them with an electric beater until it changes consistency. Work those yolks hard.

Add the milk and the spirit to the beaten yolks and stir. Then add the egg whites and gently whisk.

Serve with some sprinkled nutmeg.

Hey Presto, it's Xmas time. You can tell because you're plastered. Merry Hic-mas!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Let's Go Party

My wee girl went to her second, and final, annual Kindergarten Disco this week. I was busy installing shelves, so my long suffering wife had to attend the event without me. I'm sure I'll pay for that later.

She found the selection of music somewhat questionable. "Who Let The Dogs Out?" is hardly small child friendly, and Barbie Girl by Aqua has some dubious lines.

"You can brush my hair, undress me anywhere ..."

I guess the majority of people just don't put these songs into context, and rely on the children never doing the same. A song about breasts can be taken innocently to be about dogs if no-one tells you. A song about a plastic, unsatisfying life with a plastic overbearing Ken can be taken to be about a doll for those that don't listen.

Context, like so many things, is in the mind of the beholder. Ignorance is bliss.

Or maybe I'm just and old fuddy-duddy ... balding, grumpy, muttering under my breath at all the stupid young people, and in this case older people. Soon I'll only venture out of doors once in a while, wearing a flannel dressing gown, smelling of boiled cabbage, and using phrases like "Dang it!". One step away from a cliched Scooby Doo villain waving my hand and cursing at those meddling kids.

But really. Who Let the Dogs Out? Barbie Girl? For three and four year olds?

However, the most annoying song of the evening was voted by my wife to be the Kylie version of Locomotion. I guess cheesy beats inappropriate everytime.

The Shelves have landed

You may remember a post a while back ( that had the design for some DVD shelves. Well, here they are in a somewhat blurry cellphone picture. All we have to do now is fill in some gaps (hooray for Polyfilla) and paint them.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Cowardly attack?

The recent suicide bombing in Somalia's capital was quickly condemned by the West with the phrase "cowardly attack". This is a phrase that has been used time and again when it comes to suicide bombings, in Iraq and Afghanistan for example, and one I find rather confusing.

I'm a pacifist and coward. But it seems to me that while blowing yourself up could be described as many things, cowardly isn't a good label for it. Stupid? Sure. Deranged? Yup. Depraved? Despicable? Deluded? Mind-bogglingly crazy? All of those. But cowardly?

If I was going to describe any form of attack as cowardly I'd go with piloting drone attack aircraft from the safely of a country hundreds of miles away. That seems cowardly.

It's so removed from the actuality of combat. Sipping a Coke and eating a Big Mac in air-conditioned comfort, the game on a widescreen TV in the background, and Johnson telling that story about the time he met Madonna, while blowing up some 'bad guy', and anyone in the vicinity, half a world away. How is that noble and heroic?

Sensible? Safe? Clever? Maybe. But also cowardly.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

School daze

School was just as I remembered it.

We went for a pre-school visit, as the not-so-wee girl starts next year. It was all too familiar.

Boredom (mine), tears (hers), disappointment (hers and mine), and the faint smell of vomit (the wee boy in my lap).

At least this time the ingredients were shared around a bit. I never really got the hang of school. Hopefully the not-so-wee girl will find it all a more enjoyable experience than I. We shall strive to make it so. There should be a lot less random violence than in my day.

Artwork by Guy Landry

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Fast count

There's an advert at the moment for the Cranium board game in which they give you two minutes to answer a trivia question.

"Text your answer in the next two minutes ... "

Except they only give you about 50 seconds ... I counted. Twice.

How can you trust a brain game that can't even count to 120?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A new low for the History Channel?

I just watched a charming little 1979 war movie, starring Roger Moore, David Niven, Elliot Gould, Tell Savalas, Stefanie Powers, Sonny Bono and Richard Roundtree. Quite the cast. The movie is so-so action flick with Roger Moore doing a cod-German accent, Gould hamming it up, Powers playing a stripper, and everyone having fun.

The question is, what was it doing on the History Channel? It has the historical accuracy of a Grandpa Simpson rant. (Now my story begins in Nineteen-dickety-two. We had to say "dickety" because the Kaiser had stolen the wold "twenty." I chased that rascal to get it back, but gave up after dickety-six miles.)

Nazi super-rockets on a small Greek Island. Only Telly Savalas can save the day, with a little help from some greedy ragtag grifters (a professor, stand-up comedian, stripper, cook, magician, etc.) who end up sacrificing it all for patriotic duty.

Throw in a disco number with the closing credits (Keep Tomorrow For Me by Heatwave) and you have something that was a whole lot of silly fun, but so anti-historical it could have been a right-wing retelling of the Reagan years (the great communicator won the cold war you know).

The History Channel has some utter garbage on it--docos about ghost hunters, Nostrodamus predictions, UFOs, and how the moon landings were faked--but at least the usual lousy fare pretends to be about history. Showing a 1979 comedic war film is a new low. Although I must say, I did enjoy it.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Had fun

Just went to a very fun 40th birthday party. Not mine, btw.
Thanks to all involved, and esp. the b'day boy.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Stay away from the dangerous inquiry

The big news of the day, at least in my eyes, is the British inquiry into the Iraq war. In my morning news surf I came upon this gem of a paragraph from the Telegraph (
The inquiry into the war, which cost 179 lives, opened yesterday with a promise from Sir John, a former Whitehall mandarin, to "get to the heart of what happened" and "not shy away" from criticising anyone who made mistakes.
So the first thing to realize is that you don't want to attend this inquiry in person, as you may be one of the 179 lives it takes/has taken. Or is it a new accounting formula, where the price of the inquiry is measured not in dollars, but in lives?

I often wonder how statements like that get past an editor. Even taking it at face value, I'm fairly sure more than 179 lives were 'taken' by the Iraq war. The restriction in the number is, of course, to British servicemen only, but if you are going to limit a number like that I think you are honour bound to include the limiting factor.

And why is this inquiry in the hands of a fruit (mandarin)? Well, that's a noble British tradition from way back.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Not in the spirit of the Spirit

I chanced upon a copy of The Spirit DVD in a bargain bin, and we watched it last night. I needed a few glasses of spirits to make it through. The movie, based on the beloved Will Eisner character, was written and directed by Frank Miller.

It looked amazing. Very Sin City. Lots of blacks and whites, with the occasional red splash of tie or blood.

It was awful.

The cliches were thick on the ground. The acting was, well in a word the acting was over.

Miller trampled over the subtleties of Eisner's Spirit and turned it into a over-the-top Sin City meets Dark Knight load of shite . A very beautiful load of shite, but shite none-the-less.

Don't get me wrong ... I like Miller's comics. I have more than a few of them. Dark Knight is one the comics I try to force people to read as the over-the-top overblown angst really works for Batman. But for the Spirit? No.

