Thought, experience and memory from a brain in a jar, one that sometimes has control over a thirty-two-year-old Londonite.

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Location: Herne Hill, London, United Kingdom

30 July, 2006

Daniel Kitson's C90 at Riverside Studios

Daniel Kitson - C90
Daniel Kitson - C90,
originally uploaded by Simon Scott.
Daniel Kitson has been warming up his new story show at Riverside Studios. An idea tangential to one of his Stories For The Wobbly Hearted, and possibly influenced by Poliakoff's Shooting The Past, features a man working in an archive devoted to compilation tapes, who on his last day receives a tape of his own that moves him so much he attempts to discover who sent it.

Kitson has been keen to make his work more theatrical, and this seems most explicitly realised in the set on which he tells this extended story. The office is realised with a large shelving unit and one of those sliding ladders you get in libraries, or more correctly films about libraries. Added to that is the main character's desk, and a few boxes of discarded tapes. When the action went beyond the office, Kitson moved upstage.

The story itself makes a claim for the importance of normal people, punishing characters that might be familiar to us from Kitson's stand-up as his pet hates, and offering hope and joy to the characters that he evidently genuinely cares about. And there are jokes too. Some have criticised the premise of the show - why is there an archive of compilation tapes? What is it for? - but that doesn't matter - its existence is a foundation to the story, and not only gives an excuse for the slow revelation of the second character, Milly, but also realises the dark background of the tale, that of a cruel and humiliating world that will readily chew people up and spit them out. The beauty of the characters Kitson has created is that they are willing to make sure that doesn't happen.

Simon Munnery & Simon Amstell at the BAC

Simon Munnery at the BAC
Simon Munnery at the BAC,
originally uploaded by Simon Scott.
Ian, Alex and I repaired to the Battersea Arts Centre to take in a couple of the Edinburgh warm-ups that are currently being performed. Munnery, of Alan Parker and League Against Tedium fame, played out various new pieces he has been working on including an examination of a 60s childrens book on soldiery that forgets to mention death. Munnery ultimately ran over, so we all reconvened in the bar where he read from his book How To Live which the grafitti artist Banksy had published.

Next up was Simon Amstell, who rather than flinging himself headlong into another show once he had finished his Popworld tenure, instead seems to have booked himself into a colossal number of gigs, almost as though he's more interested in mastering the craft than he is at using his celebrity status to take a short-cut to the glittering prizes.

Slightly odd moment when he pinched someone's fan because it was bothering him, but then it's a tough call. Does he allow himself to be bothered and give a below par performance?
About half of the set was stuff that I'd seen previously, but was well polished and worked into the new stuff. He picked out a particular girl in the audience, the drunk blonde that seems to be ubiquitous in comedy gigs these days, and kept returning to her, either by his own choice or to counter her interjections. Yet his set still ran short, so how far shorter it would run when he is spared the drunk blonde is hard to say; I suppose it depends on how far he manages to orchestrate that happening each night.

But length aside it was an enjoyable set. Amstell's in an odd position in that he's not that famous, but he has moved in circles with people more famous than he is (he was invited to Elton John's wedding having never met the man), and a fair amount of his material seemed to be informed by that peculiar viewpoint. His star is on the ascendance though; he will be taking over the hosting of Never Mind The Buzzcocks next series, which may even be reason enough to start watching it again.

25 July, 2006

Thus I Win

Just when I thought we'd never hear of them again, the Red Mercury 3 were acquitted today!

These were the three guys who Screws Of The World had set up via their fake Sheikh in a deal for the non-existent material Red Mercury. By the sound of it, Mahmood even arranged for a fake buyer to get involved with the three of them, so that they'd be more likely to bite. So we have a fake seller selling a non-existent material to three suckers so they could sell it on to a fake buyer. I'm frankly amazed it ever went to court.

And whatever the three men were willing to pay for red mercury (£500,000), and whoever they had agreed to sell it onto, they could have reaped rewards financial, celebrated and scientific by handing the mythical substance over to the authorities.

Much police time and court time that could have been spent, I don't know, investigating and trying real terrorists, with real bombs, rather than stooges only suckered in to sell newspapers to the easily alarmed.

Screen Burn

Monitor Burn Out
Monitor Burn Out,
originally uploaded by Simon Scott.
So the old monitor finally died yesterday. It had been playing up for a while, so I was kind of expecting it. Just to be sure it was the monitor and not the 'puter, I took the casing off and found this wonderful scorched patch on one of the PCBs. I managed to get another one at lunchtime, and shed my own weight in water dragging it home.

