Friday, 21 November 2014

From Adam

"Cooking is so gay. Remember: God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Stove."

That's a fine-tuned version of an old tweet. The trouble is, I can't really tweet it like that. Even with the quotation marks, the irony might not come across.

The old version was:




It's clunkier, but less homophobic. Maybe clunky is funnier. I haven't decided yet.

Thinking about this has taken up most of my morning.

I suppose I could tweet the first thing, but include a link to this blog post. That way, I get credit for unclunkiness, but also credit for thoughtfulness. A pejorative use of 'gay', yes. But in quotation marks, accompanied by a URL to an essay on how problematic it is.

My only worry here, is that this post is already pretty clunky. Any goodwill I may have had for my unclunky tweet will immediately dissipate. Or will at least dissipate by the time they read the word "dissipate", which is as clunky as word as you might hope to see.

I could have said that the goodwill I had for my unclunky tweet will "immediately go". 'Go' is much less clunky than 'dissipate.' It's such a clean word: small and round. You could inhale it without even noticing.

Hey, here's a great new joke I came up with.

Hey, my meat paste has just disappeared! I must have accidentally bough dissipâté.

You see?! Jokes.

...

Uh oh.

Uh oh.

A serious spanner has been thrown in the works.

I just tried to search for my original 'Adam and Stove' tweet, and I've found that it's been done before. Three times.

And two of them were done before my original one.

This is heartbreaking. I thought I was so original, but no. I am not original.

Luckily, none of them are as good as either of mine. Let's take a look.










The first one has a typo right off the bat, so that's out. Pretty clunky. And not good-clunky, like mine.

The second one gets points for taking an extra leap (leaving out 'Eve' entirely), but it's too ambiguous. Either:
a) The gay guy speaking is Adam, and he's complaining because he'd rather be spending time with Steve than doing the housework
b) The gay guy speaking is Steve, and he's saying that by doing said housework, he has abdicated his own identity and has essentially become the stove.

Who can say? Still, tweet two is my favourite.

Tweet three was only posted a couple of days ago. That's weird. Is there some confluence of creative energies in the ether?

I think tweet three is just too crude. Sometimes the delicate touch is needed. It's also reducing human-appliance relationships (and, by analogy, gay relationships) to a purely sexual thing. It's not all about "fucking". It's about forming a meaningful connection with another person (or blender or whatever).

So, to sum up.

Tweet 1: ✮ (deducted one star for the typo)
Tweet 2: 
Tweet 3: 

My clunky original tweet (with the takeaway suggestion): 

My fine-tuned tweet (with pejorative 'gay'): 

Reminder: I rate tweets on a hundred-star scale.

This experience has been humbling, but I'm sure I'll learn from my mistakes.

And yes, I did try to see if anyone else had done dissipâté. But I don't think Twitter searches are sensitive to accents.

Thank God.

***

(Update - just realised I was only looking at the 'Top Tweets' for 'Adam and Stove'. There are loads of others. None better than mine, though. None better than mine.)

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

The Prestige

I thought it would be funny to just copy and paste the screenplay to Christopher Nolan's 2006 film The Prestige here. It would be really long. People might think I was going to satirise it, or put in some jokes, but I wouldn't do that.

It would just be the screenplay. The whole screenplay. The whole disappointing screenplay. As a blog post.

But then I thought: no, I won't do that. I'll just write about thinking about doing it.

Also, it might violate copyright. I'd hate to get sued. The publicity might bring in a few more hits, but I don't want to have to go to court. It's a long walk.

I recently changed my shampoo schedule. I've realised that my hair looks much better when it hasn't been washed for a while, so I now only shampoo in the 'four letter' months (June and four fifths of March).

I've heard that one's natural oils are better than any artificial cosmetic anyway. And blood is better than paint.

You have everything you need conveniently located in your own body. Thirsty? Weep. Hungry? Bite nails. Swami? Cultivate turban-like quiff.

Even though I'm only shampooing twice a year, I've increased the regularity of my using conditioner by 800%. There's some in my hair right now. If there are any typos in this entry, it's because I have conditioner-lather in my eyes.

