Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Big Bloodletter

Ah, Big Brother; a third housemate - George - has quit. These days, when the going gets tough, you just leave. Not like the old days, when men were men (apart from Nadia) and plates were thrown. Get your nostalgia boots on.

Ghostbusters II

What a film. Early on, the gang are in the playroom of Dana Barrett's apartment and egghead ghostbuster Egon Spengler (played by the legendary Harold Ramis) mentions that his parents didn't let him have toys to play with when he was a child.

Ray: You never even had a Slinky?
Egon: We had part of a Slinky. But I straightened it.

Bank holiday chimneys

Friday, May 26, 2006

Introducing an eccentric alien who looks like Robin Williams

As phrases go, one of the greatest ever coined has to be "jumping the shark". The line originates from a scene in an episode of the American TV show Happy Days, when a waterski-clad Fonz literally jumped over a shark, a scenario so far from the show’s original premise that viewers realised en masse that this was no longer the sitcom they once knew and loved.

Wikipedia says:

Many have noted the shark episode as the moment when they realized the show was no longer worth watching, considering the scene to be unrealistic and of poor quality, making it impossible to maintain suspension of disbelief...

More recently, the phrase has been used outside the realm of popular culture, representing anything that has reached its peak and has turned mediocre. For example, if one thinks a stock or a sports team has reached its peak, one can say that it has "jumped the shark".

My sidekick Kearns has a briefer, but no less acute definition:

The watershed moment when a tv series starts becoming shit.

So far so good. I recently found out – and bear with me if you knew this already – that the TV sitcom Mork and Mindy was actually a Happy Days spin-off show. In Mork and Mindy, wacky comic actor Robin Williams played an eccentric alien (Mork) who had been sent to Earth to study human behaviour.

Anyway, now it’s time to coin a new phrase. Happy Days jumped the shark, then gave birth to Mork and Mindy (here’s how, if you're interested). You could see jumping the shark as the initial watershed moment – or you could see it as a prelude to an even more ridiculous, far-out moment: the moment when a show "introduces an eccentric alien who looks like Robin Williams".

How can this snappy expression be used in real life? Well, let's look at the trio of Labour party scandals that occurred in April this year. One might say this:

"When Charles Clarke's Home Office deportation scandal hit, it looked like the Blair government had jumped the shark. With the Prescott affair, it introduced an eccentric alien who looks like Robin Williams."

Mark my words, that'll be in the Oxford Dictionary of Idiom next year. I wonder if my readers have any good examples of when they might use the expression? It would be good to hear from you both.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Clash

Saw a nice bit of graffiti on Tuesday. All around town, there are an array of tube posters for Sinatra at the London Palladium, a West End show following the life of the legendary crooner. On the one I encountered, some prankster had smacked on a thought bubble sticker, so Frank Sinatra appeared to be gazing wistfully into the sky and thinking, "What would Joe Strummer do?"

I suppose you could call it "stickering it to the man", if you were that way inclined.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The electric goose goes, like, totally highbrow

Getting paid to watch Big Brother is a bit of a career highpoint for me. It probably won't get much better than this.

Read my Big Brother article here.

The Stockwell Flats: another Huw

You may have missed this, but a few posts down, Tufnell Park Huw (do read his My Thoughts Exactly blog, it’s wonderful) has alerted me to the existence of one of his pictures of The Stockwell Flats, which you can see here.

Huw also pointed me in the direction of onionbagblog, which is written by someone who actually used to live inside the Stockwell Flats. For some of onionblog’s pictures of the building, go here.

Here's another one of mine, breaking from tradition and looking in a more southerly direction.



Want another angle? Here’s how it looks from space.



I think this'll be the last Stockwell Flats post I do for a while. It's getting a bit tiresome now.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Going underground

Went to a house party in St Albans on Saturday and drank lots of beer.


Everyone had to come dressed as "London underground", despite the fact that St Albans isn’t on the tube map (it’s 20 minutes on the train from King’s Cross). The theme was a strange one, very open to interpretation, and perhaps successful because of that fact (and the bath of beer, above). My costume (well, prop which I carried round) was a visual representation of Piccadilly line station Hatton Cross:


Elsewhere, there were a number of schoolgirls (Grange Hill), a couple of rabbits (Warren Street), a young lady with twigs in her hair and a New Testament in her belt (Gospel Oak), a few tennis players (Wimbledon), a Rastafarian (West India Quays), a couple of cherubs (Angels), a girl in Dutch national dress (Holland Park), an Abba lookalike (Waterloo), a guy holding an inflatable sheep with a mound of hair in his crotch region (Shepherd’s Bush), a moustachioed white trash type (My Name is Earl’s Court) and a Sherlock Holmes (who lived on Baker Street).

Aside from my valiant effort, there were some other crackers. Alex Bird ('Birdy'), one of the boys whose party it was, dressed eponymously, doing a fine Canary Wharf. Here he is with St John’s Wood:


And finally, it would be wrong not to mention my friend Dan’s marvellously unsubtle 'outfit', which needs no introduction (Cockfosters).

