Those of you who still don’t roll over and pretend to be asleep when I mention my Patreon campaign will know that patrons of a certain level (Okay, it’s 3 bucks a month. We’re not talking high finance, here) get to determine which 5 for Friday posts will be among those I blog each month. Thanks to patron Narrelle M Harris, this week I’ll be discussing five TV comedies that have influenced my writing, my performing, and my approach to art.
I grew up in a time when an episode of a TV show was shown once, at a specific time, and if you missed it, well, you might just never see it. As I grew into a teen, and then a comedy obsessed young adult, the list of shows I obsessed over grew and grew into, well, an obsession. One I should have followed all the way to a PhD thesis, but that’s a story for another time. I compulsively purchased books of sketch scripts, and spent hours picking apart and analysing Beyond the Fringe, The Goon Show, Round the Horne, I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again, A Show Called Fred, Steptoe and Son, Hancock’s Half Hour…… the list is enormous, and largely British. I recorded scripts on tape– sometimes with friends, sometimes solo– playing with voice, and timing, and pitch. I wrote, and wrote, and wrote. I collected LPs– and did up until my second marriage. And I watched: over and over, episodes of every show I could find: first on TV, and then, when video cassettes became available, on tape, then disc. I am a fan. I could easily have become an historian. Here are five shows that changed the way my brains works.
5 FOR FRIDAY: AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT
Continue reading “5 FOR FRIDAY: TV COMEDIES THAT INFLUENCED ME”
As previously discussed, weddings and marriage are comedic base-level subjects. And when it comes to SF, aliens and alien abductions are pretty much the humour versions of opening your eyes and stretching first thing in the morning, too.
So, naturally, I put them together. because if there’s one thing my cartooning career was a celebration of, it was laziness and simple ideas. Mind you, I actually find this one funny, so what does that say about me?
“He wants to call off the abduction!”
Those of you who have been paying attention to my Patreon campaign will know that one of the rewards offered to patrons is the ability to determine which 5 for Friday posts will be among those I blog each month. Thanks to patron Colin Sharpe, this week I’ll be discussing five of my favourite songs by those master of British pop perfection, XTC.
Back in the 1980s, among the Chock Solid Block of Oz Cock Rock on which I was weaned, I uncovered a deep and lasting love for those British songwriters who defined the world in acid-etched clarity and humour: Ian Dury, Elvis Costello, The Clash, the Sex Pistols, Madness and the Specials all retain a special place in my heart. And alongside them, XTC, and three songs in particular that were FM radio staples– Senses Working Overtime; Making Plans for Nigel; and Generals and Majors are magnificent songs that remain close to my heart, and I could probably wax on about them until we’re both blue in the brain. (If you haven’t heard them before, follow the links now, then come back. We’ll wait, ready with a hearty I KNOW, RIGHT? at your return.)
I KNOW, RIGHT?
Now, in all honesty, we could begin and end right there, but those gateway drugs of songs were only the beginning of a life-long love. So here are five other songs that hit me right in the frontal cortex, and which I’ll be humming as they carry me to my grave.
Next week, thanks to patron Narrelle M Harris, I’ll be discussing five TV comedies that have influenced my approach to writing, performance, and public speaking. But for now, get out the headphones and sink into 15 minutes of musical bliss as Andy and Colin do what they do best: swan around being brilliant.
LIKE A 5 FOR FRIDAY IN A FURNISHED CAGE
Continue reading “5 FOR FRIDAY: XTC”
Back from the air-conditioned comfort of the library, and it occurs to me that I’ve not actually mentioned how my new writing world is coming along: given that the majority of you know me as a writer and not some sort of work experience weight-loss guru for the aged and blimpically-inclined, maybe I should actually talk about the stuff that brings us all together for a moment…
Continue reading “ALL THIS WEIGHT LOSS STUFF IS FASCINATING, BUT WHAT’S HAPPENING WITH THE WRITING, HUH? HUH?”
So, yeah. Satire is, apparently, not my strong suit. This one pretty much eschews being funny for making a statement of truth.
The difference between Erich Von Daniken and Scientology.
Being fat is a humbling experience, particularly when I was once used to a level of physical fitness that allowed me to pretty much do as I please. Here’s this week’s example:
Luscious and I are taking some time away, soon. You might remember, a few years ago, that we managed a writing weekend away we dubbed Battcon. There was drinking, there was a soupcon of tourism, there were wineries, there was writing, there was hanging out in Margaret River having fun, there was more writing. I wrote a bunch of silly blog posts about the whole thing, that you can re-read here. I also wrote an 8000-word short story in 2 days.