I'm guessing it had the most beautiful storyboards in the history of movies. It was so beautiful to look at. Shame it had words as well as pictures.

The character of the Spirit was reduced to a zombie seeking revenge.

"Zombie Spirit want brains! Zombie Spirit want woman! Zombie spirit want Samuel L. Jackson's autograph!"

The lowlight of the movie (there were many contenders) is Samuel L. Jackson in a Nazi uniform, for no apparently good reason, in a high-contrast room complete with large backdrop portrait of Hitler. He even does a Nazi salute. Surely that was the point where even Mr. Jackson should have considered walking away. If that wasn't enough of a hint, then the kitten melting scene (yes, the bad guy chemically melts a kitty-cat for no good reason) should have really set the alarm bells off.

Everything about the production seemed confused. It appeared to be set in the 1930s or 40s--judging by the cars, the buildings, and the fashion--but there were cellphones and helicopter gunships. The parade of beautiful and odd woman in The Spirit's life, all complicating his romance with Dolan's daughter, was about as close to the spirit of the comics that the movie managed.

Otherwise it was graphic yet pointless violence between undying and unfeeling characters, overblown voice-overs that seemed to be lifted directly from Miller's Batman, and very, very pretty graphics that severed only to suggest what might have been.

"Zombie Spirit want direction. Direction and brains!"

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Lustful Luke Leers at Leia

While tidying up a pile of unshelved books (we are building more shelves to cope with the increasing mass of paperbacks -- no Kindles for us) I chanced upon my copy of Splinter of the Mind's Eye by Alan Dean Foster.

The book is a Star Wars novelization set between the first and second movies (the original movies that is). I remember avidly reading it before Empire came out, and then I never gave it another thought.

Most online reviews of the book praise it, and try to overlook the incestuous lust that Luke displays towards Leia throughout the book. Apparently the book was written as a possible sequel movie plot if the first Star Wars movie flopped. A low-budget follow-up film was to be made, with fewer actors (only Luke, Leia, the Droids and Darth Vader return) and reused props. A space battle scene was cut from the novel, to save money if the movie adaptation went ahead.

The novel has some unintentionally funny lines and some horribly over-written clunkers.

Leia: her confidence was seeping away like snow on a stove.

See Threepio: But what if Master Luke is correct and there is no station below, We could find ourselves marooned forever on this empty world, without companionship, without the knowledge tapes, without ... without lubricants!

Luke looking at Leia: Moistly parted in sleep, her lips seemed to beckon him. He leaned closer, seeking refuge from the damp green and brown of the swamp in that hypnotic redness.
But it's the undisguised lust that Luke has toward Leia that throws you. He's just a horny lil' teenager hoping to get some Princess booty.

There's also a sort of Jar-Jar Binks precursor race in the novel. The natives to the planet Luke and Leia find themselves marooned on are human-sized, skinny and green-furred, talk in mewing, begging, high-pitched voices, and have similar phrases to the most hated of prequel characters;
'Vease, sir,' it begged, 'smav drink?'
Overall, it's a serviceable plot, and would have made a decent movie if the franchise had tanked. There's a graphic novel adaptation out there as well with pretty pictures.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Two Old Adverts

Two old adverts. One will make you want to go vegetarian. But the other will reveal the horrible dark side of vegetables ...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

She'll be right, Trev

As Fred Dagg once sang;

If it weren't for your gumboots, where would ya be?
You'd be in the hospital or infirmary
'coz you would have a dose of the 'flu, or even pleurisy
If ya didn't have yer feet in yer gumboots.

My wife needs some gumboots. They might have staved off the ambulance ride to the hospital last night.

Pleurisy sounds like such an 'old' disease. I don't mean a disease of the elderly, rather a disease of the past. Something Dickensian.

"Don't mind Ol' Joe, Mister. He's got a dose of the pleurisy, he does. It's left him all breathless and short of temper. An' the two don't mix well, if you gets my meaning."

My wife is in good historical company with her disease. Charlemagne, Catherine de Medici and Ghandi all suffered from it. Pleurisy killed William Wordsworth ... so it's not all bad.

She has been prescribed rest. So now the hard part begins ... enforcing rest.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Temporarily Shelved

Our DVD collection is slowing sprawling across the living room floor as it expands ... feeding upon the dust bunnies and detritus it finds and producing more DVDs.

So we are going to build some shelves.

Instead of writing anything today I spent my free time whipping up a preliminary design using CorelDraw.

The large void in the design is where the TV sits.

The drawers are small, but perfect for Wii remotes.

The plan for the little spaces on the ends is to put various Playmobil in actions poses (dragons vs. pirates, etc.) as artistic bric-a-brac.

This should also encourage you all to give us more DVDs, since we'll have space for them. ;)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Run !!

There's a saying I've heard a number of times in various movies and TV shows.

"It's got a taste for human flesh."

This is usually followed by warnings about how the creature/beast/boy raised by wolves/whatever will never stop now that's it has this taste for the sweet succulence of human meat.

I have a problem with this. They say human meat tastes like chicken and I've seen chickens being feed to animals on TV and even at zoos.

If human flesh really does taste like chicken then what the hell are they doing giving these animals a taste for it?

The problem is that the moment these creatures get a bite of a human they stop seeing us as wonderful suppliers of chicken and start looking at us walking plucked chickens ready to eat.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Comedic Inductance

Yesterday I discovered the the unit of Inductance is the Henry.

That got me to thinking. People often induce feelings in others in varying degrees. For example, certain comedians are seen as hilarious in anything they do by some, while others struggle to find anything funny in their antics.

There doesn't seem to be an official measure of comedic inductance, so I'm going to suggest one. In honour of Will Ferrel I want to name it the Willy.

A Willy is defined as the average amount of laughter a comedian act, movie, or TV show induces in you. For Will Ferrel, for instance, an individual who thinks that Talladega Nights was hilarious, or that Blades of Glory was the funniest ice skating movie ever would have a large Willy.

I, however, have a small Willy. A very small Willy indeed.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


I was making up a bottle of formula for the wee one when my mind turned to the notion of parallax. You have to get the amount of water in the bottle near exact, so you turn your head this way and that to make sure the level is right, and not out by 10 millilitres or so because of parallax.

This, of course, got me thinking about the media.

The reality of the world as reported for us is skewed by the parallax introduced by the media. We just don't see things from a level angle any more. If you believe Fox News, and sincerely I hope you do not, then they are the only media source giving you a right wing parallax on events (although also a completely fair and balanced one as well, as they keep repeating to you over and over. We're fair and balanced, the only fair and balanced news, over and over, like a drug addict trying to convince you they are clean ... I swear man, I've given up the shit for good, I just need a few hundred bucks to start turning things around man, honest man, I'm clean. Really, I am. I'm clean.)

