The director of Smokey and the Bandit, Cannonball Run and Hooper, amongst others, died recently. Here’s an interesting article about the making of Smokey and the Bandit- Remembering Hal Needham and the Birth of Redneck Cinema.
Component parts of what could be the UK’s first-ever 3D gun were seized in Greater Manchester’s biggest-ever crackdown on gangs.
Police and other agencies have been involved in around 100 raids during a week of hush-hush operations, with more expected this morning. Fifty people have been arrested so far.
The petition is a call for the council to apply for another compulsory purchase order. This won’t save the building outright, but it would, if successful, wrest it out of the hands of Britannia Hotels, who have done sod all with it for 27 years.
Over 90 blank pages of Gove’s teaching wisdom – the perfect gift to put a smile on the face of any UK-based teacher. Empty chapters have individual headings, including: “My teaching experience”; and “Why teachers admire me”. Pages are lined for convenient use as a notebook.
I’ve written before about the Radio 2 series The Peoples Songs. A few weeks ago, they did an episode about musicals and I tweeted about my desire for a MadChester based one. A piece of whimsy I soon forgot about.
Then I found out about Sunshine On Leith.
If the Proclaimers can have a musical, then surely there’s room for one dedicated to dodging the rain and the bullets.
It’s still whimsy, but I’m going to kick ideas around and something may yet come of it. I’ll probably have a list of songs from ’88 to ’93 that I’d love to see in a film before I have any hint of the story they’d be hung on. But it’s a great excuse to create myself a Madchester playlist and watch videos like this-
You look away for a few days and they knock down one of the buildings on your walk to work, originally uploaded by spinneyhead.
One of the newer buildings, though.
Thirty years ago children’s cartoon Danger Mouse topped the TV ratings, beating even Coronation Street. But what happened to the legendary Manchester animation house Cosgrove Hall Films, which created the rodent secret agent?
Voiced by Only Fools And Horses star David Jason, Danger Mouse was the flagship of Cosgrove Hall Films, based in a quirky studio in the Manchester suburb of Chorlton-cum-Hardy.
I have a small stack of, mostly, Image comics from the nineties, a sharp knife and a guillotine, and I’m going to make some art. Working on some comic book themed ideas, my first series is going to be called “Crossover 1”. Two comics- Brigade series 1 issue 3 and C23 issue 3, collide in strips on the page. These being Image comics from the nineties, some of the resulting pages will be no less coherent than the originals.
There will be two versions of each page. A pages start with C-23 at the top, B pages with Brigade. Once I have a few more pages in stock, I shall be putting them up for sale on Spinneyworld and Zibbet.
In the wake of Mega Shark v Giant Octopus, we’ve seen the likes of Mega Shark Vs Crocosaurus, Two-Headed Shark Attack, Sharktopus, Malibu Shark Attack, Jersey Shore Shark Attack and Ghost Shark. All of them follow the same blueprint, and none of them is really about sharks. The sharks in these films could realistically be any scary thing. You could feasibly be watching Two-Headed Zombie Attack, or Megavampire Vs Werewolfosaurus. Which, now I’ve written it down, is something I really want to see. But that’s not the point. Somewhere along the line, the majesty of sharks became shorthand for generalised cheapo scares.
Yet I shall probably watch them all.
Tweed Ride, originally uploaded by spinneyhead.
I was looking for this when I bumped into the Hare Krishna parade. I found out about the tweed ride ten minutes before people were supposed to start meeting. By then I was already in town, without my bike. Not that it matters, I don’t own a stitch of tweed anyway.
Victoria Square, originally uploaded by spinneyhead.
I’m leafleting for the Green candidate in next week’s council by-election, which gives me a reason to visit places like this. Manchester’s first planned housing development, according to the sign by the entrance.
Fascinating place, I should find out more about it.
Every week, in homes all over Britain, lives are being ruined and families just like Brian’s are being torn apart by addiction to the Daily Mail.
But there is hope. You can help.
I owe a debt of inspiration to Clancy, because it was my fascination with his, and others’, technothrillers that led to me writing Sounds of Soldiers.
It would be remiss of me not to repost this-
The World According To Tom Clancy
I first became addicted to techno-thrillers when I was unemployed. Needing something to keep me in the house without resorting to daytime TV I scoured charity shops and second hand bookshops for anything to read. The only things which were less than a decade old were the free romance booklets given away with copies of More and the works of Clancy, Brown and their imitators.
I didn’t expect to like the politics and wasn’t surprised by the flat characterisation. But I was hooked and have now waded through a dozen or so of these bricks. It has become obvious to me that the genre adheres to a few simple formulae, as follows-
1. The military is always right.
Politicians have rarely been able to make sensible military decisions- influenced as they are by paranoia about backstabbing or spin- and there seems no reason why soldiers should be any better at making decisions about the economy. However, in the techno-thriller, the only people whose decisions are for the good of the country come from one of the armed services.
1a. Some parts of the military are more right than others.
Depending upon the favoured service of the author, their branch of the services gets more of the action. Stephen Coonts’ guys are usually naval fliers, Dale Brown favours the boys and girls of the bomber wings and Area 51’s toys. Clancy himself, who didn’t serve, is most balanced, even bringing in the Feebs and Spooks. Write about what you know, and all that, but sometimes there’s a bit of childish name calling.
2. America, America Uber Alles.
Even the rare Brit writing techno-thrillers centres upon the US of A. Other countries are only good for occasional specialists, who are still in awe of the Yanks’ military system.
3. Muslims are a bad lot.
With the Soviets no longer a plausible threat, most plots now revolve around the towelheads running rampant. (Though Clancy did take a little time out to show those uppity Nipponese who was still boss. [Debt of Honour]) Occasionally someone will comment that most Muslims are honourable people before proceeding to send hordes of them to meet Allah, but usually the only followers of Islam encountered are about to be used as target practice by the Marines. [Executive Orders, Shadows of Steel]
3a. China’s a bit dodgy too.
Pre September 11th, ragging on the ragheads had worn thin with everyone, and they turned their attentions to Mao’s boys [Hong Kong, Fatal Terrain, Sky Masters, The Bear and The Dragon] (though Clancy took time out again to slap ecologist about and defend GM and Ford’s right to build cars that need their own oilwells [Rainbow Six]). I guess that’ll be over with now.
4. Women must always be protected.
And wait at home and worry. And be prepared to give up their career to go where their husband’s job takes them.
4a. Jack Ryan is the most fertile man in the world.
In all of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan novels that I have read, the character has only had sex with his wife twice. And she got pregnant each time. This reminds me more of The Meaning of Life than a mature relationship.
5. ‘It was the sort of thing that only happened in bad movies/ novels/ TV programmes.’
An observation made by characters each time some horrendously contrived plot twist, suitable only for a bad movie, novel or TV programme, happens. As characters turn into franchises the twists are getting ever more convoluted.
And, finally, the award for being most out of touch with reality. In Task Force 61, the task force has landed, ready to kill a few Arabs. The commander is strolling along the beach. He marvels at how all his troops- black, white, hispanic- have rallied together to listen to the hard, raw, gritty music of the streets. The song- ‘You can’t touch this’ by MC Hammer.
Break out the baggy trousers men, we’re going to war!