Category: Stray Thoughts (Page 2 of 3)

You’re The Stray Thoughts That I Want

  1. Much to my amusement, I remember this from comics I read when I was younger. At the time, I wanted to send off for the whole thing, but now… well, not so much.
  2. What’s that you say? Aside from startlingly regular updates to my blog, what am I writing at the moment? Well, I appreciate your interest, and since you asked, I’m currently working on a radio play, my second novel (slowly, granted), a one-off TV update of my favourite play (clue: big nose), and a ‘spec script’ for Frasier which is nothing of the sort given that the show’s been off the air for years, but is designed to show me using other people’s characters. And I have a couple of ideas for one-off film type things, which will probably have to wait until I can get people sufficiently interested in my ideas that they want to throw money my way. I mean, come on, I’ve got to be realistic here…
  3. You may have seen Ricky Gervais advertising his new tour on TV. Obviously expensive to buy prime time advert slots, which goes some way to explaining why the script appears to have had minimal attention paid to it. Woefully unfunny, in my opinion, and several months too late to be at all topical, but they do have the taste of the end drawing nigh, to my mind. Gervais, like everyone else, was terrific in The Office, but if you look at that show in the sequence of his career (The 11 O’Clock Show, his chat show, THEN The Office and Extras), then it looks more and more like an aberration, that the stuff since then is a return to his natural form, and that the limited material in that seam has been all but mined. He has the look of a man who’s painfully aware that his best work may well be behind him – which must be a terrible thing to suspect, but he does seem too content to hide behind irony whilst effectively trotting out the same old jokes at the expense of minorities and the disabled and the like. Still, with Bernard Manning now dead, Gervais has a clear run. Run, Ricky, Run!
  4. I’ve booked to have laser surgery on my eyes in a month or so, and no doubt that will have two side-effects; firstly, that I may go quiet for a few days while my eyes recover, and secondly, that I’ll probably go on and on and on about it, almost as much as I did about the Marathon. Consider this fair warning.
  5. Joss Whedon, like Alan Ball, Aaron Sorkin and a number of other folks, knows about writing. And when he wants to, he can write more than just quippy plots – see here for an example. All good points, I think.
  6. Concluding this linkfrenzy of a post, look at the Bat-Pod!

Girls Who Love Boys Who Do Boys Who Think Stray Thoughts

1. Given their output and its success, it occurs to me that the TV production company Kudos might well be the modern equivalent of ITC. Whaddaya think?

2. Bored? Then why not recite the opening chant of Toni Basil’s ‘Mickey’over the start of Avril Lavigne’s new single ‘Girlfriend’? I think you’ll find it a perfect match, though I’m not necessarily saying it’s an ideal use of your time.

3. Very frighteningly, the Home Secretary has warned that the UK could be subject to an electrical attack from terrorists. No more details appeared to be forthcoming, but as the reference was made in a speech in which he justified the budget for the Home Office, I’m sure it was honest and true and not just scaremongering. In fact, thinking about it, I distinctly recall watching a documentary about just such an attack being launched on London,which gave more detail about the mechanics of an electrical attack than the Home Secretary. The documentary, I seem to recall, was called Goldeneye.

4. Quite a lot of reviews of the new series of Peep Show (currently running on Channel 4) have referred to it being tainted by the advertisements which the stars did for Apple computers. I’ve seen a couple of billboard posters for these, but as they have a web address at the bottom, and I’m not willing to actually do the advertisers’ work for them, I haven’t seen any of the ads. And nor am I interested in seeing them (though I gather they run as cinema adverts as well, but generally I try to avoid adverts as much as possible). Consequently, my viewing of Peep Show (which I like a lot) is unaffected by knowledge of the cast’s work in adverts. A little knowledge is indeed a dangerous thing, it seems, or at least a fun-spoiling thing. And incidentally, I didn’t see as much scorn poured on Olivia ‘Sophie in Peep Show’ Colman for her role in the AA adverts a couple of years ago… but perhaps some kind of chivalry is at work here? How gallant.

5. I’m sure many of you want to audition to be a new member of the PussycatDolls. Well, here is the form for you to enter the reality show to do so. Good luck in becoming a member of their poledanci- er, I mean burlesque group.

