The Bi-Annual Clean Shave

There comes a time, which by the title is usually once every two years, where I have to shave. I HAVE to. I must completely rid my face of all trace of brown, ginger and grey colours and reset myself to default. I must allow my cheeks to breathe and just remind myself that I have skin around the lower part of my face. Some people could see it as a euphemism, a visual receptor to my willingness to begin a new, refresh my current state of affairs. Well I suppose it can be at times, but mostly… I just get bored.

I’ve been able to grow facial hair to a fairly decent capacity since I was 18 and I’m 31 now. I can’t develop it to the size and length that hipsters do, mostly because I get bored waiting, and I’m pretty sure that most of those guys go to the various hair and beauty shops around East London and get their face-weave done. I honestly have never seen a transitional hipster, that phase between lumberjack anti-establishment beard and nicely presentable facial hair. It’s like they’re clean shaven and suddenly BOOM! Beard.

Here is a stereotypical hipster, waiting around a generic East London estate area, presumably waiting for his Dad to invest in his Crisp Sandwich Pop-Up business.

Here is a stereotypical hipster, waiting around a generic East London estate area, presumably waiting for his Dad to invest in his Crisp Sandwich Pop-Up business.

I haven’t clean shaved for nearly two years and that is with good reason. It has nothing to do with laziness, fashion or my weight… Ok maybe a little bit about my weight but it’s more to do with self-confidence and more precisely, fear. The last time I clean shaved was in August 2013. I did it for a job interview at a theatre in London. I got myself sorted for this swelteringly hot summers day, which was already made uncomfortable by me having to dress appropriately for the interview. I decided, slightly on a whim and slightly because I felt my beard wasn’t looking the best, to trim my beard. As normally happens whenever I need precision trimming, this ended with me trimming a bit too much and ending up with uneven beard. So it had to go. No question.

The problem is that I’ve always had terrible fickle skin. If it was an alibi it’d be OJ Simpson’s glove. Through bouts of Acne and dry skin, my face has always been quick to betray me. This interview was no exception. Everyone gets stubble rash and a few nicks here and there and I thought, for once, that I’d got away with it. From the morning at home, the commute to London, the few hours work I put in where I was working before I went to the interview AND THE SECOND I LEFT…

Here's a completely realistic job interview with a trainee psychopath.

Here’s a completely realistic job interview with a trainee psychopath.

I started bleeding. Underneath my chin. I had to have a a piece of tissue on it during the entire tube journey to Leicester Square. It didn’t stop. I went and got some more tissue and made my way to the interview to be suitably early. It didn’t stop. I talked to my friend in the theatre lobby for a while as they were running behind on the interviews. It didn’t stop. I got taken to be interviewed in an upstairs bar, while a performance was on, nervous, stressed, looking like a lobster from the heat outside and inside the theatre.

It didn’t stop.

There is literally nothing you can do. The interview is already fucked before it’s even begun. You look like a twat because you’re holding several different tissues to your neck which come back with spots of blood from the SMALLEST LITTLE CUT that took six hours before it decided to bleed. So I did the only thing I could. “I’m really sorry,” I said, “I normally have a beard and I decided to shave for the interview and on the way here a cut just started bleeding.”

“Oh, ok,” they said.

The elephant was out of the room and the awkwardness was averted but the interview was long lost. It will go down as one of the worst moments of my life and is one of the direct contributors to me trying to forge my career over the past 18 months. If you’re keeping score, I have still had only three proper job interviews since graduating and that was one of them.

Future beards may occur with sufficient gains in arm ballast.

Future beards may occur with sufficient gains in arm ballast.

So put simply, I don’t shave until I can get in to a position where my utter boredom, or my skin, dictates that I must. Therefore, today I decided was my bi-annual shave. I should be starting some part time work soon to supplement my non-existent income. I’ve had a few entry level career jobs opportunities that didn’t give me a look in and I recently turned 31. So it’s time to shave and to stop hiding behind the beard.