Other media, according to Fox, are left-wing biased. I'd like to believe this. I really would. But the Fox idea of left-wing media means one that occasionally lets anyone with a slightly left-wing agenda speak on a program without being pilloried before and after.

The Left is dead. At least in the mainstream. So, unfortunately, everyone that gets their news from the mainstream media has a parallax problem.

It was then I realized I'd forgotten how many scoops of formula powder I'd put into my carefully measured 250mls of lukewarm water.


Was I up to two or three of the five scoops?

Staring at the slowly dissolving sticky mess I came to the only fair and balanced conclusion I could reach.

I threw it all out and started again.

Image from

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Okay, so the photo is just weird ...

My wife and I finally got around to watching the third Star Wars prequel the other day. We didn't expect much, and the movie delivered. Like many a crusty ol' bugger I found the prequels to be rather awful compared to the originals.

Many things bugged me about the prequels. The over-reliance on special effects. The bad attempts at humour. The overt racism. The bad storytelling. The wooden acting. The way Lucas decided the way to make each bad guy seem more evil than the last was to have him use more lightsabers (If there are any more Star Wars movies I predict the next 'Darth' will be an Octopus-alien wielding at least six of them.) The attempts to turn a monarchy into a democracy by having princesses elected (A democracy, mind you, that elects teenage girls to the top job ... Miley Cryus for President anyone?) And, of course, the sudden need for midichlorians to explain how the Force works in a pseudo-scientific rather than pseudo-mystical way (to stop those boycott calls from the Bible belt).

However, I was prepared to let these things all wash over me ... until I had a terrible thought ...

... the prequels mean the original movies make absolutely no sense at all.

Let me clarify. At the end of the prequels the Emperor takes over. He deactivates the vast droid armies with an order. Why? Well, because we don't see them in the next movies is why. There's no logical reason to suddenly get rid of a large army of loyal killing machines. "I just feel like it, and I'm the Emperor. So there."

The children of Darth Vader get split up, for their safety. One of them gets to keep his father's last name and go live with relatives of his father. Just as well Darth never bothers to look up the phonebook. "I have you now, young Skywalker, and all I had to do was let my fingers do the walking."

Obi Wan changes his name to Ben, but keeps his last name. A surname that he doesn't keep secret. Either Kenobi is a common as Smith, or once again the White Pages are all you need to track him down. "Your mastery of the Force is no match for my ability to look things up alphabetically."

Obi Wan is to spend his time training with his old dead master, and keep Luke safe. Of course, he doesn't actually bother to teach Luke anything, and it seems the only trick Qui-Gon teaches Ben is how to come back from the dead. Suddenly the Jedi faith has become akin to a suicide cult. "Luke! Luke! You must drink the spiked Kool-aid, Luke, so you can join us."

When Ben finally does instruct Luke, from beyond the veil, to go get some training, Yoda rightly points out that Luke is too old. The prequels reveal that Luke's father was also too old to start training when he was merely a ten year old. Did no-one think to start the training of the last remaining hope for the Jedi before it was too late? Was life in the swamp and desert, respectively, so exciting for Yoda and Ben that they just lost track of time? "Hmmm, forgot your birthdays, I did. Owe you many presents, I do."

Of course, this brings us to the other major problem ... Leia. There are two 'last hopes' for the universe, the twin offspring of Darth Vader. Yet they just ignore Leia. Why? Because she's a girl? There seem to be plenty of female Jedi in the prequels. Is it just that Ben, Qui-Gon, Yoda, and later Anakin, don't want a girl to join them in their shimmery other world beyond the grave. "Clean up heaven, she would make us. Naked Thursdays embarrassing would be. So no girls in Jedi heaven allowed."

That's my biggest problem with the prequels. They imply that the Ben and Yoda of the original films are idiots who suddenly remember they were meant to be doing something important one day ...

"Oh yeah, we were meant to be saving the universe. Sorry everyone, but I was busy cleaning sand out of my underwear for the last sixteen years and plum forgot."

"Foolish, I feel. In fetid swamp lost track of time, I did. Reading books on grammar, was I. Comprehend them, I did not."

Friday, October 30, 2009

So drugs really do make jokes funnier ...

I may have watched a few Simpsons episodes in my time. Okay, so I can recite most of the first ten or so seasons. These days, however, I don't watch them as fanatically as I once did. There's no need, they are repeated endlessly. It seems prime time TV will never be without them again.

In fact, the Simpsons saturation has reached the point where I no longer bother to watch or record so-called 'new' Simpsons. Often because they turn out not to be new, but mainly because I know I can see them again, and again, and again ...

However, the yellow-skinned family of misfits is so engrained in our culture and our psyche that references turn up to them everywhere. One of the strangest Simpsons moments for me this year was a result of someone taking illegal drugs.

Now there's a Simpsons episode where evil forces try to move the local baseball team, the Springfield Isotopes, to Albuquerque. Homer manages to thwart the evil plans of the Mayor of Albuquerque and the heartless Duff corporation. The Isotopes remain in Springfield.

I'd always thought it was a funny episode, but this year drugs made it funnier. Manny Rameriz, a slugger for the LA Dodgers, tested positive for a substance that is used to recover from the effects of steroids, and was promptly banned for 50 games. That sounds like a lot of games, but each baseball team in the majors plays 160+ games a year.

As Manny's suspension approached its end he was allowed to work out and get game fit by playing for a minor league team in the Dodger's organisation. The team he played for was ...

... The Albuquerque Isotopes.

Thanks Manny. Shame you and the Dodgers 'got beat' by the Phillies in five games. But at least you made me laugh.

And to think I've always sworn off them myself.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Jelly Shaped Person

My wife was forced by her work to travel to Auckland recently. I say 'forced' advisedly, as she never goes there of her own free will.

She brought back with her some plane food for our wee girl, who treats the overly packaged treats from the skies with the kind of reverence associated with cargo cults.

"Ooooh, plane food, plane food!"

Today's plane food was a Lolly mix. "Sweet Tooth: Enjoy our Kiwi lolly favourites" it proclaimed. By mix they meant a whole two types of candy; Milk Bottles and Jelly Babies.

Milk bottles, a bottle shaped treat that tastes a little like sweetened off milk, took a bit of explaining.

"When Mummy was a girl milk came in bottles ..."

This was greeted with some degree of skepticism.

However, it was the jelly babies that were the most perplexing of the two mixed candies, as the packet called them a "Jelly Shaped Person".

I'll admit that this moniker does suit me. I am, to a degree, a jelly shaped person. However, the jelly babies cut a rather trimmer figure than I do. It was a realistic body shape. The kind that would not lead to body image problems in the minds of children who were exposed to them. There were not Barbie Shaped Jelly People, or even Fashion Model Shaped Jelly People. They were, in fact, People Shaped Jelly Shaped People.