6. The Columbine shootings, of course, were the fault of Marilyn Manson. The film Old Boy was to blame for the Virginia Tech killings, apparently. Certainly easier to blame music and film for it, rather than face the more complicated possibility that lax gun control and a diminished sense of community and social responsibility might be involved. And here, Christopher Hitchens shows a restraint and objectivity about the event which is as welcome to me as it is absent from the general reporting and reaction. A terrible thing to have happened, but it is not made any better by thinking at anything less than our highest level of intelligence about it. Indeed, that’s just the sort of thinking which is needed to prevent it happening again.

7. And of course the UK entry for the Eurovision Song Contest this year won’t win. The song by Scooch is such a cynically deliberate attempt to play up the camp cheesiness which has become ‘ironically’ associated with Eurovision in recent years, it deserves to get slated, or better ignored.Particularly since last year’s winner was so utterly unlikely (and, let’s be fair, did rock a fair bit), and unlike a typical Eurovision song. Pah. It’s Jemini all over again, isn’t it ?

Stray Thoughts I Taw A Puddy Tat

  1. Rather alarmingly, I heard someone on TV the other day saying she was a ‘would-be WAG’ (that’s Wife and Girlfriend, for those of you who – rightly enough – don’t want to start using journalistese in conversation). So her aim in life was to be the wife or girlfriend (I can see why that acronym’s never caught on), presumably of a footballer or someone in a similar financial position to give her money to spend on clothes and shoes and so on. I say that this is alarming because … well, surely it isn’t a good thing that people are actively planning to be a hanger-on to someone else this way? Is this any kind of goal to have? It sounds much more like a Plan B (well, one would hope Z, really), to resort to only once you’ve actually made an effort to achieve something with your life in your own right, as opposed to just going “ah well, I’ll let someone else give me money in exchange for…” well, exactly. It’s the thin end of a wedge which makes me distinctly uncomfortable.
  2. Recent experiences have suggested to me that Myspace and the like can become horribly incestuous ‘environments’, and in some cases can become a bit too much like a substitute for a phone call or a meet-up with a cup of tea. Oh, I’m not kidding, some people can get seriously daft about it all. And this chap appears to have reached a similar conclusion, really…
  3. Really enjoyed the mixing on DJ Food’s “Raiding The 20th Century”, which is an hour-long music mix containing some frankly unlikely merging of well-known tracks, linked by commentary from Paul Morley (who coined the title in the early 80s as a project for he and Trevor Horn to work on – sadly, it never came to anything). But it’s a fascinating item, especially the Nirvana-Destiny’s Child mash-up (as I believe the young people call such a thing). You can find it at a variety of places on the interweb to download as an mp3 – here’s where I downloaded it, though a quick Google will show you other places. I strongly recommend that you give it a listen – it’s fun, but also feels a bit like a historical document…
  4. Oh look, the first letter of the preceding paragraphs gives us the three Rs – who said that my blog wasn’t educational?

Stray Thoughts, eh ? What are ya, some kinda wise guy?

1. If I told you – and I honestly could – that I’d recently found myself typing the word ‘thoguth’ a lot, you could reasonably think that I was working on a short story set in H.P.Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos. The truth is more mundane; my hands appear to have forgotten how to type the word ‘thought’.

2. I’m not proud of it in any way, but I have become almost addicted to watching trash like X-Factor and American Idol. Like many people, I’m not interested in the final outcome, as I don’t need any more cabaret-level cover-singing six-months-and-then-gone singers in my life (Sneddon, Parks, Ward, and so on). What I do need more of, though, is the insane and untalented ones, where the people seem to be powered solely by delusion and uncritical family support. Oh, and the dignity-free folks who beg for a chance when they have all the singing ability of a slightly wet flannel. That, my friends, is what I like to see… which sits, I know, very badly with my wish for people to be vetted for talent BEFORE they make it onto the screen. However, I think the comedy value of it may be the exceptional factor (see what I did there?) here.

3. This suggests a remake where the point’s once again being well and truly missed, rather like the recent abortive Coupling USA-stylee, and even moreso the two tries in the USA to remake Fawlty Towers, one of which removed the character of Basil. No, seriously.

4. It’s just over a week to Valentine’s Day, so if there’s someone you’d like to send something to, this is a good time to start thinking about it. You could, of course, wait until the morning of the day itself, and then run round like an anniversary-forgetting-husband in a 1970s sitcom, but unless you’re actually going to have music and a laugh track accompanying your actions, it’s probably not such a good idea.

