Monthly Archives: February 2015

Rejected Sketches: Week 1

Here are some of my Newsjack sketches that didn’t make it to air. I post them here simply because I want them to be up somewhere at least. Enjoy?

PHOTOSHOP

  1. INTRO: Technology news. The world’s most popular photo editing software Photoshop turns 25 this week. Famously, the software is used a lot in the fashion industry for retouching models after photo shoots and seeing what you look like if you put your head on David Beckham’s body. But what did people do before Photoshop was invented? Well, they took them to an actual photo shop of course! In case that was slightly before your time, here’s how that used to go.
  2. FX: SHOP DOOR RINGS
  3. SHOPKEEP: Good morning. Welcome to the Photo Shop! What can we do for you today?
  4. CUSTOMER: I’ve had a photo taken of me and I’d like to see what you can do with it. It’s for a job and I really want to look my best.
  5. SHOPKEEPER: Not a problem. Let’s take a look at it.
  6. CUSTOMER: Here you go.
  7. SHOPKEEPER: Oh dear. [TUTS] Well, well, well…
  8. CUSTOMER: What’s the verdict then?
  9. SHOPKEEPER: Well, I can tell you up front – this isn’t going to be cheap.
  10. CUSTOMER: Oh really? How much are we talking?
  11. SHOPKEEPER: It’s a very big job, you see. Your skin tone is all off, the lighting’s wrong, and I’ve never even seen one of those What is that?
  12. CUSTOMER: That’s my nose!
  13. SHOPKEEPER: You sure? Gosh, I’d hate to be on the receiving end of that!
  14. CUSTOMER: I’m afraid I don’t have much money to spend. Can’t you just do a basic job on it?
  15. SHOPKEER: Well, I can see what the lads can do. But we’ll basically need to order some parts in. And that could take a while.
  16. CUSTOMER: Parts? What kind of parts?
  17. SHOPKEEPER: You’d need new eyebrows for a start. We get them in and stick them in just there over your eyes. Right now it looks like you’ve got two big caterpillars crawling across your face. And we only get those in on Tuesdays.
  18. CUSTOMER: I had no idea it was all so complicated.
  19. SHOPKEEPER: If it’s a rush, we do offer an alternative service.
  20. CUSTOMER: What’s that?
  21. SHOPKEEPER: Basically we get someone to draw a new picture of you. From scratch.
  22. CUSTOMER: How would that help? I need this photo for a job application. A hand drawn picture won’t do me much good.
  23. SHOPKEEPER: You’d be surprised! Evan back there is really talented with a crayon. You’d never be able to tell it wasn’t an original.
  24. CUSTOMER: I suppose it is urgent. Fine. I’ll take the drawing. How much will that be?
  25. SHOPKEEPER: That’s just £10. Per month. Forever. And if you stop paying, we have to take the photo back.
  26. CUSTOMER: What a ripoff! But I really really need it. So here you go, I guess…
  27. SHOPKEEPER: Thanks a lot. And here’s your c-hh-a
  28. CUSTOMER: Sorry? You alright?
  29. SHOPKEEPER: PHOTOSHOP HAS STOPPED WORKING. CHECK FOR A SOLUTION OR CLOSE?
  30. CUSTOMER: Oh forget this! I’ll just take it next door to MS Paint instead.

 AD: GREECE

  1. V/O: Struggling to make ends meet? Financial worries getting you down? Sounds like you need GREEK FINANCE.
  2. V/O: That’s right, we’ll take all your debts and outstanding payments and make them disappear by simply pretending they don’t exist.
  3. TESTIMONIAL: Greek Finance really helped us out. It just took one little election and we put them in charge of everything! Our austerity days were over and once again we’re living well, well beyond our means.
  4. V/O: Greek Finance. Because it’s time to show your debts the grexit!
  5. END

Rejections

As part of my quest to become the world’s greatest writer, I’m certain to encounter lots of rejection along the way. Yeah it sucks but that’s just the price you pay I suppose.

Sometimes that means a straight out “nope” from someone, and other times simply not hearing back at all (eg. most of my Newsjack submissions).

Today’s harsh return to reality comes in the form of rejected McSweeney’s lines. If you don’t know it, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency is basically an open submission website for comedy lists. Some of it is very, very funny and I really adore the surreal yet deadpan nature of their comedy style.

Having never tried it out before I thought it was worth a shot. Roughly a week later I heard back. It was a no.

But not wanting good(ish) writing to go to waste, here’s the two list submissions I made. Hooray for recycling content!

Reasons why Lil Jon might be told to turn down
  • Sir, this aquarium has very strict policies on acceptable noise levels.
  • Please, his death came very suddenly and we’d like to mourn in peace.
  • In the vacuum of space, it is impossible for sound to travel.
  • You are frightening my sons.
  • As a fellow recording artist, I find that your high levels of sound are preventing me from pursuing my own artistic endeavours.
  • For God’s sake, Jon, this is a school for the deaf. They will not be able to appreciate your music in any case.
  • This sound system isn’t designed to handle this decibel range.
  • You’re giving His Holiness an earache.
 
