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Tuesday, January 19

The Daily Grind

A friend of me was complaining about his job. He said that from day one they just had him making the coffee, which he could understand them doing when he was new, but even after a few weeks, that all they'd let him do. Make the coffee. He said he found himself dreading going in for, as he put it "the daily grind". I said, "If you don't want to be the coffee boy, then perhaps you'd better quit your job, at Starbucks".

This, my friends, is how to write a joke whose punchline you can seem coming a mile off. I resolve not to write jokes like that whenever I can avoid it. Merci.

I think I'd like to have a catchphrase and I think "Merci" is a good catchprase to have. Unlike Roy Walker, whose catchphrase, for me, was basically "Caaatchphrase". That's rubbish. The new Doctor Who has a catchphrase of "Geronimo!" which, I fervently hope, will be temporary. I don't think you need a catchphrase if you're The Doctor. Admittedly David Tennant had a few phrases he said a lot, though of them my favourite was just "What!?", which is a great word, especially with its punctuation mark at the end - the "!?". As I noticed in a book I was reading recently, that punctuation can also be provided with a single character called the "interrobang". "Interro" must come from the questioning aspect of "interrogation" and "bang" is the publishing term for an exclamation mark. But there's no interrobang on my keyboard. Really!? Yes. Really.

It amused me when I suggested that an interrogation had a questioning aspect of it. It makes it sound a bit like a survey - a survey with a threat. This is different from the normal surveys you get asked to participate in, where, if you're lucky, they'll give you a pen. If you don't answer the questions, they don't threaten you, or even come around to your house and take a pen. So interrogation is not a lot like market research. I'm glad we've got that sorted out.

I did a day's work today. At some point. My day's work involved trying to put some plans together. I was due a meeting with my temporary new boss, my new temporary boss, or my new boss, temporarily. Either way, the meeting didn't happen, so I had more time to do the planning, which basically involved getting everyone into a room and filling in a spreadsheet until we were bored... then a bit beyond that. Then swiftly we drew our plans against stuff. That's a bit War of the Worlds like... which is nothing like what we did. How cool would it be in meetings, though, if, when you got to a critical moment, a massive string section went "Dum dum derrrr"?

It ain't gonna happen.

I've noticed that a number of my typographical errors actually come out reading like mishearings. In other words, I might try to write "went" and write "when" instead. This suggests to me that my fingers have ears and are simply mishearing the internal monologue that rattles through my brain and onto the screen as I yatter away.

I am yattering, aren't I? This is the mental equivalent of the dog in my mind shagging the leg in yours. Don't worry. I know what happened. I had a bit too much coffee and now I can't stop blethering. In many ways I should channel this into the comedy extravaganza that I plan to write, but somehow plain old beligerance or laziness or just inertia seems to be stopping me.

I'll go for a shower in a minute.

It's been a good evening. I read some of my book - a Richard Wiseman one no less - and had a meal, and some nice coffees, and I also wrote a pitch for a radio drama. If that radio drama ever sees the light of day I'll be surprised. It is amazing, though, what happens in the name of displacement activity. I'm perfectly capable of writing my stand-up show, but I choose, instead, to pitch a radio drama on a whim using vital creative time for no apparent reason.

There's always a reason. Optimism breeds good feelings. Smiling makes you think you're happy. Life is better when you say yes. These appear to be platitudes, but actually there's scientific research behind them. Curiously enough, I think I've intuited a lot of these things over the years and I think this blog is a way of me focusing my mind on some of the things which make me who I am. I can't guarantee to find the time to update the blog beyond this trip, but I'm enjoying writing it right now, so all effort is good.

What other things can I tell you?

I could tell you that the 200 HUF notes that I kept carefully on my desk, planning to use next time I came here have been replaced by a coin. They are no longer acceptable money. Ooopsy do. This means that I have 600 HUF that is unusable. What ever will I do. £2 of my own money that is useless. I bet the charity people at the airport will know what to do with it, and so it will land in their bin. Let it be their problem.

