Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Goodbye, Doctor.

Well that was a big pile of fucking terrible.  Obviously some of you out there don't agree.  You're strange and wrong, of course.  What am I talking about?  Doctor Who, of course.  That little BBC show that was off the air for about fifteen years and was brought back in 2005, to much fan fare and fandom creaming.  Really, about nine years down the line the shine's tarnished a bit.  And by 'a bit' I mean its now about as shiny as a tennis ball.  So it goes without saying I feel the need to go on a spoiler-ridden rant about it.

Seriously.  SPOILERS, morons.  If you don't want anything given away because you haven't caught up don't read on.  Although, I don't think anyone who is interested in Doctor Who will be behind that much.  You never can tell.

I'll admit I was one of the many people who got very excited when it was announced Doctor Who was going to return.  I watched it as a kid.  From what I learned more recently I was the only one in my household who enjoyed it.  How's that for making you feel shit?  Makes me feel like I was some kind of pre-pubescent dictator of the television.  That just sounds hilarious when thrown out into the ether.

So, the excitement in the year or so before Russell T. Davies brought Doctor Who back to the screen was quite palpable*.  Christopher Eccleston was a good choice.  An actor with gravitas and the ability to play it light.  And ears, such magnificent ears.  My enthusiasm lasted through that first series.  Even then, there were concerns.

I mean the format for Doctor Who was always multi-part stories, told in half-hour chunks.  Davies came back and changed the format to stand alone forty-five minute stories.  It was too terrible, for a while, but we'll come to that.

Then there was Rose Tyler.  In the first of this new series, the preoccupation with the companion was quite refreshing.  Rose Tyler wasn't a terrible character, and I was surprised how good an actress Billie Piper is, being more accustomed to her previous incarnation as teeny pop performer.  Now I see that's when the rot started to set in.  Russell T. Davies ran with this and Steven Moffat's taken that cue and gone further with it.  The companion being either a fawning cypher or unreasonably stubborn.  Whatever the companion, they shoved in one of my pet hates about modern storytelling: the pathological need to have a romantic subplot.  It's not the pinnacle of story, most of the time it's as interesting as overhearing a loud teenager's phone call.  Now we're here, on the cusp of the abyss**.

The latest series of Doctor Who has been a dismal affair.  It's not just the preoccupation with the companion, in this case the empty vessel that's Clara Oswald, but let's dwell on it a moment.  In a show that's ostensibly a fantasy/science fiction premise, it felt like a lot of time was lavished on the life of Clara Oswald.  It's happened since Rose Tyler, through What's-Her-Name and Amy Pond.  These last series it's been turned up a couple of notches.  To the point it felt like a standard drama with some sci-fi spotted through.  Not even interesting drama.  The most mundane and boring stuff they could dredge up:
     "What's for tea tonight?"
     "Oh, okay...Oh look.  The Doctor."
Wouldn't have been so bad if the sci-fi stuff counterpointing it was at all interesting, but it was like a shot of beige thrown into a wall of grey.

It doesn't help that Steven Moffat can't seem to write women.  This post here details his many crimes against women characters.  Clara Oswald was a dull character who was supposed to have strong traits, but never managed to show them.  She could have been played by a washcloth on a stick with 'Clara Oswald: Strong Female' stitched on it.  In the last episode of the latest series The Mistress describes her as a 'control freak'.  What?  I never got that.  You can't just say that without having the character display it.  She was deceitful and wilful when she wasn't being a compliant puppet, but control freak?  And her wilfulness was always used in the most stupid way, in order to advance a plot that was in danger of plunging down a hole and managed to find another one.  Not that plot holes worry Steven Moffat much...

...Because, as Cracked observed, Doctor Who currently lives in a fucking plot hole.  And fuck does it.  I couldn't even tell you what the last few episodes were about, they were such a mess.  I have been chided in the past about my stories lacking internal logic.  You know, that thing where, no matter how nonsensical something is in a story, it makes sense in context.  Sapphire and Steel was great at it.  Most people couldn't follow what the fuck was going on, but there was a sense of some underlying logic that you just didn't understand.  Current Doctor Who tosses that out the window BECAUSE SOMETHING FUCKING COOL IS HAPPENING!  That only works in small doses, when entire episode are full of contradictions it gets tiresome.  It feels like the writers have been throwing things on a page and hoping they miraculously come together.  That only works with stir fries.