Well, the opportunity to repeat the fun has arisen. Continue reading “TOO FAT FOR CAMELS”
So I was watching an episode or two of Young Justice with Lord 13, because I am a grown-up who can watch anything he likes and Luscious was in the house and she hates Teen Titans Go!. We came across an episode involving an incursion into Belle Reve Prison, home of the Suicide Squad and hub of the Amanda Waller empire. Except, in this incarnation, Belle Reve was just a prison, and Waller was just the warden, and frankly, I was pissed.
I’m a loooooong-time fan of the Squad. I liked them before they were cool and popular, nyer nyer. I’m still bitching about Bronze Tiger not being in the movie. And Lord 13 is always up for a conversation about comics and superheroes. So we got to jawing about the Squad, which, naturally, turned into a discussion about who we would have in our Suicide Squad comic, because we are boys and whenever two or more boys shall discuss comics, the conversation will turn this way. It’s the law.
So we decided to share today’s 5 for Friday post, and present to you 5 characters we would include in our respective versions of the Suicide Squad
5 FOR FRIDAY: WELCOME TO TASK FORCE X
Continue reading “5 FOR FRIDAY: SUICIDE SQUAD”
This is such an old, cheesy joke. I’m embarrassed that I even went there. Except: the hedgehog on the left is properly adorable. I doubt I’d been able to replicate that look if I had ever tried to draw this up properly.
Adorable, I tells ya!
“Can’t we just hug?”
The first draft of Ghost Tracks cracked the 45,000 word mark today. To celebrate, here’s a short excerpt.
Continue reading “45,000 GHOSTLY WORDS”
I’ve talked a bit about the effect that moving to Karratha has had on my writing (TLDR: I’m writing again), but the other major life change I needed to address while I am here is my weight: at the start of the year I had ballooned out to over 111kg, which placed me not so much in the morbidly obese category as the look-Mummy-a-barrage-balloon category.
The first step was getting a swim membership at the local Leisureplex and walking/swimming lengths. Initially, I walked 15 lengths, swam four, walked ten, and swam 2.
I also started a routine based on an article in a Men’s Health magazine: five times a day I did some push ups, crunches, and squats. I am a fat, creaky, broken man: I started out doing a set of five each.
Five weeks later, and this is the routine I’ll be doing today:
- 5 sets of nine each: push ups, crunches, oblique crunches, dips, squats.
- 5 sets of fifty skips with a 1kg-weighted rope.
- Pool: walk 25 lengths, swim 5, walk 20, swim 4.
- 3kg weights: 1 set of 20 each of laying dumbbell press, laying dumbell flies, lateral raise, shoulder press, bent over lateral raise.
The rest of the week I’ll do the same except the weight routine will differ:
- Tuesday: Double dumbbell row, single arm row, lying dumbbell extension
- Wednesday: bicep curl, alternative bicep curl, tricep overhead, tricep kickback
- Thursday: goblet squat, Romanian dead lift, dumbbell lunge, Bulgarian split squat, kettlebell swing
- Friday: no weights, but a one mile run/walk.
Next week, I’ll go to five sets of ten, and slowly work my way up until I’m doing sets of 20, using 5kg weights, and extending my walk/swim distances at the pool.
And the result? So far, I’ve gone from 111.6 to 108.9kg. That’s a loss of 2.7kg in five weeks, while only making small changes to my diet– I’ll discuss that side of things tomorrow.
As starts go, it’s not bad.
The Life of Graham Greene, Vol. 1: 1904-1939 by Norman Sherry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A dense and exhausting tome covering the first 35 years of Greene’s life, from birth to the dawn of WWII. Sherry delves deeply into not only Greene’s own memories, but interviews with those who knew him at the time and a mass of collected documentation– sometimes too deeply, as after fascinating accounts of his schooling and University day, a long and tedious picking apart of love letters with his first wife Vivien when courting threaten to derail the reading experience. Thankfully, the narrative regains its momentum when the minutiae of a very ordinary courtship are over and the book returns to detailing the extraordinary course of Greene’s life, closing with his solitary journey through a savagely Anti-Catholic Mexico and returning to England to find war preparations very much afoot.
Although Sherry can’t resist the occasional moment of hero-worship and self-aggrandisement, he generally lets Greene’s life speak for itself, and the result is an impressively collated and thoroughly enjoyable examination of the insipirations and influences on one of the most important literary figures of the 20th Century.
