Posts Tagged ‘humour’

nature-3125912_1280

 

It’s been a while, so I thought I’d share a little something I wrote a while back. Remember, when opportunity knocks you have the option to hide behind the sofa and pretend no one’s home.

 

The Farmer’s Dream

William was sleeping when the angel came to him.

He had been dreaming of hard labour in the field, ploughing and sowing. It was a common dream of his, one he’d often pondered the meaning of. He thought it was probably something to do with rebirth, or renewal, or fertility. More likely it was just too much cheese before bed.

In this dream, as in every previous dream of its kind, his plough would strike something hard, twist and buck in his hand. The dream would usually end there, but not tonight. Tonight the plough wrested away from his grip and sped off, leaving a deep groove in the soil behind it, merrily ploughing the rest of the field on its own.

He looked down at the ground, searching for whatever it was his plough had struck. A sharp corner poked out of the dirt. He dug away at its edges with his fingers, freeing it from the earth. He pulled it out to examine it more closely.

It was a box, about the size of his head, made of granite and marble but lighter than it should be. He was suddenly overcome by a strange feeling he hadn’t had on previous nights – he knew that this was a dream. He could feel the soft earth beneath his feet, could feel the cold rough surface of the box, but something was off; he was certain that he was actually asleep and in his own bed in the farmhouse.

“How curious,” he said to himself.

He looked around. The field was just as he remembered it from his waking hours, as far as he could tell. He wondered what would happen if he attempted to take control of the dream, perhaps to take flight or to change his surroundings. He looked at the plough retreating into the distance and willed it to come back. It didn’t.

“Perhaps I need a bit more practice,” he thought. “Let’s start with something small. Like opening this box.”

He opened the box.

A burst of bright light spilled out, blinding him. A great booming voice rang out in such rumbling tones that he could feel the soles of his feet vibrating.

WILLIAM, said the voice. HARK, WILLIAM.

William dropped the box in shock.

OW.

He nudged it gently with one toe. What was it?

WILLIAM, the voice resumed. ARE YOU HARKING?

“Um, I think you mean harkening?” William suggested.

GOOD, YOU ARE HARKING. PICK THE BOX UP, AND GAZE INTO THE LIGHT.

William did as he was told, though his hands were shaking so much he thought he would drop the box again. The strange voice rattled his back teeth.

I AM THE ANGEL OF DIVINE INTERVENTION. I AM TASKED WITH INTERVENING, DIVINELY. DO YOU COMPREHEND?

“No,” William answered honestly. The voice sighed, blowing the farmer’s hair back.

THEN I SHALL ELABORATE. I AM TO SET YOU ON AN ADVENTURE TO SEEK A GREAT FORTUNE. THE JOURNEY WILL SEND YOU FAR FROM HENCE AT GREAT PERIL, BUT IT IS OF HUGE IMPORT.

“What will I be importing?”

WHAT? NO. NO, I MEAN IT WILL BE HUGELY IMPORTANT. BECAUSE YOU WILL BE RICH.

“Well why didn’t you say that, then?”

BECAUSE… BECAUSE… BECAUSE IT JUST SOUNDS BETTER.

“Seems to me that sounding good isn’t quite as important as making sure you’re understood, don’t you think? Especially if you’re meant to be sending people on important quests.”

LOOK, DO YOU WANT TO GO OR DON’T YOU? BECAUSE WE DON’T HAVE ALL NI-

“No, thank you.”

There was a moment of stunned silence.

I BEG YOUR PARDON?

“I said no, thank you. See, I’m asleep at the moment and I don’t really know how long I’m likely to be. I can’t go on a long quest and then have to oversleep in order to finish it. Who’ll feed the pigs?”

OH, AHAHAH, I CAN SEE THE CONFUSION. NO, SEE, THE QUEST IS FOR WHEN YOU ARE AWAKE.

“Eh? How’s that work, then?”

WELL, SEE, I TELL YOU ABOUT THE TREASURE AND WHERE IT IS, AND YOU WAKE UP THINKING IT’S A DREAM ONLY I’VE LEFT A SHEAF OF WHEAT OR SOMETHING UNDER YOUR PILLOW AS A SIGN AND SO YOU GO OFF AND SEEK YOUR FORTUNE, GROWING AND MATURING ALONG THE WAY UNTIL YOU RECEIVE YOUR FINAL REWARD OF A KINGDOM AND A BEAUTIFUL WIFE AND SO ON.

“Oh, so the quest is for after I wake up?”

YES.

“I see. Well, in that case… no, thank you.”

LOOK, WILLIAM, I DON’T THINK YOU’VE GRASPED THE BASIC CONCEPT OF-

“Oh, I have, it’s just that I don’t want to do it. I simply haven’t the time.”

There was no reply; the voice seemed to be pondering this. William felt more was needed.

