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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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.

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