A can of Fosters and a nice sit down later and the new monitor was in place. It's a much nicer screen which takes up less space without losing any screen inches. The old monitor was never all that great, with the top of the screen darkening out to nothing and the whole thing needing a bit of a gamma boost in order to see anything. I ought to be able to work out what I'm doing with my photos now, rather than get them as good as I can, then seeing them on another monitor and wincing.

16 July, 2006

That Mitchell & Webb Look

Lyndsay On Set
Lyndsay On Set,
originally uploaded by Simon Scott.
Friday saw us off to watch bits for The Mitchell & Webb Look being filmed. We've been keen on M&W for some time, both on radio, in Peep Show, and the Mitchell & Webb Situation, a much earlier TV sketch show they did which no-one else appears to like. Bruiser sucked a BDC though.

The boys did the snooker commentators, which was pleasing for me as I'd been worried how these sketches would translate to the visual. Would we see snooker footage with the commentary over the top, or would be see the commentators themselves and lose the anonymity of the characters. The latter option was plumped for, with a certain amount of additional business thrown in, some practical burgers (masterful mayonnaise work from Mitchell) and a home-brew kit.

Filmed inserts included the pelican crossing sketch, a favourite from the second warm-up we went to, and the "aristocratic people who are still unaccountably..." in this case working in a clothing store. Mitchell does the insensed posh bloke slightly too well. He might be Hitler.

There were new bits, too, including a wonderfully sinister series of sketches about the earliest TV broadcasts, the concept being that they literally had no idea how to do television to begin with. The massive ear-pieces, cultish applause cues and the naming of television as "the endlessness" gave the sketches a nightmarish David Foster Wallace quality.

And the lovely Lyndsay, to whom I am a sort of surrogate dirty cousin, has been working on the series, gadding about in abandoned wings of hospitals and the like. She's in vision on a couple of the "behind the scenes" skits too, which is nice.

Oh and it was David Mitchell's birthday. And Australian woman Julia Morris was the warm-up. When she announced early on that she'd been in the UK for six years, an audience member piped up with a disgruntled "we know" which was funnier than the rest of her material. Ah well, at least she didn't break the cardinal rule of being funnier than the main talent.

12 July, 2006

AdeZ, pronounced...

Whilst tubing into work this morning I saw an advert for a fruit juice and soya based health drink called AdeZ. That's AdeZ. Now, I don't know about you, but when I see a word like that, I assume the Z is taking the place of a pluralising S, and when I see the word Ade I pronounce it... well... Ade. Thus the drink in question, on first sight, seems to be called Adez pronounced aids. I sat staring at the ad and finally decided that the drink is probably called Ay Duh Zed, or worse still Ay Duh Zee, but if you're skirting that close to the edge of a different pronunciation of negative connotation you really don't want to come up with a name for your drink that requires a fact sheet on how to say it properly.

As my mother would no doubt say "someone got paid for coming up with that."

10 July, 2006

ID Cards On The Ropes

I rub my hands with glee.

06 July, 2006

"...nothing to do with Iraq."

A line the Government is going to find harder to maintain, I think.

03 July, 2006

Writing: A Great Way Of Finding Other Things To Do

I met up with David Miller yesterday in the swelter of the city to discuss our colabo. What began as a screenplay has become a stage play, which has actually led to massive leaps in our telling the story. I still, mercenery that I am, want to develop it as a screenplay too, but so much has come out of having to get the story out of three actors that we're well on our way to drafting a first script. Constraints free us.

What is more, I'm beginning to feel comfortable with writing the story. The play is historical, but the documentary evidence on which it sits is scant. This, too, should free us, but instead it stops the ink in the pen. Everything I dared write could easily turn out to be embarrassingly wrong, so I try in vain to come up with more information, and the project's fruition disappears over the horizon. Somehow, though, the stage production has made it easier to get across the notion that this is just a version of history, that it might not be accurate.

The real joy came, though, in writing out a dialogue that is supposed to be the centrepoint of the play, an uneasy agreement between the two lead characters. This bit had always remained a little baffling to me. But somehow in actually writing out a conversation between them, a solution has presented itself.

I also managed to get the ending I wanted sorted out. It will doubtless be revised a hundred times but what I wanted said is sayable, and I'm always much happier once an ending is in place.

We've drawn up a series of scenes that we want to include, so we shall start scripting those in turn, and see what bridging is needed, and how much of what we think we need we really do need. I really feel we've made a breakthrough, which is hugely encouraging!