Friday, July 31, 2009

Three page script in search of an artist

I was inspired by Corn Stone to come up with a short script to be submitted to his facebook posts ... the idea being that maybe an artist might desire to draw it. His plan is to have a forum for artists seeking writers and vice versa. I'm all for that. So I whipped up a three page script ...

short script (3 pages) looking for an artist, by David Tulloch

Notes: text in [ ] square brackets in intended to be in-pnale text blocks. text in " " speech marks is intended to be a speech bubble.

Page ONE
[ If I could be a Superhero ... ]
Someone ... well, me ideally, ... in a thinking pose. Eyes looking up and off, hand on chin or mouth.

[ I'd be ... Skepticman ... able to expose fraudsters, pseudo-scientists, quacks, and other con-artists. ]
Large panel showing Skepticman standing heroically... who can be a generic hero type, with some S symbol on his chest. A cape, fluttering.
TITLES: Skepticman, by ...

Page TWO
[ With gadgets ... ]
Skepticman standing outside a door with the words Psychic Hotline on it, holding a detector of some sort which is beeping frantically.
Skepticman: "My bullshit detector is off the scale ... "

[ A sidekick ... ]
A Robin-like sidekick, but with an E on his (or her) outfit.
Emperical-Lad: "Holy homeopathy, Skepticman ... there's nothing but water in this vial!"

[ A cool, underground lair ... ]
Skepticman and Emperical-Lad putting a punch-card into an old-fashioned computer.
Skepticman: "Once we run these figures through the Skepti-puter, Emperical-Lad, we'll know just how accurate those nutritional claims really were."

[ ... and a butler. ]
The butler talking to Skepticman. Skeptic man is changing from his costume into his alter-ego clothes.
Butler: "Sir. There is a young lady waiting for you upstairs."
[ Just because it would be cool to have a butler. ]

[ There would be, of course, an off-again, on-again relationship with some sexy woman who, unfortunately, believes in UFOs, ESP, and GOD. ]
Alter-ego Skepticman embracing the sexy woman.
Woman: "I just had to see you today, Wayne. My stars told me it was the perfect time to rekindle romance with an old flame."

A spotlight symbol in the sky.
off panel voice" "Look, in the sky ... it's the Skeptic-symbol ..."

Large final frame of Skepticman standing on a rooftop, while a gathered crowd call out for help. The moon behind him, like all those classic superhero poses.

Crowd1: "Save us Skepticman!! ... there's another TV show host who claims to speak with the dead ..."

Crowd2: "... and a polluting factory denying it poisoned a river ..."

Crowd3 "... and a pharmaceutical company making exaggerated claims about a face cream ... "

[ There do seem to be plenty of villains for him to fight. ]


Thursday, July 30, 2009


One of the most frustrating parts of writing for me is the waiting. Waiting for ideas to pop into your head. Waiting for punchlines to what you're sure will be a joke. Waiting for time to write during a busy day. But most painful of all is waiting for acceptance or rejection.

In some ways rejection isn't that bad. At least it is a final result. Waiting is worse. Maybe that's why I find it hard to submit things. Sending something out means waiting. At least I know the result if I never put it out there.

Of course, such a philosophy is a little career limiting. So I have to summon up the courage to wait.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Magic water?

So Ali Williams, Richie McCaw and Dan Carter are shilling bottled water. They have a brand ... "Every One" which is promoting healthy food and bottled water. The ads not only stress the healthy aspect of bottled water, but note that some of the money goes toward charity. How can it possibly be a bad thing?

Well, it's a business deal. The trio are in it to make money. As the Richie McCaw blog notes ... "It's a venture that will help stall the big-money offers the trio repeatedly receive to shift to the Northern Hemisphere. It puts their roots firmly in New Zealand and gives them a business post-rugby, said Williams."

At a time when there is a big environmental push to stop producing plastic bottled water containers in the ever-increasing numbers we consume, we have All Blacks telling us to buy more of them.

When study after study is showing that tap water is just as healthy, and about 2000 times cheaper than bottled water, we have All Blacks telling us that all our children should drink their brand of bottled water.

When there are worrying (if somewhat unconfirmed) reports that plastic bottles can leach dangerous chemicals into water, we have All Blacks telling us how healthy it is.

Ginette McDonald is doing voiceovers for another bottled water concern as well. Oh, Lynn of Tawa ... what ever happened to you?

Just turn on the tap.

Oh, and beat the Springboks and the Aussies! Go ABs!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Change the World ?

