Monday, 1 January 2018

The Liquorice Guillemot's Perch

I recently came across a character calling him/herself the Liquorice Guillemot, a blatant rip-off of your own correspondent. Rather than getting mad, I engaged this evidently bitter, angry little person in conversation and eventually drew them out on a matter close to their mean, flinty heart. To wit, their opinions on the correct use of social media, which I have reproduced below, unedited.

The Liquorice Guillemot's Promise:

I will not post up scornful broadside attacks on films, TV or other productions which other people clearly take delight in, in great numbers. If they enjoy it, fine, even if I find their facile lowest-common denominator celebrity dancing contest / Irish drag act / reheated old sci-fi franchise to be mere opium for the grunting masses. After all, it's just pretend.

Conversely, I will not post up preemptive 'Well I liked it, so there all you haters' posts, as they are also disproportionately aggressive for something that is just pretend.

I will not post up passionate commentary on sports games, either minute by minute as they occur, nor after the fact. There are plenty of professional sports journalists already doing that for us. I will especially not do this for American Football as I am tragically and irrevocably British, and there is something faintly desperate about a pasty Brit from the Home Counties waxing dramatically about the Steelers' or the Browns' performance.

I will not vaguepost. It is both needy and maddeningly uninformative.

I will not virtue signal. One's good deeds should be reward unto themselves.

I will not propagate memes which invite codependents to post up shared memories of good times, even if we only speak once every 6 months. Especially if they relate to live roleplaying games. My ego is not that fragile that it requires other people to say 'hey you did that cool thing once when you were pretending to be the archduke of Elbonia' to shore it up.

I will not address a diverse group of real human beings as either hivemind or intarwebz. You are all individuals.

I will not not post up my every inner bloody thought on subjects which are of no consequence to anyone else, nor will I exceed 3 posts per day, no matter how thrilling a picture of my newly painted spare room may seem to me.

I will not overstate any minor claims to fame that I may have by tagging in my more famous friends, or by accidentally-on-purpose mentioning a fabulous media event or celebrity that I have a moderate connection to.

I will not swear on posts, save for the odd feck, which is curiously acceptable thanks to Father Ted.

I will not post up photos of beheaded elephants.

I will not rush to be the first to announce the death of someone famous. They won't get any more alive or dead just because I blurted out 'RIP William Shatner' before anyone else and then changed my online avatar to TJ Hooker. I am not one of those people who wishes Bowie could die all over again just so I could use the Ziggy Stardust overlay.

I will not share any personal mental health issues online. The charity Mind suggests that approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. I do not need to know about the battles with depression of every fourth person I know online. By all means seek help and discuss it with close friends and family, but do so in person rather than the equivalent of shouting it across a crowded room of your entire social circle.

I will not talk politics, nor assume that everyone in my online circle is of the same mind. This merely reinforces echo chambers and forces meeker acquaintances of legitimate differing opinions to keep their heads down. This is also something to discuss in person.

Before clicking on Post, I will always ask 'Will I sound like a dick?'

I will occasionally post up funny material of my own invention which mocks only myself or made-up people. 

I may also cravenly adopt a new online persona purely to vent my frustration on the state of social media usage.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Suze's Do - the whole story

Rather than post up Act Three of my Choose Your Own Dinner Party gamebook on its own, here's the whole gamebook from start to finish.

As dessert is served, the party may end very much as you'd expect. Or perhaps not.

Click Pop out on the preview below and then download the PDF so you can make use of the handy go to links at the bottom of each section.

As with all trad gamebooks, you'll need a pencil and paper to keep track of a few numbers and codewords.

Have a go and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: 1976 & 1979

How have I never put this up? I wrote it up in 2014, inspired by a couple of homages to the excellent League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comic by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill.
(Not the movie. Never the movie. Which was never made.)

Like my own efforts, the spoof 1988 and 1996 incarnations of the LoEG consisted of characters from US movies, rather than Moore and O'Neill's more literary source material:

Subsequent to my writing the pitches below, some of the characters I used cropped up in the ongoing comic series (see Nemo: River of Ghosts), so I guess I was in the right groove.

If anyone fancies their ability to draw decent team shots of either group, please do get in contact and save me several hours swearing at Photoshop.

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: 1976

Gathered by the rumpled man in the hat calling himself K, a new League is assembled to face a satanic threat to America and the World:

Teenage demonic possession survivor Regan MacNeil
Fearless marine biologist Matt Hooper
Driven narcotics cop Popeye Doyle
Haunted outdoorsman Lewis Medlock
Taciturn martial artist Lee

Together they overcome Texan cannibals, murderous trucks and rampaging grizzlies before finally storming the Bramford, an unassuming New York apartment building where they must face the ultimate evil: the child Damian Thorn and his resurrected consort Carrie White.