I wonder if the charities of the world are the modern day wombles? I say that as though wombles existed, but in the past, when, of course, we all know that wombles never existed (on this planet) - they're a myth, a legend, a glint in the eye of every human... I'm drifting. Anyway, the charity shops, right? They're where we take a whole bunch of stuff that's so shit we don't want it, but not quite in a condition where we can justify throwing it away. It's seldom that we take something that's in pristine condition and worth some money. That would go, in the modern world at least, on eBay. Charity shops probably have to throw away and recycle a whole bunch of stuff and they probably go through a thought process like this "the idiot should have chucked this out... but no... they insisted on boxing it carefully, carrying it here from their car or bus or whatnot, and then getting us to chuck it out for them... while they go away feeling like they're doing us a sodding favour". Maybe I should have made my radio drama about a charity shop worker who goes mental and starts returning all the useless items they were donated to all the people who even bothered to fill out a gift-aid form to somehow capitalise a bit more on the useless tat that they were trying to expunge from their bloated lives.

Don't worry, this criticism is largely directed at my own pseudo-middle-class-angst, since I gave quite a lot of boxes of shite to charity shops recently as a result of the combination of a house-move and the realisation that I own way too much useless crap.

Still, one man's meat is another man's poison. Just as one man's fish is another man's poisson.

It's strange how good fortune lands in your lap. In the link above, there's actually quite a usable joke for the show I'm still not in the process of actually writing gags for. It's all stirring in my mental stirry pot thingy, though.

Incensed by a recent spate of "pay to play" comedy nights and new acts competitions, I posted a rather splendid format for one online this evening. As this article is both a component of and a compendium of the things I've done to avoid the real work this evening, you may as well have a look. In fact I'll post the idea here:

It's called "100 to 1"

It goes like this. We get 100 acts. Each of them pays £1 admission. The venue seats 50, so acts are allowed to (but don't have to) bring, on average, half a guest each. We also have a normal audience of the general public to fill any remaining seats.

Each audience member is paid £1.

The show starts at 4.30pm without the audience. At any time, 49 of the performers are outside the venue, 50 are in the seats, watching, and 1 is on stage. At the end of each act, which is 2 minutes long, the comedians in the seats are asked to give marks out of 49 for what they just saw. These are kept by the organisers.

After all 100 acts have been on, everyone goes outside, where there's room, and the votes are announced. Of the initial 100, only 20 are allowed into the evening show, which starts at 9.15pm They are the ones who received the most marks. Everyone else is allowed to go home, or they can choose to be paid £1 and sit in the audience seats, but only if they promise to stay to the end.

The remaining 20 acts are then put on the stage in pairs. The pair has 4 minutes. Each has to tell a single joke from their set and then let the other person have a go, back and forth for 4 minutes. At the end of 4 minutes, the audience points to the one they prefer and that person goes through to the next round.

After 10 rounds, we are down to 10 acts.

Then there are 5 rounds, taking us down to 5 acts.

At this stage, each of the 5 acts is allowed a 3 minute solo set.

Then every comedian comes on stage in front of the remainder of the audience, who should have stayed to the end or they would have had to return the £1 they were each paid. The audience have a clap off for the act they liked the most, who finishes the night by doing a further 25 minutes of whatever they like.

The winning act gets the remaining £50 along with any money returned by early-leavers.

The show doesn't have an on-stage MC, instead, there's an off-stage mic and the promoter just tells everyone what to do.

If there's anything that would make the gig worse, I can't really think of it. I hate comedy competitions. They make a mockery of that which is funny. Although something standing on stage can feel like a competition to win the hearts of the audience, it's one on one. I, the act, need to win you, the audience, over. As simple as that. I don't need to prove someone else either better or worse than me into the bargain.

It was illuminating, but strangely irrelevant, to read Steve Martin's autobiography, which I did in one session last night. It's good to know that he wandered aimlessly in obscurity for years; I can relate to that. It's also good to see how he learned his craft through doing it over and over and over, which I think is important. I can even spot how some of what I think is funny is slightly influenced by the video of his which I saw as a late teenager (him in his hey day in front of a massive stadium-sized crowd).

However, the sheer pain underneath his soul is nothing like what I feel. I'm quite jaunty really... though there's got to be something wrong with me to make me enjoy playing with the world at an awkward angle, which is all comedy is... in its simplest form. That and showing off.

Distraction comes in the form of this:


I'm out.

