This Week, Monday 2 June 2014

The Sun, Oh God The Sun

RuinsThe sun has come out again. I feared that returning from Scotland had plunged us into a time of gloom and greying clouds. It is no longer so. I should have guessed that going to work on a Sunday would be sufficient to wake the solar bleeder up.

So yeah, I tootled into work to undertake as many tasks as we could to mitigate the disaster that the next week will be. As I said before, I can’t say who I work for because people are evil. Suffice to say though that as the data migration lead I am underwhelmed by the work and effort of the national team who have repeatedly failed everyone at pretty much every stage. Still, there could be no showstoppers regardless of their seriousness, so today we were attempting to reduce the chaos that users will face on Monday, and consequently the chaos we ourselves shall be wrapped in.

Despite the coming horrors, I’m hopeful that work will quieten for a little while now and allow me to get back into my actual life. It’s been weeks of skipping improv, doing no writing and letting my sad Lego bricks go un-schinkled. The shiny bright sunshine seems like it agrees.

Last night was a pretty cool house party / birthwarming for a good friend. Nice people, silly quizzes and being dressed up by the host. Oddgood.


Since I haven’t really been going out, just coming home and logging onto my work laptop instead I ain’t done much.

Memories Of Ice by Steven Erikson

However, I have finished the third volume of Steven Erikson’s mighty Malazan Book Of The Fallen, Memories of Ice. It’s insanely involving and harrowing watching the rise and fall of so many excellent characters. The events contained in just this book already outstrip the content of many epic fantasy series’. I am surprised to be almost moved to tears by the heroic and devastatingly unjust deaths and the deepening of the mythos and history. It feels as if the greater plot is starting to make itself known.

The Alchemist by Paolo Bacigalupi

I’m a bit behind with the current new wave of thrilling fantasy and steampunk authors, but I’ve been staring at this chap’s book The Windup Girl in Waterstones for ages. I’d just finished the book above and spotted a short story / novella (I can never remember the difference) for a quid-fifty on Amazon and thought it a good way to cleanse my fantastical palate and check him out. This a delightful short story about magic, alchemy (surprise!) and greed. It’s only 96 pages so it’s a swift flyby read. It’s good! Kindle link here.


Contributing to my lack of free time are the fun things I do manage to do! I skipped the jam and lay on the sofa drinking beer instead – it was a good choice for peace. We had a show at The Glee Club on Friday with a distressingly low turnout. Possibly some combination of weather and half-term. Maybe. Didn’t matter to us though, we had a fine and foolish time for ourselves. I particularly enjoyed Should Have Sung with Parky and Shakespeare with Marilyn.

I’m also still seeing my one-to-one client. What we’ve been doing has mutated from the straight improvisation we started with. This last week we’ve been working on finding inspiration and ‘forcing’ creativity. I’ve been explaining how some of the improv games and exercises that I’ve used for writing can be used to stimulate and trick our minds into producing something new and interesting. It’s very stimulating for me as well!

Last Week’s Scribbles

WHERE IS THIS Week, Monday 26 May 2014 ? – out of touch and out of time

Events and Excitement

Thursday 12th June 2014

Gorilla Burger – Improv Comedy Carnage

Gorilla Burger2_SQ_SM

Jam show – a chance for anyone to get on stage and have a go at improv games and scenes for the first time, or the fiftieth!

The Corner
8 Stoney Street
(off Broad Street)
7.30pm – £4

Bring Your Own Drinks

Wednesday 18th June 2014

Interrobang – Spontaneous Comedy Theatre


The only show of its kind in Derby, Interrobang features an improvised comedy jam in which everyone can take part followed by a showcase of the best improv in the region. Proudly presented by Furthest From The Sea and Derby Live.

The Bookcafe
Get Tickets NowCathedral Quarter
Derby DE1 2PL
7.30pm – £5

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Things That (Almost) Bring Me To Tears: Let It Go

Let It Go

By Risarodil
By Risarodil

I loved Disney’s Frozen at the cinema – there were so many uplifting moments, and (apart from the film makers’ weird decision to kill the main characters parents so that we can like them more) it completely delighted me. The big song Let It Go prickled all the hairs up on my neck and arms. I’m not sure that it’s a particularly brilliant song in its own right purely because I can get all messed up over very sentimental moments in films – usually the ones where a parent loses a child, and even though I know I’m being cruelly manipulated by the film it still gets me. Even more effective is anything bad or wonderful happening to a pet. Man, I’ll be choked.