I specifically bought 'loads more tears' conditioner. I'm really thirsty.

My aim is to have hair that is in fantastic condition, but not very clean.

Like Russell Brand! J/K!

I am still shampooing my body hair, though. I'm not so vain that I care how my body hair looks. If someone sees a tuft of something sticking out of a sleeve, buttonhole or stonewashed-denim ripzone, then so be it.

I will be conditioning half of my body hair at an increase of 800%, much like my head hair. My entire western hemisphere is covered in conditioner right now. If there are any typos in this entry, it's because my hairy fingertips keep slipping off the keys.

So, the western hemisphere is shampooed at a normal rate, but highly conditioned.

The eastern hemisphere is also shampooed at a normal rate, but instead of conditioner, I've chosen to... I dunno... weave it into a tapestry or some shit.

***

This isn't one of my best entries, but don't be put off. Even a jockey needs to run the occasional practice lap before he mounts his horse for the first time. It's all part of a cycle.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll just finish with a clever callback to something I wrote earlier, in a weak post-hoc attempt at structuring my writing.

...


L'Oréal Paris.

Friday, 7 November 2014

What You've Done

I'm working on a series of sketches featuring a wise-ass gumshoe-type who is taken to various ramshackle locations, and each time sarcastically says "I love what you've done with the place...".

That would be the whole sketch. There would be a series of them. It would be his catchphrase.

I know rapid-fire catchphrase-based sketches are a bit 90s, but I think they're due for a comeback.

Here are my suggestions for the early sketches.

INT. ABATTOIR - DAY

Two henchman drag GUMSHOE onto the killing floor. There are animal carcasses everywhere. Blood on the walls, rusty saws, bones, hooves. They throw him at the feet of a BUTCHER wearing a bloody smock.

GUMSHOE looks around and smirks.

GUMSHOE
(SARCASTIC) I love what you've 
done with the place...

END OF SKETCH

That one's not great. But it's just there to set up the premise. There would be several of these in every episode.

INT. THE OVAL OFFICE - DAY

Two secret servicemen drag GUMSHOE into the office. There are plaques everywhere. Wallpaper on the walls, nice carpet, desk, potted plants. They throw him at the feet of BARACK OBAMA.

GUMSHOE looks around and smirks.

GUMSHOE
(SARCASTIC) I love what you've 
done with the place...

END OF SKETCH

We're already rolling.

I know what you're thinking. You're wondering what the joke is. Well, there isn't a joke. It's not that kind of sketch. The trick is repetition. People enjoy it when they expect something to happen and then that thing happens.

INT. THE EARTH'S CORE - DAY

Two mole-men drag GUMSHOE into a lava cave. There are lava everywhere. Lava on the walls, rivers of magma, molten rock, fires. They throw him at the feet of a FIRE DEMON.

GUMSHOE looks around and smirks.

GUMSHOE
(SARCASTIC) I love what you've 
done with the place...

END OF SKETCH

All of these sketches will appear in the first five minutes of the sketch show - just to get people up to speed.

After this, we can start stretching our comedy wings.

EXT. WORLD TRADE PLAZA - SEPTEMBER 11 2001

Two firemen drag GUMSHOE out of some rubble. There is dust everywhere. Crying people, paramedics, police officers, general distress. They gently help him to a STRETCHER-BEARER.

GUMSHOE looks around and smirks.

GUMSHOE
(SARCASTIC) I love what you've 
done with the place...

END OF SKETCH

Edgy.

You see how versatile this is? We can do anything with it.

By this point, we'll be about seven minutes into the sketch show, and people will be getting complacent. So we mix things up.

INT. CHINA SHOP - DAY

GUMSHOE walks into a china shop. There is crockery everywhere. Jugs, bowls, saucers, vases. The OWNER is behind the counter.

GUMSHOE looks around and smirks.

GUMSHOE
(SARCASTIC) I love what you've 
done with the plates...

The OWNER accepts the compliment with good grace.

END OF SKETCH

Yes, we are also going to do one set in a fish and chip shop. You can probably figure out the punchline. (Clue: it features a certain type of fish. Plaice.)