Maybe it is a bit of a “turn a new leaf” kind of thing. Trying to persuade myself that general life and career attempts aren’t just futile exercises in send many emails to no avail. I go in to year two of career forging with a literal fresh face and a few realistic promises that I need to make to myself, which I shall list here.

1) Stop getting pissed at the world, it doesn’t hate you it hates everyone equally.

2) Get your flabby ass to the gym, son!

3) Never grow a beard until you get a job interview, or can look like Triple H.

There’s more but I think they’ll be blog posts for another time.

Misogyny is a Bigger Problem Than We Think

Here is a piece I wrote the other day, hoping to get it to The Guardian, The Independent or some other paper. Didn’t happen so, enjoy and disagree/agree as much as you like.

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This has not been a good few weeks when it comes to the perpetration of sexism on the internet. The big news of the leak of personal pictures stolen from celebrities is now garnering all the headlines but the problems have been simmering since a potential conflict of interest in the video games industry was exposed in a heinous way.

For those who have done well to stay away from the Gamergate story here is the short version:

Angry jilted lover exposes affair with his former partner (a game developer) and alleged people involved in the games industry to get alleged favorable promotion, kick starting a torrent of misogynistic response masking itself as “social justice.”


 

I say misogynistic but even that doesn’t do it justice as, in the case of feminist vlogger Anita Sarkeesian, the response as been abhorrent and terrifying. As a games journalist myself of four years, I know and follow a lot of people in the industry and the torrent of abuse that both sexes has received about their profession and ill-evidenced supposed corruption has been appalling. But the level of threats that females have been exposed to during this has far outweighed the vitriolic “freedom of speech” that the males in the industry have received.

To paraphrase Hank Moody from Californication, why is the internet so intent on destroying its female population?

I have read many articles from commentators in the industry. One that stood out for me by Devin Faraci, trying to understand the people behind this event, was claiming that these people are kids. Not in the age sense of the word but in the way that they have no idea how the real world works because they’ve been shut out of it. They find themselves promised so much by the adverts and media around them growing up that they become disaffected and subdued in later life when it turns out not to be true, such as the pursuit of women and popularity.

If this were just a small minority of people doing this then yes, I’d possibly agree that Western society as a whole does have some questions to answer in to how to combat social inclusivity in the mediums consumed by young people. But it isn’t and maybe we should begin to realise that, while the online misogyny may be the most vocal in the minority, it is far removed from that now and, despite having never fully gone away, is almost an epidemic. In fact, it’s practically cultist.

If a mass group of people believed something so outrageous that normal society deemed it too out of the norm then these groups would become cults. Except now these people don’t have to meet in secret sects or hold mass meetings. The forums have become their meeting grounds, the cloak of detached anonymity their shield. As the celebrity photo leaks have proved, this is not just a small business venture in adult entertainment anymore (in fact the leaker bemoaned the lack of money they’ve made from the leak). This is a shark feeding the many schools of piranhas that beg for the sexual objectification they crave like a dealer teasing his junkies. This isn’t a subculture anymore.

Maybe I’m being a bit dramatic in my interpretation of the scale of this problem and it’s hard to separate the lines between the freedom of expression/speech and what is socially unacceptable or even criminal. But there has been a culture of burying ones head in the sand over the scale of this issue, like if we ignored this small amount of vocal people they would go away. I don’t think it is going away and in fact I think it’s getting stronger. What we need to do, as human beings and as women and men, is be the social justice warriors everyone else is pretending to be and begin to notice where this happens in everyday life and shoot these attitudes down before they start.

People will blame the media, the adult industry, the video games industry and the people who took these personal photos, because it points the finger away from their own inaction. We should celebrate our freedom, champion the sexual freedom of others and make sure that personal things remain private, be they women or men. We should express ourselves how we want. As Keith Stuart from The Guardian said in his piece on Gamergate “Objectification is never the answer.” But when those expressions become toxic to the freedom of others and potentially criminal, then we may need to acknowledge that a bigger stance on this “epidemic of misogyny” might be required.

You know, this whole camouflage thing, for me, doesn’t work very well.

