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.


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.


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


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...