Monday, December 31, 2007

Enter 2008... (Stage Right)

Ok, I know I promised a review of Voyage of the Damned, it IS on the way - honest. In the meantime I've compiled my New Years resolutions/challenges.

I didn't have a blog last year so I can't use it to gauge this years achievements. Unfortunately I'd say a lot of the things on this list would have been on it last year too. On the other hand I passed my driving test, changed my career and moved to the Midlands so it wasn't a total loss.

Here is what we want from 2008

  • Write daily, establish a routine.
  • Complete a clutch of scripts in time for SFW '08 in Cheltenham.
  • Make some contacts/promote myself more.
  • (Finally) send a follow up script to Writers Room.
  • Enter Red Planet '08.
  • Send a steady stream of spec scripts to 2000AD.
  • Most importantly - get something published or produced somewhere.
  • At least one bog update per week - and on a broader range of subjects.
  • Maybe a little fiction on the blog now and again?
  • Low Carb diet and plenty of regular exercise.
  • Possibly create a new website.
  • Buy a house.
  • Have a proper holiday (like abroad and everything!).
  • Organise time so Emma and I have more 'quality' time together.
  • Watch plenty of good telly, films and theatre.
  • Read constantly.
  • Build a Linux machine.
  • Get more enjoyment from small pleasures.
It's not that much really, eh? In the scheme of things. Just laying the bedrock for a productive writing career. My greatest problem is not completing projects and if I can't beat that Devil in 2008 then I might as well quit. Yes, you can hold me to that.

That's it then, good luck for the new year everyone. May it bring us all success and happiness. If you're partying tonight drink responsibly and have a good time.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 24, 2007

...and a Very Merry Christmas to all of you at home!

Happy Christmas to everyone who passes through these pages. I hope you have a lovely time over the holidays.

Tune in later this week for New Year Resolutions and a Voyage of the Damned review.

Joyous Yuletide!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Improve the profile of your Website with Rhydian Roberts

If I'd realised the effect mentioning 'The X Factor' would have on The Island of Dreams hit rate I wouldn't have spent seven months talking about writing, classic television and comics. Live and learn. I was going to talk about today's 'Fairytale in New York' farrago but I'm scared I can't do it justice!

Hello to all the Rhydian fans passing through here. I thought he should have won too - although he wasn't my favourite; despite my being Welsh. The media seems to believe that thinking Rhydian should have won only occurs in the Welsh, and vice versa presumably.

More words later this week; and on more familiar topics. In the meantime two reminders;

Bang2Write's logline competition closes tommorrow.

Don't miss the Screen Wipe Christmas Special tomorrow night.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Our time is running out...

It’s the end. Now, I know I’ve been wrong about this before but this time it’s definitely on. Armageddon is coming so get thee to Tesco and stock up on tinned foods and sporting goods. All the portents are there. The world is going stark raving crackers.

Let’s review the evidence; the Tories are leading opinion polls by the greatest margin for fifteen years; the new coach of the English football team doesn’t speak a word of it, unleaded is now £1.05 a litre round the corner and The Eagles have got back together. Most damning of all? Leon Jackson has won The X Factor 2007. I fully expect cats and dogs to start living together and Sunny Delight to rain down from the heavens within the next fortnight.

Of course, the thing I’m most distressed about is being forced to reveal my secret shame. Yes, I do watch The X Factor. I’ve illicitly watched it for years without feeling the need to speak about it in public but this time the great British idiotbox slaves have really gone too far. Ok, so Shayne Ward looked like someone queueing at Halfords but at least he had a good voice, and charisma. Nobody could argue that Leona (keep Bleedin’) Lewis doesn’t have some mighty lungs and every chance of a credible career ahead of her. Whoever won the first series was probably at least tolerable as well. But Leon bloody Jackson? A scrutty zig-zag of flesh with a total inability to carry a note and all the dancing skills of someone undergoing electroconvulsive therapy? I ask you.

Week after week I’ve watched amazed as competitors with some slender fibre of talent or who at least look like they might be enjoying themselves get voted off while Leon sodding Jackson jerks around the stage as if forced onto it with a cattle-prod. I’d more or less accepted that my personal favourites, the energetic, if unsettling, Same Difference, were unlikely to win last night. That’s ok. They’ve not given a poor performance throughout the series and seem the most professional act The X Factor has ever seen. They made it to their well deserved place in the final and that’s what matters. But are we seriously to believe that Leon fricking Jackson has more talent, charisma and potential than the mighty Rhydian? The Aryan voice meister could dismember that Scottish shoelace with a tiny toot of his tenor. The results show ended with it’s contestants and presenter seeming every part as stunned as I was. Leon, when pressed for a comment, could only mumble ‘Thanks’. Don’t thank me Leon, thank the viewers who thought you had more star quality than your fellow contestants. Apparently Ladbrokes describe it as ‘the biggest shock in the history of reality TV betting.’ They know about these things.

