My Thoughts Are a Gas; or, Guided by Voices song titles I wish to turn into enterprises

September 9, 2009 § 3 Comments

Everybody knows Guided by Voices, those titanic gods of indie rock. If not for their often wondrous, often peculiar, post-Beatles compositions, then for the prolificacy with which they wrote, recorded and released their songs: a quick scan on Wikipedia reveals that GBV released an album nearly every year since 1987; they even managed to release two albums in 1987 and 1996, both of which feature 24 tracks. It’s a common occurrence for GBV albums to feature over twenty songs – far more than the average amount of your typical record. Some of these songs are the most glorious slices of guitar pop ‘n roll that have ever graced the earth. Some of these songs are…err, less so. However, I’ve noticed that, despite the content of a few songs, the majority of them have the best titles ever. In fact, some of them would be suited as the names of TV shows, books, or maybe even charity fundraising events…Okay, mostly just TV shows.

My Valuable Hunting Knife (survival/nature series): Bear Grylls, blud, eat your heart out as I teach the viewing public how to survive in the wild with the use of one hunting knife. The knife will be represented as an anthropomorphic cartoon character that walks, talks, holds my hand and slaughters deer.

Third World Birdwatching (nature and social observation series): In which I travel to the Third World to document the mating and societal habits of the two varieties of birds found there: the animal lords of aviation and the human huneez. Oh yeah, baby, spread those wings…

Colour of My Blade (game show): This is one to keep for my senior years as a silver fox, to make money for my retirement. The aim of the game is to simply guess the colour of your opponent’s blade: if you get it right you get to stab them and win money, and if you get it wrong you get stabbed and don’t get any money. How much money? Oh, I dunno, like, 50 bucks? Most of the contestants will be crackheads. Hey kids, don’t play with knives unless you’re making big money on TV.

Everywhere With Helicopter (travel series): I was watching Cribs on MTV one day and an old Las Vegas crooner (I forget his name) said “How can you tell if a helicopter pilot is good? He’s alive”. Chew on that profound thought as you watch this show wherein I travel everywhere, in a helicopter. More anthropomorphism will be applied, this time to the helicopter, so it looks like I’m flying around in that chopper from Thomas the Tank Engine. Yes, with eyes in the windows! Like Michael Palin, in your ass, on acid.

Game of Pricks (dating game show): While it would be easy to centre this game show on something about willies, I won’t. Instead, the set up will be like Blind Date where a young woman will ask three unseen gentlemen questions to determine which of them isn’t a prick and then pick the most suitable one to go on a date with. If she chooses wisely, then she gets a lovely date. If not, she gets pumped in a restaurant bathroom and lumbered with the bill. Picture the horror of tuning in the following week to find out the details of the date rape. Life is full, full of surprises.

The Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory (daytime soap opera): Life can be pretty dramatic when you work for directory enquiries to royalty and your office is positioned high atop Goldheart Mountain. I doubt there will ever be another programme in which half (read: all) the deaths consist of falling off the side of a cliff after this.

Atom Eyes (science/romance novel): Nuclear physicists need love too sometimes. It would be like a Mills & Boon version of, I dunno, Watchmen or something; there could even be a scene of a couple of scientists making out in a room then getting atomised like Dr. Manhattan, before returning with super powers…

My Son Cool (cool-through-the-ages documentary): I imagine this as a series of documentaries similar to Children of Our Time, presented by Professor Robert “Groucho” Winston. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a series which follows a group of children, all born in 2000, to the age of 20 in order to build up an “accurate picture of how the genes and the environments of growing children interact to make a fully formed adult”. The aim of the documentary is to answer “Are we born or are we made?” My Son Cool would follow a similar path, but documenting something much more important: coolness – are we born cool, or do we acquire it?

Tractor Rape Chain – Not even my sharpest wit would get that show commissioned.

I could do hundreds of these (thousands, actually), but it would get boring after a while for both of us. How about you: which GBV song title would you like to take for your television programme/romance novel/scientific discovery/etc.? You know where to drop the ideas – the best ones will get stolen!

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Come Dine with Me, 1 June – 5 June 2009

June 12, 2009 § Leave a comment

I wish I had written about last week’s Come Dine with Me: it was the best week in the show’s history. It was probably the best I’ve seen in years since Nickelodeon did a seven day marathon of the first three seasons of Sabrina the Teenage Witch (they must’ve done something like that at some point).