Monday, January 18

Unblocking The Blockage

No, this is not part of my letter of complaint to my landlord's agents for not sorting out various plumbing issues in our home. I've not rented a house for a few years and now I can see why this is to be a temporary arrangement; though it's a pain in the arse to have to pay for repairs, at least you have the power to get them carried out when it's your own place. I have digressed already.

I'm not going to get into the whole subject of estate agents right now. They are a law unto themselves. Whether it's being ignored by the people I'm paying for rent of our place, or whether it's the agents who are supposed to be making my property in Reading start paying for itself, I'm getting no satisfaction. I believe there's a hidden verse to "Satisfaction" by the Rolling Stones that says something like:

And when I'm gettin' mixed messages from the one agent
who told me there was a viewing on Saturday
which the other person in the office implied hadn't happened today

or when the other agent sends a pushy 20-something around
to sell me the feckin' obvious as though I'm supposed to be impressed
and acts surprised when I don't make buying signals
oblivious of the fact that I already invited her over to sign up

I can't get no

It's a secret verse.

Anyway, I'm actually using an age-old trick to make the juices flow. This is the equivalent of slow-roasting myself with a sauce to make the goodness come out - very much like the chicken in ratatouille-esque-sauciness, which I knocked up last night. When I say knocked up, I don't mean "knocked up". I mean I put together a dish comprising these ingredients.

If I paint more of the picture that surrounds me, then more will become clear. The point, in short, though, is that I'm using this blog to break writer's block.

Where's Wally?
Well, I'm in Budapest. Again. I shouldn't complain. If anyone's responsible for sending me here this time, it's me. My goal is to get more closely involved in the work of my team out here, which I do periodically. There's no substitute for sharing the same air as someone you work with. You need to be face to face to make the connection.

I set off this morning at a ridiculous hour. I woke up promptly at 4am. I then fell asleep promptly. Luckily the alarm has a snooze function. Unless you're my girlfriend, in which case, it's very unlucky to find a large lump of meat in the bed with you that comes with a musical accompaniment every 10 minutes, and responds to complaints with an apology, a grunt and the resetting of this accompaniment to go off in 10 further minutes.

However, I managed to raise myself from the dead in a way that didn't require any of the mythical apparatus from TV's Torchwood. Discovering that it would have been better to put my stuff in the hall or spare room where I could use a light without disturbing anyone, I eventually managed to clothe myself and close the case. I hit the hall and met the gaze of two kittens. Spax, the ginger one, sang a tone at me. This could mean any number of things. It might mean "Eyyyyyy" like some sort of feline version of The Fonz. It could mean "What are you doing up at this ungodly hour? and why am I, a kitten, using the context of a non-specific deity to define times of day when I can barely read a clock?". More likely it just means "can I go out or what?".

I let out the cats through the back door and then let myself out the other end of the house. The car was ready to go, pointing the wrong way, as usual, but was soon corrected and I was on the road. I chose the new album by Muse for early morning listening and then graduated to a Doctor Who album - Series 3. Loud incidental music took me the 90 minutes to Heathrow from my home.

At Heathrow a series of moves managed to negotiate my journey from where I parked to where I found myself sitting at the gate. For reasons that don't need to be explained, I discovered a link to Omegle a site which provides free online chat with a total stranger. Why would you want to do that? Well, no reason. I found myself chatting to someone in Chicago who was still up after a night out doing nothing and was waiting to go to sleep and continue his life at high-school before going on to become a mechanic, working on big trucks.

I don't think he got some of my sense of humour. I don't think any reasonable person reading this would really understand what the point was of yattering away, using a touchscreen phone to type long messages, to someone I have no intention of meeting, and who showed little interest in anything I had to say. I think the only justification I can offer is that it was free and it started some of my brain processes off. My favourite suggestion to the young whippersnapper was that if he found any spare parts that he couldn't fit back onto the big truck he was working on, he could give them to his prom date as a corsage. It was early in the morning and I have no regrets.

Then a plane journey took me, without incident to snow-filled Budapest, where I went to the office and tried to stay awake, devoid of food and drink.

What's playing?
Now I find myself in the hotel room with my iPod playing through the room's TV. This is quite a cool facility that they provide. It's 10pm local time. I have loads of things I want to do, and I guess I've managed to do some useful things since I've been here.