Lines that were rejected before the Terminator writers settled on “I’ll be back”
  • Stay where you are, I shall return momentarily.
  • I have other affairs to attend to, but my rearrival is imminent.
  • Look, this is an awkward situation for both of us. Ok, I’ll just leave.
  • Urgent matters require my attention in an alternative location.
  • I am losing the will to live, Bertha.
  • You gotta watch out for that Shaq Attack
  • Like a boomerang, I will come right back around to where I started off from.
  • Christmas only comes once a year. But it still comes every year. I’m like Christmas.
  • You’ll be seeing me again in the near future.
  • Never lose sight of your life goals. Stay true to your roots. Stay true to the streets.

Wow, those are less good than I remember.

Hope this was worth your time.

The strange world of Guy Fieri lookalikes

I’ve written before about my obsession with the US television chef, Guy Fieri. Naturally, as a result of this I’ve done a lot of Fieri-related research. What does that entail? Well, it basically just comes down to liking a lot of Guy Fieri pages on Facebook and following a bunch of Guy Fieri accounts on Twitter.

Down this Fieri-hole though, there’s a lot of weird stuff. Take @GuyFieri_ebooks for example. It’s a bot account that tweets out random Guy Fieri quotes from the man himself. Itself a parody of the famous @horse_ebooks, @GuyFieri_ebooks might just be the most Twitter thing that’s ever happened.

This is GUY FIERI making the guy from SMASHMOUTH eat loads of EGGS while the song from SHREK plays! Wow. Also @fart from weird twitter is there.

But my favourite thing that I stumbled across was the world of Guy Fieri lookalikes. Just like it sounds, this is the world of men who look like Guy Fieri.

I say “world” but I’m not entirely sure there’s even more than one guy (*Guy) as we’ll see in  bit. For now, let’s just jump right in, shall we? Here’s the Facebook page: Guy Fieri lookalike.

Screen Shot 2015-02-14 at 19.26.03

178 likes there on Facebook, which is pretty respectable. Let’s zoom in on that profile pic.

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I doubt that anyone would see this guy and be like “omg it’s Guy Fieri!” – although these two women appear to be fairly convinced.

From what I can tell, you need three things to be a successful Guy Fieri lookalike:

  1. Being slightly overweight
  2. Wearing sunglasses
  3. Having that specific spiked blonde hair / goatee combination

This particular lookalike adds a fourth however:

4. Being really into cooking

Seriously, check it out!

Screen Shot 2015-02-14 at 19.30.39

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like this isn’t a necessary step, man! To be a lookalike, you just have to…. look like the person. Actually copying their interests is a great step, but not an essential part of the ‘looking like someone famous’ package. Really, I’m pretty impressed.

To learn more about what the life of a Guy Fieri lookalike is like, I actually messaged this Guy. Here’s how the convo went:

Screen Shot 2015-02-14 at 19.33.06

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What a swell guy! I’d love to meet this chap just about as much as the real thing. He even seems to be promising to have cancer-healing properties, which is neat too.

This pic is just great:

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I wonder if he made this sign himself. I like that it includes a little disclaimer that it’s “just a Guy Fieri lookalike” – don’t talk yourself down mate! I want to hang with this guy so bad.

This is how our conversation ended:

Screen Shot 2015-02-14 at 19.35.51

 

 

 

I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to do with that information. But it’s cool nonetheless!

I’m left with a lingering question though. On the Guy Fieri Lookalike facebook page there’s a few posts from this fellow:

Screen Shot 2015-02-14 at 19.37.13

 

 

 

 

The content of the post kind of implies that Ken Brodman is the Guy Fieri Lookalike of the page’s fame. But he doesn’t really look like the Guy Fieri featured in the above pics. Zoom and enhance time!

10299080_10204087815254442_2821609395985056378_n

Yup, pretty sure this is a totally different guy. Though extra points for standing next to a Guy Fieri style car (and also apparently being committed to this look as early as 2004, at least two years before Guy Fieri even became a TV chef!). This creates further mysteries:

  1. Are there two Guy Fieri lookalikes in the mix here?
  2. How do they relate? Do they know each other?
  3. Is there some kind of Guy Fieri lookalike civil war brewing?
  4. Why is Ken writing on the Guy Fieri lookalike Facebook page as if it was his?
  5. Why do both fake Guys have a strange obsession with sick children?

Unfortunately, I haven’t been brave enough to actually message Ken yet. So for now these questions must remain unsolved.

SEPTEMBER 2016 UPDATE! INTERVIEW WITH KEN NOW AVAILABLE HERE.

But I’m entirely delighted that this weird subculture even exists. I kind of feel it’s almost an only-in-America thing. Thankfully, I’m wrong.