5. The link will follow soon so you can sponsor me, but just to confirm for those of you who’ve asked, yes, I am in training for the Marathon. I’ve eschewed Diet Coke since the start of the year, and I’ll be giving up chocolate, in all its forms, for Lent. Not for religious reasons, but simply calorific ones. Granted, giving it up may well lead me to be found shaking and cold-sweating in an alley, but I think my waistline and my running feet will thank me for it, even if my serotonin levels do drop in a scary way.

6. Sherlock Soanes Dept: whilst I didn’t blog about it at the time as I only intermittently put comic stuff here, I can honestly say that, in relation to DC Comics’ 52, I guessed who Supernova was a couple of weeks after he was first introduced. No, really, hand on heart I did – in the same way that I guessed Judge Dredd was The Dead Man back in 1989 or so. Mind you, I didn’t guess who was behind it all in Watchmen, so maybe my comic detection powers only apply to weekly publications.

Welcome to Stray Thoughts (Population 51,201)

1. Yes, it’s been a while. And many of you will already know the sort of things I’ve been up to in that while – and thanks for the kind words. It’s good, and me like.

2. Not a fan of the death penalty, so haven’t been joining in with the frankly unseemly hand-rubbing and grins of glee about Saddam Hussein being executed. And I think that the recent ‘outcry’ about how he was mocked as he was led to the gallows is just weaselling by politicians who were involved in the whole thing and may be experiencing a twinge of conscience. Maybe it’s just me, but if I knew I was about to be killed, someone calling me nasty names would be a side issue.

3. And let’s remember, the avowed reason for Gulf War 2 was because Saddam allegedly had ‘weapons of mass destruction’, not because he was a brutal leader and killed people and so on. It was because he had bombs… which he didn’t. I know history will probably be rewritten to suggest it was all about liberating Iraq, but that wasn’t the premise given, and let’s try to bear that in mind, eh ?

4. Do any of you know much about rugby? If so, and you’re willing for look at some digital photos, please drop me a line at , as I have a signed England rugby shirt which a friend won in a raffle, but we can’t identify the signatures. Ta.

5. The usual paucity of Christmas television, as far as I’m concerned; The specials of The Thick Of It and Doctor Who didn’t really capture my attention, though I did enjoy the Vicar of Dibley finale(s). Not cutting edge by any stretch of the imagination, and overly reliant on Dawn French’s likeability, but pleasant and amusing enough.

6. This may well be one of the greatest items I’ve ever seen. What a fab idea.

Give Stray Thoughts What They Want, And No-One Gets Hurt

1. Backnowyes, long time nopost, but verybusyvery oh yes. Don’t hurtbe, sometime things be thatway.

2. My current pet peeve; people who approach me in the street and ask for money – specifically, a particular amount (recently 20p, 40p and 50p, though not in that ascending order). The main thing that annoys me about this is that the approachers have mastered the art of looking sincere and bewildered as if they’re about to ask for directions, so I take my earphone out and ask if I can help, only to be asked for money. I’m always hmm on being asked for money this way anyway, but when I wear earphones to block out extraneous and nonsensical noise and then have it interrupted by specifically the kind of thing I’ve put the earphones in to counter… well, grr.

3. Okay, this seems to have some kind of pseudo-commercial element to it, but I rather like it – can’t explain why, but there’s something rather joyously silly about it. Just ignore the final captions, and the unpleasant interruption of commercial considerations.

4. Meanwhile, do give your money to these good folks, who are releasing DVDs of live comedy. Their first one is from Stewart Lee, and is a bit of a barg (I know, cos I’ve got mine already). Support the independents, and stick it to the man. Yeah!

5. While in Paris the other week, I went to the Buddha Bar. That’s right, look impressed. Yes, I went to this much-vaunted drinking place, where a huge statue of Buddha towers over the dining area, and where the bar is full of candlelit secluded corners which have played host to Johnny Depp, Cameron Diaz, and many other people you’ve heard of (as well as many you haven’t). It’s cloaked in shadow, with only the odd neon light from the bar and flickering flame from a candle or tealight casting any illumination. All of which is my characteristically long-winded way of saying yes, I bumped into a bar stool in the dark, and sent it flying. Smooth.

6. In answer to your several e-mails, no, I have not seen Casino Royale yet. But I intend to, and depending on what I think of the film, I’ll probably post a review of it here.