Or if you prefer, People Shaped Jellies.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Global capitalism in your living room

We got a phone call today from, judging from the accent and pronouncement of my last name, a call centre in India. Nothing unusual about that. However, it was about a free dinner at the Johnsonville RSA (Returned Servicepeople's Association) that we had been invited to by personalised* letter the previous week.

This is a new level of co-ordinated attack on our household by global capitalism. The "free dinner" looked to be some multinational time-share scheme presentation pressure cooker cover.

All this made me wonder how many countries were involved in trying to get me to go to dinner at the Johnsonville RSA? Would they be serving a suitably cosmopolitan meal? I was guessing it would just be cheap steak.

Yet all this international effort just for my money. It made me feel wanted. Just not in a good way.

Needless to say we side-stepped the meal. Sometimes a free steak is just not worth chewing over.

*I hope you noticed I keep those sharp z's away from my person as well.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Safety first

Where do you stand on the whole 's' versus 'z' debate in spelling words like organised?

No matter what the rule books and spell checkers tell me I, for one, prefer the soft rounded corners of an 's', as opposed to the jagged, sharp edges of a 'z' next to my organ.

Safety first, even in spelling.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Hegemony of the US middle-class

It's Labour Weekend in New Zealand, and so my mind turned to the almost perfect system of labour (or should I say, labor) that a certain country's capitalism has devised.

Imagine if you will a system whereby your pension and healthcare were tied directly to your job. Without employment your health options and future living potential are severely curtailed. You retirement savings are tied into the stock market, so if Wall Street suffers so does your future. Your company offers you slightly discounted stock (in exchange for certain labor rights or in lieu of pay increases), so if the company suffers so do you.

Then imagine that in that same system employers can fire workers whenever they like for no reason at all. (Note: there may still be regulations regarding racism and sexism, but these can be worked around. For example, while you can't ask on a job application for an applicants race or gender, you can screen people with names like DeShawn, JaMarkus, Migel, or Kate. They still have to give their name; mwah ha ha ha!)

Imagine that the economy has up-times and down-times. In up times they tell you there's no need to give you pay rises, as that would impact on profits and the share price. You have shares, remember, so you wouldn't want the price to go down.

In down times they tell you they may have to cut staff (horror of horrors!) ... unless you all agree to a pay cut? Remember, your health and your future depend on you having a job. So of course you'll agree to a small (say 5%) pay cut.

Over time you'll see your wages go down. You'll want to make waves, but this is a system with very few strong unions (organized labour equals communism, and communism is what you'll find in hell when you die, you Pinko!). Besides, complaining could mean you get fired. After all, they can do that anytime, for any reason.

Imagine that? You don't have to. It exists, and has fans in all right-wing political parties across the globe. It may be coming to a country near you soon.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Shocking stuff

Emily Veinglory recently posted this cartoon of hers on her Cliterature Blog. This probably says too much about what kind of person I am, but the first thing that came to mind, aside from it being funny, was "Oh my god, that vibrator isn't earthed ... that's really dangerous."

When I commented as such Emily replied; "The dangers of a ungrounded vibrator -- there should be a public service announcement about that.... "

(Office scene: two female office workers are looking over their shared cubicle wall at a co-worker, Bob, who is acting strangely.)

Sally: "What's Bob doing?"

Madge:"Well, Sally, he's clucking like a chicken and jumping up on people's desks."

Sally: "That Bob, he's not very grounded is he?"

Madge: "No, he isn't, Sally,and that's just fine for him. We all need a Bob or two in our lives to make us laugh."

Sally: "But you know what's no laughing matter when it comes to things being ungrounded?"

Madge: "What's that, Sally?"

Sally: "Vibrators."

Madge: "Oh, gosh!"

Sally: "That's right. You should always use a well grounded vibrator."

Madge: "I know I wouldn't want to put anything down there that wasn't grounded."

Sally: "So remember ... Before you make it buzz in your fuzz check to see if it got the right plugs."

Madge: "That's sound advice, Sally."

Sally: "No, Madge. That's ground advice."

(forced smiles and canned laughter)

Artwork copyright Emily Veinglory

Monday, October 19, 2009

It's Super-whatshername-thing-person

One of the many stories I am working on at the moment is a superhero story. It's been hanging about in the back of my brain for a while now, and I've decided to let it bore a hole in my skull and escape.

However, the first sticking point is that I need a bunch of heroes and villains to populate my world (the story needs a pantheon of good and bad guys).

So, if any of you have suggestions for a good hero, or an evil-doer, I'd love to steal your idea and give you only token credit ;-)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Snuff scene

I watched a child learn how to blow out a candle yesterday. It was fascinating.

He (my little nephew) was entranced by the flames on his father's birthday cake. He was watching them intently when suddenly they were gone! Blown out by his father.

The older kids at the table wanted to blow them out too and they were duly re-lit, only to be blown away again.

This started the wee nephew into paroxysms of wet expulsions of air. He wanted in on the act. Once more the candles were set alight.

At first his efforts were in vain. His huffing and puffing could not blow anything down or out. His mother, on whose lap he was sitting, helped him out with some well timed and aimed bullets of air.

He still wanted more. So once again the candles burst back into flame. This time he started to get some force into his blows. The candles wavered, fluttered, tried to fight back, but finally gave up the ghost. Victory! He had won the day. He still kept blowing none-the-less ... hitting them when they were down.

It seems the urge to control fire is a strong and primal one.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Rack off, Eugene

We went to see the Tchasikovsky opera Eugene Onegin last night. It was great, with a very talented cast, minimalist yet beautiful staging, and a good orchestra backing it all.

The plot of the opera was typically tragic, and had some contemporary parallels that came to mind, so here is my potted summary of the opera, updated and set in the Hutt Valley rather than 19C Russia.

Tanya spends all her time reading woman's magazines and trashy romances. She dreams of romance in a Mills & Boon kind of way. Her mother tells her to stop being so stupid. Romance is for the rich. She tells Tanya she should be more like her sister Olga, who has found a good, solid bloke.

Olga's current boyfriend, Lensky (a prop in their school's 1st XV rugby team), has his own car and enough cash to keep Olga happy. Lensky arrives with his mate, Eugene Onegin. Onegin, so-called for his habit of always saying, 'I'll just have one gin" before getting completely hammered, is a star winger on the rugby team.

Lensky and Onegin eye up the sisters, with Eugene saying he likes 'em a bit wet and romantic as they are easier to manipulate. So Lensky makes out with Olga in the back seat of his Escort while Onegin and Tanya wander about the school's rugby field talking about everything and nothing, and why it's important to lace up your boots tight before a match. The date ends with Eugene leaning in for a kiss and coping a quick feel.

The next evening Tanya is constantly checking her cellphone for any message from Eugene, but nothing comes. "But he said he'd call," she laments. She splits a tub of Tip Top and a bottle of Baileys with her aunt, who tells her not to worry so much. At 2am Tanya sends Eugene a long text in which she declares her undying love, and asks him to meet her after school behind the bike sheds.

