Sat in a hotel conference room (The Stuart, Derby) mocking up a logo for Blot Inc. (literally 30 second work, we're in a rush). New tablet is working out well. Whilst desperately rushing for the trains on Friday, I made a rare impulse buy and purchased a fancy new Bamboo One tablet from Wacom. Granted, Wacom have been tableting for years and years but the last I had was a rather nafty affair and put me off them for a somewhat lesser number of years. Technology, fervent and terrible taskmistress she is, has since force-marched the company's brave engineers into producing tablets that record marvellous degrees of accuracy as far as capturing my inane, Lovecraftian scribblings is concerned*. I have put it to work sketching aspects of the Hearth from Win, following the new 'modular' design. Not yet happy, but will get there eventually.
I have gotten no work done on the sermon for tonight. My regular readers (I have more than three readers?) will know that I do a weekly sermon for the purposes of roleplaying (more on that later) on a server called Dark Age. I have largely retired from the server due to work and obsessions, but do still play my priest character by putting on small performances in a religious setting. Before I get back to Leeds tonight, I need to write and edit a chapter in Balatro, the Book of Hyaptus, Balite Saint of Fools. I have done this faster before but I actually have no idea what to write for this. Buggery. Similar lack of time spent on working out the religious lore from Win's Cult of the Mother. No time limit on that, can worry about when work and revision are handled.
The Friday train from Leeds to Derby is a familiar one, the Cross-Country (nee Virgin Trains) line from Edinburgh/Leeds to Bournemouth/Plymouth. Two weeks ago David and I experienced a moment of wartime nostalgia as, sat in the corridors of the seat-saturated service, we felt the joys of cramped quarters and freedom previously felt only by Jews huddling in trains, fleeing Nazi prison camps.** This week was worse. The standing passengers from Leeds actually stretched beyond the corridors and into the cabins themselves. I offer the following advice for those trapped in such conditions to avoid the tedium driving you flat out insane. Find the nearest approachable person (signs to look for: attractive, good posture, 'open' face) stuck in the same situation, give them your name and introduce yourself as a sardine. They will be completely nonplussed, so start asking conversational questions thereafter and this will successfully break the ice. Fail to and they'll immediately start moving for the nearest cabin out of stark raving fear. I will add hurriedly that the former happened... this time. Experience is almost as harsh a taskmistress as technology.
Most fortunately arrive in Derby to be met directly by Patrick, a long-haired gentleman I have met on prior occasions, dressed in a black suit. Given my own appearance (last entry's grey travelsuit and paisley-on-paisley shirt-tie-waistcoat combination) I feel slightly relieved to be alongside someone looking as obviously eccentric as I do. He offers to take me the 'scenic route', promising there will be ducks. I was not disappointed. Spend remainder of day adjusting to Patrick, Emily and other members of Neil's flat, including Kristine who I probably haven't met before but momentarily confused with Helen. When you tell an alcoholic you might have met them before but aren't sure, suddenly neither are they. The same goes for mescaline users, I've noticed. Not that I hang around with drunks and addicts. Obviously. Charles and Charles the komodo dragons agree.
Chilli is had that night by all. No less than four cooks contribute. Broth is just barely scavenged, as it turns out the second cook had no idea what he was doing (the first cook is actually quite good). Fun is had. Sleep.
Wake! Sleep. Wake! Sleep. Wake! Sleep. I despise this persistant sleep problem I have where I not only repeatedly wake up during the night but cannot manage to stay awake during mornings. Eventually get out to film work for the day. Long day of filming, play crewman for pretty much all of it (sound tech, jib arm operator, runabout), work out the 'voice' for Barry Pipes, a role with four lines and two scenes. Most challenging role I have ever undertaken, as Barry's voice is nothing like mine. Eventually end up with a very 'sleazy businessman' voice. Feel like I should have a combover, but too much hair. Maybe we'll just wait for David's fate to take hold before any of us can really pretend to be bald. Blame his Y chromosomes.
On that note Neil, James and I decided to go see Iron Man^ that evening and get dinner beforehand. Food was reasonable (at the Oast House, Derby) in quality if not price, but good decision made in sitting outside and ordering bottle of wine. Conversation passed between serious and light issues. Generally agreed that the five/six of us who did Comedy (still not using the alphanumerics^^ name, Neil) should return and start doing serious script and performance work again, with the premise that we should all be involved in every step of production (though not expected to be the best in each step). Think Valve's hiring policy. Truth is that each of us brings something to the table to make a great script, be it different flavours of comedy, different takes on an approach and the ruthless will to edit down one another's scripts to the point where they work. We are like Red, Blue, Green, Magenta, Cyan and 'Yellow' joining together to produce the White Ranger!^^^ Suggest we take a week this summer, get all of us together and do a stress test - produce a script per day between all of us (that is, all of us produce a script together). Write, edit, dry run and refine until we're happy with it. Also go with James' suggestion - we should all just go out one night and have a drink. Worth it.
Sleep. Wake. Sleep. Growl annoyingly. Sleep. Drowse. Realise it's twelve o'clock somehow. Panic shower. Dress. Port heavy equipment to film location. We spend the afternoon (2-4:30) in and around a men's toilet, filming a 56 second scene between James and I (Barry's four lines). Panic that we are kicked out early leads to shortened tempers. Neil handles well, provides diplomatic apology and reasoning thereafter. Matters are smoothed out. We return to a rather enticing setting - Dungeons and Dragons. James has become intrigued by this game (not as surprising as I might have thought, given his fondness for Warhammer) and has the bravery and ingenuity to straight out go for a lizardman rather than one of the standard races. Spend some of the evening setting up his lizard (who goes through many names, eventually settling on Itzaloq of the Ameran Swamps) as we are joined by Patrick, Emily, Patrick's friend Mike and Stuart, who set up their characters elsewhere. Distracted as Kristine returns, having announced that she was meant to go out an hour ago but has gotten drunk and is concerned about falling over. Cue entertaining conversation during which I pick up general tips on how to please my woman. Useful!