I could even forgive the twisted mess the stories have been if they had been interesting, but they have completely lacked any kind of excitement.  You can see they want to be, like the kid who's wearing the glasses and drawn-on scar, really wants to be Harry Potter, but doesn't quite do it.  Russell T. Davies wasn't great at this kind of narrative excitement, but he did manage it, possibly by pure chance, in all the arm-flailing and scurrying around.  These recent episodes have been plodding affairs desperately pointing at the screen and shouting, "See!  Excitement!" while pointing at a tree.  The stakes never felt that high.

The stakes should have felt high, since the reboot, the series has been running on series-wide arcs.  These in themselves aren't a problem, but it's the need for a new story every week that's ground down the poor show.  It's the same problem that dogs American television, with its obsession for twenty-two and -four episode series.  It gets tired.  There's only so much that can be mined out of a premise.  Before for Doctor Who, that took almost thirty years, with the previous longer-form, multi-part stories, but it's been accelerated this time with so many stories being thrown at us in a series.

And the cardinal problem, for me, is that in a show called Doctor Who, we haven't seen that much of the Doctor.  Whether that's actually the case, I don't know, I'm sure some pedant will show me a spreadsheet showing, empirically, the Doctor was in the show the most.  The problem is, stories don't run on empirical evidence, they run on feelings and if you leave viewers feeling like the eponymous character hasn't been seen enough, you've done something tragically wrong.  Yes, they pulled it off in Blake's Seven, but there was actually a valid narrative reason: Blake was dead.  What's Doctor Who's excuse?  Steven Moffat wants to concentrate on Clara and Danny going down to Asda?  We really need to know how many times a week they see each other?  Come on, that's not drama, that's a desperate bid to make people turn of the television.

For me, after discussing it with my wife, it comes down to a basic problem: Doctor Who is a pure nostalgia-fest.  People who watched the original run, like yours truly, and loved it.  We are hoping for a snippet of that feeling, but for me at least, it's not coming.  I've tuned in week after week only to be disappointed and bored again.  Yes, there have been good things, but they're bogged down and buried by the utter shit.  Don't trot out that tired, "it's a kid's show" bit, because that's no excuse for shitty writing.  Doctor Who is tired now and I suspect a proportion of people tune in hoping it improves, only to be disappointed, their little forty-five minutes of sadness on a Saturday night for a few weeks.  This could be the only thing keeping it afloat.

After the Christmas episode, I'm out, and I'll probably cringe my way through that.  I can't handle the disappointment any more.  I can't handle the fucking terrible stories, either.  The final episode of the recent series was an exercise in not creating tension.  It was remarkable that scenes with a plane besieged by Cybermen could be so boring.  It was so bad I can't even come up with an amusing simile that encapsulates tedium.  But Michelle Gomez was fucking amazing.

There are some things that can be done to improve it: for a start, give us the Doctor, doing things, being mad, solving problems like a fucking beast.  He's smart and he's resourceful, but that hasn't come across well recently, because he's been mostly absent.  Ditch the cult of the companion, it's the worst while giving us an interesting companion, even go so far as a non-human or non-contemporary human.  Think through what's happening in the story more, dude.  Pulpish madness only works when there's a baseline somewhere, without that, doesn't matter how mental that baseline is, the viewers are floating around with a nothing plot.  I'd even plump for longer story arcs, two or three episodes to tell a story and let it breath more – the, "woo! thrown into the plot" thing makes me weary.

None of the above will happen, mind you.  Too many people are vocal in their love of Doctor Who, but for me it's lost its appeal.  It's a bit sad, but I'll be off watching things that are fun, instead of hoping for another episode of Doctor Who to end.

* I may have jumped up and down clapping at one point.  It's out there, deal with it.

** Hyperbolic?  Me?  I resent your unspoken implication and challenge you to a duel.  That I won't turn up to and call you a prick for going.

