Some Stuff I’ve Made Recently

So that I’m not sat at my keyboard all day, every day, I like to get out into the garage and make things – usually out of wood. Here are a few of the latest abominations to emerge from the sawdust.

I think this is one of the nicest bowls I’ve ever made, and it’s nothing to do with my acumen with a gouge. It’s just a lovely piece of Yew, with a nice cream splash on one side (don’t be dirty), polished to a smooth finish.

I tried making some wooden jewellery too, and this is the best I could come up with. I like board games, and this is called a Meeple, which is a universal playing piece in the board gaming world.

I found an old picnic table on the side of the road, and was amazed by the quality of the teak wood. So I dragged it home, dismantled it, and put all the wood to one side to slowly make things with. Here’s one of the early attempts at a desk tidy. As you can see the joints aren’t perfect, partly due to the nature of the wood, but mostly because I am inept.

And here’s a great big fat bastard bowl I made from Sycamore. Having a huge chunk of wood like this spinning at 1600rpm on the lathe is scary stuff, but it turned into something rather nice.

What have you made recently. Tweet me, and show me, I’d love to see it.

Or see more of these things on my Etsy shop.

That Time Eddie Izzard Wrote A Sitcom About Cows

It’s long overdue, so we’re having a look at another vintage magazine from the 1990s. This time it’s issue #56 of TV Zone, from July of 1994. Here’s the cover, which should please some of you.

But as usual, it’s the News pages that provide the most interest. Following on from the previous edition’s speculation that Alan Rickman had been cast as the new Doctor Who in the Spielberg produced US TV version, this time it falls to Eric Idle to deny any involvement.

He issued a statement after a news paper reported he had been offered the role, and a per episode salary of upwards of $70,000.

Reluctant though I am to forgo the enormous salary The Mail On Sunday has awarded me, I must nevertheless decline, as I make a point never to accept a job I have not been offered.

You can also see (if you click the image to enlarge it), that Peter O’Toole was rumoured to be in the new show too, perhaps as the Doctor’s father.

Moving on though, we remind ourselves of less voyeuristic times, with the announcement that Michael O’Hare would not be returning for the second series of Babylon 5.

“Various opportunities have opened up for the actor, and he has decided to move on.” The real story is much more sad, and can be found here.

It’s the Forthcoming section that provides the most intriguing things though.┬áThe first few titles mentioned did make it to the air, including ReBoot.

As did Samson Superslug.

As did Spellbinder.

But what about that pilot for Eddie Izzard’s sitcom about a cow revolution in the 1930s? That never got made, surely? Well, it did, though I don’t think it ever made it to the air.

What A Few Good Men Teaches Us About Preparation And Aftermath

Here’s one of the most iconic scenes in contemporary cinema.

As it stands alone, it’s still a great scene, not least because it has two characters with opposing points of view, both of whom passionately believe they are on the right side of the argument.

Placed in the wider context of the film, it’s the culmination of the story, and the pay off for an earlier scene that was just as compelling.

Kaffee has developed as a character, and comparing these two scenes demonstrates that perfectly.

There’s something else that makes the courtroom scene so good though, and that’s that the movie takes time either side of it. Scenes of preparation and aftermath are often overlooked for their importance, and if your big finale is falling flat, it might be because it doesn’t have these bookends.

Before the final day of the trial, when we have seen Kaffee’s transformation, and his excitement at the plan, Jo pulls him aside and takes a moment to calm him down, and remind him of the stakes, as well as giving him the choice of ducking the fight. This is important, because it bursts his bubble somewhat, and brings an extra level of tension to proceedings. There’s another moment of preparation after this too, when it all seems to have gone wrong, and the Colonel has won.

This is a nice reversal and speaks to the impeccable structure of this pivotal scene. For the first time, we see Danny rattled, literally rattling his glass, even after he has reversed the ‘ask me nicely’ moment, with his own ‘I didn’t dismiss you’. But it’s that glass of water that really brings it home. Without that, would this scene have been so iconic?

And what about the aftermath?

The movie could have ended on the Colonel’s admission of guilt. But we’re given time to let it all sink in, to see the consequences of the moment, and to revel in the victory.

Preparation and aftermath will make your big moments better. Think Rocky in a training montage, and Rocky calling for Adrian, if you need a shorthand.

[They] are unnecessary in the development of the plot of a story, but they are effective tools for heightening the audience’s experience of a story. A scene of preparation is one in which the audience and often the character or characters, braces for an upcoming dramatic scene … A scene of aftermath is one in which the character and audience are allowed to ‘digest’ a dramatic scene immediately afterwards. (Howard & Mabley, The Tools Of Screenwriting)

You can of course eschew these things, subverting the idea to make a different dramatic point. Take the ending of Seven for example. That gives us hardly any time to reset after the ‘what’s in the box?’ scene, as it’s designed exactly to make us as uncomfortable as possible.

That said, Fincher was aware of what he was doing, and on preview screenings, he explicitly asked that the house lights not be raised for a few minutes as the credits rolled. The moment of aftermath he wanted was there, in the audience’s own head, he didn’t want them dragged back into the real world until they had time to process it all. Inevitably, his instructions were ignored, the feedback cards were handed out immediately, and the preview audiences gave a ton of negative feedback.

What’s The Opposite Of Sprinkles?

It’s Friday, which means I foist upon you another meaningless episode of my pointless podcast setisoppO. In it, we figure out the opposite of things that don’t have a natural opposite. Like this week, we wonder about the opposite of sprinkles, tongues, and Pandora.

Somehow, we manage to reference Jam again, sorry.

This is what sprinkles look like in slow motion.

And here’s the opening title sequence to the Adrian Mole TV show.

House: From Idea To Pilot

As always, the Archive Of American Television is an amazing resource for anyone interested in making TV. Here are a few short videos of David Shore, taking us from the germ of the idea of House, through to the pilot.

From that germ, he bought a lot of his own interests and obsessions into the mix, fleshing out a good idea into a much better idea.

Recognising that House was the driving force of the show, he spent a lot of time working on that character.

Until they found this moment in the pilot that really captures the whole idea of the series, and lifts it above other procedural shows.

Leaving any writer with some sage advice.