I've finished reading the book I was reading on the plane and in the week or so before I set off, and I've graduated to, and completed half of Steve Martin's book "Born Standing Up".

I also want to catch up on DVD watching, which gives me a conflict, which we'll come to.

What's on the agenda?
Here is a list of things I want to do right now:
  • Collapse into a deep sleep - though I suspect the coffee will prevent it
  • Write my new show
  • Do my taxes - a necessity, getting close to urgent
  • Do some generic comedy admin tasks, including paying stuff for the new show
  • Watch Doctor Who
  • or Lost

The simple fact is that there is not enough time to do everything I want to do in my spare time because I don't really have spare time. I need to relax and catch up on sleep. But I can't always do that.

New Show?
With some reservations about where I'll go with it, I've conceived of the premise of the show for 2010. It's called The Seven Deadly Sings and seems to lean rather heavily on last year's show The Seven Deadly Jokes. I'll put an emphasis on the word seems. There are going to be some key differences, the most obvious of which is that I'm doing this show solo (my first solo hour) where last year's was best termed as a double-act. The second difference will be the tone of the show. I think we wrote an intentional bumbling script last year, which suited us. This year's show will be a bit more cerebral - quite literally.

The vague format is going to be the same, because it seemed to work as a washing line along which to hang bits of material. Last year we posited that there were 7 joke archetypes. This year I will posit that there are only 7 different songs. What are they? Well:

  • Story
  • In love
  • Complacency
  • In pain
  • Attitude
  • Novelty
  • Commercial

Any wiser? No? Well, the theory isn't really very self explanatory or funny in it's own right. As a brief it allows me to visit any area of music I want to, put together some fact-based or insanity based material, and write any sort of joke I like to offset against the didactic sciencey bits. If that doesn't work, I'll put in some novelty instrumentation and some smiling at the crowd.

I'm currently brewing this show up in my head. I would like to be able to achieve something good by the end of it, and I think some of the ideas I'm working on will work really well - the rest I'll have to write when I get to them. As with last year's show, I worry a little bit that I'm not going to end up with any material which can be transplanted into my stand-up act, but it's early days and it may turn out that some of it fits like a glove.

I think I've used up all of my desire to write. I think I may have to go to bed with Steve Martin (well, his book) and try the actual writing tomorrow.

Friday, January 15

A Laugh Like A Goat

Time moves onwards, either that, or it moves backwards and we are all able to foresee the past, forget the future, and are very confused about the whole thing. I think the point is that you can't stop the movement of time and that's probably for the best. What you can do, I think, is try to make the most of the events that occur in your life as it moves forwards. This is why I prefer to have very busy days and also prefer to have multitudinous commitments to various things around the country.

I have difficulties when I'm not running around doing all this nonsense. January has been a slow month for me. I'm not going to dismiss the benefits of getting sleep and spending nice long evenings in with my lovely other half. There's quite simply nothing bad to say about it. Admittedly, our choice of watching a lot of Torchwood hasn't quite elevated my mood as perhaps watching Doctor Who would have done. The problem with Torchwood is that it's sometimes frustratingly puerile and it's frequently dark and depressing to a point where you wonder what they were trying to achieve emotionally with the show. It's still reasonably well made (excepting JB's overacting) TV and enjoyable... but it makes you feel like you've spent an entire evening on a sofa, going nowhere, which you have.

Now, there's no reason that anyone should expect to go anywhere on a sofa. That's not how they roll. Sofa's are fairly static, except in earthquakes, which are exciting, but for the wrong reasons. And I don't think excitement is quite what this is about either. There's no doubt that gigging is an exciting thing to do - the body goes through all sorts of adrenaline situations in the build up to the gig and then comes back down - this is an adrenaline junkie's dream (though not the reason I do it). I think it's about doing something. It turns out that I'm good at relaxing, but I don't think it suits me. I slow down and get fidgety. I can lose myself to relaxing, but I don't like what I become. Lazy. Very lazy.