I have problems with 'climate change'. I find the media burblings on the subject annoying. The extremists on both sides ... the naysayers and the doom-mongers ... seem to be the most common voices in the media reporting. There's no room for anyone with moderate views, or a reasoned approach, because they might seem weak. You say "you're not sure"? Ha! You've lost the argument already. You have to be absolutely positive of your side. 100% committed. Don't let facts or reason get in the way. But if the extremes of media punditry worry me, and they do, they are nothing compared to the extreme solutions to global warming that are gaining support in the US.

Geo-engineering is the latest solution to our climate worries that is being championed. It is, as the name suggests, the engineering of the globe to change weather patterns. It's all stuff that has been around for some time, some of it even lifted from the pages of Sci-Fi writers, Dumping iron filings in the oceans to lower temperatures. Seeding reflective clouds. Giant sea cooling machines. In the last few months the media reporting on geo-engineering has more than doubled (if my simple searches on Google are anything to go by).

Words like 'proactive' and 'prudent' are often used to describe geo-engineering. Risks are mentioned, but then sidelined with arguments like: "the threat of climate change is serious. Mitigation efforts so far have been limited in magnitude, tentative in implementation, and insufficient for slowing climate change enough to avoid potentially serious impacts". (

As The Atlantic pointed out, geo-enginnering plans "are technologically plausible and quite cheap. So cheap, in fact, that a rich and committed environmentalist could act on them tomorrow."( In fact, Bill Gates has already suggested a geo-enginnering system to help tame hurricanes, by cooling the water in their path, reducing their strength ( One wonders just how far along the path of the hurricane such technology would be used? Before it hit Cuba? Or after? I mean, who's paying for it?

Geo-enginnering strikes me as a very American solution to our climate woes. Let's not worry about what is causing the change ... let's not reduce emissions (because that will harm the economy) ... let's not even bother to work together. Instead, we can unilaterally change our local climate for the better. Who cares if what we do may have consequences halfway around the globe. It'll just mean more people needed to buy bottled water and air conditioners.

You can see its appeal. It won't threaten American jobs, it will create them. Federal investment will pour into corporate research to develop weather mastery techniques. Rather than doing the natural harmony crap that a bunch of smelly, tree-hugging hippies want you to do, you can use superior technology to conquer and tame nature. You don't have to turn off your lights, drive a small car, or stop drilling for oil or mining for coal. Its the sort of climate crisis solution that an average guy can get behind, and discuss thoughtfully over a 24-pack of beer before shooting a few deer and heading back to civilization in their SUV for a super-sized burger meal.

Geo-engineering does not have widespread support just now. It is seen as too radical, too dangerous, too extreme. Support is growing, however, and the media is certainly doing its part in promoting the idea in recent weeks. By stalling on climate treaties and emission reduction targets those in power seem to be intent on making sure that moderate, reasonable solutions will not come to pass. When the shit hits the fan everyone will beg for the extreme solutions .... Geo-engineering is coming. I, for one, am scared shitless.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Perchance ...

Normally my dreams are spectacularly boring. I dream about housework, organizing objects, and so forth. I once dreamed I lived in a house with a bunch of porn actresses ... and I did their taxes for them.

However, every now and then I have an odd, interesting dream.

Last night I was one of a group of friends looking after Winston Churchill's aging mother. He had to leave the country, due to some international crisis, and I was asked to check in on her if I could.

We had a pleasant afternoon tea, where she showed me photographs of herself when young. However, she died while Winston was still overseas, and when he returned we all felt somewhat guilty, even though we knew there was nothing we could have done. There was a tense dinner some days after the funeral where I found it hard to look Winston in the eye.

Feel free to interpret this for me.

Friday, July 24, 2009

When grandpa killed grammar

Sometimes punctuation and spacing can be important.

The penis: mightier than the sword.

Recycled art

The third of our Popmundo cartoons. I'll save the other seven or so for another month. The frames reuse Guy's art over and over ... which takes the pressure off. This way we can submit weekly strips to the game's newspaper without straining anything ... assuming they accept it.

The strips try to reference in-game situations and items, but are hopefully funny even if you have no knowledge of the browser-based world that is Popmundo.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Another struggling bass player ...

I have many online identities. In Puzzle Pirates I was the first mate for the Extremely Happy Pirates ... a great group of virtual people. In World of Warcraft I'm Gunwallace the Holy Priest, and Klauw the Feral Druid. In Trophy Manager I'm the manager and coach of Spleenpool FC ... go Spleens! I've been a caveman, a feudal lord, a Greek dictator, a medieval peasant, and a meathead berserker.