Cover of "Dummy"

I’m not deeply connected to music – I enjoy music, mainly as a background to showering, cycling and working. There are pieces of music that do stab me right through the heart. During counselling I always used the superb Portishead album Dummy to get my head into being ready to go and slash and burn my feelings, and to consider them afterwards. I find their sound deeply beautiful. There’s a tortured quality to Beth Gibbons’ vocals and the trip-hop and every part of every track burrows into my soul and shakes the detritus it finds. I suppose it sounds like I feel. There’s also Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata which, when it’s not also reminding me of Earthworm Jim, gets to poke me in the eye.


You Play Me Like A Tambourine

It’s a strange sensation being affected by music. I realise many people are much more deeply affected, and more subtly and by a greater range of music. I still find it surprising. I find it disturbing actually. Maybe that’s because I don’t cry. I’ve got to be really really pushed to get tears out. Even during most of my counselling I didn’t cry. I didn’t cry at my uncle’s funeral, nor have I at any time since he went missing. That should be odd I think. It’s not for want of feeling sad. I suppose what I’m wondering is “what does crying mean?” In a sort of related way, I read recently that cats only miaow at humans; they don’t miaow at each other. So are tears a way of telling other people that we’re upset..? But then people wouldn’t cry on their own. Unless they wanted to.

Alright, the actual question is “why don’t I cry?” Now it’s probably not because I’m really hard and manly. Those things are patently absurd. I can’t credit the idea that it’s because I’m not sad some of the time, or depressed enough to cry. Have I erected some barrier in my tear ducts? Or is there still a part of me that is broken, manifesting as a dishonesty between my mind and body? Perhaps it’s something I can’t know. It’s easy to think that I understand what I think or feel. In fact, I think I know what I think and feel. I’ve found repeatedly that this is just guesswork, and that there’s none of the cliched ring of truth to an idea. Sure, an idea is more plausible and more credible than another, but having found that I’ve completely crushed down memories and feelings effectively in the past… it makes me more than a little suspicious about my own ability to figure out why, or even what I’m feeling.

Music Takes Me Over

Maybe this is the heart of it – I’m stuck mediating between myself and myself. Music, or some specific aspects of a song or track get to slice straight through all that meta-mumbling. That would explain why I’ve been playing Let It Go on repeat, attempting to sing along but getting so utterly choked up that I can’t even manage that simplest of activities. No tears though, just a vast rushing sensation that shakes my organs. What. The. Fuck.


The lovely poster above is by an artist named Risa. It’s delightful design and she’s got a tonne of stuff, some of it for sale:


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Amsterdam Day Three – Perambulation

Wait, It’s Morning

Out of town on my own, I thought I’d lie in and have a very lazy stumbling time of the morning. To my surprise I was up at about ten. That does not qualify as a proper lie in; it’s still morning. I shook off my horror at being awake and basically functional, but was still in no hurry to achieve anything.

On my last whole day in Amsterdam I finally got my head straight – I can do whatever I want, whenever I want, however little I want, if I want. It’s not just my expectations about what others might expect me to do. I’ve got my own inner fool telling me I ought to do things, make the most of my time by filling every ticking second with activity (I’ve spared you the Caps Lock). I guess it’s fuelled by every cultural concept – laziness is bad, doing nothing is bad. I like doing little, or even just small things. I undertake several activities at once just because some part of my mind demands it. Time to amble. Time to wander.

So wander I did. Around my apartment. The incredible bread and cheese I’d acquired from Marqt, which I regret not photographing (despite finding pictures of food dull I have taken several…) made for a splendid breakfast once more. I also decided to crumble a huge bud of Blueberry into my brewing coffee. It’s possible that had an additional effect. I laid my plans as gently as my barefoot padding about the living room. With only a day and a bit left I knew I was going to have to ditch things. I’d already abandoned getting fucked up in coffeeshops, so that left places of genuine interest. There was no way I’d get to the Anne Frank House at a reasonable time, plus I only really want to go there if there’s a ghost train or similar interactive ride.

Should Have Used Breadcrumbs

I eyed my Tripadvisor app, and the brilliant sunshine outside. Time for a proper explore (strictly limited by map and legs). On my vague list of interesting things was the Maritime Museum. I’ve been to several and rather enjoy the strange exhibitions and replica ships you often find. Het Scheepvaartmusuem held similar promise. But it is a bit of a walk out of town, or at least the bit I now considered my home turf. Even further out of the centre, to the east, up Mauritskade is a pub called De Gooier – it’s a windmill with a pub and brewery inside. Perfect. It seemed like the ideal place to go to before looking at boaty things.