Just Do Something
I like two things. I like totally impossible and insane tasks. I also like doing thing after thing to completion. This is probably why I'm a natural born computer programmer - we have to make magic with machine by breaking stuff down into task after task. To make software you sit down and make bit after bit of your program work. You also prove yourself capable of mastering the problem, which proves youself capable of achieving the unachievable... well, it can feel like that, even though it's probably, by definition, achievable... otherwise how did it get achieved. Surely the act of achieving something makes it achievable?

So with stand-up my feeling is much the same. It shouldn't be possible or logical to go all over the place and make audiences laugh, travelling maybe 300-400 miles in an evening sometimes in the pursuit of a few minutes of nonsense with a room full of strangers. It shouldn't be possible to commit yourself to several tens of dates in the future and expect that, somehow, the week will flex around this sort of nonsense to make it possible to arrive in time to do what needs to be done. It is possible, though people who don't do it may well marvel at how ridiculous a proposition it seems. This appeals directly to who I think I really am - a silly-minded show-off with an urge to keep doing interesting things.

Back on the road
I'm planning the future and getting myself back into the swing of gigging. There has been a semi-deliberate slow-down for me in January. I can see that it's not good for me to be at this end of the spectrum, just as March will be quite insane as I gig just a little more than is reasonable. Sorry about that, by the way.

I'm planning gigs in Brighton, an Edinburgh show, various other random stand-up dates (or rand-ups), and I should also make sure to put some "us time" in for the "us" that is my girlfriend and I, since we're best as a couple, rather than a stand-up and his comedy-widow.

The Wonder of the World
People are odd. This is because every individual is working from a totally unique point of view. What seems normal for one person seems totally ludicrous to another. When utter insanity becomes normal to a lot of people, you've probably got yourself a religion. When it becomes normal to a select few, then you've maybe got a cult, or the toleration of someone who's like a cult, but spelled differently. If you're not like the people around you, then you need to change something. That's humanity and society, pretty much.

I think I like to embrace the nonsense around me wherever possible. Sometimes I'm less tolerant than I should be. Sometimes I try to see other people's points of view. I'm quite judgmental, which is odd, since I'm also quite a permissive individual. Somehow these forces conflict between my conscience and unconscious reactions. I do my best to arbitrate wherever I can. Sometimes it annoys me if someone laughs like a goat, and sometimes it makes me glad that they have their own unique way to express something unconscious within themselves. I'm a comedian, surely I should love all forms of laughter. The dilemma, eh!?

Back to Laughter
I write these blog entries for my own benefit. Some of my previous entries have been a bit alarm-bell-like, prompting offers of support. Actually, this is me giving myself some support. Some of these words need saying. I'm quite a logical individual. I know, for instance, that my weight problem is 90% behavioural, and I need to say that out loud sometimes. I also know that the lack of creativity and laughter in my life right now, is largely my own doing. I'm the one who can make people laugh or can laugh heartily... all I have to do now is go out and do it. I don't even need a stage.

Wednesday, January 13

But Somehow Still Down In The Dumps

I'm not sure why. I think it's more seasonal and down to temporary factors, rather than anything important, but I'm really not firing on all cylinders at the moment. I'm having melancholic moments of moodiness. Not only is this uncharacteristic, but it's excessively alliterating.

I read back three years to a blog entry I made around the time I had just bought my house - the one I'm now not living in and rather urgently trying to get let out. In that week, I'd just seen the end of my 2 year (well nearly) relationship with my girlfriend, just gained possession of a house that needed a lot of work, and I was somewhat reeling from the change in circumstance. Yet I actually managed to stay rather chipper. I'd go so far as to say that I was almost joyful and exuberant in my behaviour. Manic, even.

Perhaps that's a sign of a defense mechanism I have. When things are going really rather badly, I can turn on the drive and fix them. That's sort of true, though it got a bit more tough later in the year, and I think that my only moments of clarity were happening on stage, when I found the cheerful me and portrayed it in its pure form for all to see... then returned to licking whatever wounds I thought I had at the time. In general, though, under fire I try to find a cheery energetic side to use.

But now... well, things are actually quite good. I've moved in with my girlfriend. I've done the contented-indulgent-eating-too-much thing, and it hasn't actually destroyed my health and it might have done and I'm reasonably resolved to undo the weight gain (finally). On top of that, I'm rather enjoying having a household where I can cook meals and enjoy them with someone else. So, that's nice.

