Monthly Archives: April 2013

Hilarious Teen Sex Fantasy

So I reviewed a Norwegian teen coming-of-age sex comedy kind of thing called Turn Me On, Dammit for Nerdly. It was pretty good, and my piece on it is one of the funnier things I’ve written for the site, I reckon:

Realistically I think I still enjoy these stories because, despite having been legally adult for quite some time, I still haven’t quite come of age yet and can still find something to relate to.

In Turn Me On, Goddammit, that thing happens to be the sexual fantasies of a 15-year old Norwegian girl. Okay, I think I might have lost some of you there. But stick with me.

You can read it here. If that kind of thing turns you on. My first collaborative comics-review post with Jack Kirby should be up today or tomorrow, which I’m kind of excited about, if only because my writing will likely be elevated by Jack’s infectious enthusiasm and economic wit.

[Oh, and I did finish that first draft the other week. I’ll post something about it and my writers’ group’s reaction tomorrow.]

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Stray Thoughts on Iron Man “THREE”

Iron Man 3 (or IRON MAN THREE as the end credits would have us believe, as if including the whole word as opposed to a digit makes it a more imaginative title) is a lot like those episodes of Mad Men or Angel where the lead character participates in voiceover narration for the first time ever; they’ve still got the same key elements and everything moves forward the way it normally would…but something’s not quite right.

That something has, I think, a lot to do with the inclusion of Shane Black as director and co-writer, replacing Jon Favreau who directed the first two installments, and results in THREE feeling like a tonally inconsistent movie due to Black’s constant bait-and-switch method of storytelling and undercutting serious moments with mistimed humour and occasionally hugely misjudging entire characters – not to mention woeful errors in casting.

Yes, I’m looking at you, Sir Ben. I won’t spoil the plot for you (except the fact that there’s far too much of it), but I will tell you that the Mandarin is the most pointless thing in the movie.

We go from moments that feel like Lethal Weapon to moments that feel like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and even moments that feel like The Last Boy Scout, which is funny because Shane Black wrote ALL of those movies and clearly has no qualms about ripping off his own back catalogue. I think I mentioned a plot earlier, as well? I saw the movie yesterday and couldn’t exactly tell you what the villain’s motivation was, which is a testament to the strength of the new characters.

Also a criminal undersight: not giving Gwyneth Paltrow nearly enough to do. Pepper’s perfectly capable of carrying large chunks of the film herself, much more interesting than anyone else (bar only Tony himself) and the fact that she’s reduced to damsel-in-distress status by the end shows that someone at Marvel isn’t really paying attention.

Despite all this, I think I actually really enjoyed the movie, thanks in no small part to Robert Downey, Jr. as the titular Man of Iron. I found him far too abrasive in the first 30 minutes but quickly warmed to Stark as his armour was taken away metaphorically and literally…before remembering that these movies have always played that trick. Still, RDJ makes the zippy dialogue sing and pulls off flippant and heroic like no-one else on screen. The action was inventive and fresh for the series, proving that it and Stark are at their best when given limitations (no flight capability, only having access to certain parts of the armour were all welcome nuances to fight scenes) and the post-credits scene didn’t make me feel like I’d wasted my time, which is nice.

…So why do I feel like I’d much rather watch Kiss Kiss Bang Bang instead?

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Things Mark Has Written Recently

Does what it says on the tin: here are a bunch of things I’ve written for Nerdly (née Blogomatic 3000) in the past week or so.

Warriors of the Steppe: Myn Bala review, in which a bunch of Kazakhstanis fart about on horses and some people related to Genghis Khan get stabbed a bit.

Baise-Moi review, in which a couple of French sex workers go on a lust- and booze-fuelled murderous road trip and nobody learns much of anything in a movie made thirteen years ago that looks like something Scorsese might have shat out as a teenager. Except that probably would have had some subtext. And a bunch of crucifixes.

Knightriders review, in which George A. Romero makes a movie in which medieval knights (in Pennsylvania) joust each other on motorcycles and nobody dies. Well, okay, one person dies. But there aren’t any zombies or crazy people. Well, okay, there’s one crazy person.

[It’s you if you don’t want to watch this movie by now]

Panel Discussion – X-Men: Legacy, in which I talk about a great new comic that doesn’t particularly feel like an X-Men comic or even a Marvel book. You should read it!

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The playlist for that last post

was as follows, if that kinda thing interests you:

(In particular, The State I Am In & I Don’t Love Anyone, obv)

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So This Is What Blogs Are For

There’s nothing quite like the isolation afforded to you by being unemployed, the only really permanent resident in a house and your major social interactions being glances at the holiday snaps and public announcements of people who it’s long since been unclear if you’re actually friends any more or just acquaintances you play online poker with.

I quit Facebook for about five months last year. Just now, I looked at a picture and it made me feel like crying. There was nothing particularly sad about the picture, but it just reminded me that I have more in common with the melodramatic, sex obsessed 15 year-old Norwegians of the movie I’d just watched than people in my actual peer group – though I’m not exactly sure who that might contain or how big it is these days. It’s thinking about things like that (among others) that made me quit FB in the first place.

Until recently, ever since I was a teenager I always had trouble being part of a core group of friends because I would have several I’d flit between. The advantage to this approach was that I’d always have a group to fall back on if I was ostracized from one, but the downside was that I never really felt that close to anyone in the first place.