It’s 6am and I’m in Gatwick Airport waiting for a flight. Just before I forced myself to sleep hours before, it was announced that Robin Williams had died of suspected suicide.

Depression, as the quote I’ve adapted in the title from a Williams movie, is a tragic burden on a human. There is nothing more criminal to the human psyche than being trapped in it’s own tortuous prison. Such a high profile victim of the affliction can only highlight its reality.

But that conversation is for better qualified people than me. Robin Williams’ body and variation of work is astounding. You could argue that he was one of the first truly comedic actors to make the leap from comedy or farce on screen to serious acting. His roles from Good Will Hunting and in my opinion the deeply underrated One Hour Photo are a testament to his range.

Of course his comedy has known no bounds: Hook, Mrs Doubtfire, et al. But I want to thank him for one thing, the movie that the title quote is from, Good Morning Vietnam.

It’s a movie that might have lost a bit of an edge now but was always well respected for it’s soundtrack. That’s what got me in to it for sure, before Williams’ excellent anarchistic portrayal of the zany radio host mentally plagued by the realities of war censorship.

My mother grew up watching the Vietnam war unfold on television. For the first time in history, television images of gunfire, death and flames beamed themselves in to living room sets around the globe. And for my mother, along with countless other young teenagers no doubt, it was horrifying and traumatic to see.

As such, drama and movies about the Vietnam war and war in general are unable to be watched in my house. I don’t have the same problem having been conditioned from a very young age of the televised atrocities of conflict (which in a supposedly civilised age is a worrying statement). But for my mother it was too much.

Until Good Morning Vietnam. Gritty in its own right, it presented a lighter, more detached picture of the conflict. A focus much more on the condition around war as opposed to war itself, allowed my mother to watch it and thanks to Williams, enjoy herself. That put a slightly more palatable spin on that part of history for her and for us, we were able to share a movie that at a young age taught me about about the duality of conflict and some of my first truly adult conversations with my parents.

So I thank Robin Williams not only for everything he’s done in his career but how a little thing like this enabled a person to revisit a period of history previously too much for them and to be able to share experiences and memories with a family. I’m sure many other families and people will have the same kind of moments and memories of Williams’ work during their life.

It’s tragic and wrong that such a thing not only could happen but happen to someone so loved. But it happens and the sooner ignorance around it is addressed the better. Until then, I’ll put on I Feel Good by James Brown and I’ll keep looking for that second star to the right.

Atychiphobia

I haven’t written a blog in a while. This is because of (un)employment, distractions and me being trapped in a self inflicted mental bubble. If you want the big life update, go and follow me on twitter.

I’m here to write about something else. Mostly because a few people, including myself, haven’t had the most encouraging time lately. I’ve spent the past weekend thinking about it and trying to figure out why.

If I’m honest, I’ve applied for a few jobs over the course of the past couple of months. Literally a few. This is because I’ve grown accustomed to the inventible rejection and failure that I can’t bring myself to do it. I cannot drum up enough enthusiasm to rework my CV, create a cover letter tailored to whichever area I’m trying to get in to and see it receive no reply, a stock reply after a month or just get to nowhere.

It is actually quite crippling how the rejection of jobs, not even interviews but the preliminary applications, affects you. I’m not talking one or two, I’m talking dozens. I’m nearly up to the magic century of jobs within a year. Of course most of the work I want to do involves working for free for a completely unknown amount of time (which is something I or any family sponsoring me cannot afford) or mass networking. The latter I can and have done but I don’t feel it to the shameless enough degree that I could ask anyone something. It’s a hard thankless and cutthroat world I’m trying to enter and the more you try, the harder it will resist you.

I think I sit in this room in front of my computer every day of every week. I have little physical socialisation and, apart from the times where I’m working a night shift here, I rarely accomplish anything. At least that’s how it feels. I’ve had two recent rejections for screenwriting submissions and these were encouraging. Mostly because I heard something back and it was actually proof that someone had read it. I’ll be honest, this was my first time out for a script and I was over the moon that at least I had got as far as I had. I should have been bummed out or angry and persistent to carry on. But I was happy and encouraged and this pleased me.