Yeah, I skipped the series with Catherine Tate, because I found her comedy vapid and unfunny, I couldn't imagine watching her as a companion.  I might have been wrong in my assessment, but that's where we are.

Before anyone starts shouting at me for some misogynistic slight, Danny Pink could have been played by another washcloth on a stick with 'Danny Pink: Man'.


Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Yes, We Do Have Priorities.

"Stop talking about this and think about this!" I've been seeing this sentiment a lot recently.  My language might be vague and you're probably already wondering, after a whole sentence, why the fuck you clicked on this blog.  You need to bear with me.  I have a point, but I'm going to waffle a bit before I get there.  Make yourself a cup of tea or relax yourself with some porn, whatever it takes, I'll be waiting*.

Done?  Got yer tea and biscuits in comfortable reach.  Cleaned up?  Dribbled tea everywhere when you thought you'd be a smart arse and try to do both things at once?  Sicko.  We'll assume you've done whatever thing you needed to relax yourself and we'll say no more.  Especially about the stains.   Oh, the stains.

You know when you see something so odd that it stops you in your tracks?  Sometimes you go, "Oh, right," and carry on with your day and pour out those cold beans from the can and shovel them into your mouth**.  Sometimes that weird thing gets you thinking.  It could be anything, but let's go with a celebrity's face suddenly changes to something unrecognisable.  It's obvious that's she's had work done.  Enough to alter the way she looks so drastically.  Now, I don't think it's fair to shame her, she's a victim of a hypocritical system that pulls women one way then another, mocking them for just about any decision they make.

The small rumble of interest caused a few people to start wailing about all the other things wrong in the world.  Excuse me?  "There are more important things in the world than Renée Zellweger's face!" No kidding, crazy person.

Even stranger, and more odiously, was when Nigel Farage waded into the vague nonsense that was the UKIP Calypso this week.  Now, the song was an offensive piece of crap on a number of levels, and I'm not going to link it.  But the pan-faced goblin that is Nigel Farage got on his high horse in the Independent.  He does the same, "There are more important things to be angry about," rant and then points, obliquely, at Ebola and more blatantly at historical child abuse in Rotherham.  In this article you can almost see the straining erection he has for getting more column inches and air time for such a stupid thing and then thrusts a veiny, probably corkscrew-shaped stiffy in the faces of anyone close by.  It was easy publicity for a racism-factory that runs on a sticky fuel of grubby attention.

This curious phenomenon of pointing at things that are more important to shift attention away from something seen as fairly trivial does a disservice to people in general.  You are aware that we can give thinking time to other things, right?  Some things make a bigger impact, and time does dull them – be honest, in a few months both of the examples above will be forgotten.  By squealing about them you've got people thinking about them for longer and perversely taking attention away from the thing your trying to point out.  People are weird, contrarian and arseholey about that.

People do need to think about other things than all the horrible shit that's going on in the world – even if it is a minor scandal or uproar – because we would become either fatigued or humourless existers who can't do eat because they are stuck in constant sad face.  It's like having a tiny bit of salacious gossip and screaming at the person, "I don't care if he fell into bed with his brother-in-law's wife, what about fucking PALESTINE§!?"

Yes, giving any thought to the small things is silly, and that's kind of the point.  We're still aware of the giant ogres and injustices stomping around the world, we just need something to take the edge of or we'd go fucking nuts.  I notice no one ever berates anyone for looking at cute animal vids on Youtube.  Sometimes we need something less horrible to be able to deal with the nightmarish shit that's going on.

And then, of course, looking at my half-formed examples above more closely, you'll start to see that they're indicative of much bigger issues with society.  Poor Renée Zellweger is a new poster child for our fucked up attitudes towards women – she shouldn't have felt the need to use surgery to look younger, but she conversely shouldn't be pilloried for doing it.  Nigel Farage and UKIP are fucking cancerous political spectres, stoking hatred against certain demographics, giving voice to the worst kind of bigotry and polishing it up as mainstream politics.  You know why Farage and his particular breed of ghoul are trying to do this?  To line their already pretty money-padded pockets.  They are an expression of our greedy-shit political system, amplified to a chinless guffawing, hundred pound note-smoking, poor-mocking caricature straight out of a Dickens novel.

