Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Genius Contingent

Eons ago, when myself and Lord Bunn were but students wasting our lives away and Geocities monopolised the free webspace industry, we ran a website. It wasn't a cool website, nor was it a particulary serious website, but we put alot of effort into it and nearly got it finished. It was called the Genius Contingent and was dedicated to the works of Steve Martin, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray and Chevy Chase. The idea was that we would review each and every movie made by these giants of comedic cinema in our own indomitable way - then leave the site and never update it again.


We got close. Almost. The first version went online around 1998 and it was last updated in 2002... by this time I had actually redesigned the whole site and made it smarter, funnier and more attractive, but I never got round to actually uploading the content and slowly, over time, the whole idea rotted away and the website was lost to the sands of time.

Until now. Lord Bunn has discovered, possibly to his and mine detriment, that the Genius Contingent is still alive and well and sitting on a foreign Geocities server somewhere. Well I'll be damned. And here it is, for all to see. Just make sure that when you read you should be imagining it to be smarter, funnier and more attractive than it actually is.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Rose Tinted TV

There were four shows that I particulary loved as a child, that I remember very well, but are now viewed as flops and are too obscure to be even be shown on Bravo. These three shows were also notable because when I got to university and began those oh-so-nostalgic "do you remember..." conversations no-one else had heard of them.

No-one else, that is, except the friends who would later form the Media Lounge with me. This was back in the early-internet days and so they couldn't be looked up and even confirmed as existing, let alone confirmed as being good. Now, through the genius that is YouTube, they can be shown in all their hallowed glory.

First up; Cop Rock - the musical version of Hill Street Blues. I adored this when I was about 8 years old, now I watch it and think that it's remarkable I didn't end up a fan of cabaret.



The second is Simon & Simon, a cop show featuring crime fighting brothers - one is smart and conservative, the other rough and ready. The opening titles below are the ones that I remember, hell me and my sister used to replicate the 'feet up while a car passenger' position as often as possible, but check out these credits too that are remarkable just for how much time they spent looking through binoculars. I wasn't even sure this show was even real until it was mentioned in an episode of South Park.



The third was Automan which was on at 5.15 on BBC1 on a Saturday afternoon. This was another show where I couldn't find anyone else who'd heard of it, until Tom from ML made a flippant Automan joke. In these YouTube days almost anything can be found in an instant, but you have no idea how satisfying it was to find another human to confirm my memories. I recently downloaded the first episode of Automan and watched the whole thing; boy does it suck ass hard.



Finally, there was Whizz Kids. A show featuring kids and computers waaaaaay before even Matthew Broderick narly caused World War Three... my principle memory of this is that the main star slept in his socks, something the 8 year old me found very strange indeed.



I'm not writing this post in a "wasn't kids TV brilliant?" kind of way, nor am I wallowing in nostalgia for the hell of it, and I'm not laughing at how bad it was either... I'm writing this because I find it genuinely incredible that I have a few brief memories of somethings I watched over 20 years ago, and with a few simple keystrokes I can see them all again. The internet is part of everyday life and we've grown accustomed to it mighty easily, but every now and then I'm just blown away by how much it's changed the world. Sure, being able to watch a few credit sequences is hardly changing the world, but I think back to how hard it was convincing myself that what I had seen was even real, and now I see that I have remembered them almost exactly.

Makes me wish I'd learnt French at that age, or maybe the piano, or anything else other than the gaining capacity to remember minute details of shit TV shows.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Octaganarian Profanity

A few weeks ago I was working night shoots on a movie that often had me getting home for around dawn. One morning as I was getting out the car, I noticed a milkfloat steadily climbing the hill that is my road. As I somewhat exhaustedly watched the elderly driver - easily in his early eighties I found myself with a sudden burst of nostalgia.

I realised that the milkfloat is rapidly decreasing sight in this day and age... I thought it wonderful that I could still catch one on the streets, and how it remembered them so vividly from my childhood. The driver had probably been doing this for decades, forced into a simple job when he reached the mandatory retirement age. I imagined him regarding his job as a vital service, as an honour and one that he would do until his dying day.