Then I realised I couldn’t share that enjoyment with anyone. I also realised I haven’t shared anything about my anxiety and fear with my friends. Not only do I worry that they don’t understand and that I’m a bit of a bum and a failure in their eyes (which I guess I am at the time of writing) but they can’t relate to what I’m experiencing or the work I’m attempting to do. And why should they? They don’t know anything really about what I’m attempting to achieve other than it’s quite hard. They don’t understand exactly how much my insecurity and, for lack of a better word, fear grips me and keeps me awake for hours, stops me moving when I wake up and how much I feel imprisoned.

I am lucky in my current situation but I am aware it’s stopping me from being forced to do things. With the last year, I had such a run of productivity that I genuinely yearn for now. The only post-uni blues I have is based around that sense of confidence, encouragement and excitement at the work I was yet to do, coupled with my location. I’ve always tried to move away. Not because I hate the place or anything, my friends have chosen to settle here and I respect that. But for me it’s like a weight. It’s hard to explain and maybe my words aren’t formed enough to do it justice. There’s a pressure on your body that you get when you suddenly brake your car from a high speed. It forces you into a position and makes you immobile. Not just your body but your mind as well. The adrenaline and sudden rush almost paralyses your brain of any thought and you live for a moment completely thoughtless and absent apart from your own body and what you see in front of you. That’s how I feel here.

This isn’t intended to be a whiney post to cultivate sympathy or support, although the latter is always welcome especially as I’m a needy twat sometimes. But it’s intended to speak to the people I know that also have problems, feel like dropping it all and giving in. Those of you who read this and recognise a bit of yourself in it. Whether or not a job you wanted hasn’t materialised or you just feel a bit lost and unsure where you’re heading, just read the following:

You aren’t alone. We are all in this together. It sounds silly but we are but young and naive creatures in a vicious environment. Regardless of what we’ve been prepared for, our age, our experiences, nothing could have exactly prepared us for how things have turned out. But they will get better if they believe they will. Because if we believe, then we will work at making our beliefs reality. As hypocritical as I probably sound saying this, there will be a time for us, all of us, and it will come when we least expect it because we are so busy trying to make it happen. But we all need to support each other and prop each other up. It’s hard and you need to pick and choose what you listen to and who you seek counsel in. Sometimes, people seem different and distant but that’s more because you have done the same to achieve your goals. Once you get there, they’ll understand. You need to find the people now who will completely support you and remind you that carrying on is better than giving in. Things will come together.

The title of this post means fear of failure in the sense that is is persistent and uncontrollable. Everybody will say they are optimistic but deep down, we all have this rooted in our psyche. Sometimes things happen in our lives that bring this to the surface much more predominantly, and that’s OK. We fear that we are wasting ourselves because we believe in ourselves that we should be achieving something. We are hungry for it, desperate maybe, and certainly willing to sacrifice for it. I’ve found that my fear of failure isn’t the fear of me failing, but the fear that if I do fail, I’m not sure where I would turn to be picked up again. Once I find that which picks me up, and you find that as well, then we all shall never fear again.

Narrative Health Symptomns

I haven’t paid a lot of attention to this blog in a while. This may be painfully obvious to my one follower, but excuses aside I have been rather busy working and earning. Mainly so I can spend some time writing with some financial security (desperately search for a job).

Anyway, enough of that. I’m writing two things right now. The first is a sitcom that I’m about to send to producers. I’ve got a lot of faith in it, purely on the basis that others that have read it/helped me with it also have that faith. I’ve also spent some time around screenwriters at Q&A events and heard advice and stories, so I think I’m best positioned to have confidence in it. The second thing is still in my brain forming but will make up the basis of a stand-up show.

One things I’ve noticed about my comedy is that I’m much more of a narrative comic. I need time to develop an overall arc and punctuate it with smaller anecdotal quips. I find that the traditional starter five minute “spray and pray set” – as I think of it – is quite constricting. I’ve never been that kind of funny guy. So I’ve come up with an overall theme and a few anecdotes have come because of it. Although I’m yet to decide which bits are funny and which are me being a curmudgeonus shit.