To her surprise, Eugene turns up only an hour, and half a pack of menthols, after school finishes. She throws herself upon him, but he pushes her away and gives her the old, "It's not you, it's me" speech. He even throws in the whole "you're like a sister to me" line. Tanya is not impressed and cries so hard she ruins the other half pack of cigarettes.


At Tanya's sixteenth birthday party, Onegin has one gin too many and takes his boredom out on his best friend Lensky ... by flirting with Olga. Olga plays up to Eugene, as she is feeling a little taken for granted by Lensky. Besides, Lensky has a gimpy knee and has been on the reserves bench for the last few games, whereas Eugene is the top try scorer.

A bad DJ pumps out some loud dance beats. Olga and Eugene trip the light fantastic on the dance floor, turning heads.

Lensky gets jealous, and challenges Onegin to a fight.

The next day the fight gets out of control when Lensky pulls a knife. Eugene kicks him in the bad knee, however, and in the ensuing melee Lensky ends up dead. Eugene hightails it out of town.

Years later Onegin is in back in Wellington attending a Sports Award event he scammed a ticket to. We learn he has spent the last few years in Australia, lying low. However, there were no charges ever made against him. As he mills around the crowd of sports celebs he is surprised to see Tanya there. She's all glammed up, and is being fawned on by the paparazzi. He sees another familiar face, Gremin, who is the guy that played centre on the 1st XV, and was responsible for setting up all those tries Eugene scored back in the day.

Onegin asks Gremin who the babe is, and is told that's Tanya, Gremin's wife. Gremin it seems, was the real star in the rugby team, and has now been selected for the ABs after a stellar season for the Hurricanes.

Eugene manages to get Tanya to meet him in a back room, and he tells her that he's now in love with her. She admits to still finding him attractive, but she's with Gremin now. Eugene implores her to be his, and gets a little grabby. Tanya knees him in the bollocks, tells him to "rack off", and leaves him crying on the floor.

The End

(This is the bit where you applaud.)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ghost writers in the sky

I belong to a writer's group that meets once a month, and yesterday we had our full compliment of four and a fascinating discussion on ghost writing.

One of our number has been employed to ghost write a memoir, and has encountered some sticky issues when it comes to his professional integrity. I won't go into personal details, but the basics of it are as follows...

The ghost writer is attempting to write with the voice of his subject.
The subject dictated onto tape many stories and anecdotes about his life.

-- In the tapes the subject is sometimes passionate, even salacious or controversial, about certain events and people.

-- The subject is reading and editing the drafts produced by the ghost writer.

-- There were many draft versions.

-- When editing the ghost writing the subject has removed or softened the passionate, salacious and controversial parts of most, if not all, of the anecdotes.

-- This has weakened the 'punch' of the stories considerably.

-- Not surprisingly, this has annoyed the ghost writer a little. He feels the subject is ruining the story of his life.

-- On the other hand, the subject is entitled to say, or not say, what he wants about his own life.

-- The ghost writer feels an obligation to honour the wishes of the subject.

Now the tricky bit ...
-- The person commissioning and paying for the memoir is not the subject. Rather it is the subject's son.

-- I'm guessing these are tales the subjects' family have heard, in whole or part, many times. They would have been told candidly and passionately, just like the tapes.

-- The son/employer feels the draft revision he has received is a little dull in terms of language. (He's right.)

-- The wider family also want input into the memoir.

-- The family, however, do not know of the process of editing multiple drafts that has led to the current status of the text.

-- Basically, there is a conflict between the person paying for the book and the person the book is about, but they are not having that conflict between each other, but rather through their interactions with the ghost writer. There are also other voices in the cacophony, and in my own small way I got to be a little squeak as well.

There are a host of issues that arise from the dilemma the ghost writer finds himself in, and these led to a lively discussion.
Who does the ghost writer have the greater responsibility to please? The person paying for the work, or the person whose voice he is writing as?

Does the writer have to be true to the 'voice' of the subject, or to the editing wishes of the subject?

How much of the 'writer' inside the ghost writer can you ignore when it comes to issues of style and form? If the client or subject wants what the writer considers is a poorly written final product, does that matter?

I came away from the meeting with my head spinning. It made my current writing dilemmas seem small by comparison.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Why I Hate Saturn

I just saw a short 'interview' on TV that made my brain implode. It was about 'sports astrology'. Okay, so it was on ESPN ... I can't expect too much from a sports network. After all, sports shows are all about useless and ill-founded predictions, so adding astrology to sports almost seems natural.

Several things struck me the topic, and I mean 'struck' as in hit me about the head leaving me reeling.

The interviewed woman plays Fantasy Football ... but I don't remember reading about her winning any Fantasy Leagues. Guess the planets don't work in fantasy-land, just in the real world?

She practiced "technical sports astrology", as opposed to, I'm guessing, regular sports astrology. Her analysis was based on birth times, but when those were not available the date would do.

A web search revealed technical astrology is also known as "Real" time astrology, and is used by a large number of sports astrologists ... most of whom have hit rates way below the ESPN 'experts', which is saying something.

Reading about on the web I encountered a curious mix of astrology, faith and sports betting, including one astrologer's blog which asked readers to pray for a team he had picked. I guess the power of prayer can influence the power of the planets?

The mix of sports betting and astrology probably shouldn't have astounded me so much. Betting on sports is generally a fool's game (unless you're betting against the Oakland Raiders). But to put your trust in an astrologer for your bets seems to be another level of idiocy.

The use of sports astrologers by sports teams scares me, but does explain all the draft picks made by the Oakland Raiders in the last decade.

The seeming endorsement of sports astrology by ESPN and some professional franchises is a little worrying. It implies there are people out there in sports that really think the position of Jupiter in the zodiac can have a bearing on a game. "Don't blame me coach, I was fated to miss that last second field goal ... it was in the stars!"

BTW: The picture is Andrea Mallis, one of the most well-known sports astrologers, pictured with the NY Mets mascot, Mr Met. She has just told him that they will lose the pennant race in 2008 after blowing a huge lead ... and that his stitches will be pecked out by a flock of seagulls while onlookers cheer.

The title of this blog is a tribute to Kyle Baker's wonderful graphic novel, Why I Hate Saturn, which is well worth a read if you can find a copy.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Press Conference Hat Trick

The latest two weeks of school holidays are over, so I have a fraction more time to write now. Here's a random rant, while I try to organize my blog notes fro tomorrow.

Best political quotes of the week went to Silvio Berlusconi, who claimed in the one press conference that;
I am, and not only in my own opinion, the best prime minister who could be found today. I believe there is no one in history to whom I should feel inferior. Quite the opposite.

He then went on to say that;
In absolute terms, I am the most legally persecuted man of all times, in the whole history of mankind, worldwide.