Lost in Amsterdam
Predictably I got lost. Fokke Simonstraat (where I was staying) is a really straightforward place to get directly to the De Gooier from. There is a tricksy bit where the road at the end of the street doesn’t take you to the same place as the next parallel road. I’ve don’t quite know where I went wrong, but I cheerily bumbled somewhere around the Plantage district before figuring out where I was. In part that’s because the otherwise incredibly useful Tripadvisor Amsterdam app won’t let you enter street names or postcodes. I guess that’s because it’s an offline map. So I had to look for shops or hotels that I thought might be on it to orient myself. I’m not great at maps or directions anyway – they just wash over me and I blithely head in the opposite direction.Awesome Bridge

I saw a lot of bridges, which is one of the reasons I knew I was lost – I’d taken note of how many I should cross, and promptly lost count. Too much gazing about at the general prettiness of Amsterdam. It’s a verdant city, in which they’ve crammed as many forms of transport as possible. I never did get used to looking right when I crossed roads. I did find lots of university buildings and blocks of apartment flats. They appear to be doing as much work on building or renovating tram routes as they’re currently doing at home. It all contributes to a happy sense of familiarity. Eventually I crossed an awesome bridge and arrived at the windmill before it opened. Damn.

De Gooier


What a great place – it’s an original 18th century windmill, one of very few left. Plus it’s a windmill, so I immediately think of the scene in Sleepy Hollow and Grotbags from The Pink Windmill. Thankfully there’s no sign of an emu or a weird green duck in a nappy in sight. Once we were allowed inside (lots of grumpy tourists who didn’t want to sit gently in the sun) I found a spacious tiled bar (not dissimilar to our kitchen) with pumps and pumps of lovely beer. Even better (for me) it was nice and cold inside and all the other patrons were outside. I seized an antisocial cool spot by a window. I realised that one of the activities I love most in the whole wide world is sitting and reading a book. Doing so in nice cool windmill pub is perfect. Had I not had vague plans I would have stayed until closing.Inside De Gooier

It wasn’t until after I’d had a half of a lovely wheat beer that I noticed they do a similar drinks platter to the three 1/3 pint glasses you get during beer festivals. Here they do it with five 20cl glasses. The beer is supplied by the exquisite Brouwerij’t Ij. The beers are truly excellent and I enjoyed each and every one (from left to right). I also got some fine grillwurst – a fat spicy sausage (served with a fork and chutney), since I’d been walking for a while in the sun and am terrible at remembering to eat when I’m away. The people are very friendly (two of the barely dozen people I spoke to in the whole trip) and enthusiastic about their drinks. The beers made me read more. I think I got through the beer by about half past three.

De Gooier - many beer
That’s Plzen, Natte, Zatte, Ijwit and Columbus beers left to right.

Once I’d finished admiring the bottles ringing the room and prevented other tourists from sampling the beers for long enough (they only have five sets of the little glasses) I somewhat tipsily tumbled out of the place.

Concentrating hard on my map told me that the maritime museum was slightly north and back towards town, in an almost completely straight line. Bonus.

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Furthest From The Sea Festival 21 June 2014

FFTS 2014



I can’t believe it’s come around so fast! Derby’s best festival is completely free! I’m looking forwards to being there and soaking up an astonishing assortment of live music, comedy, arts and anything else you can think of. I’m running an improv workshop during the day too, and will undoubtedly manage to sneak onto at least one stage… It’s going to be brilliant. Come along! You might also notice familiar voices on the promo videos (should you know me and my other half by sound). Last year‘s was massive, this year’s is ten times as massive.

In the run up to the festival, we’re finally bringing improv comedy to Derby with Interrobang – Spontaneous Theatre:

Wednesday 18th June 2014

Interrobang – Spontaneous Comedy Theatre


The only show of its kind in Derby, Interrobang features an improvised comedy jam in which everyone can take part followed by a showcase of the best improv in the region. Proudly presented by Furthest From The Sea and Derby Live.

The Bookcafe
Get Tickets NowCathedral Quarter
Derby DE1 2PL
7.30pm – £3



The Furthest From the Sea festival in Derby is a day of free entertainment and activities for all ages! Taking place between 11am – 4pm in the City’s Cathedral Quarter on the 21st June, come along and enjoy live music, poetry, theatre, arts & crafts and more.

Featuring four dedicated music stages showcasing well known and emerging local bands and choirs, professional & community-lead theatre, dance troupes, a packed-out stand-up comedy stage, a vintage photography trail in conjunction with W.W Winters, exclusive handmade arts and crafts stalls and creative workshops. Suitable for all the family, with add on events including Derby comedy festival performances from Sinfonia VIVA, Derby Sketching Club’s annual exhibition and, not least, a charity firewalk organised and run by PACE Derby.

With support from Derby LIVE, Cathedral Quarter Derby and Derby City Council.

Join the Facebook event!


Check out the insanely endless list of performers for the day:

CENTRAL PERFORMANCE AREA – at the Market Square – Compered by Andy Potter

Rock & Pop Choir
David Chabeaux
Sing for your Supper Choir
Hoverla Ukranian Dance
Mehira’s Jewels / Solar School of Samba / The Flying Studio
The Open Road
Arabesque Dance Academy
Karl & The Marx Brothers
Derby Vocal Academy – group performances from our talented students.