Like right now for example, I’m in a hospital. Don’t worry I’m fine, just your usual run of the mill appointment. But the building I’m in has a TB clinic on the bottom floor. I find this weird knowing how contagious it is to have it at a level where the reception desk is. Especially seeming I’m on the 6th floor for my breast reduction… I mean run-of-the-mill appointment.

But I have been having this crisis that only appears when you turn 30. Which is where you realise that youth has gone. That doesn’t mean I think I’m old, but I’m now painfully aware that I’ve lost that invincible feeling you have as a younger person. When I was 22 my main worry about my health was whether Sprite and Wine Gums was the best hangover cure I could get before work on a Saturday morning (as an aside, it wasn’t a bad one). Now on the other hand my paranoia dictates my approach to this and I’m wondering if my Doctor would turn me away for a prostate exam due to my age and me realising I don’t get enough sleep.

This change is probably brought on by the maturity that comes with a furthering career, family responsibilities, financial planning and… Wait, I have none of those. Where does this come from?

TB has been easily curable since around the time of the Second World War. But it is on the rise again. Before this, it was just one of those things that was likely to happen to you so you jut got on with life and didn’t give a shit about it. Now, most people my age were inoculated so it’s not a problem at all and therefore, people don’t give a shit about it. Yet six floors below me is a clinic for a highly contagious disease and I’m sat here wondering if getting a qualified practitioner to rectally probe me is a sensible investment in life!

Somewhere between the age of 25 and now, my life must have taken a very strange turn…

FYI, it’s Movember next month and the time to grow hilarious poor facial hair. But it’s also the time to raise awareness of Prostate and Testicular Cancers and Mental Health issues in men. Especially seeming the lifestyles we all lead and the stresses of living we have without ever having a full medical unless our employment obliges us to, maybe 30 is a good time to start thinking about things.

See what I did there? Narrative.

Link: http://uk.movember.com/

Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Neil Gaiman

One thing you have to appreciate about reading and contemplating a Neil Gaiman novel for adults is that he is not writing for adults. One of the great talents that Gaiman has is locating our inner child, after all, adults are nothing more than big children. The inner child is what drives us to engage in fiction, to quest for knowledge and to lose ourselves in make believe. Gaiman has the incredibly ability in his writing to find that part of us and engage with it.

Now this particular book doesn’t actually stand as an adult book. Not really, compared to American Gods anyway. But then neither does Neverwhere or Stardust either, though they are written a lot more viscerally. In fact there is a scene in Ocean that an earlier Gaiman would have gone over the top with. A scene of a sexual nature that really does look at upon such things with innocent childish eyes rather than those of the narrators’ true maturity and reflection. Even with the protagonist being older and remembering the story, everything is narrated in a voice that one can only achieve in real life via mass inebriation or running the risk of being sectioned. But it is pulled off so beautifully. Even if you yourself have no relative appreciation of growing up in the sticks with the magic of nature and its hidden goodies, you can still relate to the tone of voice.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Neil Gaiman.

Which is where I get a slight bit critical, and this may be because of how much this has been billed as an ‘adult’ book and because I’d not long read American Gods, quite possibly Gaiman’s most adult novel. The prose, whilst still beautifully imaginative and screaming its way off your inner voice’s tongue like sliding down a velour sofa and giving a static shock to the nearest unsuspecting target, does feel different. Maybe because the character is a forty-something man being a seven year old boy struggling with how memory really does betray you and desperate to escape. But it feels like it is a tad forced, maybe? Possibly too aware of the problems that such a dialogue presents, Gaiman honestly and innocently recreates the voice of our character and his motivations beautifully, but at the sacrifice of some of the extraordinary turns of phrase and dialogue he is most certainly famed for.

Having said this, his villain, the evil childminding nanny of many a family movie, doesn’t get nearly enough page time, nor ever comes across as inherently evil. Mainly because she isn’t but the lines blur between her being the antagonist and the child’s opinion of something he just doesn’t like. Which doesn’t make her that strong, unlike the heroine of the piece who is mysterious by her absence when you think the story naturally devises ways to drop her in, and her ability to instill complete trust in a boy scared but reflectively underwhelmed by the proportion of magic before him. A magic that is well presented in the book physically with its lovely cover which feels great and much more tactile than a hardback book deserves to be.