We're winding down now. Only a couple more in this episode. You can have too much of a good thing.

INT. GUMSHOE'S HOUSE - DAY

Two neighbours carry GUMSHOE into his own house. There are GUMSHOE's possessions everywhere. Furniture, photographs, Blu-ray collection, cat. They gently help him to the SOFA.

GUMSHOE looks around and smirks.

GUMSHOE
(SARCASTIC) I love what you've 
done with the place...

The neighbours look at each other, concerned.

NEIGHBOUR 1
(TENTATIVE) We haven't done 
anything with the place. 
This is *your* house.

GUMSHOE looks around and smirks.

END OF SKETCH

We'll be about ten minutes into a twenty-eight minute episode at this point (this will be on the BBC). The gumshoe sketches will stop for the next eighteen minutes. People will think we've forgotten about them.

But we haven't forgotten about them.

After the credits have rolled, we'll have one final surprise:

INT. HOUSE OF MIRRORS - DAY

GUMSHOE stares at his dozen reflections. He looks around and smirks.

GUMSHOE
(SARCASTIC) I love what you've 
done with the place...

His smirk falters.

GUMSHOE
(TENTATIVE) I love what you... 
(BEAT) What ALL of you...


His eyes well up with tears.

GUMSHOE
What have you done?

GUMSHOE'S REFLECTION 1
Done to what?

GUMSHOE
To the place.

GUMSHOE'S REFLECTION 2
We've been working so hard on it.

GUMSHOE'S REFLECTION 3
Do you like it?

GUMSHOE gulps. A single tear rolls down his cheek.

GUMSHOE'S REFLECTION 4
Well? 

GUMSHOE'S REFLECTION 5
Do you like what we've 
done with the place?

GUMSHOE trembles, and then falls to his knees.

GUMSHOE
I...(BEAT) I LOVE it.

The reflections break into a kaleidoscope of smirks.

END OF SKETCH

END OF EPISODE

And that, my friend, is how you write a recurring sketch character.

A viral hit if ever I've seen one.

Now all I need is a sketch show.

And some lava.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

A Warm Welcome

"In the land of the blind, the idiot with the laser-pen has to do something else to get attention. He probably starts kicking people or whatever idk."

***

Welcome! Welcome, friend!

Please - let me take your coat and scarf. You must be weary. I've saved you a space by the fire. And to drink? Hot chocolate? Could I tempt you with some brandy? There will be time to discuss business later.

...

I've always been interested in people who live in the margins.

No. Sorry.

That's a typo.

I've always been interested in people who live in the margarine.

How to they breathe? What do they wear? What are their dreams, their hopes, their fears?

Someone should make a documentary about them.

Where do they go when their home is spread on toast? I've never seen even one of these people. How are they able to hide to thoroughly?

I've never even heard anyone reference them before. The people who live in the margarine must have connections in the political and media spheres, suppressing any mention of them in public discourse.

They must be flying under the radar.

You would think that there would be a whole range of 'margarine people' merchandise available. There's certainly a market for it. And yet, a cursory search for "T-shirt slogan - Living Large and In Marge" only brings up dozens of pornographic Simpsons cartoons.

We need someone to get under the lid, if you will, and find out what makes these people tick. Perhaps Jon Ronson would like to look into it.

Yes.

Yes.

Ah, the hot chocolate is ready. Also, some cocaine, if you'd like to...

No. How silly of me. Of course not.

Hmm. I'm still holding your scarf and coat. They're surprisingly heavy.

Geez. What have you got in these pockets?

Monday, 27 October 2014

Eggshell

I haven't dreamt a good joke for a while. And that pattern continued with this effort from a couple of nights ago:

Why do penguins huddle together?
Because there's safety in numb birds!

It technically makes sense, which is something. Dreams can be totally incoherent, but not here. Penguins might well be numb. It's cold in Antarctica.

But the punchline depends on "numb birds" sounding like "numbers". I don't think it's close enough.

Better luck next time, brain.

***

I think this month will break my record for the fewest blog posts in a calendar month. It's nice to know that, after all these years, I can still push boundaries. Even if the boundaries in question are the boundaries of inactivity. And it's not so much of a "push" as a "slump-against".