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Investigating Islands

Find out whether it's really possible to love a band who have a song called "Where There's a Will There's a Whalebone"; my review of the new album by new Rough Trade signings Islands is here.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Molly

In the process of cleaning out my computer before I leave, I've come across many old files, some hilarious, some poignant, some causing an irrepressible uprising of nostalgia in my gullet. Then I came across a Word file simply entitled "Molly".

Molly was a collaborative project between me and Canadian Paul, a short film which we were sure would capture the existential elevator-fixated surrealism so prevalent during the winter months of 2004. Inspired by the disembodied voice in the lifts of the Endemol UK offices in Shepherd’s Bush (where we were stationed for several months), we were confident that the finished film would make our names and fortunes.

Inevitably, it never got made, due to the inherent narrowmindedness of the film industry. Okay, okay, we never got beyond a one-page Word document which got buried in C://My Documents/Will’s Documents/Personal/Writing. But never mind, here it is: ladies and gentleman, I present to you The Meaning of Lift.


The Meaning of Lift

Pitch
Molly is the disembodied voice in an elevator. Slowly, she becomes self aware, but has to disguise this transformation for fear of being decommissioned. She chooses to reveal her true nature to a young man called Jimmy, who works in the mailroom, but first she must convince him that her self-realisation is real and not an attempt by the company to entertain employees.

She must befriend him, while at the same time overcoming the terrifying realisation that she is a lift and will therefore never see the bright lights of New York, or a Shepherd’s Bush sunset, and is destined to spend her days going up and down for all eternity.

Broad story outline
1. Introduction to Molly
2. The process by which she becomes self-aware
3. Enter Jimmy
4. Molly's struggle to convince Jimmy of her emerging self-consciousness
5. Molly's awakening triggers a similar process in Leonard, the adjacent lift
6. Convinced by Molly, Jimmy spreads the word to the other employees, only to be mocked and spurned
7. Molly and Jimmy begin to fall in love
8. Jimmy realises his lonely life has many parallels with Molly's – he too is alone and isolated
9. While Jimmy is coming to terms with this, Leonard approaches Molly with romantic intentions
10. Jimmy gets wind of this plot
11. Leonard tries to sabotage Jimmy's plans to proceed with his relationship with Molly
12. Molly must choose: Jimmy or Leonard?

Copyright Will Parkhouse and Paul Tadich 2004

If any Channel 4 commissioners or Hollywood film producers are reading, you may be wondering what happened to my co-writer, the esteemed Canadian Paul Tadich. To answer your imaginary question, he hotfooted it to Moscow where he'd landed a job working for a Russian TV channel. The most recent communication I had from him was a disturbing email with the subject line "I win". There was a picture attached; it is included below.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Beauty or footy?

What a telly dilemma last night! Beer and cheering with Arsenal v Barcelona in the Champions League final? Or Pims and polite small-talk with the TV adaptation of gay Jamesian romp The Line of Beauty? You know that your choice is going to shake the foundations of your identity to the very core.

I made some hot dogs (macho) and opted for the football (macho), planning to record Line (sensitive). But then I forgot and swore loudly (macho). As I wrote this (sensitive) I watched a Jean-Claude Van Damme film (macho, but stupid).

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Time to go

Shock news today: Sum 41 guitarist Dave Baksh has left the Californian brat-punkers to concentrate on his own band, Brown Brigade. Following in the great man's footsteps, today I too tended my resignation at Teachers' TV. It's been a great place to work, but in a few weeks, I'll be heading off to pastures freelance (mainly for Wanadoo, but any other offers will be gratefully considered). These kind of "life changes" are terrifying: the dog of uncertainty runs free and the unknown beckons like the cruel hand of Death. And this one question keeps running round my head, over and over: how will Sum 41 survive without Dave?

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Another view

Entries for the Stockwell Flats: Different Perspectives competition are flooding in. Here’s one from Nicole (her blog is here) taken on her way home from work. Puts my pictures to shame, I think you’ll agree.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Stockwell flats: a new perspective

A nice surprise from my friend James (his blog’s here) on Monday: he’s emailed me a photo of the view of the Stockwell flats from his bedroom window. As I’m sure you know, here at Electric Goose towers, we’re always willing to publish other people’s perspectives / bow out to public pressure, so here it is:


Hurrah! This is the perfect opportunity for me to turn this blog into a 360-degree interactive community experience! Anyone who lives south London way, send me your Stockwell flats pictures now and I’ll publish them here!


Hmmm. Despite Venn Diagrammatical evidence to the contrary, we can still do this. Nicole, Jamie, Eleanor? I’m talking to you. Go forth.

Stockwell flats slideshow

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Answering back

Some retaliatory quips I’ve enjoyed recently.

1.
Context: Kearns is talking to his Chinese friend and wants to enquire about an acquaintance. Unfortunately he can’t remember the girl’s name, or her racial origin.