I am a fan of course of Gaiman’s work, which makes this review a little harder to judge critically, but it is most certainly not without its merits and is very good at what it does. However, if you’re expecting a darkly gothic darkly humours masterpiece, this isn’t going to feed that desire fully. But it will certainly keep you going and is a great story to enjoy with your family and to personally indulge in a little childhood nostalgia. Whilst it is Gaiman with his finger on the literary trigger, he keeps us on the edge waiting to hit us with the speeding bullet that will amaze and confound us as readers of his work.

4/5 – Definitely read this lament to our forgotten pasts and enjoy the jolt memory lane will give your brain chemicals. Fun for the family to read, but if you want something harder then dip into the back catalogue now conveniently reissued.

Return of the Blog

Hello blog.

It’s been nearly two months. Two busy months and a hell of a lot of Doctor Who. But that’s all done now. University is done and I’m back, ready to make outlandish terrible commentary on current events will an ill-informed argument and an occasional gripe.

So if you’re reading this, you likely follow me on twitter so I don’t need to tell you what I’ve been up to. You all know. So I will give you a quick highlight of what’s been going on in my brain and my current feelings.

1) Benedict Cumberbatch OWNS the new Star Trek movie. He’s incredible in it and it’s visually spectacular. Go and see it. Now… I mean right now. Stop reading and go.

2) Broadchurch is out on DVD. This has been one of the greatest bit of British TV series of recent times, written by the great Chris Chibnall. Get it and watch it. I even converted two of my most critical friends to it.

3) Speaking of British TV, Luther returns in the summer, and Mad Dogs returns next month. I am excited for great television, especially seeming the Americans are besting us at the moment in this regard. I also can’t believe Utopia got a second series and Pramface a third series.

4) Tony Pulis leaving Stoke, Mourhinio to Chelsea, Rafa to PSG, Anchelotti to Madrid. Football done.

5) Trying to get a job is a nightmare… Well unless I go back to hell (I don’t want to go back to hell).

6) I have a pile of computer games to play and I kind of can’t be bothered to do it. I’m just waiting for SimCity to come on Mac so I can play it properly. Still very bugged though *sadface*

7) I have a HUGE pile of books to read, starting with A Song of Ice and Fire saga. I will not be available for at least a year for any other book.

8) I have two book ideas, one radio sitcom idea, a few comedy ideas and I still dislike Dan Brown.

9) I need to see more Liverpool games and must make it so for next year.

10) On the recommendation of Megan Walsh (@megwalsh10), I still have not eaten the Bacon or Shredded Jerky Chocolate that my friend brought me from his travels in Hong Kong.

Done. Until next time, I’ll leave you with this picture of Matt Smith’s Doctor looking at what I’m doing on my computer.

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Asking for the “sexy” vote. Chortle Student Comedy Award

Last week, I competed in the Chortle Student Comedy Award. Thank you to everyone who came, it was great fun. Unfortunately I didn’t win but that’s not where the story ends…
This week, I get the opportunity to progress through to the semi-final with a little help from you. Please visit the link below and vote for me (Sean Cleaver) in the second London Heat. Here’s a little clip so you know what you’re voting for!

Vote for SEAN CLEAVER in the Chortle Student Comedy Award People’s Vote!

 

You’re all sexy. Please spread the word, because you know how this internet begging thing works by now.

 

Sean

Musings on Channel 4’s Utopia *SPOILERS*

I’ve resisted writing about Channel 4’s Utopia for the past four weeks. I’ve watched the show, as broadcast so far, and read the reviews. I’ve seen all of these rave critiques of a spiralling plot with cleverly woven webs of deceit, characters that are relatable and honest and stunning visuals. It saddens me to say I don’t agree.