ROOTS STAGE – outside Derby Live

Ben Quintin
Joe Barber
Jamie Beau
Midge Harding
Carl North
Ryan Thomas
Hugh Stewart
Jason Barker


Dred Roberts
Amy & Lily
Kai Swarvet
Emma Bladon Jones
James Hatley and the Whalers
Georgia Fowler
Ben Farmer
Tom Ash
Ben Haynes
Stuart Marno
Henry Sharpe
Finn & Olivia
Rachal Delooze
Hannah Howe
Lucy Milford

BAND STAGE – Blacksmith’s Yard on Sadler Gate

Danny & The Martians
Further Than Forever
Soapbox Preacher
Allenton Hippo
The Sons
Great Scott
The Feathers
Backyard Bohemians

KNICKERBOCKER GLORIOUS – variety event at the Waterfall:

Emily White
Josh Kemp
Groove 66
Cordao De Ouro Derby
Leah Sinead
Rob Stutchburry
The Phil Langran Band
Alice Macy
Lisa de Ville
Scribble Victory
Lawrence Penn
Mehira’s Jewels
Faye Lartey
Luke Whitmore

STANDING JOKE COMEDY STAGE – the Old Bell Ballroom – Compered by Tony Bigissue Peppiatt

Marshall B Anderson
Jo D’Arcy
Patrick Draper
Ben Clark
Bruce Edhouse
Ben Ennis
Ben Clark
Theresa Farlowe
James Hately
Jay Islaam
Francis Jenking
Ishi Khan-Jackson
Matt Kinson
Lu Lo
Rhos C Lumis
Leanne McKie
Lyra May
Dan Nicholas
Andy Nightingale
Paul Nightingale
Thomas Rackham
Dwayne Reads
James Wallace
Joe Ross Williams
Richard Young

THEATRE stage at Guildhall Club Rooms

Life Theatre Limited
Borderline Arts
ASTARA and more!


CATHEDRAL QUARTER ARTS & CRAFTS FAYRE – Guildhall Arches and Market Place – 10:00am

Beautiful handcraftes and designed jewellery, homewares, toys, art and more….

ARTS & CRAFTS WORKSHOPS – Derby Market Place – 10:00am

Crafty Top Hats – drop in anytime
Whiffle Pig – seamonsters and nautical accessories
Empowerment Dolls
Landscape Oil Painting
PERCUSSIVE GUITAR WORKSHOP – Derby Market Place with Jamie Beau
30 minute slots throughout the day.
IMPROV COMEDY WORKSHOP – Derby Market Place with MissImp, Nottingham – 1pm-2:30pm

Vintage Photography Trail with W.W.Winters

BenBrown Hair
Police Station
Quad Cafe
Filthy Rich
Scenta Flora
BPM Records
Galactic Models
Ink and Thread

Sinfonia Viva Presents: Sounds like fun!

£7.50 or £6.27 if purchased online.

As part of Derby Comedy Festival produced by Derby Live, Sinfonia Viva – with the incomparable Alasdair Malloy leading proceedings – presents a concert of chuckling classics and merry melodies for 6-11yr olds to enjoy.

11:30am and 2pm, and will run for about an hour.

1623 Trainee Actors

In the Gardens behind QUAD

Join the trainee actors of Derby’s very own 1623 theatre company as they present a unique collection of snippets from Shakespeare’s plays. This talented group of young people have worked with 1623 over the last ten months to learn and develop performance skills including voice, puppetry and singing. Come along to see the Bard’s newest recruits at the gardens behind QUAD.

Derby Sketching Cub

Guildhall Theatre Lobby
David Walton judging from the Birmingham Society of Artists. Some cards, prints and paintings for sale.


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This Week, Monday 9 June 2014


Week One Is Over

A sense of relief. As promised, last weekend’s insane ICT migration completed with a paucity of useful information and no assurance of success. Thus does government IT stumble forwards. Naturally chaos ensued. It’s even more worrying that we managed much better than most areas because of all the extra pre-planning and mitigation work I devised before the cutover weekend. Even more fun – that work is invisible to our users; you can’t see the problems we evaded. They’ve been left with plenty we could nothing about for days. Total incompetence and bland complacent indifference characterise the managers at the top of the stupid tree. A week later and it’s starting to get under control.

Ow Fucking Ow

Ow Ya BastardAlso, last week my bicycle tried to kill me. I’ve finally faced up to the challenge of mastering the bike I inherited from Colin. It’s a nice light road bike and is the complete opposite in weight, feel and gears to my previous bike. I’ve finally figured out how to work the bloody gears (sure, I could have looked it up but where would the fun be in that?) and I was feeling pretty good about the whole thing.