I'm also enjoying most of the experience of sharing our home with the kittens. There's something rather ridiculous about trying to live your life around the behaviours and needs of an animal. The animal doesn't really understand what it should and shouldn't do, or whether its behaviour is anti-social. So, the morning alarm call from the kittens is something you come to live with. In an attempt to be let out of the house at 6am yesterday, they came yomping into the bedroom and caught our attention by licking ears and elbows. Why it was ears and elbows, I couldn't tell you. They clearly knew it would work, though, as it did.

Aside from cat-litter handling and being dragged around when it's too early, the presence of some affectionate balls of fluff is a good thing.

There's no doubt that I lead a privileged existence, yet at the moment, something feels tougher than it should and I'm not the explosive bundle of enthusiastic "doing" that I like to be.

For now I'm going to blame the weather and the constant sense of delay at work for some of this. In every other respect, I should have a lot to look forward to.

Mind you, the house thing is a bit of a drain too; once it's rented out, I will be a lot less poor.

Brain Dump

It's a cold January morning. Some people would describe my journey into the office as a nightmare. I'm not inclined to do so. It had its ups and its downs, but it was survivable, though long.

Before I go into the tale of my voyage into the pit of misery that is Bracknell, let me first share an album recommendation. I'm currently playing this:

Muse: The Resistance

It is an album that must not be taken too seriously. Sorry Muse people, I think you've attempted to write some sort of Rock Opera with a serious purpose, but I can't say I've managed to tune into the lyrics at all. What I have managed to do is recognise a sort of modern day prog-rock pomp and ceremony with echoes of Queen, the Doctor Who theme, Rick Wakeman and Madness, not forgetting the Chopin inserted into one of the pieces. It goes over the top often and yet still has occasional moments of subtelty and beauty. Music is the sort of thing which should possess all of this.

I'm presently reading a book on music.

This Is Your Brain On Music

The book is presently telling me a lot of stuff I should already know, but it's good to re-visit some of the simple concepts with a fresh explanation. It's interesting to read a description of syncopation, laid out almost mathematically, but yet with a passion for how it sounds. The author is both a scientist and ex music-producer. Who better to describe the intricacies of music but someone with both the artistic appreciation and analytic ability?

Back to the road
But, back onto the pleasant subject of journeying into work. It took me just under 3 hours to get through the snow this morning. I can't say that I let it bother me. I'm aware that I'm losing a certain proportion of my life to driving at the moment, but that seems to be just the way it is. If I were gigging, I'd be driving an extra journey in the middle of the day anyway, and would have resigned myself to a late night drive home.

Don't get me wrong; I haven't given up gigging. I'm just having a semi-scheduled break from it. I'll be back in the thick of it from the end of the month. For now, it's probably best that I don't have the added stress of trying to get to a gig in time after the day-job work, as well as the stress of trying to get in, and the general botheration of being in the office in the interim.

So, how do you get a three hour journey into the office? Well, you could blame the fact that I stopped off at Membury services for a nice coffee. From now, the word coffee shall always be prefixed with the adjective nice, and the CO of coffee shall be emphasised a bit more than it should be. That's how much I appreciate a nice CO-ffee. Anyway, though the trip to Membury was a delay, it was hardly the majority of the elapsed time between bidding the kittens farewell and arriving at the front door of the office building. Don't blame Membury. Thanks for the Membury, that's what I say. In fact, I remember a conversation with an ex-colleague who was Indian and whose accent turned the "mory" of "memory" into a "mmmbbbbbrry"... so I'll always remember-member-member memory as Membury.

If it wasn't the coffee purchasing, then what else could possibly delay one so on a snowy Wednesday morning? Ah, the answer's in the question isn't it? Wednesdays! Bloody Wednesdays. The false friend of a day. You wake up Wednesday morning and it promises to be the middle of the working week. Then you get a gruelling day at work, and it's still Wednesday, still the middle of the week and you've nothing to show for it. Of course not. That's Thursday! The real reason I was delayed was the snow.