7. Started Xmas shopping yet? No, nor have I. But I was on Bond Street on Thursday Evening, where it transpires Thandie Newton was switching on the lights, and I had no idea. Curses!

I can’t imagine a world without Stray Thoughts

1. Now, from my deep and thorough political research (that is, watching ‘Team America: World Police’). I’m aware that Kim Jong-Il is a decidedly odd fish, and not really the sort of chap that one wants to have access to nuclear capability. However, given that Iraq is so obviously the new Vietnam, does it really show any sense of learning from history for the USA to be making noises about military action in Korea ?

2. I’ve been quite enjoying ‘That Mitchell and Webb Look’ on BBC2. One of the refreshing things is that it’s a show which has different sketches each week, and fewer recurring characters than is currently popular. Shows like Little Britain, Catherine Tate, and Swinging tend to remind me of the oriental proverb that one should ‘be wary of the artisan who claims to have twenty years experience – he may simply have one year of experience, twenty times over’. In the same way, these catchphrase-based shows feel like one 30-minute programme rehashed six times.

3. It’s not too late to donate/sponsor for my recent weekend of torturing my feet – you can see the glass walk picture on my previous blog entry at, and the timings for the 10 mile run are at (I’m very low down at 119th, but in my defence I got held up on the tube and ended up starting 15 mins or so after everyone else). Impressed by it all ? Great, grab a credit or debit card and get thee to – and thanks.

4. There’s a Prince song (‘New Power Generation’, if memory serves), which features a line to the effect of ‘I hope they bury your old ideas/The same time they bury you’). Over the weekend, a good friend of mine told me that my secondary school ( is to be knocked down and rebuilt, and in relation to that I would heartily echo the purple man’s words. Some people might want to go back and say farewell to the place, but for my part I’d cheerfully volunteer to drive one of the bulldozers. But I’m not entirely unsentimental about it; I’d make sure they got the kids out first.

5. Am I the only one who thinks that people are currently a tad too ready to resort to threats of violence when someone says something they don’t like or disagree with? People of various religious shades seem all too ready to threaten (or worse, carry out) violent acts, often when someone’s done something like …er, suggest that their religious advocates violence or intolerance. The irony is almost overwhelming, but that seems to be missed. I can only hope that atheists don’t decide to take offence in a similarly touchy fashion, and start burning down all places of worship, or picketing religious events. Though atheists don’t tend to do that sort of thing, do they? Probably for the best.

6. On occasion, I wonder if the Krankies’ stage act is just a bedroom game which got horribly out of hand.

7. In London, there are currently two free evening newspapers, and the distributors positively clog the pavements. One of them, the recently renamed London Lite, is owned by the folks who own the Evening Standard and the Daily Mail, and the newcomer, the no-capitals-no-spacedly-named thelondonpaper is, I think, owned by News International. It’s quite a heated thing, I gather, though given that the papers are free (and, like the Metro in the morning, essentially padding and piffle), I think they’d be daft to think that commuters are in any way going to develop any sort of loyalty to either title. However, since the ‘circulation war’ will have a loser, and it’ll either be Associated Newspapers or News International, I like to think that whoever loses, the world at large wins in a way.

Stray Thoughts, as Stray as the wind blows

1. This Easter, despite being a godless infidel heathen, I received eight large chocolate bars, two smaller bars, and an Easter egg. Is it any wonder that I was recently asked if I’d gained weight? I love my friends and family dearly, but they’re being staggeringly literal in the way they’re going about ensuring that they see more of me.

2. I don’t normally watch soap operas, but have seen some whilst staying at my parents’ house over Easter, and can’t help but note that the dialogue in Coronation Street appears to be much better than in Emmerdale or EastEnders. By ‘better’, I particularly mean ‘at least half-similar to the way people actually speak’, as EastEnders is notable in how much fun the script writers and actors are clearly having with the lines, but is equally notable in how little it actually resembles real speech.

3. Free DVD alert: if you haven’t already seen it, Morgan Spurlock’s certainly-worth-a-watch ‘Supersize Me’ is free with The Guardian next Saturday.