I suppose it’s some consolation that in five years or so when Same Difference are looking back on at least a couple of hit singles and Rhydian Roberts is in his latest smash hit West End musical the winner of The X Factor 2007 will almost certainly be back in his West Lothian mining town where he belongs. Not that I’ve anything against him, he’s won and good luck to him. He seems like a nice lad and I’m sure his mother is very proud. It’s just that I’d understood it was a talent competition and so far as I saw he was outclassed not just by the other two finalists but by the vast majority of this years competitors.

Apparently the voting public felt differently, but if polls are to be believed they also trust the Conservatives and want to bring back the death penalty. Mark my words, the breakdown of society is just a heartbeat away.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Reviews, Spoilers and Something's Coming...

After all that maudlin nonsense here's one of my semi-regular updates on what's been on my telly recently.

I'm not sure Tim Kring apologising for Heroes series 2 was really called for. It may come back to haunt him as the press seem to reference it every time the show is mentioned. Even the Radio Times made reference to the second series being boring in it's write up for the series one finale - that's not the best strategy is it? The general confusion caused by the WGA strike seems to have given some people the impression Heroes is a dead duck now; which couldn't be further from the truth.

The reality is that series two is no slower than the first series was. There are a couple of slightly dull characters but in no time at all they hook up with the best American telly bad guy since Bob from Twin Peaks and suddenly everything is good again. In case Tim Kring happens to read this I'll provide Series Two feedback in bullet point form;


  • Not enough Sylar
  • Hiro was in feudal Japan too long
  • Peter Petrelli has fallen out of character and become dull (and those Oirish accents were awful! Are there no Irish actors in America? What about Colm Meaney?)
  • Claire & her Dad going back to square one with their distrust issues.


  • Sylar
  • My Two Dad's starring Parkman and Mohinder
  • Parkman's Dad (and his ability) was terrifying
  • Nathan takes action
  • Kensei/Adam is an ace addition to the show
  • Did I mention Sylar?

So no more admitting fault Tim, that's not how George Lucas built his Empire is it? Roll on Volume Three...

Thursday have actually become funny on the BBC in recent weeks thanks to the return of The Mighty Boosh (and aided by the disappearance of Vivienne tossing Vyle, which will probably win awards and get a second series as all big name dross does). Series Three has been every bit as bonkers and magical as previous outings. My favourite moment so far has been Howard's conversation with Vince's immunity system, or possibly Vince and Howard briefly falling in love, or possibly the return of Bob Fossil, or - never mind. It's fantastic.

If I'm going to complain it'll be to say that the drug references have been more overt than is either usual or necessary and that there may have been a few too many mentions of trendy pop bands; but who cares when the charm is still there.

Oh, and get excited because Something's Coming...

Holiday Season

Do writers take time off at Christmas? I suppose successful writers do and why shouldn't they? They've already slaved their way to being published or produced and no longer need to spend every free nanosecond writing or thinking about writing. On the other hand if you're a struggling want-to-be writer I suppose those free seconds are a missed opportunity if they aren't used for honing your craft.

Christmas is the busiest time of the year for me; day-job wise. Although I finally left the trenches of retail this year (and I don't think I shot myself in the foot) I still provide support for my comrades on the front lines and this is proving to be most challenging. Whilst many (most?) people are winding down for the Christmas holiday the retailers are trying to make enough money to carry them through the next twelve months in an increasingly difficult and hostile market.

I somehow imagined that when I started my new job in IT I would stroll through my front door each evening at six o'clock and generate page after page of spectacular and worthy wordage (like Stephen J. Cannell) while my wife gazed on adoringly. This pretty fantasy failed to feature out-of-hours mobile support, an unexpected promotion, reduced headcounts, the M-42, extended hours, the tiniest and dampest house outside of Lilliputian Atlantis or a wife who is herself working through an intense PGCE course.

Post Christmas I'm sure the routine will settle down and I will be able to structure my time properly to give me maximum opportunity not just to write but to continue those pursuits that inform my writing such as reading the papers, watching television, going to the pictures and, most oppressed of all hobbies, reading precious books. Of course, if I really want to be a writer shouldn't I be doing these things now? Shouldn't I be hunched over the kitchen table until three in the morning redrafting my latest script? Before dashing to the office for seven thirty in a caffeine fugue? Do I want to be a successful writer or not? Surely I should want it so bad that nothing stands in my way?

Uncharacteristically I've been thinking about New Year resolutions (usually they begin to occur to me around March) and I think I need to come up with some quite specific targets and ultimatums for the year ahead. Either I work consistently or I stop torturing Emma and the three people who read this blog with whingey not-writing moans. Like this one.