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: 1979

Recruited, blackmailed and in one case literally rewired by shadowy New York businessman M, a new League is tasked with putting a stop to a sinister force intent on uniting all the city's street gangs under one charismatic leader. They are:

Resourceful babysitter Laurie Strode
Never say die debt collector Rocky Balboa
Historian and runner Babe Levy
Nurse turned avenging angel Coffy
Quiet taxi driver Travis Bickle
The silent, black-clad Gunslinger

They must run a deadly gauntlet through the turf of the Gramercy Riffs, not-so tranquil Crystal Lake, past Illinois Nazis and finally to sleepy Stepford, where visionary youth leader Jack Curry and his mentor Dr Christian Szell are busy creating the perfect society.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Suze's Do - Act Two

Here's Act Two of my Choose Your Own Dinner Party gamebook (see Act One here), in which sloe gin may or may not be drunk, past lives may or may not be revisited and the Burgess shale shelf may or may not be discussed.

Click Pop out on the preview below and then download the PDF so you can make use of the handy go to links at the bottom of each section.

As with all trad gamebooks, you'll need a pencil and paper to keep track of a few numbers and codewords. Make sure you have played Act One first.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Suze's Do - Act One

Hello. This is the first part of a Choose Your Own Dinner Party that I have written. If you are familiar with Choose Your Own Adventure books, Fighting Fantasy books or any of the other so-called gamebooks that followed them into the 80s and 90s, then the structure will be familiar to you.

Loyal pouchwatchers may also recall my earlier effort The Fright Before Christmas, which I wrote for the 7TV game a few years ago. There's also the thrilling half-orc detective adventure Murder Run which I will endeavour to post to the Pouch shortly.

Unlike traditional gamebooks, Suze's Do draws on a very different genre for its source material, that of the 70s Mike Leigh drama. Classics like Nuts in May and (of course) Abigail's Party. Not an obvious choice for a Choose Your Own I know, but I think it has legs as a play with many branching plotlines, though I pity the drama group that attempts to put it on the stage.

Please do have a go at this first act of the book. Click Pop out on the preview below and then download the PDF so you can make use of the handy go to links at the bottom of each section.

As with all trad gamebooks, you'll need a pencil and paper to keep track of a few numbers and codewords, but it's nothing too onerous. You may be relieved to know that there is no die-rolling in this; I prefer to let players stand or fall according to their own decisions rather than blame the capricious D6.

Disclaimer time: I should probably also mention that the tone is intentionally comic / darkly comic / dark, depending on the choices you make. Themes and subject are meant to homage both the source material and the period in which it is set. The author does not endorse the views of the characters. Apart from the bit about caravanning holidays.

Finally, I had specific actors from the 70s in mind for each of the characters in this story. See if you can work out who's who. One actor is actually the template for two different characters.

Fear not; the rest of the book is written and ready to go. If there is sufficient interest in Act One, we'll see about publishing the entire thing.


Act Two is here.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Zenith: the TV series

(Originally posted on Saturday, April 1st, 2017)

Cautiously optimistic about Amazon's Zenith cast. Laurie Kynaston from Cradle to the Grave is a good choice for the lead and old reliables Walker, Nighy and Teale are spot-on for the retired superhumans of Cloud Nine.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

We Have to Talk About Taboo

So the BBC's shiny period drama Taboo came to an end last night, and I think it's time we talked about it. To be specific, I think it's time we talked about how it promised so much in the first episode and then proceeded to deliver increasingly little with each installment.

What started out like a sort of Regency Batman of Monte Cristo, with dollops of mysticism and gorgeous scenery of equal parts East End mud and East India bling, soon deflated into a confused muddle of board meetings, growly monologues, pointless visions and shots of Tom Hardy striding through the mud with his special hat on. All structured around the least engaging trade negotiation plot since The Phantom Menace.

No, I didn't use an accent coach, since you ask 
Rather than rant further, I give you some alternative titles for the show that I feel are more accurate descriptions than the one which makes it sound like an aftershave from the 80s:
  • Jonathan Pryce Drops The F-Bomb
  • Bane Has Magic Skype Sex With His Deep One Sister
  • Look! It's Another Muddy Scene On The Thames At Low Tide!
  • How Come The Only Two Doctors In London Look Identical?
  • Sea Otter Pelts: The Crystal Meth Of 1814
  • What, So Is It Magic Or Not?
  • We Get It, A Boat Sank
  • Mark Gatiss Is Apparently Allowed To Play Any Character He Wants In The Style Of Widow Twankey
  • Just Get On A Boat To Nootka Fucking Sound Already