However, it wasn't the paranoia combined with delusions of grandeur that really make the conference. It was when he explained how much his legal battles had cost him that the best gaff was made. Berlusconi claims he had spent;
... more than €200m in consultants and judges.

He then corrected himself to "consultants and lawyers", but the damage had been done. Way to go Silvio!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Revenge of the Brine Shrimp

The scariest advert on during cartoon time is one for Sea Monkeys. I remember the old comic book adverts for them in the seventies ... magical palaces underwater, families of sea monkeys playing together, a Utopian society of underwater minions to train to take over the world.

But they were just brine shrimp.

Now they're back. I guess every generation has the right to be disappointed.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Boy Toys -- A Tribute WTF of the month

The Cliterature Blog often has WTF posts, so I thought I'd do one of my own, but it's more a grumpy old man flailing his fists at the world pointlessly.

The cable cartoon channels have become more and more advert heavy of late, and as we let our daughter watch Dora the Explorer in the mornings we are getting bombarded with adverts for kid's toys.

There is a strong gender divide evident in the ads. The 'girl toys' are all about caring, sharing, and "being you". Babies to feed, burp and change. Sick animals to care for. Clothes to colour, wear and share. Oh, and they are all pink. So much pink.

But the toys for boys. Well, obviously they are more about action, mayhem, cars, spaceships and monsters.

There's nothing unexpected about that. Disappointing maybe, but not unexpected.

The part that has me waving my grumpy fists in the air is that a number of these ads contain bad behaviour by the boys in the ads. The two links are examples. They imply that part of the 'fun' of playing with the toy is being obnoxious to others. They make such behaviour not only acceptable, but expected. It becomes part of the play experience ...

Buy this toy and annoy.

It's okay ... we've showed you how to do it. Spray the girl next door with fake dinosaur acid. Taunt your brother after you give him a hot-wheeled beat down.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying these kids are doing anything more than being kids. These things happen. Kids taunt, slime and spray others. My girl does it all the time. In real life the play is not as clear-cut along gender lines as it is in the adverts.

But why are the girls in these ads always the victims?

I know the answer. Sales. Gender differentiation is important in product branding, etc. But I can't help despise this ad-sanction one-sided gender-biased play.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Beta testing over

Our VCR packed it in the other day, so we went on an expedition to find a new one. It was fruitless. It seems that the humble VCR is as dead as the dodo.

None of the stores we visited would sell us a simple video cassette recorder. If we wanted one that came as a combo with a DVD, well that was possible if a trifle expensive. In the end we bought ourselves a DVR, rendering our video library somewhat useless. However, since our video library consisted of a copy of the Phantom Menace and two Marillion concerts it won't be missed too much (especially not by my wife).

So my thoughts turned to the history of the humble video recorder. The idea of recording TV signals onto tape was one that baffled engineers for some time. The tape had to pass over the recording/reading at high speed to accommodate the require amount of information. An early prototype fired a huge reel of tape past the recording head ... 240 inches per second ... for a few seconds of recording time.

The practical solution was simple but revolutionary ... rotate the heads in the opposite direction to the tape. That way the relative speed between them was still high, but the length of tape require was dramatically reduced. The video recorder became a practical device.

The VCR was one of those devices that the marketers were slow to grasp. The recording features of many models were not advertised, as executives could not fathom why anyone would record a TV program. It was assumed the market would be for pre-recorded tapes, which were consequently over-priced and under-marketed ... and under-sold. No-one predicted the rise of the video rental store.

When my parents first owned a Video (we left the CR off ... it was the 80s, we didn't have time to say it all, it was the me generation, not the meh generation.) the only place that rented tapes was the local petrol station. I remember being horribly bummed because they had a copy of Vanishing Point but it was on Betamax. Oh, how I wished we had a Beta recorder.

The whole Beta versus VHS conflict was a lopsided war, because the Beta blank tapes were expensive and too short to record a long movie (with adverts). Who cares which one was better, one was more practical and cheaper. It was the Tiger tank versus the T-34 all over again, but with fewer deaths.

The current file-sharing controversy is very familiar to those who remember the movie industries attempts to outlaw VCRs, through long lawsuits and public statements about the death of movies.

There have been plenty of innovations whose impact was not foreseen clearly by those who created them. The computer, famously.

"Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons."
- Popular Mechanics, 1949

"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers."

- Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943

But one everyone forgets that car was also seen in very limited terms by its developers. Cars were seen an expensive luxury items. Basically they were all high-end sports cars. It was assumed cars would only be sold to the few people at the top of the economic pile. The rest of the populace would make do with trucks, buses, trains and so on. Mass transit for the masses. Then the Model T Ford came along and completely changed the market and the world.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Script looking for an artist

Corn Stone has a 'database' of sorts of scripts looking for artists. I submitted this one to him recently.

Hollow Man
The Adventures of Captain Adam Seabourne
Episode ONE: Aurora
Writer: David Tulloch

Synopsis: We introduce the main character, Adam Seabourne, and his quest to get south to something as yet unexplained ... an Edgar Rice Burroughs style of story, with some modern twists.

This is part one of a continuing series. I offer it to prospective artists and anyone else with an interest as an example of the series and my writing in general.

Page ONE
A couple of scientists, who belong to a larger group, are busy setting up a weather station on the edge of the Arctic Circle when they are witness to the arrival of the survivors of a polar expedition.

1/1 [ The Arctic Circle, 1820. ]
Two scientists from some American Society are setting up a weather station, one of those boxes with a thermometer and those cool wind meters that look like little cups that spin around on top. (find web pic). They are in extreme cold weather gear, but it all seems rather basic considering it is 1820. The weather is snowy, but nothing too horrible.
Scientist1: "Hurry up. The weather get's worse."
Scientist2: "Hold your horses. Almost done."

1/2 Scientist1 peers into the distance. The other continues to set up the station.
Scientist1: " Did you hear that?"
Scientist2: "Hear what?"

1/3 Scientist1 points out to his partner something coming toward them in the snow.
Scientist1: "There, look! "

1/4 We see what the scientists are looking at. Three struggling British (you may not be able to show that) men walking out of the white wilderness.
Survivor1: "Oh thank God! We've made it. We've made it."

1/5 The two scientists helping to hold up the survivors.
Scientist2: "Where the hell have you all come from?"
Survivor1: "We're all that's left of Captain Adam Seabourne's expedition to the Pole. He sent us back when things got bad ... went on alone."

1/6 The scientists continue to help the survivors along.
Scientist2: "Let's get you back to base. Get you some food, water and warmth ... and we'll say a prayer for the soul of Adam Seabourne."
Survivor1: "Amen to that."

TITLES: Hollow Man
The Adventures of Captain Adam Seabourne
Episode One: Aurora

Page TWO
Change of scene to a whaling ship in the cold Southern Ocean, they spot a signal fire.

