Stingers 2009 Launched

NFM have quietly launched Stingers 2009, their lottery-funded new filmmakers scheme. Only 6 films being made this time.


Stingers Digital Short Film Scheme is broken into two strands this year – Mini-Stingers and Maxi-Stingers. Mini Stingers is open to new writing and directing talent. 3 short films will be made through the mini-stingers strand for a budget of £7,500 per film. Maxi Stingers is open to writers and directors with more experience. 3 short films will be made through the Maxi-Stingers strand with a budget of £12,500 per film.

Carl Sagan Sings

Today at 6.30pm on BBC2 you can watch Strictly Come Dancing. In the 80s you could take a trip through Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, a mind-expanding journey into the heart of the universe, with Mr Sagan and his comforting baritone drawl as your guide. It instilled in me a sense of wonderment and awe at the sheer overwhelming bloody beauty of… everything.

We are all made of starstuff, that’s what Carl Sagan told a 12-year-old me. That’s a nice thing to be told, isn’t it?

This autotune remix is silly and poignant, and features a guest vocal from MC Stephen Hawking.

I believe our future depends powerfully on how well we understand this cosmos in which we float like a mote of dust in the morning sky.

Len Goodman ain’t going to tell you that.

Fire In My Heart

A really simple, short and sweet song, with a (probably very expensive but) simple, short and sweet video. Aw.

I’d like to do a gig there sometime.

I really admire Gruff Rhys, but even so I would tell him to put his anorak on the right way round. You have to have standards. Mind, I sometimes have trouble dressing myself, too.

It’s six in the gosh-darned morning. Honestly, there’s really only any need for one 6 o’clock in the day, and that’s teatime. Any more 6 o’clocks are unnecessary. Welcome back to the joys of theatre in education, Harris! I can’t possibly be entertaining at this ungodly hour.


cheshire catDid you know your face can fool your brain into feeling happier? Just smile. Your brain will be so surprised that it will release serotonin, endorphins, and natural painkillers before it has a chance to think “Wait a minute, what does this chump have to smile about?”.

Ha. Take that, brain. You’re not the boss of me. Not so clever now, eh? And anyway, a really nice smile will make the world a slightly better place for everyone else, even if it’s just for a moment. Ah, I can fall in love with a smile…

So yes, even if you don’t feel like it, smile. Make a fool of your brain today. That’s what I’ve been doing. 🙂

“Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion… I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.”
– Kurt Vonnegut Jr

Yeah, Kurt, we were talking about smiling, not laughter, but thanks for your input…

Tears in Rain

Roy Batty is the leader of the Nexus 6 replicants in Blade Runner. He is played by Rutger Hauer and he makes me cry.

A select few films make me cry. Local Hero, wow, the last few seconds of that make me lose it entirely. The phone is ringing! Somebody answer it, tell him he can come home! Aw hell…

And The Iron Giant. “Su-per-man”. Aw hell

But Roy Batty is special. He makes me cry manly tears. I mean, my tears are always manly, they clang when they hit the floor then dribble off looking for a fight, but my Blade Runner tears are ferocious.

He is not human, he did not have a childhood, which is probably just as well with a name like “Roy Batty”. Children can be very cruel. School would have been a nightmare.

He is an android with a limited lifespan, and he knows the end is coming. “The flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long” he is told, “and your flame has burned so very bright”. Yeah, but that doesn’t help when the end comes. Because it’s harder to lose a flame that brillliant. Everything seems so much darker without it.

“I have done questionable things” he tells his maker at one point. Hehe, Roy, I have done questionable things, but I’ve never squished someone’s head in with my bare hands. Maybe that’s why I like him. His moral compass is so skew whiff it makes me feel karmically superior.

He fights. He fights for love. But his love dies, leaving him with nothing to fight for. Oh, he kicks Harrison Ford through some walls and snaps a couple of fingers but that’s more out of habit than anything. He knows it won’t bring his beloved, crazy Pris back and so in a moment of empathy with his pursuer he decides not to pull his head off. He doesn’t even try. I think that’s very mature of him.

And in the end he just sits down and dies. If I ever die, I would like to go just like him: cross-legged in the rain, amid a neon-drenched dystopian landscape, tits out, holding a dove.

I probably wouldn’t wear the cycling shorts.

“All those moments will be lost in time, ” he says, “like tears in rain.”

He is talking about seeing attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion and suchlike. But I have moments that will be lost like tears in rain too. I haven’t seen C-beams glitter in the dark but I have seen some really beautiful things. Honestly, even just this week. Even just today. The sunrise this morning was gorgeous.