Kearns: Is that girl coming along? The, er, oriental one?
Friend: Oriental? She’s not a fucking takeaway.

Source: Kearns


2.
Context: A middle-aged woman on the bus; a man sitting behind her opens his paper rather noisily and the woman turns round.

Woman: I don’t like your paper in my hair.
Man: I don’t like your hair in my paper.

Source: Diaries 1996-2004, Alan Bennett

3.
Context: Erin Driscoll has just fired Jack Bauer from his job at CTU.

Erin Driscoll: I’ve made several calls, I can help you get a position.
Jack Bauer: I can find my own fucking job Erin. Thank you.

Source: 24 series 4 DVD box set

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

No comment

When it comes to blogging, I always get the impression that half the time people are more interested in reading the comments people have left than actually reading the posts. There’s something so enticing about that comments link that I'm sure readers often skip to it before they've got to the end of whatever fascinating insights the blogger has to offer. Admit it, you didn’t read that last sentence did you?

Monday, May 08, 2006

Ale these things I've drunk

Saturday was a funny day. In perfect demonstration of the fine art of balance, me and Sarah spent the morning in the gym and the evening at a beer festival. The Macclesfield Beer Festival was a strange affair, essentially being two big marquees jammed together and dropped in a field. Entertainment consisted of three bands, a hotdog stand, and 50 different types of beer.

The bar: pure glamour

I went to work, getting through eight varieties: Wigwam, I Can't Believe It's Not Bitter, Coastguard, Mr Sheppard's Crook, Fat Cat Bitter, Clansman Ale, Buckled Wheel and the pleasantly-named Leaky Willy.

Upon entry, everyone is given a free Macclesfield Beer Festival commemorative pint glass which drinkers then have to use for the whole night - and many end up forming intensely close bonds with their glasses.

My commemorative glass, back in Stockwell

Visitors to the festival also get a free programme, which contains great descriptions of each drink available. Some are baffling - "the perfect secession beer", some unlikely - "an aroma of heather and smoked peat", some even more unlikely - "very smooth, hoppy and Moorish" ('moreish', shurely?!), some esoteric - "late hopping with Fuggles and Mount Hood gives a floral, grassy and herbal nose" and some wonderfully poetical - "the sweetness diminishes in the aftertaste, but the bitterness lingers".

Friday, May 05, 2006

Sun pun fun

More profane genius from The Sun newspaper last week, who "reported" on the "story" of model Lauren Pope's breast enlargements in puntastic fashion (with accompanying before and after pictures, of course):

"LO AND BEHOLD, we've defrocked the pope... pouting Lauren Pope that is – and what a revelation.

For the one-time bosom buddy of Prince Harry asked plastic surgeons to altar her boobs, and verily they performed a miracle and her cups runneth over."

From the electric goose archive:
The Sun says... Phwoar!

Bauer reshuffles cabinet

The cabinet reshuffle that's going on is shaping up to be a perfect mirror image of the opening of 24, series 4, with all the old recognisable characters being ditched in favour of unknown new faces. Welcome then, Des Browne (who I'll be calling "Edgar"), Alan Johnson (Curtis) and John Reid (Driscoll). Uncanny.


More electric goose on 24:
An A to Z of 24
Apocalypse Bau(er)
Jake Joke
Absolute Bauer corrupts absolutely

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Labouring the point

Did an article on the scandals of the Labour party over the last year for Wanadoo... Read it here

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Pie in the sky

Inappropriate pricing galore in HMV's video section. Check this one out: you can get American Pie 2, on VHS, for £17.99. I hate to say it, but I think they've overestimated the value of seeing Stifler inadvertently drinking male bodily fluids.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The shapes of Rothko

Yesterday afternoon I found myself trapped in the flat, feeling rather cooped up and calculating how many books I'd read in the last nine years (answer: 488). The atmosphere was getting oppressive and I started to feel like banging my head against the wall. This would have invariably proved counter-productive, so I decided to go to the Tate Modern gallery, to get some fresh air if nothing else.

Unfortunately, I accidentally inhaled some sink unblocking fluid just before I left and, as a result, felt like I was being poisoned by the fresh air. When I got to the Tate Modern, I found myself drawn to a lowly-lit room of Mark Rothko paintings. On a normal day, I feel a bit of an affinity with Rothkos, as we got two free with our flat (originals, natch) - they're propped against the wall, one on each side of the television - but yesterday, the fuzzy, dark blocks of haze somehow particularly epitomised my mood of vague angst and physical sensations of faintness and nausea.

After a short while spent in the company of the nine paintings, I read that they were completed in the late '50s, and were influenced by Michelangelo's oppressive Laurentian Library in Florence. According to Rothko, Michelangelo "achieved just the kind of feeling I'm after - he makes the viewers feel that they are trapped in a room where all the doors and windows are bricked up, so that all they can do is butt their heads forever against the wall".

I go home and eat a couple of scones.

TV in lounge, flanked by Rothkos