Perhaps the strangest of my online alter-egos is Essence Tebbitt, a struggling 16 year-old, female ambient electronica artist. The game is Popmundo, and only takes a few minutes a day. You role-play a musician, and strive to gain a foothold in the charts. Obviously, by choosing the Jah Wobble meets Brian Eno style of music I'm not aiming for superstardom with Essence. I'll settle for a niche following. Maybe a couple of groupies.

Popmundo usually has a few thousand people online at any given moment, and they have a weekly online newspaper. The newspaper accepts comic strips, so I conned a friend of mine to draw some strips. We are going to submit the first one this week.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

More food that looks like animals

We saw this idea in a book once, and had to try it ourselves.

Hard-boiled egg bodies, with olive features held there by toothpicks.

Were the cocktail umbrellas too much?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Suddenly, out of the long grass ...

We were trying to get our four-year old girl to have some lunch today, when I made the mistake of being flippant.
Mum: "What do you want for lunch?"

Girl: "A bowl of things."
(This is code for a bunch of biscuits and other non-nutritional food together in a small bowl).

Mum: "Not for lunch. How about a sandwich?"

Girl: "Noooo."

Dad: "An apple?"

Mum: " A banana?"

Girl: "A bowl of things."

Dad: "How about a small giraffe for lunch?"

Girl: "A small giraffe! A small giraffe!"

This is the resulting lunch. A bread, ham, cheese and marmite giraffe, fresh from the hunt. The girl promptly skinned the ham and cheese from her prey's bread carcass and played with the "naked giraffe" for a while before finally putting it out of its misery.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Foot-in-mouth notes

Another plagiarism-related, un-drawn comic-strip. Just click on it to get a larger version. Today's blog is brought to you by the - (dash).

Friday, July 17, 2009

When you can't think or draw

I have no artistic talents, as I have mentioned in older posts. Even my stick people look strange. So this is a cartoon with no drawing.

I was going to write something witty and insightful for Anti-Plagiarism Day, which I think is a great idea. I have seen words I have written in print without my name on them on more than one occasion, and it didn't make me feel like a happy camper.

But the more I thought about the issue, the less I had to say. So in the end I just created a silly joke.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Cleaning ... the never ending frontier

Another picture of stuff around the house. I was cleaning our stove top and managed to distract myself for a while by taking pictures of it. The cleaner we use was almost out, so instead of creating streaks it all came out in splattered blobs. Combined with the element markings on the black stove top and it was a galactic vision.

After a while I had to go back to cleaning though. Sigh.

Monday, July 13, 2009

After the cup is over

I like taking photos of things. In this case the inside of coffee cups. I sometimes make myself a large latte in a bowl, which my wife dismisses as girlie coffee. I liked the way the blurry 'coffeescape' turned out. If I ever record some ambient bass tunes I'll use this as a cover image.

The second one I called Drinking Saturn. A masturbatory name for what is just coffee residue, but there you go.

In what little spare time I have when my brain is functioning I've been finishing up another Straitjacket Ninja script, and working on two other things. One of which I hope to stick up on this blog. So until I get that done my blog posts may be a little thin on the ground.

Another Random Thought

Too busy not sleeping to think of anything constructive.

However, ...

World leaders who claim they never negotiate with terrorists did not spend any time with their young children.

My random thought for the day.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

How Publishing Really Works: Anti-Plagiarism Day: Friday 17 July

How Publishing Really Works: Anti-Plagiarism Day: Friday 17 July

Great idea.


The continuing food theme on my blog may have to come to an end soon. But before it does, here's my recipe for Baked Beans. The secret is a good glassful of red wine in the mix ... another in the hand doesn't hurt.

This is comfort food for my wife, and avoids all the junk they stick into commercial cans of baked beans ... namely the sugar, colouring, and additives.

Baked Beans
Onion, diced
1 can of chopped tomatoes
2 cans of cannelloni (or butter) beans
Paprika, 1 tbsp (I use a nice smoked variety)
Oregano, 1/2 tbsp
Other herbs, 1/2 tbsp (such as mixed, or basil, or parsley)
Worcestershire sauce, a couple of dashes (optional)
Red wine, a glassful for the sauce, the rest for you.
Olive oil for sauteing
Honey, a teaspoon (optional)

Dice the onion and saute in a small or oil or butter ... you can add a little honey to the onion as it cooks, just to add a little sweetness to the whole recipe. Then add the tomatoes, beans and wine. Also add the herbs, the most important of which is the paprika. Feel free to add more of that to your taste. Add the Worcestershire sauce if you are using it, then simmer the whole mixture on a low heat for at least an hour, stirring occasionally.
This is best eaten the next day, which is why I make such a large amount. Often it survives half a week of lunches and breakfasts until all gone. Toast, poached eggs, or whatever else you fancy also makes it last.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Don't judge a meal by its cover

I was looking for some information on food today and stumbled across this website ...