Maybe I don’t like to think about the happiest, beautifullest moments of my life being washed away. But the rains will come, and time is an indiscriminate healer. Aw hell, Roy.

“Time to die,” he says, and he releases the dove and Vangelis hits the button marked “melancholy” on his big synthesiser and Roy Batty dies.

Aw hell

Why Bother?

Kurt Vonnegut is wise

Kurt Vonnegut is wise

Still and all, why bother? Here’s my answer. Many people need desperately to receive this message: I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people do not care about them. You are not alone.
– Kurt Vonnegut Jr

Kurt Vonnegut to the rescue. He’s talking about writing, but he could be talking about, well, everything.

Life is about the connections. You make them, you break them, you reconnect, or don’t, you make new ones, different ones. Better ones? Different ones. But always connect. You are not alone.

And I need to receive that message, just like you. Message received, Kurt.

I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”
– Kurt Vonnegut Jr

The sun is shining on me. I am happy with who I am and with the new shirt I’m wearing. I have a tasty coffee, an interesting life ahead of me and I am as free as a burp. Well. If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.

Red States

Live performance of Fredo Viola’s Red States from 3 parts of the world: Fredo Viola performing in New York, I Am Your Autopilot in Manchester and Scalde in Lyon.

Gorgeous song, flawless performance, perfect pop, and a lyric that shines a light on my darkness this evening.

Could mebbeez do without seeing Fredo grooving though. Fredo, there’s a light on my darkness, man. Have some respect.

Friday’s Short Story

storytellerJessica’s head rested on the car window, and she watched the trees rushing by in a blur of reds and golds. Autumn was her very favourite time of year, and the forest her favourite place. But the pretty colours couldn’t console her, not today.

She sniffled, and wiped her nose on the back of her pink woollen mitten.

“Mummy,” she whined, her feet kicking the back of the driver’s seat, “I love him. I’ll look after him. It’s not fair!”

“He’s not happy with us in our house. You didn’t want to have him put down, did you? Well, did you?” said Jessica’s Mummy, looking in the rear view mirror at her daughter.

“No!” said Jessica.

“No. So… look, at least out here he’ll have a chance, living in the wild.”

“But.. in the wild? But you said he could go and live on a farm. You said…”

“I know what I said, but I just don’t think there are any farms that would take him,” said Mummy, pulling in to the side of the road. “He’ll love it out here. He can eat… I don’t know, rabbits or something.”

Handbrake on, she opened her door, got out, had a quick look round. She stared into the dense woodland for a moment.

“He’ll be happy out here, you’ll see” she said, opening the rear door for her daughter to clamber out. “Come on”

They both walked to the back of the car. Jessica’s mummy opened the boot.

“Come on then. Come on. Out you get,” she cooed.

Gerald, bloodshot eyes wide with terror, leapt out of the boot and half-ran, half-stumbled into the woods without even bothering to try and release his hands from the gaffer tape.

“There look. See how happy he is?” said Mummy. “Now come on, let’s go and find you a new Daddy!”

Jessica sniffed once, and took a final look into the forest, to see Gerald run headlong into a tree and drop like a sack of spanners. She smiled. This Daddy was funny. She sniffed again, then climbed back into the car.

“Can we have one with a moustache this time?” she asked, as the car pulled away. “I like the ones with moustaches”.

Every Dog
by Harris
more tiny tales

Craig Ferguson

I don’t watch much in the way of US chat shows since Larry Sanders said “you may now flip”, but I find the sounds and images contained in the above video to be sticky like glue. It’s silly and joyful and so damned catchy, visually and musically. I can’t get it out of my head! So, as a problem shared is a problem halved, here is it for you. Squeal with delight as it lodges in your brain like an incurable comedy parasite.

I used to watch Craig Ferguson’s TV series, The Ferguson Theory, on BBC2 many years ago. I remember nothing about it, other than that he wore leather trousers, and that I enjoyed it (the show, not him wearing leather trousers. Although…). Who woulda guessed the act formerly known as “Bing Hitler” would end up hosting his own talk show on American telly?

I like him, and I’ve watched a fair few of his opening monologues on YouTube. It’s this one that I like the most, in which he challenges the audience’s reactions to the then-current “Britney goes bonkers” stories, and he talks candidly about his own battle with addiction. I’ve watched it a lot, and it never fails to move me.

Comedy should be about attacking the powerful… it shouldn’t be about attacking the vulnerable.

I agree. Why? It’s nobody’s business but the turks! Oh, God dammit!