The CDWM crew was in Dundee and St. Andrew’s to dine with two of the greatest characters the show has produced: English posh poof Adam and rough ‘n ready Dundee native…um…Oh, cock. I think his name was Donald, or Jim? Jim MacDonald? Nah, that’s not it…Clive? Chuffing hell, this’ll do my head in. Ah, sod it, we’ll call him ‘Bruce’, due to his hilarious claim that he is often told he looks like Bruce Willis. Anyway, yes, English posh poof Adam and rough ‘n ready Dundee native ‘Bruce’.

The friendship that sparked between them was utterly adorable. During the first evening, I surprised myself when I remembered that they didn’t actually know each other beforehand (Jimmy! His name is Jimmy! I just remembered that LOL!), because they clicked instantly. Their back and forth was fantastic, like when Jimmy/’Bruce’, in his thick Dundee brogue, asked Adam “Wur ye fae, ken?” Adam’s bewildered face was a picture as he spluttered on his wine and asked “What!? What are you talking about?” The banter between them was so natural that it warmed my heart. I was worried that Adam would turn out to be a snooty idiot and look down upon Oor Jimmy, so the fact that he befriended him so quickly was delightful.

The best night was Jimmy’s meal. His back garden was full of all sorts of junk, kids’ toys mixing comfortably with dumbbells and other weight lifting equipment, the entire thing either paved or covered in pebbles – I think he stayed in a not-so-tame area as well. Also, his daughter was bangin’. Then Adam showed up in white shorts and a Barbour jacket, shouting “Coo-ee!” at the front door, all inconspicuous, like Prince Edward at Mardi Gras. It was brilliant! He gave Jimmy a present as well: a big pair of silky boxer shorts. Jimmy reciprocated by giving Adam a present at his meal, but I can’t remember what it was; however, he did attend the party dressed in a kilt, so it may have been that. I felt a wee bit sorry for the other contestants, looking on with fake smiles as Adam and Jimmy passed presents between each other, and they got nothing. Laura and Francis even had to share the buggering prize money at the end when it was announced they drew.

As bizarre as it is to say, I was quite sad when the week was drawing to a close. The only thing preventing me from shedding a tear was my natural, stoic manliness. I didn’t want them to have to go, I wanted it to continue for another week, or at least a month, of just Jimmy and Adam hanging out and continuing to strengthen their friendship. One day, it could be Adam giving Jim Jiminy an etiquette lesson, and then the next, Jimmy could take Lord Toff down to his weekly five-a-sides. Adam shrieking his way out of the path of a football: Channel 4 missed a trick there. I watched the first episode of this week on Monday and was so crushed when I saw that none of the characters are half as great as Adam and Jimmy were. Four nondescript ladies who looked like increasingly bloated facsimiles of each other and a loud, camp air steward who seemed to keep trying to violate the women; I turned the TV off in disgust.

But I really feel like I know the pair of them so well now. Would it be too odd to do a pilgrimage up to Dundee and St. Andrew’s to see them both in their natural habitat? More of this please, Channel 4.

Coach Trip

June 11, 2009 § 3 Comments

I’ve been really please with the return of Coach Trip to Channel 4’s early evening line-up this summer. To be honest, I had completely forgotten about it until I saw the first episode of this third series. A warm wave of nostalgia done came all over me, filling my belly with that snug familiarity of things you’d previously forgotten and then suddenly remembered.

And Brendan’s still there, mincing among the group with his tour guide’s umbrella and dropping lines that would be worthy of Norris from Corrie – brilliant! You can’t write a character like him. I would bet that he doesn’t get paid anything from Channel 4 for appearing on this; he probably does it all out of his love for the job. Bless his bald bespectacled head.

Unfortunately, I don’t share as much enthusiasm for his passengers. Like Tracy, the fucking bitch. I hate more than I’ve hated any person who has appeared on a reality TV programme. She’s an absolute, joyless cow and I think I’ve only ever seen her force a smile once. She’s on a massive holiday around Europe for free, so why the chuffing cock does she spend her entire time with her face tripping her? Torn faced, I’ll give her a torn fucking face. It’s not like she was one of the Original 7: she only came in on Day 3, for fuck’s sake! And now she swans around like she owns the bus, rigging the voting system and throwing orders around. I’m compelled to violence every time her mug flashes up on the screen. I felt quite sorry for her man, being lumbered with her. I thought he was a decent, hard-working bloke and would be a bit of a laugh down the boozer. However, he’s clearly a weak-willed sod and under her thumb. There are some things I don’t have time for: fools, frigid bitches, and weak men. Keep your pimp hand strong, brother. Crush the regime of Tracy the Tyrant and free yourself. Although, I suspect he’s a sweetie wife without an original thought in his head.