The basic concept of the site is summed up by its tagline: It's Still Bad For You -- But See How Good It Can Look. The creators take a common US fast food meal and deconstruct it, then reconstruct it to look like actual food. As they put it; "extreme makeovers of actual fast food items purchased at popular fast food restaurants.”

Their most famous creation is the gourmet version of the Big Mac, Coke and Fries, pictured here.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Serving Sack

Watched a great doco on AJP Taylor today while my wee boy sucked down a bottle of food. Amazing narrative historian. It put me in a history kind of mood, so we made Posset Sack tonight for dessert. It's a runny alcoholic custard ... a traditional egg nog sort of thing. The web is full of recipes, although our variant has a bit more of a punch than some. We aim for historical accuracy only in the loosest sense.

Posset Sack
500ml trim milk (we are on a diet, you could use cream)
300ml port (or sherry or any fortified wine)
4 egg yolks
2 egg whites
cinnamon and nutmeg
1 tbsp honey (or sugar if you prefer)

Heat the milk and spices until it comes to the boil, then simmer. Don't burn the milk as it's hell to wash clean.
In a separate pot heat the port and melt in the honey. The more you heat the port, the less alcoholic the end result will be. So a light heat is recommended.
Whisk together the egg yolks and whites ... take the milk of the heat, and slowly add to the spiced milk, stirring all the while.
Place the mixture back on a gentle heat for a couple of minutes, stir.
Remove the milk mixture from the heat again and slowly add the port mixture while stirring.
Place back on a low heat and stir gently until the mixture thickens.
Serves 2-6, depending on how greedy you are. Or just 1 if you are really greedy. Or maybe 12 if they don't really want much. I think 18 would be the limit ... beyond that and you wouldn't really get a taste. Hic!

This also gave me a chance to stick up a Sad Sack cartoon. For some reason that eludes me I had a small collection of Sad Sack comics when I was a kid. I have no idea how I got them, but I devoured them all the same. Strangely enough, I never entertained a stint in the armed forces.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Just a hint of drool

No time for writing today, because, ironically, I'm off to a writer's group meeting. I was worried that this group had disbanded, but it turned out to be an impromptu sabbatical. I'm the young one of the group, and the only one writing comics. I'm not sure what the others make of my stuff, but they haven't asked me to leave yet.

I woke up this morning (always a good start to a blues song) with a fully formed story plot in my head (not such a good blues line in the continuation). I woke up this morning with a fully formed story plot in my head (blues rule: always repeat the first line). So I sat at my computer, and typed 'til my fingers bled (not true, but it rhymes).

It is true about the story plot though. It will be a long one, so I'll file it under ideas for another day. Short things for now. Lots and lots of short stories.

Here's a picture a friend just sent me that serves as visual proof of my bass playing. Yes, that's a short, 30" bass, a Squire Bronco, but I have short, squat fingers. I just realized I play the bass the same way I write; with two fingers.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Don't slip on the wet spot by the bass player

When I was a wee lad I wanted to learn how to play the guitar. I had visions of searing guitar solos before packed houses of adoring fans. My parents got me a decent, cheap acoustic guitar and found me a music teacher. I hated it.

The teacher was an elderly woman who smoked like a chimney. She also had eyesight issues, and would often light the filter end of her cigarette ... which surprised me by actually smelling worse than her normal cigarette smell. She was a piano teacher by trade, but we lived in a small rural area, so she taught all instruments. I don't think she liked the guitar ... or children.

I did stick at it for a while, but my rock star dreams were dashed by three-string chords and endless run-throughs of The Chimes of Westminster and Yankee Doodle Dandy (I had the full anglo-american range of boring tunes available to me).

For many a year I ignored musical instruments ... although I could always pick up a guitar and play Old MacDonald if pressed. That was seared into my neurons.

Then, a year and a half ago, my wife indulged my latent rock star dreams by getting me a bass guitar for my birthday. I like the bass. The strings are a good distant apart from each other, which suits my stubby fingers. I've always played air bass to a large numbers of songs. And I like the complete lack of expectation people have of bass players. If a bass player can stand upright, not drool too much, and keep a reasonable rhythm, well that seems to be enough to satisfy most people.