Then I clipped a kerb with the edge of my left pedal going round a corner. They’re slightly, ever so slightly wider than I’m used to. Ker-plang! I’m spacked down in the road again. Lots of ouch. I didn’t realise until I got to work that I’d gouged bite marks out of my calf with the gear wheel. I thought I’d just horribly smashed my ankle. Twenty minutes with my foot in a sink of cold water and some bandaging and I was fine.

Now the bastard thing’s got a massive puncture and I’m struggling to get the right inner tube. So, if you ever see someone toss a bottle into the road – do me a favour and punch the twat.


I’ve been working much more than I really want to, but that should also come under control again. I’ve skipped lots of improv and other evenings out and I think I’m at risk of sliding into an antisocial pit. So – we need an explosion of scribbling and Legoing. Awesomely I’ve now saved up enough to get Metalbeard’s Seacow! Hurrah, another trip to the Lego Shop beckons…

One day I will finish cataloguing what I did in Amsterdam…

Plus, this week has the eternal joy of Gorilla Burger and next week we finally bring improv to Derby with Interrobang followed by the Furthest From The Sea Festival! Huzzah!

Last Week’s Scribbles

The Windmill PubThis Week, Monday 2 June 2014 – I can’t lie, this is mostly moaning about work, but also three great books

Things That (Almost) Bring Me To Tears: Let It Go – sometimes I am sad-faced

Amsterdam Day Three – Perambulation – a wandering day to an excellent pub in a windmill

Furthest From The Sea Festival 21 June 2014 – good grief but I’m looking forwards to this!


I’ve been reading, of course, it’s like breathing!

Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves

A very, very dark story of mental health, fantasy, horror and magic. Constantly surprising and refreshing in its honesty and madness. I loved it. I really don’t want to give anything about it away so I’m stuck with saying no more…


Arslan, by M.J. Engh

I picked this up partly because it’s out in the SF Masterworks range, despite being only four years old – good going! It seems well written and conceived, being the overthrow of civilisation (well, the US at least) by General Arslan,  a violent Muslim soldier determined to save the world by destroying it.

I just couldn’t get past the parts about the young man and woman who are taken from the local school by Arslan and raped repeatedly, “first the rape and then the wooing”. I don’t know if the characterisation of the self-professed Muslim Arslan and his views get dealt with in the book, but I’m afraid I can’t read any more of it. Maybe I’ll pick it up again in the future.


Dracula The Un-Dead by Dacre Stoker & Ian Holt

I’ve had this rather pretty book on my shelf for a little while. It’s the “official” sequel to Bram Stoker’s excellent Gothic horror (Dacre is his great grand-nephew). It’s quite fun, written in the third person rather than the letters of the original, but captures the style well. It features young Quincey Harker, Mina and Jonathan’s son fighting the possible return of Dracula.

It’s kind of revisionist, painting Dracula as a hero versus Elizabeth Bathory. I think it’s slightly confused about itself, and does feature the awful self-indulgence of having Bram Stoker as the author of Dracula in the story (for no especially good reason). It’s enjoyable though – they’re finally getting on with the chase now.

Events and Excitement

Thursday 12th June 2014

Gorilla Burger – Improv Comedy Carnage

Gorilla Burger2_SQ_SM

Jam show – a chance for anyone to get on stage and have a go at improv games and scenes for the first time, or the fiftieth!

The Corner
8 Stoney Street
(off Broad Street)
7.30pm – £4

Bring Your Own Drinks

Wednesday 18th June 2014

Interrobang – Spontaneous Comedy Theatre


The only show of its kind in Derby, Interrobang features an improvised comedy jam in which everyone can take part followed by a showcase of the best improv in the region. Proudly presented by Furthest From The Sea and Derby Live.

The Bookcafe
Get Tickets NowCathedral Quarter
Derby DE1 2PL
7.30pm – £5

Saturday 21st June 2014

FFTS 2014The Furthest From The Sea Festival


A whole day of free music, theatre, comedy, workshops and craft fairs! An awesome celebration across a dozen stages and venues of everything brilliant in the arts.

From the Market Place to The Bookcafe
Derby City Centre
10am – 5pm FREE




Lego Blog: CrazyBricks Skulltron

Custom Lego Awesome

I got my skulls in the post a couple of weeks ago. Cruelly I’ve been too busy to take proper pleasure in ’em. It’s another Kickstarter reward from CrazyBricks / V&A Steamworks, the man (I mean the MAN Guy Himber). Pigs vs Cows was the first project I backed on Kickstarter and the outcome was so cool I cheerfully gave him money on day one of Skulls. The new project is Munchkin bricks, which funded on day one and is now charging through stretch goals like a crazed AFOL in a jumble sale.