This persisted right up until the end of university, where I would shirk my fellow undergrads to hang out with people relatively far removed (well, as far as they could be in a city as small as York) from that circle, but after the course drew to a close and most of my peers departed it became clear that I wasn’t part of any clique any more, and probably wouldn’t be unless I made a concerted effort to make some new friends.

I don’t really know why I got onto that. I think my point was something like: I’m not sure how to be friends with people any more. I can barely ask anyone if they want to go for a pint without feeling like I have to tack something vaguely productive to it so the other person doesn’t feel like I’m wasting their time, and the only time I’m in a big group with others these days is at scheduled events, birthdays and on no-budget film shoots, and even if there’s pizza and movies afterward it always just feels like an extension of work that needed doing, not something that friends do together when they hang out.

Thing is, I’m pretty sure that there are other people feel the exact same way, but I’ve got it so drilled into my own head that they’d rather see ten other friends before me that it justifies not making the effort to pick up the phone.

Okay, I think that’s enough. We don’t want this getting any more tedious than it already is or I might as well have put this on my Tumblr.

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Nerdly: GUN MACHINE Review

I just realised I never posted my Gun Machine review (on Nerdly, the reformed B3K) here. Well, here it is: a book I read and then wrote some things about. If you like your New York City cop procedurals shot through with time-travelling hallucinations, “cop voodoo” and healthy injections of jet-black humour, it’s really damn good.

(The book, not the review. Which is here. It’s not just words, y’know. There’s a video in it and everything.)

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A Short Film Experiment Update (#4)

So today I finally got round to actually scripting this chase film, after several weeks of ‘outlining’ (read: procrastination) and the realisation that I won’t have any idea what it’s going to look, sound, smell or taste like until I get the words down on the page – and even then it’ll only be a guess.

It’s actually been a pretty strange process this time around: usually with shorts I list all of the scenes then write all of the description or action that needs to happen in the first pass, and once I’m satisfied that everything’s where it’s meant to be, I take a run at the dialogue.

It’s not that I’m scared of the dialogue and writing it is like producing wine from my wang – quite the opposite. I love dialogue, actually, and often the problem is that I have so much fun getting the characters talking to each other that it completely derails any momentum that might have been built in the action until they opened their dumb mouths.

So I get the action in place as markers to essentially remind me THIS IMPORTANT THING HAPPENS HERE and that all the dialogue really needs to be is informative colour for each scene, rather than an actor’s showcase. So if I can’t see a sentence that runs the width of a page anywhere onscreen, it’s usually a hint that my guys are getting a little carried away.

This time, though, I wrote the first couple of scenes fully – chatter and all – then got scared of the middle and decided to write the end. After that it came to me that I wasn’t exactly clear on what my characters wanted to talk about (the plots of most chases aren’t particularly oblique, so the only expository lines that are needed are just to flesh out the world and characters, and can run almost separately to what’s on screen). So I opened up a scratchpad on Celtx and got Natasha and Clint – those are their names, FYI – yakking.

[I also made a playlist tailored to the genre for the first time. Have a listen if you like.* You can pretend you’re in my head and start pulling at the wires:]

Turns out the pair had a lot to say about things I didn’t know they would. Not too much, thankfully, but there’ll likely be fat to cut off as ever. Dialogue may well be my favourite part of the writing process, which might be a subconscious hint that I should think about seriously giving playwriting a go (though the lack of boundaries may result in a little overindulgence…).

Now it’s just a matter of deciding when they say the damn lines. More as it happens, but I’m hoping to have this first draft done by the end of the night, with my playlist to guide me.

*Oh, and if you have any suggestions for good chase music from movies or anywhere, I’d sure appreciate it.

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There’s nothing quite like a great pun to make your day, and this one’s right up there.

See also: every hairdresser’s ever.

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Kill your plans

Let’s be honest about this: I doubt I’m ever getting back to a regular schedule, and it just makes me look (more) foolish to promise things that I never come through on. The whole point of this site was to get me on a regular writing schedule, and if I’m only going to get to one thing a day it might as well be a creative (or paying) project as opposed to letting you know how bad I am at getting around to such thing. So how about this:

Some days I’ll post one thing.

Others I’ll post five.

And some (most, in all likelihood) there’ll be naught but tumbleweed knocking around this ill-tended saloon of bloggery to remind you that, yes, there are an infinite number of things that are more interesting to look at on the internet.

But, y’know. I’ll try.

[Also, because I don’t like leaving you lot empty-handed, you should listen to this:

I was recently reminded of the existence of this sublime remix of an already-great song by a band from my hometown, and rightfully decided it was criminally unheard by the vast majority of people. So enjoy.]

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The Zomblog Fundraiser For Hungry Undead

The Zomblogalypse guys (and gal) want your money, and I’d be hard-pressed to find you a good reason not to give them it (other than taste), if you can afford it:

Yarn-related perks. You don’t get those every day. Unless your dog really likes to knit or something.

If a Veronica Mars movie can fly past $2 million in a day or two, don’t these guys deserve their ten grand? Hit the link at the top if you think they do, or you could just click here if you’re really lazy.

If you don’t know what the heck a Zomblogellipsis even is in the first place, take a look at some choice cuts from the series to educate yo’self, son:

RELATIONSHIPS from Season 1, featuring zombie romance:


NATURAL SELECTION from Season 2, featuring the first appearance of Manix and “you can’t knit your way out of a zombie apocalypse”:

What, you want ANOTHER hyperlink so you don’t have to scroll all the way up to the top of the page? What are you, fingerless?

Oh, go on then.

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