I've bypassed the fear I have of a music teacher by trying to teach myself as much as possible, and then asking friends who play guitar and know more about music that I do to help fill in the wide gaps in my development. The web is a vast, confusing source of advice and lessons. I'm working my way through at the moment, as it promises to tell me how to understand what the root of a chord is.

I have noticed a sort of hierarchy of music lessons. If you want to play a rock or blues tune then there's usually a tab out there for you. Tab is a cheats form of music notation that reduces everything to ... put a finger here and hit the string to make a noise. Here's an example, the bass line to Once in a Lifetime ...


The tab doesn't give you much in the way of timing ... it is just assumed you know the song and can work it out. I raced home from seeing David Byrne in concert earlier this year (Byrne doing Eno related numbers ... I was in heaven) and looked this up. Was it really as simple as it had seemed? I spent large parts of that concert staring at the bass player (left-handed, and very talented).

Anyway ... my point is that if you want to try to play bass to a rock/pop/heavy metal/blues song there's an easy cheat out there in cyberspace for you. If you want to play jazz bass lines, and I really do, then it gets a little trickier. There are a few tabs out there ... but jazz is an improvisational style, and so it does not lend itself to cheats as well.

Instead, when you try to get the web to help you play jazz it throws theory at you ...
1st note of the walking line should be the root (for now) of the chord, the second and third note should be parts of the chord, or chromatic neighbor tones that lead to the 4th note, which leads into the 1st note of the next chord- repeat.
This may make sense to some people ... but I just revert to standard bass player behavior and drool with a slackened jaw. Du ... eeeeh (drip) !

So it's back to virtual school for me ... I'm not going to be beaten by jargon. Heck, I read Foucault and Derrida when I was at university ... this can't be that bad. Can it? Hmm, maybe I'm approaching this from the wrong angle ... minimalism might be the way to go ... one note ... wait ten seconds ... repeat. Once again post-modernism shows us the way. But the way to where? How do I get back? It's dark, cold and I'm alone. Nooooooooo!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

My Wife's Bananas

Over a month ago I included a recipe for Zucchini and Bananas with the caveat that you never cook it for my wife. If you want to cook bananas for her, this is one of her favourite desserts ...

Drunken Bananas

Bananas, 1-2 per person
Brandy, a generous splash
Spices, usually cinnamon, maybe a little five spice or nutmeg as well
Yoghurt, or if you aren't on a low-fat diet, whipped cream or ice cream

Chop the bananas up, not too fine, and heat in a frying pan. Splash in the decent amount of brandy, sprinkle in a few pinches of cinnamon, and stir and cook the bananas. Wait until the bananas are starting to break apart at the edges, then serve with yoghurt or cream or ice cream, or more brandy.

One final note ... don't do an image search for "banana brandy" ... it doesn't get you food if you have safe search turned off. And as porn names go, I'm not sure that's a winner, but I guess it is unique.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

It's Mine !!

Random Thought ...

The music and film industries have the same attitude to sharing as the one-and-a-half year old that was visiting yesterday. Mine, mine, mine, mine!

But some file sharers have the same attitude as my four year old, who only wanted things when they were claimed by the one-and-a-half year old. But I want it. Give it to me.

They all seem to want someone else to sort it out. Mum!!!

At least the children seem to be growing up faster than the music and film industries and the file sharers.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Fan page for the nutty ninja

I created a Facebook fan page for Straitjacket Ninja today. You can help me by

a) seeing if you can find it on Facebook.

b) joining as a fan.

c) telling me what I can do to make it better.

They didn't have a category for comic character, so instead he had to be registered as an actual person. That's right, folks. The Straitjacket Ninja is now real. Be afraid.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Hint: It's not a surprised ocelot

Finished a Straitjacket Ninja script yesterday, episode fourteen. It had one panel description I thought required some extra detail, so we took this picture of me trying to imitate the expression required.

If you can guess what animal I'm trying to be, and what is supposed to be happening to me I'll give you a prize (to be disclosed later, conditions apply).

Those who were sent the script cannot enter, but you are allowed to comment and say what it is not. Or what you think it really looks like.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

More coffee, hun?

It seems I have posted once too often about coffee and tiredness. It has inspired a friend to draw this portrait of me. I think she has really captured my eyes in all their dark-circled glory. Thanks, Guy.