2/1 [ The Southern Ocean, 1903. ]
A whaling ship at sea.

2/2 The steersman at the wheel of the ship, the captain and navigator standing close. The captain and navigator talking.
Captain: "Just how far south did that storm push us?"
Navigator: "A ways ... 30 miles or so. Bit close to the ice for my liking."

2/3 Similar frame as above. From above, the voice of the lookout calls down.
Lookout (off): "Signal fire off to starboard!"
Captain: "What? How can that be? There's no land for a hundred miles?"

2/4 Telescope view of a signal fire on an indistinct island.
(off) "Well, sir. There's always been rumours of islands out here ... the Auroras. "
(off) "But their just a myth, surely.
(off) "You don't usually see a fire on a myth, sir."

2/5 The captain talks to the steersman.
Captain: "Steer us in slow. Get a man forward for soundings. Prepare a launch."

2/6 Close up on Captain and Navigator.
Captain: "Let's see just who and what is out there."

3/1 A launch boat being rowed toward the whaling ship. A voice from the launch is answered from the whaler.

Launch sailor: "One extra soul to bring aboard, Captain. A man calling himself Adam Seabourne. In poor health."
Captain: "Bring him up, Mister Harris."

3/2 The first shot of Adam Seabourne. He is a man in his early thirties, handsome but a little rugged. Good physique, solid but not overweight. Imposing. He is wearing a slightly worse for wear British Infantry Captian's jacket from the 1820s. He also has an old pistol from that era, but some of his other clothing is odd, more modern looking. Even more modern looking than 1903, as it has come from an alien race (oooh!), but don't make it too odd. We see him being helped over the side of the ship, the Captain helping him.
Seabourne: "Thank you for coming to my aid, Captain."
Captain: "'Twas pure chance that blew us this far south, Mister Seabourne."

3/3 The Captain and a crewman helping Seabourne along the deck. In the background they are bringing his belonging, three crates, onboard.
Captain: "We'll soon have you back to land, Mister Seabourne. Set course for Port Stanley, Mister Leeland."

3/4 Similar to the previous panel.
Seabourne: "No! I must get south. Please, Captain ... turn the vessel south."
Captain: " There's nothing south but ice and death, Mister Seabourne. At the Falklands we can repair and refit, and get you seen to."

3/5 Seabourne pushes off the crewman on one side, but is hanging onto the Captain.
Seabourne: "No!"

3/6 Seabourne has his old 1820s style pistol out and pointed at the captain's head. He seems desperate and maybe a little mad.
Seabourne: "Turn this vessel south! I mean it!"

4/1 Seabourne looking weak, like he is fading.
Captain: "Stay calm ... "
Seabourne: "Please, you've got to get me south... "

4/2 Seabourne faints.
Seabourne: " ... you have to ... "

4/3 small black panel.
" ... please ... "

4/4 Blurry vision as Seabourne reopens his eyes. The blurry figure is the captain looking at Seabourne's gun. We are in the Captain's cabin, Adam is in the bed.
Captain: "Welcome back, Mister Seabourne."

4/5 The same panel, but now in focus. The Captain may have moved a little since the last frame.
Captain: "An interesting pistol, sir. An antique. But still, I imagine, very deadly ... "

4/6 Seabourne sitting up in the bed.
Captain: "... assuming it is loaded, of course."
Seabourne: "I didn't want to hurt you, just convince you."

Captain: "And that jacket. Napoleonic era?"
Seabourne: "A few years later than that, actually."

Captain: "Just how long have you been on that island?"
Seabourne: "Not that long, I assure you. But long enough."

A page where the Captain does most of the talking. The panels can be closeups of the Captain, medium shots of the scene, and incidental shots of anything in the cabin.

5/1 Captain: "My grandfather served with an Adam Seabourne. Went exploring with him to the north pole."

5/2 Captain: "Well, halfway to the pole. Bad weather, accidents. They started running out of rations. Seabourne sent my grandfather and the others back to safety, going on alone.

Captain: "He was never seen again."

Captain: "My grandfather gave up his adventuring ways after that. Settled down. Had some children. They had children."

Captain: "I used to sit at my grandfather's knee and listen to his tales of the sea and ice. Guess it rubbed off on me. Now I'm making my fortune at the opposite end of the world to him."

Captain: "But if that Adam Seabourne hadn't sent my grandfather back all those years ago ... well ... I guess I wouldn't be here today wondering why I'm sailing my ship towards the ice for the benefit of a man ... with the same name."

5/7 A frame of the captain and Adam looking at each other, both knowing that this Adam is the same man, but neither saying it.

Seabourne" "Thank you, Captain."

Captain: "You can have anything we can spare. Assuming I can't talk you out of what you are doing?"
Seabourne: "You can't."

Page SIX
6/1 The whaling ship sailing in ice flows near the coast of Antarctica.

6/2 The captain looking out the back using a telescope. The navigator standing next to him.
Navigator: "Just who was he captain? Apart from a madman."

6/3 Telescope view of Seabourne with three crates and some other bits, making some sort of contraption on the ice of Antarctica.
(off): "A ghost."
(off) "I gave all our spare rope and provisions to a ghost?"

Captain: "Aye, you did. Now let's get this vessel out of the ice and back to port."
Navigator: "Yessir."

Next Episode: Into the Black.

There are several more complete scripts in this tale, as well as an overall plot and finishing point.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Bowled over

When I got up this morning I went into the lavatory to perform my regular liquid expulsion and my first thought for the day was that I should haunt an opera theatre.

My daughter had carefully arranged toilet roll tubes on the top of the cistern tank, so it resembled a pipe organ. As I tinkled the ivories I imagined tinkling the ivories. Sustained booming chords ringing out from the depths. I flushed.

It was a great way to start the day. Sometimes even the simplest acts by my children can make the world seem bright.

And yes ... I do look that bad in the morning. At least until the first cup of coffee.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Boob week?

Was it just me, or was it NZ boob week?

-- Boobs on bikes
-- Pamela Anderson turns up for fashion week
-- John Key on Letterman

( . Y . )

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Feeling a bit jaded today.

Why is it that "feeling jaded" is a bad thing? I like jade.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

No one here but us chickens

My daughter is rapidly approaching five-years old, and she often asks when she is going to start school. This has made me cast my own mind back to by first primary school, Fraser Cresent, where I spend a few years before my family moved a few hundred miles away. I only have a few hazy memories of that school.

I remember being shown a sex education film that confused me a bit. It was an explicit film, but only at the microscopic level. Macro details were all rather coy, but under a microscope they showed a sperm fusing with an egg. However, it was chicken sperms and egg, and I was certain for years afterward that sex between humans somehow involved chickens.

