NPR fund-drives often contain numerous allusions to “driveway moments”; times when whatever is playing on the car-radio is interesting enough to keep the occupants confined for several minutes after the car has reached the driveway. Together with Radio 4, NPR pulls this trick off on a regular basis – for example this evening: a segment on the peerless Fresh Air that reviewed The Singing Detective, 25 years after it was first broadcast on UK TV. The reviewer is palpably thrilled by this series, as he should be. If you’ve never heard of Dennis Potter or The Singing Detective then please seek it out. If you like it then you may want to watch this: perhaps the most profound, moving and inspirational piece of television I’ve ever seen. It’s the last TV interview given by Dennis Potter soon before he died.
In a nutshell – Dennis Potter was the man. He named his cancer “Rupert” after Rupert Murdoch, and he made some extraordinarily good films.
Hearing an American film reviewer acknowledging Potter as the genius he was makes me very happy.
Yet again we’re all pathetically grateful for an extra day tacked on to the weekend. Not everyone of course, there are a bunch of brothers and sisters who aren’t given this particular holiday – in the same way that my fellow workmates and I weren’t given the last couple of holidays. The entire notion of national holidays being optional is still weird to me.
Today M and I geeked out to the extreme: we went down to the canal to spot birds for the GBBC and while she was checking-off Herons, Cormorants, Cardinals and Mockingbirds I managed my first QSO with a stranger. This was using my cheap-arse “Baofeng” HT, via our local repeater. We chatted for around half an hour covering the usual HAM topics of traffic and HAM-hardware, but it got me really pumped to try and mess around with HF radio. He also gave me some advice about kit. Thanks Jim!
I make no apologies for being a nerd here 🙂
Reasons to be cheerful
- Work is mellowing out
- My dad is out of the hospital
- Lots of time to play with the TI launchpad
- Good birds in the house (our guys have been really nice companions over the past few days)
- Morse practice is coming along
- Still pumped about the impending Movie release
- Days off
“how would you like to be in the pictahs?” asked Brother B via email one evening last week. He told me that he was making a short film which he hoped to enter into a small competition organized by a local brewery: Dogfish Head. The only requirements were that it was to be western-themed, feature some Dogfish Head beer and be less than 5 minutes long. Cool! “What do you need me for?”
“To play a horse. Called Tutu.”
He sent me the script and it was short, weird, and funny enough to make me sign-up there and then. Tutu only had three lines and that didn’t seem like too much of a challenge, even to someone who hasn’t acted since he played Mr Pickles in the school play when he was 11 years old. Actually, that was a pretty challenging role; I had to sing a solo, the lyrics of which included the line “I’m a merry fish merchant, on Fridays I’m gay”. Mental scar tissue had kept that memory safely repressed until now…
But this was just a bit of fun, and B is a top chap, and it meant going down to Maryland for the weekend, which would provide a timely break from the normal routine. We agreed to meet up on the Friday night for a short read-through in preparation.
Riding home on the Friday evening bus, I re-read the script and started to wonder whether any of it was possible. For a start, we were going to be filming in a wild-west theme park…had they arranged this with the park owners? There was a lot of gun play; firearms in movies is a tricky business at the best of times, but in a theme park? Have they thought this through? Then there was a Matrixesque scene with a slowed-down bullet that the hero gets trapped in his teeth. This was surely fantasy…
It didn’t take long for Michele and I to realize that this wasn’t just going to be a handful of people messing about with a camera-phone; there were four of five people in B’s room, all disturbingly professional, and prepared. There was a shooting script, an inventory of terrifyingly professional equipment and personnel that would be joining us the next day and enough industry jargon thrown about to make James Cameron get itchy. The park was out of season and therefore closed, but we not only had permission to film, we had the offer of real cowboys on real horses for background shots, and real firearms with blanks that they use in their re-enactments.
The next morning at five-to sparrow-fart, B and I headed off to Maryland.
The weekend was spectacular fun and over time the details will come out together, hopefully, with the film. For now all I’ll say is:
- I got to be the clapperboard guy in a few scenes and it was every bit as brilliant as I thought it would be; I’ve found my new dream career!
- The sentence “Let’s not get any more spaghetti on the Cow” was used in earnest during filming.