The List At The End Of The Universe

Blame it on getting past the halfway marker on the book but I’ve been thinking a whole lot about endings recently. A chain of thought that led from the ending of the book and spanned further outwards into how everything ends, eventually stopping in one form or another. Then I began to think about ideas and projects of my own.

It’s said that Stanley Kubrick only made one film of each genre. Whilst I’ve had a look at his filmography and that statement isn’t completely accurate there is a tendency to regard his main cannon of movies cornerstones in their particular field. His Science fiction movie was 2001, his horror The Shining, his comedy Dr Strangelove and hell knows what Eyes Wide Shut was going to be.

I have no idea if this will be the only book I ever write. For something that I felt like doing just to give it a go it’s going fairly well. Any thought that I’d have it done by the time the clocks go back has pretty much faded right now though. If it is the first and last book I ever write then at least I can say I’ve written one.

This in turn got me thinking about all the small, one time projects I could do and then never make another one of that particular type again. Then I got down to writing a list.

1X Short Film.

When I was in college one of my tutors encouraged us to write a list at the start of each week with what you hoped to achieve. He added that he always put something at the top that either you’d already done or were close to doing so you could cross it off straight away and have a psychological boost right off the bat. This would be mine. Already done, made and screened. One day I’ll stop banging on about it.

1X Feature Film

Still working on this one, script have been done but nothing picked up yet.

1X Book

Currently in progress.

1X Comic Book.

I’ve always had a few ideas kicking about for a comic book actually but I cannot draw to save my life so I’d need somebody who could.

1X Album

Once again I cannot play any musical instruments at all but about a year ago I went round to a friend’s house who certainly can. We had a system running where I hummed stuff and he translated it into guitar and drums. It was a really fun day and we had something akin to a song by the time we were done. The idea of just making one album or strange bleeps and bloops, never playing it life in any way and only producing about three physical copies of it just appeals to me.

1X Radio Play.

Something creepy with sound. Quite doable on a really low budget, at home with decent microphones too.

1X Published Short Story.

In a magazine or something along those lines.

1X Video game.

Probably something with a bit of story to it especially as I’m really only able to make text adventures right now.

1X Any of the above but under the banner of Doctor Who

Because the day I get to write ‘TARDIS lands’ I will truly have to stop myself from flipping out.

Working through this list I feel I could die a happy man. Probably quite poor but still happy.

Support Good People Doing Good Things

Nothing good ever comes easy.

This includes ideas.

It’s one thing to have an idea, to mull it over in the mind and keep refining it but the hard part is going through the process to take it from a single thought all the way to an actual ‘thing’ that people can watch, read or listen to. It takes a hell of a lot of effort in all cases and I strongly admire anybody who gets to their own individual finish line.

One such example happened a couple of weeks ago when I attended The Source Cafe in Carlisle for the double album launch from two local bands The Unsung and We Are Quasars. I’ll have to add some disclosure here and say that I’ve worked with Craig from The Unsung for a good few years now. Both bands actually had a gig at The Old Fire Station in Carlisle back in November. I was at that one too and both were sounding really good back then but the albums were still being worked on and tweaked at that stage. Tonight they were ready to go as evidenced by the pile of CDs on the merch table on the way in.

You should buy both albums. I know you’re probably thinking that I’m bound to say that because I know The Unsung. The truth is that I was always going to buy their album and We Are Quasars as well because I enjoyed listening to them so much back in November. The added bit to all this is the fact that both albums are brilliant and are well worth your time and money even if you’re not from Carlisle and don’t know anybody in either band. They stand solid in their own right. The Unsung make melodic music with a certain darker edge. They remind me a lot of Interpol and I mean that as a surefire complement. because I love Interpol. We Are Quasars sound a little bit like Muse before they became too concerned with how much stadium they could fit into their stadium rock. There’s a vein of anger floating through their songs. Not all out firing rage but the calculated, fine needle type.

You can listen to The Unsung here and We Are Quasars here. I suggest you do.

Why am I telling you all of this is a blog about writing? Well here’s the crossover. As I stood listening to both bands in a room which seemed to be getting hotter and hotter with each passing minute (the insulation is good for soundproofing but maybe not so great for getting any air into the place) a thought smashed into my head. Here’s two groups of people who have taken sounds that were raw and incomplete, put them together, arranged them and recorded them. Here they were, a few months later, playing the final versions and selling the physical result. Forget turning lead into gold, this is alchemy.

I was having a bit of a tough time with the book. The flow wasn’t quite there and nothing was really coming together. Not only was the music good, the company fantastic but it was also an evening when inspiration walked up to me and smacked me in the head the friendly kind of way. This collection of strange goings on and stranger people can be blended together and eventually there will be a final result for people to read. Regardless of the format it’s a very similar process behind it. If you’ve made an idea exist for everybody else to see then you deserve all the credit.

‘Support good people making good things’.

So I get back to the book.


The Beast Of Babylon

I am hardly a musician.

The closest I came to being in a band was when I had delusions of being a bass guitar player during college. I had drained around £300 on a five string bass guitar in an effort to be like Fieldy from Korn. This did not work as I found it hard enough to play four strings, let alone five. I ‘played’ along with a friend who was actually extremely talented as a guitarist. We got absolutely nowhere and my rock star dreams were packed away and forgotten about.

I work with a guy called Craig who is incredibly gifted musically however. Here’s the link for one of his current bands The Unsung. He also plays in the rather good Carlisle Ukulele Club.

It came to pass one day that Craig asked if I wanted to have a music afternoon round at his house one day. Just a bit of a muck about. ‘But alas’ I began ‘you have seriously overestimated my musical ability’. Apparently this didn’t matter because I listened to music and appreciated it so I would therefore have an idea of what worked and what didn’t. ‘But I play nothing’ I continued. We simply agreed that if I hummed it, he’d play it back with proper notes and everything.

We even agreed a name for this project as ‘Knives In The Sun’. You might think some great poetry as inspiration for that name but I’d counter with the fact it’s the description of the teeth in Roald Dahl’s ‘Enormous Crocodile’. There was a theory for a long time that this name was so good for a band that we would never make any music to ruin the mystique.


Yet shatter the mystique we did this past Friday when we actually sat down in Craig’s house and got to doing some musical stuff. He had a bass line ready, we recorded that and then set about adding to it. I drummed on my knees to demonstrate what I thought would be a good drum pattern, Craig went ahead and put them into the track only with proper drumming involved. He then laid down a guitar part before I hummed a synth part to him. Once again Craig worked the magic and placed that in as well. For me it was a bit like having a translator on holiday who not only makes your words understandable to the locals but replaces all the stupid choices of words with far better and sexier sounding ones.

Craig was worried I’d hate the process, the listening of the same section of song again and again in order to tweak small bits here and there. I said it was pretty much like script writing, reading and same scene again and again to try and get the feel right.The thing is though that with scripts you’re only playing it in your own head to see how it goes, music is there right from the get go. Within minutes you can have something playing back at you for real. I really, really enjoyed it.

We’ve saved the results and Craig continues to polish it. I’ll be trying to come up with lyrics for our creation in the near future although I highly doubt I could sing them in any kind of tune.

Regardless, I had reason to walk up to him today and utter the words ‘I might have another riff’ so I could get into this.