I’ve really enjoyed feeling like I’m part of a project and have contributed to something small, intricate and obscure. Admittedly I haven’t gotten around to doing much with the output but I am a terrible hoarder and gatherer of things. Having these delightful items in a box is still satisfying for me. I don’t even know what the Munchkin card game is but the tiny Lego scale helmets, books and Cthulhu are splendid. If you feel like getting some extraordinary limited edition Lego stuff, you should back away.

No, wait – back it.


The reward I got was a set of white and a set of transparent skulls – two sizes of whole skull, skulls with a stud for hat wearing skeletons, a dinky skull (without jaw), plus a white and transparent surprise V For Vendetta mask! And two mini crates covered in skulls. And a sticker!

Blacktron is fondly remembered from the Classic Lego Space era and I’ve still got the sets. Skulltron seemed the obvious conclusion. It’s taken me a little while to find some black dwarf/child/Hobbit legs (thank you Mirkwood Spiders) and the kiddie Blacktron is the pleasantly disturbing result. They’re a family!


I’m keen to do some spacey stuff now. Despite spaceships being my favourite thing to build as a child it’s taken the inspiration of the Lego Space book (and these skulls) to get me excited about space again. I have plans. Evil cackle.        

This Week, Monday 16th June 2014

Hoo HA.

Another busy week at work and stuff, but I did get round to taking some pictures of the ever so cool Lego Skulls by CrazyBricks. That was satisfying. Unfortunately my other half got slapped to the ground by a dose of gastric flu on Tuesday and is still recovering. Seems like some nasty stuff. It was especially a shame since we’d finally managed to return to Fisticuffs for early week improv funtime. We were screwing around with longer Shakespearean styled scenes, with a predictable amount of hilarity and chaos – it was very good fun.

Last Thursday brought round the joys of Gorilla Burger once more and ushered in another evening of fast paced silliness. It’s an event I deeply enjoy compering, with my variously sparkly assistants Amy and Ben. This week we’re bring improv to Derby with Interrobang. It’s the first of what will be a monthly event (1st Monday of the month) at The Bookcafe. We’ll be bringing the DIY vibe I enjoy at Gorilla Burger, and we’re hoping to introduce a whole new city to the fun and delight of improvised comedy. We’ll be finishing off the evening with something a bit longer and more complicated – a bit of show and tell for our neighbouring city.

Wear Pink

Me In Pink_2The young son of some good friends has been getting stick recently for being himself. He likes pink, he likes dresses – he knows what he likes. That’s such a rare quality in one so young – to be able to recognise what feels comfortable and right. But of course his classmates and their parents have been so brutalised by the own social education that they feel justified and entitled to criticise the poor lad for his entirely harmless, healthy and self-aware clothing choices. Well fuck them.

Personally, I’m rather inspired by the little chap. I remember being yelled at for digging some high heeled leather boots and a skirt out of the dressing up box and wandering out in the front garden. I’ve cross-dressed for parties and for proper in the past, and though it’s been a while I have rather missed it. It’s incredibly difficult to know what you want to do, and to just do it. The very least I can do is show my support by wearing pink and sharing in the absurd reactions of strangers – everything from outright hostility to the confusion of teenagers. I had to go out and buy the shirt – I haven’t even worn a shirt for a while. I wore it to Gorilla Burger, I wore it to work. And you know what? It’s definitely growing on me. I shall be acquiring more brightly coloured clothes soon.

If you’d like to show your support – you can do so here:


Last Week’s Scribbles

Happy SkulltronThis Week, Monday 9 June 2014 – book reviews and bicycle damage…

Lego Blog: CrazyBricks Skulltron – excellent custom Lego skulls combined with classic Blacktron

Events and Excitement

Wednesday 18th June 2014

Interrobang – Spontaneous Comedy Theatre

imageThe only show of its kind in Derby, Interrobang features an improvised comedy jam in which everyone can take part followed by a showcase of the best improv in the region. Proudly presented by Furthest From The Sea and Derby Live.

The Bookcafe
Get Tickets NowCathedral Quarter
Derby DE1 2PL
7.30pm – £5

Saturday 21st June 2014

FFTS 2014The Furthest From The Sea Festival

A whole day of free music, theatre, comedy, workshops and craft fairs! An awesome celebration across a dozen stages and venues of everything brilliant in the arts.

From the Market Place to The Bookcafe
Derby City Centre
10am – 5pm FREE





Film Review Round Up: A Million Ways To Die In The West, Maleficent and Godzilla (2014)

A Million Ways To Die In The West

A surprisingly faithful Western showing a real love of the genre combined with the peculiar sharpness of Seth MacFarlane’s writing style. The film is at its best in montage (a decidedly odd victory) and when killing people off in many entertaining ways.