Now I don’t want to pass judgement until I’ve seen all of it, obviously as a show of this nature could all beautifully come together at the last minute. But to me, this is all just a little bit too X-Files and has been done before. For the record I liked the X-Files although when I recently watched them all, it became utterly repetitive and reliant on its conspiracy arc episodes.

*SPOILER ALERT * If you haven’t seen the show and want to, STOP READING HERE and go watch it first. *SPOILER ALERT*

With the exception of Arby (explained later) and Wilson Wilson, who’s involvement has completely petered out now he’s out of his tin foil hat style environment, I find none of the characters engaging, alluring or find any kind of empathy with them. I find most of their dialogue rather clunky, obvious and uninspiring. The show itself goes through many silent periods before being overrun with far too technical plot exposition far too quickly for anyone to understand. In the first X-Files series Mulder constantly leaps to a massive, fairly uninformed, conclusion about twenty minutes in to an episode. Along with visceral dramatic diatribes directed towards Scully, who rightly looks at him like the arrogant psychopathic prick he persuades us he is. That’s exactly what this show does to the audience. They go all Mulder and we sit there like Scully going “Eh? Oh, fuck off.” The entire sudden realisation of The Network’s protein being in every food stuff – thanks to a villainous corporation noted in the comic manuscript we’ve barely had any exposition of (both parts 1 & 2) – is just too much too quickly and really quite unimaginative. In fact, I had no idea this big background villainous entity was even called ‘The Network’ until I read the reviews. Granted, I may have missed that in an earlier episode, but still it shows how little the script is willing to let on.

I choose the word ‘script’ on purpose here. Visually, the series is brilliant. Great locations and a stunning colourful and varied nod to the comic books and movies that has inspired it. The acting has been pretty awesome in places too. Emilia Jones as Alice in Ep. 4 was a fantastic performance, Fiona O’ Shaughnassey playing Jessica Hyde as the ultra violent, slightly child like, rouge (River Tam from Firefly anyone?). But none more so than Neil Maskell as Arby. Arby is the only character who appears genuinely interesting and so borderline psychopathic that you can’t help but want him to completely lose it. In fact, I will admire his plot and how his character is affected by the eponymous comic book that we’ve seen so little of. A genuine connection of discovery that nails it. But that is because Maskell has played it so expertly. A similar child like quality to Hyde, suggesting their shared past, but with a more true feeling of hurt, confusion and a slight innocence despite his actions. We don’t give a toss about the implausible global pharmaceutical conspiracy, we want a person to care about! Other than that, I don’t feel the series is actually going anywhere. Jessica Hyde was introduced far too early, leading to very clunky drawn out travelling/hiding scenes to wreak potential havoc on a love relationship we don’t care about. Jessica’s secret motives are so secret, we don’t care about them. Becky’s seemingly double agent ploy is so unexplained, we don’t care about it… You see where I’m heading with this.

I’m not intentionally being nasty towards the show or another writer’s writing (I’m not a critic per se, more of a practicing observer) but I honestly don’t care about anything except Arby. People who I’ve spoken to who’ve seen the show (not reviewers, genuine audience like me, you, anyone NOT reviewing), honestly don’t care about anything except Arby. Which makes me wonder why the rest of the show is so damned frustrating with its clunky style? It can get it right somewhere, so why not the rest? Don’t even get me started on the seemingly pointless and utterly infuriating storyline involving the civil servant Michael Dugdale which seems to be purely there as exposition for background evil. Or the sudden appearance of Milner, the stiff upper lip lady spy, who reels off government department acronyms like a child describing their Pokemon cards. These distract from the general plot and annoy me. A plot which now seems to be a weekly edition of “Who is?” Who is Jessica Hyde in Ep. 1, Who is Mr Rabbit now in Ep’s 3&4; with long, confusing and utterly boring expositions of how they effect the plot of our characters and seemingly lead them no where but to another “Who is?” moment.