“Like I said, who’d feed the pigs? And the cows would need milking, and if I don’t get the field ploughed in time for sowing then I’ll be buggered. I can’t just up sticks and travel off to foreign lands seeking my fortune and battling monsters and outsmarting evil viziers. It wouldn’t be fair on the livestock, or the people who’re counting on my crops. So thank you, but if it’s all the same to you, I’ll have to decline.”

He laid the box gently on the ground.

NOW SEE HERE-

“No, I don’t think so,” William replied firmly, slapping the lid shut. The voice continued, muffled and confused.

wait, what are you doing? william?

William placed the box back into the hole and started to shovel dirt back over it.

are you serious? this is ridiculous … stop, william. william.

William didn’t stop. He filled the hole and smoothed the dirt over until the spot was indistinguishable from the rest of the field. He patted his hands clean on his trousers.

“Now then,” he thought. “Let’s give flying a try.”

And with that, William flew off into the clouds.

The next morning there was a long white feather under his pillow. He threw it away.

THE END

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I love zombie films. There’s nothing quite like a horde of shambling, moaning corpses to brighten my day. It doesn’t matter if they’re fast or slow, if they crave brains or are just generally hankering for a hunk of human flesh – give me a good zombie movie and I’m happy.

I love zombies so much that the first film I made with friends was a zombie film – you can check out the link on the My Films page. It’s not the best film we’ve made, but I love it nonetheless. It was fun to make, and ended with a punchline that I’m altogether too proud of.

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I would list Shaun of the Dead as a film I would have loved to have made. The RomZomCom premise is (a slice of fried) gold, and it’s so well made. I don’t just mean it’s well shot, though it certainly is. What I especially love about it is how tightly it’s written. Every detail, every joke, every event from Act One has a comeback or a payoff later in the film. From the obvious (“Next time I see him, he’s dead.”) to the more subtle (Nick’s pub crawl plan foreshadows the rest of the events of the movie), it’s a jigsaw that fits together beautifully. Hot Fuzz does the same, and though I’ve not seen it more than once I’m certain The End of The World is just as tightly plotted. It also helps that it’s immensely quotable, making it a goldmine for those who like to communicate almost entirely in pop culture references.

Shaun of the Dead is a love letter to the genre, from the biggest nerds the film industry had to offer at the time. The referential and irreverent humour really complements the subject matter, and the buckets of gore don’t hurt its case either. You can tell it was fantastic fun to write and to film, and that’s everything that a film should be. Fun, entertaining and exciting for the filmmakers and audience alike. Between this and Spaced, there’s a wealth of lessons to be learned on filmmaking in general and comedy in particular. If you’ve somehow missed out on watching this, please rectify this immediately!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to have a nice cold pint and wait for all this to blow over.

Yeaaaah booooiiii.

Growing up as a voracious reader, there was a time when I would read pretty much any book I could get my hands on, regardless of genre. My tastes have developed and become a bit more insular now, which is frankly quite sad, because it means I’m far less likely to pick up a random book and enjoy it these days. That’s how I came across The Road to Welville as a teenager – I read the book first, and was instantly charmed by the story and the characters. And when I finally got my hands on the film, I was not disappointed.

It’s the story of a turn-of-the-century health sanatorium run by one Dr John Harvey Kellogg, he of the breakfast cereal fame. A man of science and staunch vegetarian, he ran the health spa with one aim in mind – the promotion of what he considered to be a clean and healthy lifestyle. Away with alcohol! Down with red meat! And don’t even think about any of the other carnal pleasures, you dirty boy. No, it’s vegetables and electrical treatments and yoghurt enemas all round. He was an odd man.

Anthony Hopkins plays Dr Kellogg with a wonderful glint in his eye, having a whale of a time in the eccentric role. From his first appearance, you can tell that while Dr Kellogg is no Hannibal, it’s certainly a role to remember:

“A sausage is an indigestible balloon of decayed meat riddled with tuberculosis – eat it and die!”

Strong words.

The rest of the cast do an admirable job too, though they’re acted off the screen whenever Hopkins appears. That’s just fine, though, because such a strange character requires a larger than life performance, so it fits nicely. John Cusack is especially good as a naive young huckster hoping to start his own breakfast cereal empire riding on Kellogg’s coattails. Matthew Broderick’s character is the fish-out-of-water, the eyes of the audience, the sane man in the mad world, etc.

The plot is a bit on the thin side, as really it’s just an excuse to explore the strange setting and kooky characters – but it’s all done with a gentle charm that’s really quite endearing. It never comes across as false or twee or quirky for the sake of quirkiness. It’s a film about the cult of personality, about our need to conform and to rally around symbols and people who give us purpose, about the intersection between scientific advancement and absurd hoaxery. The Kellogg devotees are almost a cult; you’d be forgiven for thinking that Kellogg would be passing round the Kool-Aid by the end of the film (though he’d never poison his followers with anything so insidiously evil as sugar, no sir!).