As a car came down the hill towards us he pulled into the space opposite my car, and smiled at me. I was suddenly overcome by that sensation that you sometimes get early in the morning; that you feel a part of a secret subculture that is hidden from the still sleeping world. That you are privy to a time when the city always looks the most beautiful, and at it's most peaceful, and is the quietest you've ever heard it. For a brief moment I was jealous of that old man.

The car ahead pulled into a space and parked up. The elderly milkman glanced my way, raised his eyebrows and revved the electric motor into a high pitched whine.

"Fucking cunt" he said to me angrily, "he could have told me he was fucking parking. Now it's going to take me fucking ages to get this bastard up the hill. What a cunt."

And with that he forced the milkfloat fowards and slowly it crawled up the hill. I blinked, and walked to my house. Just another day in Sheffield.

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This story reminds me of a monologue that Rob Newman once delivered on the Mary Whitehouse Experience. I can't remember it verbatim, but to paraphrase it went something like this:
"I was laying in bed with my girlfriend early one Sunday morning, unable to sleep. I was watching the dawn light streaming through the open window, and reflecting on the night before. We had had sex, but I had prematurely ejaculated and I was thinking of ways in which I could aplogise to her.

I wanted to explain that life was stressful, that I had money problems and it was a combination of many elements that had made me come early. It had nothing to do with her, she was beautiful and I loved her. As I considered my language I heard in the distance the sound of the rag and bone's man call.

"Raaag 'n' Booone."

His voice slowly came closer and I began to consider the man, how his call had evolved over many years from; "Does anyone have any rag and bone for me to collect" to his now near gutteral cry.

"Raaaaaaag 'n' boooooone."

As I thought about the slow development of his announcements, and my beautiful girlfriend who lay so blissfully in my arms, I rumicated over the two together. The old mans call and my own problems, his changing dialogue, and my intended apologetic language.

Soon my girlfriend stirred and blinked awake. She slowly took in her surroundings before turning to me and gazing, lovingly, into my eyes. I looked tenderly into hers and summoned my carefully planned words. Outside the window the rag and bone man began his mournful cry once more.

"Raaaaaaaaaaaaag 'n' boooooooooooone."

I stared deep into her eyes, took a deep breath and yelled "soooorry I caaame."

I love that joke.

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Been writing a few pieces for Watch With Mothers recently. Have a read if you have time:
Tesco Direct
The Peter Serafinowicz Show
ASDA Adverts
The X Factor

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Oh and I've joined Facebook. Everyone was right - it's really good and useful. That annoys me.

Monday, October 01, 2007

For Sale

Anyone for a signed Bentley Rhythm Ace hoody?


I'll do it cheap for anyone who reads this blog...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Everything Went Wrong / I am 30

The two aren't connected, although there is something strangely appropriate about the blogs all being granted a forced make-over at the same time I enter my 4th decade... not that I've done much to them, just a different template and some better organised links... still, it makes it look like I'm better at web design than I really am...

Not a terrific update this time around, I'm afraid. I'm too tired and too busy to come up with anything overtly hyperbolic at the moment. I've found recently that I have less and less time to do any writing, which is beginning to bother me. I've always been a firm believer in doing at least a couple of paragraphs a day - it keeps the mind supple and the abilities at an acceptable level - but recently it's become hard to devote time and conciousness to it. I hope it will change in the near future... in the mean time have a look at the balloon pictures on the newly rustified Day of the Dave.

Oh yeah, and I'm now 30. Life and association with sitcom characters begins here apparently.

This came from Paul Wolinski. www.decayofthedave.blogspot.com. Isn't he a sweety?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Save the Tinsley Towers



The campaign to Save the Tinsley Towers is still going strong. They have a brand new website with all the information on at www.tinsleytowers.com
and they also have this utterly incredible short animation about the towers. Watch it now, it's freaking brilliant and reminded me why I love this city. Tom and Tom have worked so hard and so passionately on this project for so long and I think what they are doing is great.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Walk Hard

Looks like a spoof oughta look...