James and I venture out for ingredients and make a vast batch of chicken fajitas to the tune of fighting music (Bob Dylan, Muse, Greenday, Gorgol Bordello). Serve out food as my father calls and am required to deal with business. James chooses poorly at this moment to try and annoy me by repeatedly calling me to dinner. He succeeds - I do not like being disturbed unnecessarily when I'm working. Business sorted as much as I can deal with in limited situations, return to dinner. Much laughter is had around the table as Stuart relates the experiences following his tonsilectomy; ordering tea and dessert, then falling asleep and having the wonderful sensation of waking up to find tea and chocolate mousse ready there on the table when you wake up. We are joyously entertained before we get down to further details of setting up our characters. Everyone starts at level 4, so they all get a sudden wealth of money to spend and most fail to really spend it on anything, barring a couple of magic weapons. Notable exceptions include Patrick's character Karranak's decision to purchase a wagon and horses, then another wagon with a massive cage in it to put prisoners and undead in, Gorn the Shovel's decision to buy a shovel and Itzaloq's decision to purchase at the princely sum of 900gp the most useless object in the D&D world: a water clock. I will note that only James had the initiative to try bargaining the cost of his water clock down below the market price being offered. Since he was new and had money to burn, I gave him a modified magic missile wand to use as well (more on that later).
Karranak the elven necromancer (with pet snake), Gorn the Shovel the human fighter, Itzaloq the lizardman druid (with pet rat), Molly the human ranger (with pet wolf) and Cog the Hammer all walk out of Akbar's Discount Weapons, Wagons and Water Clocks and head to Akbar's tavern. Describing Cog came out as follows: "You see a massive half-orc built like a brick s***house, dual wielding a battleaxe and a warhammer with ten javelins strapped to his back like a massive fan." Karranak comments on his being a half orc. Cog: "Yes, I am a half orc! I destroyed the orcish village!" Cue travelling salesman NPC who tells them of their quest. To the south, there was until recently an orkish village which was mysteriously destroyed. Everyone looks at Cog. Then, everyone within was reanimated as wights! Everyone looks even harder at Karranak. Things sort of went downhill from there in a frankly hilarious set of circumstances. Without going into the whole campaign, there was a rather amusing scene where every single other player was trying to convince the 7' half-orc barbarian to enter a rage and burst through the door into the one house left in the village, dual-wielding an axe and a hammer... whilst on fire.
Normally I would sleep here, instead travelled back to Stuart's because I hadn't had a chance to talk to him in months. Talked serious matters, then less serious matters, then just general hilarity. Suddenly realise it's 3 a.m. and we're setting off for more filming at quarter to eight. Bugger. Back to flat, apologise, sleep. Wake. Butter sandwiches (?!?), shower, load belongings, to the hotel! Enter where we were at the start of the entry.
I am currently on the train back home to Leeds. Filming was great fun and we managed to get the rest of my scenes done. By now they may have finished James' scenes, but I honestly can't be sure. Given the thirty or so sandwiches we made in the morning for a dining room scene they're filming, suspect they may just be having a feast. Alas! Still, all in all a very enjoyable four days' work. Now I just have to worry about that damned sermon...
*For those entertained by Lovecraftian scribblings, horrors and singing, why not YouTube Shoggoth on the Roof? Don't expect a wonderous performance, merely a mildly amusing parody. Good for fans of the mythos and Jewish emigrants alike!
**I talk about Jews a lot, don't I? It's not antisemitism, I'm just not afraid to make references to highly contraversial races. They must be contraversial, they've been persistently oppressed throughout history. How often do you hear about a non-contraversial race being oppressed? Of course you don't, we're usually doing the oppressing. That's the English way.***
***Really, it is. Ask the Scots. Also the Welsh. Also the Irish. Also the Zulu. Also the Malay. Also the Americans. Also the Canadians. Also the French...
^Not as bad as some reviews have made out. No Superman Returns, but I expected an entertaining film and got it. Good action sequences, humour, Robert Downey Jr. Plot was compressed too much and not enough characterisation, but it was a two hour film. Miniseries would have allowed for more development. Nevertheless, worth the money I paid. Sneak preview at end of credits not as great as hyped, but worth a light smile.
^^kOm3dY, for those interested.
^^^Actually, that is a poor analogy. It is more like putting a wide selection of beasts in a variety of differing environments and having them fight to death for our amusement and the purposes of natural selection. The nimblest and most humorous efforts survive against the brutal ravenous criticism of our peers, yet somehow avoid being bland and generic and instead end up unique and charming. There is a bit of a rock-paper-scissors thing going on, too. I fear Neil too much and James too much to cut their work, but I do not fear David. Stuart fears David too much to cut his work but does not fear Neil. Neil does not fear David, but David does not listen to Neil, nor does he fear James but James will listen to Neil. James and David are like two female cats in a litterbox. It's hilarious, with the promise that one day blood will be shed. Possibly on a long moonlight night the pair of them will do battle with broken shards of a great weapon, fighting for the life and hand of their one true love...