Just head to lookalikes.co.uk and check out the celebrity chef section. I’ll leave it as an exercise to the reader to figure out who these are meant to be…

p.s. happy valentine’s day i guess

Book review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

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So I read this book because it was free on my Kindle for some reason. Also I’d seen the Swedish original film and the US remake and thought they were pretty great.

The book itself is reminiscent of a Dan Brown novel. It’s a gripping thriller, a compelling page-turner, and all those other descriptions that sum it up as the perfect commuter book. It’s something you can enjoy for what it is in short doses, without having to worry about it being too much of a literary masterpiece.

Not that the plot’s overly simple though. The fact it’s based in Sweden instantly makes it that little bit less accessible. The bulk of the story is about the disappearance of a young girl in the past, but really revolving around a spiralling family of double-crossing industrialists. Keeping track of all the family members is quite a task, but having seen the film versions helped with this (I just thought ‘ah yes, that’s Stellan Skarsgård’s character…).

The sub-plot is also about a Swedish industrialist and his nefarious corporate dealings. I hope you like reading pages about holding accounts and sorting codes!

But yeah, I enjoyed the book for what it was worth – considering I paid nothing for it. I intend to go on and read the subsequent books in the series, but more for the sake completeness than anything else.

Rating: 4/5

Post-script: I just wanted to say that I think the central character of Mikael Blomkvist is super interesting. He’s like a nerdy James Bond. Which makes it no surprise that Daniel Craig played him in the US remake:

Sexy. Brooding. Mysterious. A great casting.

But who played our hero in the original Swedish film?

This guy.

LOL

What’s the deal with Hunter Fox novels?

It’s no secret that I fancy myself as something of a writer. As such, I’m always looking out for what’s happening on the literary scene.

I’m particularly interested in what’s going on in the world of publishing. I’m pretty certain that no publishing house would ever be interested in anything I would write. So my only hope really is the world of self-publishing.

The Kindle has revolutionised the literary world. It’s easier than ever to get into reading. But it’s also changed publishing too. Now pretty much anyone can just shovel content onto the Kindle store via Amazon. And suddenly… BOOM, you’re a published author.

There is no better example of this than Hunter Fox.

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 20.45.08

Hunter Fox has a total of 63 published works on Amazon UK. For comparison, Shakespeare wrote around 40 plays, and Dickens wrote just under 20. The guy is prolific as hell.

However, as we waltz through his quote unquote bibliography, a remarkable trend emerges. Basically every book is the same. Here are some selected highlights:

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 20.47.36Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 20.48.26 Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 20.48.29 Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 20.48.33 Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 20.48.40 Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 20.48.42

Erm, what? Common themes include:

  • Aliens (wtf is an alien hound btw?)
  • Mythological beasts
  • Robots
  • Being “turned” gay
  • Being “forced” gay
  • Being “punished”

Here’s a great one:

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 20.50.40

GAY UNDERWATER LOCH NESS ADVENTURE – HUNTER FOX

What. Is the Loch Ness Monster real now? Real and gay? And surely the fact that it’s going to be underwater is a given?

I get it, it’s a fantasy. But it’s super weird and random. At least with stuff like A Griffin Tore Me Up you can just be like “yeah ok I guess this is standard fare for weird fan-fiction fantasy.” But Nessie? I don’t understand how this happened.

In an effort to get to the bottom of things, I sacrificed my personal dignity (and Amazon.co.uk personal recommendation engine) and rented out A Billionaire Dinosaur Forced Me Gay because I think it has the funniest title. Don’t worry, I’m renting it via a free trial of the Kindle Unlimited service, so it’s not costing me anything.

I shall now read this book. Until I get back, please enjoy the cover.

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 20.57.09

Done! Ok that literally took five minutes to read. It is a very short novel. Amazon.co.uk’s estimated reading time of 15 minutes was overly generous. The site also says that is has 3,500 words, making this “novel” about the same length as one of my longer short stories. Maybe I should publish mine.

What was the book about? Well, the title literally says it all. A guy gets a job working for a billionaire dinosaur (the book lampshades this saying that dinosaurs got rich on the stock market in the 80s??), who then homosexually assaults him. In graphic detail. The end.

Some choice quotes:

“My father never liked the dinosaurs ever since they began taking control of the world economy”

“I had never been with a male before, let alone a male dinosaur!”

The writing is all pretty terrible and horribly, horribly explicit. I’d recommend against reading this yourself even out of curiosity.

Interestingly, the book ends on a cliffhanger of sorts with the narrator promising vengeance on the billionaire dinosaur CEO. Part 2 of A Billionaire Dinosaur Forced Me Gay is available now apparently.

I wish I could un-read this book.

So what the hell is going on, exactly? Well, it seems that Fox has found himself a little niche market to dump content into. Cheap, easily reproducible stories involving gay fantasy that will each appeal to a minuscule, yet highly engaged audience. There’s that not that many people into dinosaur homosexual rape, but those that are, really are. And sure they might just pay the £2.11 for the privilege of reading this story. Repeat ad nauseam 63 times and you’ve got yourself a little money maker.

I guess I’m just annoyed I didn’t think of it first.