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Letter to HSBC

This letter has been sent to Mark A Loker (Service Manager), Jim Large (General Manager UK Operations) and the Branch Manager HSBC Beeston.

Dear Sirs / Madam

Please find enclosed my original letter of complaint. I suggest you read it before continuing with this letter.

Before I go any further I wish to make it clear that I understand that the persons reading this letter are not directly responsible for the mistreatment I have received at the hands of HSBC. However, since the corporation is deemed, legally, to be a human being and you employees are the earthbound ambassadors I have no choice but to vent my frustrations at you directly. It’s not personal. I hope you understand this.

On the 12th July Mark A Loker sent me a reply to my initial letter promising a response to my complaints about the mismanagement of my account and what I thought were unfair bank charges. My original letter was not (repeat: NOT) concerned with the ongoing public debate about bank charges in general and was instead about a very specific incident. I have now waited over a month for my matter to be looked at and instead of the personal and detailed response I was expecting I received your standard letter (dated the 10th August) regarding the ongoing court case involving the OFT and the accusation of bank charge mishandlings. In this letter you state that no open complaints involving bank charges will be attended to until the general court case is settled.

The level of anger and frustration I feel at your response is so great that I am struggling to keep my language under control. It’s so great, in fact, that I am struggling not to immediately close down my account with HSBC and refuse to pay any loan payments or overdraft fees back just so I get a human, real response from you. Talking to HSBC is like shouting at a brick wall. Trying to raise a legitimate issue with you is akin to whispering at the bottom of a mountain and hoping, just hoping, that my voice may be lucky enough to be carried to the top. It never is. It never never never is. All I get for my troubles, for the ‘loyalty’ that you seem to crave so desperately, is the written equivalent of the middle finger – fobbing me off and letting my complaints drown amongst the voices of a million other dissatisfied customers.

My complaint was a simple one. I felt that you had unfairly managed my account and that there had been, somewhere along the line, either a human or computer error. All my complaint required was for one person – assumedly the manager of my branch to whom my letter was originally addressed – to assess the situation and make a decision. Easy. Really easy. I laid all the information out for you, I coherently described my situation and I respectfully asked for a swift response. Instead I got an empty letter promising to do something, a questionnaire asking about my loyalty to your organisation and now a letter which dismisses me with one fell swoop.

Is this how HSBC practices their business? Is this an example of being the Worlds Local BankTM? Is this how you hope to ensure my dedication to your corporation? If the answer is yes to any of those then you have severely misunderstood the needs of the banking public. All I ever wanted was to be treated like a human being (again, something you were very interested in finding out about in your beloved questionnaire) and have my complaint looked at by another human being who could make a decision. Instead I find myself wasting time writing to you AGAIN instead of the myriad of other things – IE my job – that I should be getting on with.

While I am sure it is wonderful being one of the worlds richest institutions, with your political connections, bottomless cash supply and army of lawyers, I assure that it is not so much fun on the receiving end. My issue was over a £150 bank charge – not exactly a lot of money to you but a quarter of a monthly wage to me – and instead of dealing with my complaint in an adult and responsible manner you have elected to simply throw me on a pile and forget about me for as long as possible. If you think I’m going to wait while you drag this through the courts – delaying, amending, correcting and filing for a couple of years and then hoping that I’ll forget about it then you are grossly mistaken.

(On a side note, I hadn’t planned on pursuing my bank charges from the last 5 years – but after this insulting example of mistreatment you can be damned sure that I’m going to do my best to get every penny you ever took back).

I shall end this letter with a plea. I want the three people who will receive it to look at the following paragraph very, very carefully and drag up as many memories of what it is like to be poor and pissed off as possible. I want you to forget that I am just another number, just another ranting annoyed customer and instead look into your hearts and empathise with what it is like to be trying so hard to make your way through life and be countered at every turn by a giant, unfeeling company.

LISTEN TO ME!!!!!!!!

I expect a response to this letter – either written or by a phone call – within the next ten days. Do not send another dismissive, meaningless reply full of empty promises and legal excuses. Instead, please try to actually deal with the issue before you and try, just try, to satisfy my complaint. It would be a first.

Yours with thanks


David Holloway