These Stray Thoughts walk into a pub, and …

  1. I recently finished reading the fifth book in Stephen King’s epic (and it well deserves that description; decades in the writing, and huge in scale) Dark Tower series. I enjoyed it, and some of the ideas in it are staggeringly imaginative, but … well, the thing is, King’s style has changed so much in the last decade or so that the last couple of DT books almost feel as if they could have been written by someone else. I’d hate to think that might be the case, and in fact I suspect it’s because I haven’t read many of SK’s books in the last seven years or so. The chances are high that his writing genuinely has become more elegant and impressive, and that I just haven’t seen the various stages of that evolution. Certainly hope that’s the case, as the DT series deserves to be seen as a classic of imaginative fiction, though as it’s fantasy, I’ll wager it’ll be ignored or overlooked on a critical and academic level.
  2. On the tube last night, there was an attractive woman; her facial appearance was a kind of mix of Joanne Whalley and Katie Holmes, though with a darker skin hue which suggested a foreign origin, and she was casually but stylishly dressed. But then she ruined all this by producing, and then starting to read, a celebrity gossip magazine. Tch.
  3. It suddenly occurred to me the other day that I lived in the South of England for 10 years, then the North for 12 years (off and on), and now I’m back in the South again. And I have to say that until I moved to the North, I was utterly unaware of the North-South divide in the way that it’s often perceived – after I moved to Sheffield, people were often keen to point out my southern origins to me, and a girlfriend’s father even made some remark to the effect of my family moving North to be richer, or to exploit some economic benefit, or similar nonsense. And it was often portrayed as if the South of England spends all its time thinking of ways to plot the demise of the North, and to find more ways to move everything to London. Not only is this simply not true, but the – equally unappealing – fact of the matter is that many people in the South of England don’t even think about the North; they’re utterly oblivious to it in terms of their everyday thinking. Whereas a startling number of people I met in Sheffield were actively anti-South almost as if it was a matter of personal pride. All very odd.
  4. I like Toblerone, but it’s one of those chocolate brands that I never think of in ‘everyday’ terms – it’s either offered at half price when I buy a magazine, or I’m buying it at an airport to get rid of local currency. It’s an international brand, and it’s been around for as long as I can remember, but it somehow always seems to be on the fringes of the chocolate market, for reasons I can’t adequately explain.

The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of Stray Thoughts

1. Unless I’m missing the point quite dramatically, the aim of trailers at the cinema is to make you want to see the film, yes ? Taking that as the case, then I can’t see many people (and certainly not me) racing to see the film ‘Basic Instinct 2’ on the basis of the trailer, which makes it look like a re-made for British TV version of the original film, and appears about as ill-advised as ‘American Psycho 2’ (I’m not making that one up, it does exist). If ‘Basic Instinct’ had anything going for it, I’d guess it was the high-sheen production, the twisty Eszterhaus script, and Verhoeven’s directing, as well as the sheen of the setting and the leads (Michael Douglas’s pullover aside). But this latest film looks … well, it looks rather on the dull side, at best, and the sequel element of it looks marginal; only one member of the original cast, it seems, plus a different writer (writing team, no less), and director, making it more like (to give two examples) ‘Grease 2’ than ‘Blade 2’. And as a friend of mine pointed out, the poster of Sharon Stone sitting backwards on a chair has the unfortunate effect of looking rather as if she’s got some kind of down-pointing metal male genitalia. Which is different from the original film, I guess, but still…

2. The present government is currently facing criticism for allegedly taking ‘loans’ from people who later received honours. Leaving aside the fact that this may not be against parliamentary rules but is obviously not in line with the spirit of those rules, I guess I can partly see why the present administration aren’t really seeming too ruffled; when you’ve managed to get re-elected after going to war against a foreign power without any proper justification, you probably feel that you can get away with pretty much anything.

3. Had an interesting experience recently when I suddenly had cause to think ‘what if I died tomorrow? What would I want to have resolved before then?’, and this led to a phone call to someone I’d become distanced from. I’d recommend mulling over things in this light occasionally, as you may find – as I have – that you can recover or repair something you may have lost for a bad reason.

4. At my recent birthday gathering, I was touched not only by the turnout and the generosity of my friends in terms of presents, but also by the fact that the vast majority of them used the word ‘mountainporn’ in relation to pictures of mountains and the like. Warmed the heart of my cockles, it truly did.

5. Speaking of such things, it’s Mother’s Day on Sunday. You still have a few days to get something and look like a good son/daughter/non-gender-specific child. Just trying to help out here.

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