I will watch the rest to see how it pans out because it will frustrate me if I don’t. And if you are enjoying it, fair enough. Do not let my diatribe put you off watching, inspiring or giving television producers the desire (excuse) to have a get out there and create some intriguing telly. But for me it’s not working. When I first heard the idea (after it felt like pulling teeth from the writer in the C4 interview to get anything sensical about it), I thought that it would have made a great kids TV show. Reminiscent of the Russell T Davies shows like Dark Season, imports like Round The Twist, and the like. It doesn’t need the violence and it would appeal to a young adult, maybe even younger, audience with the parents getting intrigued also. I think it makes a good adult show too but sadly, that isn’t being realised in my eyes.

A Great Big Spiffing Update

Yes, I haven’t updated in exactly one month, one day, and seventeen hours-ish. Bite me. At least I’ve updated the website. Doesn’t it look pretty and slightly less functional now? Less like a Dignitas brochure.

So I’m not going to update you on the dissertation as there’s not really any update to be had. University has been providing me with enough procrastination devices, reading, essays and general rubbish to keep me from making some progress on the one thing it needs me to do. But here’s some things that have been happening!

For one, I completed my dryathlon for charity so donate to me you tight gits. PINT84 £1 to 70070. Cancer Research UK will benefit greatly from it. I’m not exactly adonis yet in the body stakes but it’s slowly happening. Here’s hoping by May, I’ll look like the uglier version of (flavour of the month), the guy who (random celebrity status). The dawn is approaching where I need to seek some kind of gainful employment, working experience (I know I have seven years already), and the like. So if you know, can point in a direction or can help, tweet me! (@cleaverslips) I can write pretty things (flowers), gaming or nerdy things (kapowww! – 404 error), sporty things (FORE!), opinionated things (Uggh that bloke looks a bit rubbish on that news programme. Who does he think he is, the Prime Minister?) and funny things (makes fart noises). I can also use the steamy thingy on the coffee machine, which is probably more what you’re after in an employee anyway.

Writing wise, I’ve spent a lot of time rewriting a piece I did for a uni class. Normally, I’d post it once I’ve got my grade, but this I won’t. It’s autobiographical and to be honest, it became a bit of a labor of love for me. Literally, it’s about dating so, correct usage of the word literally there… Literally. Maybe you’ll see it when I have enough money to be happy and enough ego to warrant writing such a piece. However, my excursions into radio will bring something cool to your ears!

Hopefully starting in the next two months, me and a few friends are going to record a radio sketch show pilot. Just because we can really, and we only have the technology for another few months. The working titled “Hang The DJ” will be a pilot podcast, recorded in front of a live audience and performed by the friends and myself. So far, four pages out of a maximum 30 have been written as has some music for a comedy song. I’m quite excited about it (especially as my friends are funnier performers than me) and hope it will pave the way for a series available in podcast form. At least it’ll give me some writing confidence and a chance to hone my craft rather than the rejections from BBC’s Newsjack.

I have written a short story which I am letting stew for a while before editing. I can tell you it’s called The Taxers and is about a post-apocalyptic farming colony. Hopefully I can find a way to get it published. There’s also a few other ideas flying around, including a Valentines Day piece about a mystery Valentine who leaves random clues over their workplace to woo their prospective interest. I will publish it on here when I get around to it. PURELY OUT OF SPITE TO WRITING MAGAZINE! Yes, I ask you, as a magazine that offers short story competitions (which another friend got shortlisted for but a far inferior story got the nod), and also that offers internet/iPad subscriptions, in this 21st Century mobile world, how can they refuse a submission from me? I’ll tell you. I don’t count as a subscriber as I do so via my iPad, so they won’t let me submit anything. To do so, I have to subscribe by filling a form in the physical magazine and sending it off with a cheque with my story. I’m feeling myself rambling here but UP YOURS writing mag! Come see me when you decide to crawl into the future. Maybe I’ll fax you the directions on how to get there.

Also, Superbash, NFL, fun nights had, Dodge Brothers ticket sorted, lots of board games and geek T-Shirts purchased, lots of books, stuff, etc, yada yada. Just follow on twitter, instagram, all that kind of thing. I’m there.

Currently Reading: Blood Meridian – Cormac McCarthy, Tales From Development Hell: The Greatest Movies Never Made? – David Hughes.