I've been slumping against boundaries for years. Sometimes I'll completely lose my footing and slide down the boundaries, scraping up my back something rotten.

Sometimes my head will loll against the boundaries at the end of a long day. Sometimes I'll smack my face against the boundaries whilst trying to take off my socks.

You have to test your limits. Otherwise, what's the point?

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Train of Thought

Good heavens, that's a long gap between blog posts.

In my defence (and defense, for that matter), I've been busy watching Werner Herzog films. That takes up a lot of time. I've also started to watch Twin Peaks for the first time, and have its incidental music in my head right now. I'm sane.

Oh, and I went to see Southampton beat Sunderland 8-0 on Saturday. That was rather bonkers.

I should write about those things in more detail, but I can barely bring myself to string even these few meagre sentences together. I'm out of writing practice (and practise, for that matter), and I don't want to pull a muscle.

So I'll just have a brisk walk around the block to stretch my writing-legs (fingers). What form should this walk take? It's nearly Halloween, so how about a spooooooky short story?

***

Vampire Train

The train was full of vampires. A vampire in every seat. In every window seat: a vampire. In every aisle seat: a vampire. In the overhead storage spaces: three dozen collapsed coffins. And a vampire. 

Vampires standing all the way up the aisle, blocking the refreshment trolley. Each vestibule chock-a-block. With vampires.

The train doors opened at Ealing Broadway. One vampire got off, and Naomi got on. 

Though she was a feminist (and a vampire), Naomi was half-hoping that there would be enough chivalry in the carriage for the occupants to make space for her. She hoped they'd squeeze out of her way. Maybe even offer her a seat.

But there was no room for chivalry. Not with all the vampires.

Naomi's seat reservation held no water, holy or otherwise. So she resigned herself to an hour of discomfort.

The conductor hadn't even tried to check tickets. 

"I'm not going out there," he'd said to a colleague. "It's packed tighter than a Welshman's leeksatchel."

The conductor's idioms were legendary.

In the vestibule, Naomi pressed her bosom against a safety poster to avoid the sharp collar-end poking her in the back of the neck.

"Sorry about this," said the collar-owner. "I've just had it starched."

Somewhere down the carriage, someone caused a commotion by opening a packet of cheese and onion crisps.

"Some people..." said the collar-owner, shaking his head and spearing the eyeball of the man next to him.

"That's IT!" shouted Naomi.

There was silence.

"I can't travel like this," she said. "Why don't we just all turn ourselves into bats?"

They assented, and all of the passengers enjoyed a peaceful, roomy rest-of-journey.

Everyone arrived at the convention centre as fresh as a daisy.

***

Chilling.

Utterly chilling.

I hope you weren't reading that alone at night.

Don't worry: it was only a story.

Or was it...

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Protection

I am anxious. I haven't even had any coffee this afternoon, and I'm still wincing like nobody's business. I need a wooden spoon to bite down on.

Still, I think I'm managing to look normal. I don't have to show anyone my broken teeth. That's why God made lips: nature's mouth-cloak.

It's all very hi-tech (highly technical), the human body. We have retractable shields protecting our most sensitive areas, which are consciously controlled. The eyeball has the eyelid, the mouth has the lips... oh. Those seem to be the only ones. I can't consciously close my nostrils or ear holes. I can't retract my genitals. Not completely, anyway.

Maybe the body is more lo-tech (Lopez technical) than I'd previously assumed. I wish I could curl up into an armoured ball like a woodlouse or armadillo. I'm too prone. I could make myself a giant ceramic egg, but it wouldn't fit into even my largest kiln.

I just put both hands over my face and sighed. If anyone saw me, they'd probably think I had something profound tattooed on my palms. There's too much of today still to go. I might take a break. I could go to the fountain and watch the ducks. You can't be anxious when you're looking at ducks. It's something about the way they walk. A stress-ball for the eyes, they are. And hands, if you squeeze them. And thighs, if you squeeze them with your thighs. All relaxing-like.

This is the worst Christmas ever. It's not even December.