Seth MacFarlane as the lead is a bit wooden – the guy is an amazing voice talent, but his face doesn’t really move unless he’s smiling. It’s a little like watching Frank Sidebottom. Neil Patrick Harris is a fantastic contrast, masticating with scenery and a fine moustache throughout. The other cast members flesh out the modern Western vibe nicely, with Liam Neeson growling his way as a bad guy and the tough independent romantic interest Charlize Theron getting some decent action and gags.

The very, very best scene is the barn dance Moustache song with its superb synchronised dance routine. Such a shame they don’t have either Harris or MacFarlane singing – I would have loved this to be a musical. Sure, some of the gags are far too drawn out, just like in Family Guy sometimes he doesn’t know when to put a joke down, or shoot it in the head.


Ah hell, you’re not going to bother seeing this at the cinema, so here’s that best bit:



This should have been splendid – Angelina Jolie‘s got horns, razor sharp cheekbones and magic. Instead it’s a weirdly dull and pointless rehash of Sleeping Beauty.

The start of the film is a lovely dash around faerie land with sprites, flying fish and assorted beasties. When they go to war (briefly) with mankind the huge dryad warriors are brilliant and it feels like it might be a good film, y’know, like The Chronicles of Narnia could have been. Instead it wimps out and follows the love-scorned and abused Maleficent as she curses the king’s kid, then looks after her while she grows up and *yawn* regrets her curse, but it gets fulfilled… for all of about ten seconds before Maleficent gives her the True Love(TM) kiss… and for some reason that’s the film.

Jolie’s a dragon for a bit. Poor, confusing and aimless despite being occasionally pretty.


(if the whole film had been like this trailer it would have been good, but only five minutes long)


An enduring hero of cinema, usually ruined by Americans who don’t get it – the original Godzilla only made palatable to Western audiences by splicing in a pointless storyline for Raymond Burr. Thankfully it seems that Hollywood has learned something since letting Joel Some Bloody Roland Emmerich ruin the giant monster for a generation with his weak-ankled and terrible version. This one’s still rather hit and miss.

The problem, I think, is feeling that we need a human character based story to accompany Godzilla’s destruction of cities. It’s a mistake, especially when you can’t really be arsed to do a good job of it. On the other hand, the human element is completely forgettable, involving just cliched moments of sadness (dad gets killed, taking Bryan Cranston out of the story far too early) and heroism (rescuing a child). It’s a shame, because the rest of the film is awesome fun.

They start with the opening credits being the video files and archives of Godzilla sightings, the words being redacted as soon as they appear – a very satisfying introduction. They’ve stuck to the atomic roots of Godzilla and his giant pals, although the emphasis on Godzilla’s role being that of balancing out the mega-megafauna feels unnecessary and oddly saps credibility.

The monster smash ups though are brilliant. Its main competition is Pacific Rim of course, which redefined how much of a spectacle a monster movie can be. Godzilla manages to hold its own.




This Week, Monday 23rd June 2014

I Am Made Of Wood

MokujinAnd Earth, Air, Fire and Water. But mainly wood. The kind of wood that’s been soaked so you can bend it into a pretty table. With rusty metal hinges. That can only mean I spent all of Saturday in the sun, and finished it by lugging a neverending series of tables across Derby’s market place. Honestly, I’d swear the damned things were breeding when we weren’t looking. It was an excellent preparation for beers in The Brewery Tap

The Furthest From The Sea Festival 2014

FFTS 2014Well this was just brilliant. The stunning blue sky and aching heat (how do we keep getting this in England?) made Saturday to a gorgeous day at the Furthest From The Sea Festival. With something like 200 performers on one of half a dozen stages between 11-4 including music, dance, theatre, comedy, photography, crafty stuff, workshops and everything imaginable in between it’s a miracle of organisation. I’m just happy to be a part of it.

When I got involved / dragged into it by Matt McGuinness a couple of years ago I had no idea I’d end up knowing so many excellent creative people – many thanks to all of you for the fun. I ran an improv workshop during the day, but otherwise roamed the festival, flyering at people and mainly walking between stages. Let’s do all of this again next year (*cough* 20th June 2015). Particular note should be given to Mr Matt Newton for the really beautiful programme and graphics work.


Interrobang: Spontaneous Comedy Theatre in Derby

Interrobang_SQ_SMLast Wednesday saw us rock the Derby Comedy Festival with DIY improvised comedy at The Bookcafe. It’s a great venue which I’ve enjoyed performing and compering at before. I wasn’t quite sure how it would work out for an improv night, but I was delighted with the result. We had the stage in the window, and tables out cabaret style waiting for an audience… and they came! There’s little as delightful as watching people put their names into the hat with no idea what’s coming up.