As for all that Voting Alliance gubbins, it’s a load of primary school tosh. Honestly, what’s the purpose of it? Tracy may be a boot, but she’s a very fucking self-aware, sleekit boot. She must have known that without a safety net, she’d be slung off the coach at the first stop. Instead, she’s ruining other people’s trip experience so she can continue being an eternally tiresome wench. She’s wanting shot, she really is.

I also don’t have any time for William and Deanne, the couple of geekish, loser miserablists. Remember when the rest of the tour group was going on the flumes? And William was giving it “It doesn’t look safe… Have Health & Safety done a risk assessment on it?” What a fucking tosser. No, actually, Health & Safety haven’t done a risk assessment. In fact, the whole thing was knocked together in half an hour by an old fellow in a shed, forty years ago. I wish he had gone on it and it was broken and he had died, because they both bore the living shite out of me.

That old bugger who is on the trip with his mum, Daz: he can do one as well. I’m sick of his crying every time he has to select a couple to be nominated. “Boo-fucking-hoo, I hate doing this bit, it’s so hard!” The only difficulty you should have with voting folk off is trying to decide which pair of cunts you’re getting rid of that day. That would be my only problem – too many to pick from. So grow the fuck up, Daz! Your mother is 73, as you keep saying, and she’s got a bigger set of testicles than you.

Then there’s the Foursome of Fannies: those two American broads and the pair of idiots who try to feel them up all the time; and the middle-class mother/daughter duo who are always either trying to be everyone’s best friends or bawling their eyes out; and that new couple of Northern lesbian sisters who spent all of their first day in Venice moaning about wanting steak and chips and said that they felt like “leopards” when they were being left out… Alright, so I don’t like any of the passengers.

The last episode came to a head. Charlie and Caroline (that’s the emotionally unstable mum/daughter duo) were voted off in a dramatic bitch off with everyone’s true colours being displayed and lines drawn. It was brilliant. Old Betty started crying when it was announced and Daz brandished a finger at Tracy: “This is all her fault!” Fantastic. I predict Betty and Daz will be told to jog on next, followed by the Northern Munster sisters. Hopefully, Brendan will swoop in to rectify the unjust workings before any more holidays can be destroyed. I look on, eager and armed with popcorn.

Film adaptations.

March 23, 2009 § 1 Comment

Since the release of the Watchmen film, and the innumerable articles that have sprouted forth from it all over the internet and beyond, I’ve been thinking a lot about film adaptations of books, particularly the things that I dislike the most about them.

One of the points people keep making for Watchmen that I keep seeing is that it’s a faithful retelling of the comic, even to the extent where some scenes are shot almost panel-by-panel. And that really does not interest me in the slightest. In fact, it really puts me off seeing the film, as it generally puts me off seeing most film adaptations.

I know it’s probably a bit of an unpopular opinion, but I’m not interested in films retelling stories, I just want them to make good films. What I want from film adaptations is different stories, with different endings set in the same ‘world’, with the same characters. For example, I think the Harry Potter films really suck. Admittedly, they’ve got a bit better as they’ve went on, but only because of certain scenes and set pieces. I’ve had a far better time reading the stories and imagining everything in my mind, so what I don’t want to see is this scene-by-scene representation of a story I already know. It’s been said before and I’ll say it again: if I wanted that then I’d read the book.

I think telling a different story (obviously as approved by the original author or, if said author is dead, their estate) would also save any “ruining” of books*. I really didn’t want to turn this into a millionth Watchmen article, but I think if they made it with a different story (i.e. if it was about the early days of the Watchmen, when they were at the peak of their crime-fighting days and just as they were all outlawed) then I’d be more inclined to see it. I also think Alan Moore would (maybe, possibly, potentially) have been keener to approve of the film as well. It would’ve also given the studio the big action blockbuster that they were marketing for anyway.

Additionally, a different story could be less likely to confuse a new crowd who have only seen the film and encourage them to read the original book. Like, one of the problems with the Watchmen film that I heard newcomers to the story talk about was just how damn confusing the whole thing was and that entire events happened without much explanation, because they essentially made a $120million film for the nerdishly obsessive fans of a cult comic book who have spent years trying to penetrate the subtext.

Of course, you could say “What about The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen or Constantine? They were different from the original stories”, but both of those films were shit. It’s all about making a good movie.

End of presentation.

*Aside: I don’t think you can ever ruin a book. I mean, if you love a book so much, no matter how shitty the film is, the book will still be great when you read it and you’ll envision it the way you envisioned it before.