Sat-navs are useful, but sometimes they don't know about things like snow and suggest routes which take you to an impassable hill. It only takes one tosser in a rear-wheel drive car to make a hill into a traffic jam. As a result, after driving about 30 minutes, I ended up backtracking almost all of the way and starting again with a different route. The rest of the time was lost in either traffic or the slipstream of an over cautious driver.

Can you have a slipstream at 20 miles per hour? I think not.

So, I made it in. I had a few more bits of creative routing to do before I got through Bracknell, but my prize was to arrive. In Bracknell. Perhaps in a past life I murdered someone, if that's the prize I get. Of course not. There are no such things as past lives.

A final though before I leave this ramble. I'm not a cynical person. I find myself acting cynically from time to time, but I don't see it as a good or reasonable thing to be doing. I am relatively patient and have methods for keeping a smile on my face, even when the car journeys are long, and the world has gone silly (37 years of "I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue" on mp3 is probably a part of how to stay suitably counter-insane in a car - that's insane in the opposite way to how you'd expect).

However, some things are simply impossible for me to trust or believe in. These things may be accepted wisdoms or society's habits. I don't believe in "the norm" (except that fat guy from Cheers). I shall term myself as a skeptic. This should be interpreted as someone who pursues fact and analysis over plain belief.

I recommend everyone question "accepted wisdom" and try to learn as much as possible. That's not cynical at all.

Friday, January 8

A New Year Wish

I wish, this year, for my brain to unfreeze and allow me to start making "the magic" again. I'll briefly explain.

In my past I've been able to master my eating habits; I've been a reasonable comedian; I've been a prolific blog writer; I've been a highly motivated person in the office. Yeah yeah yeah: me me me.

The point is that I'm not really doing any of those this second. While my last gig as a comedian gave me a video where I make punchline after punchline for nearly 40 minutes, quite effectively (on an easy crowd), that feels like a world ago. The other things also feel a bit last year (or, in the case of the eating, the year before).

So, though a "New Year's Resolution" is a bit of a crap approach to changing my life. I do want to jump into the driving seat very soon and get creative, motivated, jolly and generally fast-paced. I get bored of myself when I don't.

In answer to the rhetorical question of "What's been happening recently?", I'll put some things down.


I finally started to put clips on YouTube. I've been back through the vaults of videoed gigs to find all manner of curiosities. Most of them were unpublishable for one reason or another. Perhaps one of my quirkier moments is here:

On the rest of my channel there's more standard show reel stuff.

Other Web Links

I got quite amused by Akinator an online "Who am I?" game. For those of you in the know, it doesn't contain the easy question "Are you a twat?", for which there's only one guess.

Doctor Who Fanaticism

I'm still a new-born Doctor Who fan. I believe some of them call themselves "Whovians". I'm not at that stage, though I could probably enjoy a debate on what counts as canon, which must surely be the mark of something (mental health problems?). I listen regularly to The DWO Whocast which is geeky, but in a way I don't object to.

My girlfriend and I have been ploughing through the Torchwood Box Sets in the last few days, so we're getting up to speed with the entire Whoniverse output of Mr Russell T Davies and his gang. I'm not going to review the various Doctor Who specials except to say that I enjoyed watching them and may enjoy them more once I get the DVDs.

New Home

I live in a lovely cottage with a nice girlfriend and two sickly kittens. They are sometimes ill, not always. In general, they're quite pleasant and fluffy creatures who have adopted us well. However, we sometimes need to medicate the wee fellers and they don't really understand how our outward affection can, occasionally be converted into grabbing, restraining, and medicating.

The major challenge is living 90 minutes from work, which has a strange up side, in that home is now usually nearer the gig. So swings and roundabouts. More earlier mornings, but slightly-less-late late nights.


I did Crisis at Christmas again. I used the core principles of devolved responsibility and people did what was necessary to make the place run smoothly. So someone was successful - pretty much everyone, in fact.

Other stuff

This is the problem with my frozen brain. There are a million and one things I could mention and I can't think of them. I'll have to write more another time.

The main point is that I'm alive and kicking... I just need to give myself a big jumpstart.

Oooh oooh oooh

And finally, I really have to write a show for this year's festivals. I think it's time. I've got a title. Now I just need to sign up to REALLY do it and take the plunge.

Must go, now. It's cold and I'm not thawed out properly.

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