We had a good turnout, with more than half the attendees popping their names in. We ran through all the names at least four times, dishing out amazing Story-Story-Dies, scenes and ridiculously funny games. We polished off the night with a four-handed montage (Ben, Colin, Martin and myself) that began with a bunch of shepherds contemplating the Platonic ideal of ‘sheep’, bounced through Russian Roulette, Top Gear, space hoppers and families before ending with people hiding in the land of clocks… A perfect evening. We’ll very soon be scheduling this as a monthly show.

Last Week’s Scribbles

This Week, Monday 16th June 2014 – the importance of pink

Film Review Round Up: A Million Ways To Die In The West, Maleficent and Godzilla (2014) – fun, terrible and exciting – three completely different films.

Events and Excitement

Friday 27th June 2014

MissImp in Action – live improv comedy show


Thrilling all-action end of the month show sporting the best of MissImp inventing scenes and playing games.

The Glee Club
Get Tickets NowThe Waterfront
Canal Street
8.30pm (doors open at 8pm) – £4.50 in advance/£6 on the door (£3 students/MissImp)

Film Review Round Up: The Edge of Tomorrow, X-Men Days of Future Past, The Amazing Spider-Man 2

The Edge of Tomorrow

Love Tom Cruise? Well here’s a splendid sci-fi vehicle for him, one that make more sense and is more interesting than Oblivion. With aliens rather similar to The Matrix‘s Squiddies, but better this is as everyone has said, Groundhog Day mashed up with Starship Troopers. Essentially our man Cruise has to relive the same day of war against a relentless, psychic foe until he can get it right and kill the alien queen/whatever they called it. He’s teamed up with a tough Emily Blunt (“Full Metal Bitch”). Of course he’s not a real soldier so he has to learn quite a lot and do it over and over and over again.

Naturally a lot of the film falls into lengthy montages, but rather than harm the film they provide a good sense of the time and stress on the main characters. Blunt is very satisfying, especially with her sword and rifle combo.

Hate Tom Cruise? Well, you’ll love this – in order to relive the same day again he has to die. He gets shot in the head by Emily Blunt again and again. It’s great. It has a fine mix of sci-fi nonsense, squaddie bickering and D-Day Landing style action.


X-Men – Days of Future Past

The X-Men films have gone from strength to strength, except for Brett Ratner’s abomination of a third film which I like to pretend doesn’t exist. First Class was such an excellent film that I feared it would be difficult to match. It was, sadly. The trailer for Days of Future Past is a blur of activity, strong action scenes and is my favourite kind of preview, because it tells you nothing about what’s going on. It’s perhaps too tantalising compared to what you get…

The film opens with the future war – mutants being ruthlessly hunted by the future Sentinels. Very violent, kind of scary with some awesome mutant powers unleashed. Maybe it’s too exciting a beginning to beat. Once they hurl Wolverine back in time to stop Mystique from killing the inventor of the Sentinels it all bobs along quite nicely, but the new (or returning) mutants get short shrift in the script. Quicksilver isn’t even named, although he does have a fine super-slow-motion scene.

It’s great to see Mystique and the young Magneto and Professor X, but the story is one of those time paradoxes where if you save the day, then the day never happened and so it… doesn’t matter? Seeing the rise of the Sentinels was satisfying, and there are all sorts of incredibly brief appearances by favourite X-Men which make it an enjoyable success despite the story.


The Amazing Spider-Man 2

I should start by saying that I really like Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man – the first two films he did were great, but the third was beset by too many villains and struggled to juggle them in a way that you could care about. Now only two films into the completely unnecessary reboot and poor Andrew Garfield is facing the exact same problem. Mind you, he is also incredibly irritating and I can’t stand him as Peter Parker – the stupid hair and teenage whimpering make me not care about him.

It’s a nice-looking film, and Garfield’s acrobatic background pays off for the amazing street-swinging action. The real hero is Gwen Stacey – the only smart and interesting character in the piece. The primary villain is Electro (showing Hollywood’s usual antipathy towards diversity, they immediately turn the only black character into a nice blue-white). He’s another of Spidey’s vulnerable, damaged enemies which makes it very difficult to root for the spider. The main story, although there are several that clumsily interweave, is of Parker finding out about his Dad, who died trying to stop his research being used by Oscorp.

You’d think that would be enough… but no, we get the rise of Harry Osborn, who needs spider-blood or something to stop him mutating weirdly like his dad and then dying. Sigh. Cue a terrible Green Goblin, and then Rhino finally gets shoe-horned badly in at the end. Oh, and Gwen Stacey dies. Peter is a bit sad. A busy and messy film.