Perhaps even more confusing for a young lad was the schools house system, modeled on those great english schools, and now famously used in Hogwarts. I was in Snell House, which meant that sometimes I had to wear something really stupid. So did everyone else. There were sporting events, and a points system. Snell House did not do well. I wasn't sure how I was meant to feel about that.

Walking to and from school had its moments. There were a couple of nesting magpies in the pines of the field that led to the schoolyard. You quickly learnt to avoid having anything shiny on your person.

Playtimes seemed to consist of a large free-for-all brawl where dozens of kids would get together, boys and girls, and wrestle and sucker punch each other until the bell rang. I remember that when one kid discovered the bamboo bushes out the back the whole thing deteriorated into mock sword fights followed by dizzy spells. I'm guessing the teachers weren't worried by their young charges beating each other senseless on a daily basis. Maybe it made for quite, compliant students in the afternoons?

I remember being one of the few boys that was friends with girls. I was often invited to the house of a girl named Gail, where we would play board games such as Which Witch. Then one day I was walking home hand-in-hand with a girl named Robin. We were accosted by some older boys who forced us to kiss. There, in the alley, next to the flowering honeysuckle, I discovered that even bullies can be useful.

Robin and I spent a lot of time together after that. She was my first girlfriend. Robin's father seemed to hate me. He would always keep a close eye on us. I believe he even suggested to my parents that it would be best if the two of us stopped playing together.

He was right to be worried. I may have been young, but I was already trying to figure out where I could get my hands on a live chicken.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Waiting by the virtual phone ...

Sometimes being a writer can be like being the more desperate member of a potential new couple. Especially a comic book writer. The editor or artist is the nice new man in your life.*

You meet, make small chat, talk about people you may both know. Then one of you compliment the other.

"You have really nice, strong lines."

The compliment is returned.

"Thanks. I love the way you do dialogue."

The connection is made. He orders another round of drinks and as the night goes on your brain swirls with small talk, compliments, and promises of the future.

"We really should do something together," he suggests provocatively near the end. You exchange phone numbers.

Then you wait by the phone. Will he call you? Should you have let him have your way with you on the first date (and written a script on a table napkin there and then, not carrying what anyone else in the cafe thought).

The days pass. Did you come across as too needy? Did he not like your words? Is he just busy, like he said he was? Is that him on the phone right now? No. Damn telemarketers.

Then he calls. Your heart goes a flitter-flutter. He wants you to write for him. Something just for him. You start immediately.

You submit your first draft to him ... words poured out directly from your soul.

You wait for his call again. And wait.

You can't sleep. You find yourself staring at the phone, hearing it ring in your head.

He calls.

He loves it.

But ...

There's always a but. I don't like big buts.

He offers a few suggestions. Minor changes. You listen. You agree with him (what else can you do?). You make the changes.

It's not your word you are changing; it's yourself. Maybe he'd like your hair shorter? Longer? Try a different perfume? Should you wear something low-cut? Sometime tighter? You could lose a few pounds (or pages). Perhaps get a push-up bra? Maybe you could get some implants?**

You meet him again, having re-made yourself. He looks you up and down. You wait for his judgement. You wait for his acceptance ... but you expect his rejection.

No wonder so many comic book writers turn to lesbianism (prose writing) or staying home alone (poetry).

*Yes, I know, making the women the more desperate one in the relationship is telling in several ways: it shows that I'm comfortable with my feminine side, but that equality still has a way to go as it is easier and more generic to write the weaker side of a heterosexual relationship as the female.

** I've actually done this to a story ... given it implants. I changed the main character from a man to a woman. I noticed I write rather weak male leads. But, presto, change the lead character to a woman and she's suddenly a strong character. Again, I can't help think this says a lot about the imperfect world we live in.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Friday, September 4, 2009

A Song In His Heart script

I woke up with this idea in my head, so I wrote it up and submitted it to Corn Stone's comic script 'database' project. His idea is to try to find artist for short scripts, and maybe vice versa.

Now back to the script I was meant to be working on ...

A Song in His Heart
Script: David Tulloch
Art: Insert your name here?

The artwork can be as straight-forward as you like, or as off-beat as you like. The words tell the basic story in most panels, so the illustrating art can be more artistic than descriptive.

Text inside [ ] represent a single block of text. Most panels have more that one block.

Page ONE

[ He had a song in his heart. ]
[ It almost killed him. ]

[ After some reoccurring dizzy spells and passing out at the office he went to his doctor.]
[ The diagnosis was an irregular heartbeat. ]

[ The doctor had never heard anything like it before. ]
[ She recorded the heartbeat and put it on her iPod. ]

[ She couldn't stop listening to it. ]

Page TWO

[ Her ex-husband heard it and asked for it to be put on his iPod. ]
[ She researched how on the web, and in doing so found some file sharing sites. ]

[ She shared the file with the world. ]
[ At first no-one noticed. ]

[ She forgot about the shared file, but never stopped listening to her version. ]
[ She started dating her ex-husband again. ]

[ About the time they remarried there was a news item on TV about the heartbeat. ]
[ It had become a global internet phenomena. ]


[ Several artists recorded hit songs using it as a melody. ]
[ No-one sued over it. ]

[ The man whose heartbeat had started it all had gone through some tough times. ]
[ Medication had tamed his irregular heart. He had no more dizzy spells, but found it hard to sleep at night. ]

[ He had been fired from his job. They never told him it was because their health insurance company was worried he'd cost them too much money. ]

[ His marriage was on the rocks. ]
[ The weekly counseling sessions weren't helping. ]


[ Then he heard his old heartbeat on the radio. ]

[ There was a song in his heart again. ]

4/3 Large panel to finish
[ And this time it wasn't killing him. ]


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Yet another Popmundo cartoon

For some reason I cannot fathom I have been banned from submitting cartoons to Popmundo. I really have no idea why. As far as I can tell I complied with all of their terms and conditions, the cartoons meet their criteria, and are funnier and better drawn than 90% or more of the ones they do publish (and I'm not just being egotistical here ... remember they actually published a broken link recently as a comic).

So until it gets sorted I'll just have to content myself with publishing a few on this blog.

The Popmundo game uses real world names for its places of musical learning. There really is a basic sex appeal course at Oxford in the game.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Status report: accessing data ...

Been busy with work (the boring kind) and writing, as well as the day job of parenting. I'll get back to blogging just as soon as I bash the script I'm working on into shape.

Friday, August 28, 2009

He's also a character

Guy has been beavering away at the Something & Something strip characters. The bartender/new owner is the latest addition. Meanwhile I've been writing away, with varying success.

I've also be re-imagining a script I wrote a while back as full 28-page stories, into shorter 6-8 page episodic format. At first I was worried I'd struggle to change the script in a positive fashion, but once I got started it just flowed. I think the shorter format makes for a more interesting and action packed story, while still having the same basic plot.

Artwork by Guy Landry