View all my reviews
The news this week that The Emoji Movie became the first animated movie to win a Worst Movie Razzie sounds like a good excuse to look back at five of the worst animated movies I’ve been forced to endure. I love animated movies: at their best, like Akira or the Toy Story trilogy, an animated movie can be a dazzling, inspiring whirlwind of imagination and technical wizardry.
These are not that.
5 For Friday: Won’t Someone Think of the The Children?
Continue reading “5 FOR FRIDAY: ANIMATED ATROCITIES”
One of my final acts before I left the hated day job was to commission a mural to fill the front courtyard of our Arts Centre. The building is too far back from the road, and the courtyard was the kind of dull grey-brown landscape you get when you ask Council planners to make a space attractive. As consequence, the building disappears from the road– it simply doesn’t attract the attention of passers-by as it should.
I was fortunate in that one of the submissions for the work came from one of the most artistically ambitious and unafraid artists in the region: Jacq Chorlton, who proposed a swirling vortex of stark black and white striations that swirled past the edge of the courtyard and onto the footpaths beyond.
I fought, largely unsuccessfully, for eight years to get work into local open spaces that were more than simple representations– Rockingham’s public art is largely vanilla, with nothing to truly capture the imagination or stick in the memory. The Arts Centre is one space where I had a few successes: the building looks like nothing around it, and had I stayed, I would have pushed that envelope further and further.
Continue reading “A FINAL IMAGE OF A DISCONTINUED VISION”
Weddings and marriage are the comedic equivalent of the starter-for-ten. It’s entry level stuff, fit only for shite American sitcoms and the laziest of stand up comedians playing to the lowest common denominator audiences.
So, here’s one of many I did when I was busier flexing my ability to come up with ideas quickly than exercising my internal editor. Regrets, I have a few… (although, weirdly, the fact that the bride looks like a frog had sex with a muppet is not amongst them)
“What do you mean, ‘What are the options?’ ?”
X-Men Legacy: Legion: Omnibus by Simon Spurrier
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Stunning extension of the graphic novel art that is reminiscent of the high points of Vertigo’s initial burst of creativity and experimentation. Superhero tropes are deliberately inverted, then examined and shown to be the ridiculous soap-operas we know they are. The ongoing X-plots and wider Marvel world are confronted and dismissed as irrelevant and trifling. And the book moves beyond them to explore deeper issues of individuality, personality, psychology and conformity through the lens of a potentially all-powerful mind who has finally escaped from years of psychological abuse at the hands of characters held up by the majority as heroes and examples to follow.
The writing is razor-sharp, the art and colours are swirlingly psychedelic, the characters are bright and unusual, and the whole thing grabs the tiger’s tail and refuses to let go until the entire dizzy ride is over. Even the ending refuses to back down and soothe us with latex-clad platitudes. There are consequences, and finalities, and when the coup de grace arrives, it does so with meaning.
One of the best graphic novels I’ve read in years. Highly recommended.
View all my reviews
It’s been a month since I left the cultural hub (BWAAAAHHHHAHAHAHAHAAAAA!) of Perth behind, and joined Luscious and the kids in the Northern Sunlands of Karratha. It’s been a breath of fresh air for us– hot, dusty, red-tinged air. Luscious has taken to her new life as a High School teacher as if it’s the job she’s been waiting 25 years to do, because it is. The kids are exploring social opportunities they wouldn’t have accessed where we were living before, and there’s a new sense of freedom in being by ourselves.
As for me, well, not having to report to the hated day job has resulted in exactly what we wanted: I’m writing again, with purpose and intent. After months of stagnation, I’ve taken Ghost Tracks past 40,000 words and on towards a final first draft tally that should come in somewhere between 50 and 52,000. It’s entirely conceivable that the first draft will be wrapped up well and truly before the end of March. I’m enjoying a sense of freedom that I had forgotten existed, and slowly, those part of my creativity and soul that had withered are beginning to recover.
So, by way of recording some of the things that have changed with this new location, here are five aspects of life in the Northern Sunlands that have provided new impetus for me, my writing, and my overall well-being.
5 For Friday: Life in the Northern Sunlands
Continue reading “5 for FRIDAY: A NEW LIFE IN THE OUTER COLONIES”
My opinion of religion is fairly well documented. Here’s another document.
“Ppph. I can see the strings.”