In Nigel Farage's case in particular, you have to ask who benefits from the distraction: the song itself was a distraction on its own, but still shone a spotlight on UKIP's spineless dickery, so Farage§§, the slippery fuck, did a bit of crafty sleight of hand.  He got publicity for the party while diverting attention away from their abhorrent policies.  He's clearly been getting lessons from David Blane§§§.

So, everyone, just calm the fuck down, take a deep breath and let's just agree that Nigel Farage is a cunt.

* Just keep thinking about that when you're trying to crank one out.

** Oh?  That's just me.  Okay.  Fuck.

I mean, seriously, if the captions and headlines hadn't said who she was, I wouldn't have known.  No, Russell Brand, that's not a result of getting older.  Ageing a few years in adulthood doesn't cause that level of appearance change.

And, fucking hell, the BBC have been doing enough of that.  How much of Farage's tainted champagne have BBC execs drank to constantly shove that cunt to the forefront of political debate in the UK when UKIP are still essentially a fringe party.

§ But really it's still fucking awful there.

§§ He might be a giant grinning thumb, but he's a sharp grinning thumb, that's why he's so dangerous.

§§§ Is that charlatan shithead still around?  Levitation, fucking hell.


Wednesday, 1 October 2014

And Lo, It Happened.

A short one after a long absence.  I've just had all the wind knocked out of my sails.

I write this a week after the No voters won*.  It's still raw.  I was going to go on a rant, but this post covers everything already.  Just add something about a moronic war and fracking fucking everywhere.

I will say I'm a tiny bit more optimistic than I was last Friday.  There's been this groundswell of political interest as some No voters are realising just what they've done and incensed Yes voters rally to push change.  I say I'm only a bit, because, like the promises made by the three main parties a day or two before the referendum, there is no politic interest or will in Westminster to listen to us uppity Jocks.  Labour and the Tories will simply turn away and pretend it's not happening.  I hope I'm wrong and the collective force of will affects change, but will hope be enough?

* I say won, but they're swimming in the same shit as the rest of us, only some of them are grinning and gloating about it.


Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Goddamn It! It's Not About THAT!

I'm going to insult some of you.  Yeah, I've probably been insulting your intelligence in this blog for a while, but today, I'm just going to come out and say it, I'm going to insult you.  To be honest I think the ones I'm going to insult need it.  Probably won't achieve much, but...well, I haven't thought much past that.  Rest assured there's a good reason, I'm sure you'll come up with one, you brainless fuck.

Got this booklet through the door this morning.  Actually, this afternoon, since the poor, overworked postman would be shoving the bloody things through every single fucking door.  The booklet was called What Staying in the United Kingdom means for Scotland.  It claims to be information.  It reads like a fucking book full of patronising orders and flimsy proclamations to me.  It's a publication created by the vested interest of Westminster*.

And it was the final straw on whether I should go off on a fucking rant about the question of Scottish independence.  I'll tell you right now, I'm for it.  Just get that right out there before any ambiguity can set in.  I'll be voting yes.

Do you want to know why?

Probably not, but I'm going to tell you.  I'm sick of London being the centre of every decision made in this country.  It feels like every political and fiscal decision made by the UK government is for the benefit of the parasitic resource sink in the south east.  I have nothing against London, it's a wonderful place to visit, but that doesn't mean I want every decision made in the rest of the country used to prop it up.  It's not right and it's not fair.  Money and people who would benefit areas like Yorkshire, Cumbria and Central Scotland are drawn to the city to the detriment of these places.  How the fuck is that right?

It's like the clichéd school bully who demands your lunch money and gives you nothing but pain in return.  The rest of the country only gets inflated house prices in return for sending tributes of people and money to the insatiable London.  A whole country can't be used to finance a single city.

Yet we, the Scottish people are urged to stay with this abusive relationship, because, we're condescendingly informed, it's better for us.  Yeah, I like being scudded in the head with a cane while some cunt who has enough money already dips my fucking pocket.  And none of the current national parties will do anything different, because we have a bunch of creepy career politicians who are beholden to equally creepy business interests.  Rich folk helping out rich folk, aye they have our best interests at heart.  Bunch of fucking cunts.