It’s very difficult to get hold of on DVD for some reason – I keep checking eBay and it’s always just out of the price range I’ll normally pay for a DVD. It’s well worth keeping an eye out for and acquiring if you get the chance. You’ll never look at yoghurt the same way again.

I’ve got something very special for you all today – in today’s blog post, I’m going to throw open the windows of my mind and let you peer in at my brain. Not literally, you understand, that would be dangerous and icky. It would also involve installing a window in my head, and then I’d have to measure it for blinds, and that’s just too much like work.

Anyway.

This blog post will allow you an exclusive insight into the thought processes of that most secretive of creatures, the Writer. Marvel at the astounding leaps of logic! Quail before the mysterious power of wordcraftery! Titter behind your hand at the rampant egotism! Come one, come all, and see the marvellous Writer in action! Tickets are £3.67 payable in all of your Earth currencies or by logging into Paypal in your dreams and imagining that you’ve sent the money across to me.

And now, with no further ado, I give you… Dave Daring.

Dave Daring

It was a dark and stormy night.

Wait, what? Shit. Shit no. I can’t start it like that. That’s the sort of thing a high-schooler starts a creative writing assignment with. That’s amateur hack cliché stuff. Dark and stormy night, fuck the dark and stormy night.

But I’ve got to set the mood. I mean, it’s a horror story, right? You can’t start a horror story with ‘It was a lovely sunny day,’ can you? There are rules.

Let’s see…

A blood-curdling scream ripped through the night.

Better! Blood-curdling scream, good stuff. Ok, who’s doing the screaming?

Barbara Devonshire pounded through the woods, her huge bosom heaving with-

No.

Steve Devonshire pounded through the woods, his massive cock heaving with-

NO.

The hideous monster pounded through the woods-

Ok, let’s drop the woods. And the pounding. Rethink this whole thing.

What’s scary? In terms of settings?

Woods. Caverns. Graveyards. Haunted castles. Empty hospitals. Abandoned amusement parks.

Graveyards might be good. Screaming in a graveyard, that could be a good mood-setter.

A blood-curdling scream ripped through the night. The graveyard, normally home only to the dead, was now teeming with life – terrible, horrible life, bent on the destruction of all humankind.

Nice. Grand scope. What does the bad guy want? Nothing less than the destruction of all humankind. The stakes are high.

I hefted my shotgun and aimed it at the lead creature.

“I don’t know what you are,” I drawled, “but I know what you’re gonna be – wormfood!”

I pulled the trigger and the creature blew apart, claws and tentacles flying, drenching me in ichor.

What the hell is ichor, anyway? Man, why do people have to use such stupid words for such simple things. Slime, I’ll say slime instead.

I wiped the slime out of my eyes and gritted my teeth heroically.

“No need to go to pieces,” I said.

Wait, does that even mean anything in that context? I mean, he blew it to pieces, so it’s gone to- oh, never mind, I’m sure it’s ok.

More hideous creatures gathered around me, surrounding me and hissing. This was not good.

More mood-setting, very important stuff, got to sell the danger factor here.

They were seven foot tall and covered with razor sharp teeth, but I wasn’t scared. It was all in a day’s work for Dirk Daring

Wait, has that name been used before? I get the feeling it’s been used before, like in a videogame or something.

It was all in a day’s work for Dave Daring.

Nailed it.

I reached into my pocket and pulled out my collapsible chainsaw.

“All right, suckerheads,” I said snarlingly, “prepare to meet your maker!”

“They already have – me!” cried a mysterious voice from behind a nearby gravestone.

MYSTERY! Always add a surprise villain.

“What?” I cried with shock. From behind the gravestone stepped my arch enemy, the evil Doctor Medical.

“It is I, Doctor Medical!” said Doctor Medical. “You have fallen into my trap for the last time, Dave Daring!”

“I think not, Doctor Medical,” I said, starting my chainsaw. I whirled it around my head and lopped off several monsters’ tentacles and arms. They howled with pain and the floor became slippery with blood. I killed many more monsters but more kept coming, and my arms were tired from swinging the chainsaw. I was doomed.

Oh shit, I’ve written myself into a corner. How the hell is he going to get out of this one? Think think think think AHA

I threw my chainsaw to the floor.

“Alright, Doctor Medical, you have what you want. Come and get me.”

“I thought you’d never ask,” he cried, gathering me up into his arms for a passionate kiss. The monsters all clapped their hands and tentacles. Doctor Medical and I were married the next day, and we moved into the graveyard to live happily ever after with our family of monsters.

I’m the best fucking novelist since Ernest Hemmingway.