And you do realise why some of the Better Together people are shouting so loud, right?  No?  How about if I say they're MPs?  That help you out?

They are another vested interest.  What happens to all those Scottish MPs in the event of a 'Yes' vote?  That's right, they don't get their subsidised trips to London any more.  Oh no!  Their relevance will twirl away down the toilet.  You know and the nice, generous expenses and chance at a juicy peerage.  But of course the money and title has nothing to do with it, it's all about doing the best for their constituents.  I do wish there was a sarcasm tag.

Let's be clear, too, this isn't some wrong-headed Braveheart** pish about fucking the English.  That has nothing to do with it.  I think the rest of England could benefit from getting shot of slimy shits that inhabit Whitehall.  The UK government doesn't really represent Scotland or the rest of the country as it stands.  If the current UK government wasn't hacking up the NHS or punishing poor people for not having enough money or being led around by the nose by tabloid journalism, I might waver a bit more, but what we see is Tories and LibDems slashing at the infrastructure of welfare and finger-fucking the wounds.

And that's another thing, all the fuckwits who think "I don't like Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon," is a valid reason for voting no, please take a swim in the North Sea with bowling balls tied to your legs, because your diminutive IQ is dragging the rest of us down.  Yeah Salmond is an egotistical goon, but we don't need to have him forever.  An independent Scotland will still be democratic, we won't suddenly become a dictatorship.  Vote the fucker out once we have our own country.  Simple as that.

I'm sure there's a chance he'll turn on us when he gets into office, but I'd rather take that chance over dealing with the Westminster fuckers who've shown they'll happily slit a newborn's throat if it got them a few extra coppers in their pockets.  The breed at the top in the Houses of Parliament at the moment are the most heartless, corporate and ideology-driven fungal-infections you can imagine.  In it together; or in it for themselves?  You shouldn't need to think about that if you follow the pattern of their behaviour.

Essentially, if you vote 'No' to independence you've forfeited your right to complain about any Westminster government, because you told them you were happy to let them continue to do whatever the fuck they like.  I mean they've already fast tracked privatising the Royal Mail, what kind of shit is that?  Who's to say the next government won't start to renege on devolution, because, "Clearly you want to have more to do with Westminster.  Why else would you stay in the union.  Come, this will only hurt forever."

Tell me you can't imagine that walking modelling balloon David Cameron doing something like that to appease the great Maggie.  Seriously, can't you just imagine him having a shrine to Margaret Thatcher in his bedroom, with the mask he makes his wife wear when he's fucking her hung up next to unnervingly intimate photos of Thatcher?  David Cameron and that smirking goblin Nigel Farage show the same contempt for Scotland as Thatcher did.  It's the same contempt they hold for anyone not as rich as them.  You want a shit-monger like Cameron to still be making decisions from Downing Street?  Fuck, do you want barely there political drone Ed Milliband in Number Ten?  What sort of hell do you think he'll rain on Scotland?  Those adenoids are just waiting for their revenge, people!

Then you have the leaders of the Scottish Labour party and the Scottish Conservative party, Johann Lamont and Ruth Davidson, who hold the people of Scotland in such little worth they don't believe we can think for ourselves.  Johann Lamont just out and said it.  Ruth Davidson hasn't in so many words, but, because she's a Tory, it's an easy bet she believes it, too.

They all subscribe to the same corrosive notion that rigid capitalism is the most sensible economic option.  Yeah, and trickle-down economics works.  Fucking hell, the idea of infinite growth for anything is the most preposterous notion ever conceived.  Not to sound hysterical here, but it's a big old lie.  It's a lie to keep already frighteningly wealthy and powerful people in the power and wealth they think is their right.  It's the same lie that's led to sell offs of public services or the barmy notion that public services should be profitable.  That's not the benchmark of a public service's worth; efficiency isn't decided by how much money electricity, public transport, the postal service or healthcare makes, it's how well it's they're doing to stop society from crumbling around our ears.  Taxes from the businesses these services help to support should be invested, not wrenched in bloated bills from the pockets of normal people.  The fact that Westminster politicians are so cowardly and lacking in imagination to dare deviate from this dogmatic bollocks scares the living shit out of me and it should you, too.

Do you really want to be still part of that shit?  If you do then you're a fucking moron.  You don't deserve my respect.  Or air, for that matter.

I'll concede, though, both sides in this campaign have been guilty of being cagey on several subjects.  It's not been a nice campaign.  The Yes side have stooped as low as the No side and that's fucking shameful.  We shouldn't let this political bickering put us off getting our own country.  The transition won't be easy, my friend, but there's a chance it will be worth it.  Can it really be as bad as what we've had shoved down our throats already?

* There's a brilliant ripping apart of it here.  Or there was.  The fucking links died hasn't it?

** I fucking hate that piece of shit button-pressing film.  It's not about freedom, it's about a fucking sociopath annoyed because he can't get his dick wet.

Dude, already happened, wipe the spittle away.


Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Tut tut tut. I'm So Disappointed in You.

It's been a little while, hasn't it?  Not quite as long as before, but I've been quiet for the better part of a month.  Not that you'd notice.

Why?  Well because none of your fucking business, nosy bastard.

I've been waiting for something to strike me just the right way to say something about it.  I've also been holding back on something that will come in time.  Oh, my yes, I got me a big bag of bile right here on that score.

So, this little bit of fuckwaddery was brought to my attention.  Read it and let it sink in, right under your skin, that burning itch is normal.  One Direction fan fiction given a huge advance and now being adapted into a film.  This isn't a precedent, because a previous fan fiction bod got a book deal out of her work.  Loving the Band was rushed to e-book, without much said about the advance.  Actually I noticed the Independent was curiously reticent about giving any kind of details on the deal, kinda weird, doncha think?

The new one seems even worse, because there's this suggestion that there hasn't even been an editing process.  Ahem, what?  Are you fucking kididing me?  This blog led me to this blog.  Our erstwhile writer in the second blog is, understandably, bemused.  I'm fucking furious.

As she points out, we writers* are told when we start out on the long, frustrating, painful road that we have to be at our fucking best.  Hone our shit to a razor-sharp edge and then, maybe, a publisher might arch an eyebrow in interest.  Once we've been allowed in by the erstwhile gatekeepers we are sent to editing boot camp.  I know a few professional writers who go through the wringer with edits to get their work in what is considered publishable shape.

Yet, we see this girl get her work fast-tracked by the publisher.  Not her fault.  I'm not angry at her, there's no point, she's probably delighted to have her work in print and getting a fat cheque for it and let her enjoy it.  As Jenny Trout points out, there's always a chance Anna Todd might mature into a good writer.  Although looking at Emily Baker, that might not hold.   The people my ire is aimed at are the publishers.

This will probably mean I'll never see my work in print, but, fuck it, the more people who point this shit out, the better.

This kind of thing is part of the same horrible decline that's happening with the film and music industries: risk-averse bullshit where the blandest shit is shoved at us in pretty packaging.  New things are to be shunned if they don't instantly have millions of people clamouring for it.  Anything that makes even a wee bit of money is jumped on and aped, without understanding why it's popular.  So publishing has followed suit, getting quick-fix crap on the shelves and paying the often vacuous cardboard cut-outs we call celebrities wads of money for ghost-written drivel.

It feels like the industry is kicking sand in the face of people like myself, hungry for a break, but told we're not quite good enough or what we're writing isn't quite right.  When poorly-written shit** is packaged and thrown out for public consumption like it's the pinnacle of writing achievement, we the mass of writers, who feel like we are kept out by this shit, we have to look askance at the big publishers and ask if they know what the fuck they're doing.

I don't know where to go with this now.  My anger's played itself out.  Impotent, impotent anger.  I'm going to lie down.  Really we should expect better from the big publishers, shouldn't we?

I'm a fucking writer.  I might not have success, wealth, fame or even earn a living, but I do the work.  That's how it works.

** Let's not mention that fucking shit-monger E.L. James who hit on the genius idea of shittily re-writing shit fiction.  That's so fucking expired it might cause me a stroke.

Don't get me started on self-publishing, though.  The advice for that makes you like a needy arsehole.  Nope, not for me.