RANT RANT RANT!

Day 1,444: I Predict A Riot

Fri 14.12.12: Yesterday the Sinai arrived in Aswan without too much fuss. Danny and Jill, the couple I shared lunch with in Wadi Halfa, slept the night on the deck in front of the bridge. They must have been freezing. After disembarkation we got chatting outside customs to the Aussie girl who had just, with the help of Mazar and Midhat Mahir, taken the first EVER tourist bus into Egypt from Sudan USING THE ROAD. This is no small achievement and paves the way for much easier travel through Africa for all us overlanders. The Sinai doesn’t take cars: you currently have to leave your vehicle in Wadi Halfa or Aswan for the barge to bring over a few days later. Danny, Jill and I shared a taxi from the port into town. Wow it’s grown in the last 13 years. In the afternoon I had…

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Day M249: Why I’m Not A Republican

Sat 02.06.12: Today marked the start of the 4-day Diamond Jubilee celebrating Queen Elizabeth II’s 60th year as Head of State of The United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and numerous Commonwealth realms. It’s given the British people a couple of days off work, a free concert and injected some much-needed joy into a otherwise perpetually depressed nation. There are some that argue that the royal family is an anachronism, that it’s irrelevant, that it’s out-of-touch. So would I! But then, let’s face it, those adjectives could be used to describe every political institution in the world, not least the United Nations. I’m not swayed by arguments wrung out by Daily Mail-types who believe that to criticise the monarchy is akin to collaborating with The Nazis. Nor am I swayed by arguments wrung out by tub-thumbing Trots screaming off with her head – these are arguments…

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Day M243: The 10 Courts of Hell

Sun 27.05.12:  Today I met up with Maryanne, the CouchSurfer who shared Mike’s flat with me in Hong Kong. Together with Kuni and our new CouchSurfer Callum we headed over the Haw Par Villa Theme Park to go see the TEN COURTS OF HELL!! Hell isn’t an exclusively western concept. What happens to you after die has obsessed the upright ape since it first climbed out of the trees, touched the monolith and killed off all the Neanderthals. In some instances the fanciful fables of the hereafter have assumed the status of myth (that place religions go when they die), but for many people on this planet hell is as alive and as real as Disneyland. So why not make a theme park out of it? That was the idea of brothers Aw Boon Haw and Aw Boon Par, the developers of Tiger Balm, who came…

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Day M242: Gotham City

Sat 26.05.12: Gangsters. I hate them. I hate their pathetic lust for money, their shocking insensitivity to the misery of others, their child-like desire for trinkets and weaponry. But I especially hate their taste – yes I may sound like a rambling old lord bemoaning the trashy habits of the nouveau riche, but sod it: these people are not just morally bankrupt, but creatively bankrupt as well. The kind of goons who would erect a tasteless golden statue of themselves as though it’s not going to be melted down the minute they shuffle off this mortal coil they’ve done so much to ruin for others. The kind of goons that buy cars that look like glorified roller-skates, spend more on sound-systems than looking after their kids, hang out with women more plastic than Barbie and wear shirts louder than Krakatau. One of the reasons I want…

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Day M216: General Santos

Mon 30.04.12: After arriving in the port of General Santos I met with Vincent, the local agent for Mariana Express, who took me to see Manny Pacquiao’s mum’s house. It’s a pastel-coloured concrete mansion off a dirt track – the dirt track on which the octuple world boxing champion himself grew up. The other houses in the area were typical concrete hovels, overflowing with people, with kids, with hustle and bustle. I don’t get it – Filipinos are some of the sweetest and most hard-working people I’ve ever met. Why do they have so little to show for it? The other night, Third Mate Michael and I were chatting about the world and he said he wished the British had colonised The Philippines rather than the Spanish. I thought this was a bit of an odd thing to say – I mean, who wants to be…

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Day M200: To Curse A Thief

Sat 14.04.12: After the good news from Hartmann, I did what all good backpackers do on Friday nights in strange and foreign lands. I went headed to the pub. A guy staying in the hostel called Nathan gave me a lift to the Brickyard and there I met a bunch of Canadians and Americans with which to celebrate my good news. I woke up this morning, well, this afternoon, in the spare room of a couple I had been drinking with, and after thanking them profusely (and eating their bagels), I headed back to the backpackers to get everything all sorted for tomorrow’s big excursion. Saturday 14 April 2012 was a big day for us scousers, as not only was Everton playing Liverpool at Wembley for the FA Cup Final, the Grand National horse race was also being held at Aintree. Intending to watch both of…

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Day M154: Such A Pretty House

Tue 28.02.12: Today I turned 33 years old. Too old, Yoda would say, to begin the training. By the age of 33, Jesus had convinced enough illiterate sailors that he was the son of God to kick-start the most lucrative religious racket the world has ever seen, Mozart was working on what would turn out to be his last requiem and Alexander The Great had conquered the known world. All did not live to see their 34th [edit: whoops! except for Mozart, who was 35 when he died]. By the time most of us hit the big three-three, we’ve got a full time job, a house we’re struggling to keep up the repayments on, a sizeable pension fund, a savings account, a TV in every room, a fridge, a couch, wood-decking out the back, matching towels, a Playstation 3 and, by and large, rugrats. I don’t…

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Day M86: How To Write A Blockbuster – Part IV

22.12.11: Antagonists This is the easy bit. Your antagonist could be a rival news anchor, a monster from the black lagoon or the protagonist’s own fear of commitment (although if your script is based around fear of commitment, I hate you). It’s just some thing that keeps throwing obstacles in the way of our hero. Wants vs. Needs Before you embark on the journey you must spell out very clearly is what your main characters heart’s desire is. It might be to go into space, get with the girl or win the world tiddlywinks championship. But that alone does not a good film make. What you can play with, and what you can be more subtle about, is what the character really NEEDS. Self confidence, trust, education, friends, the monster to stop eating his friends etc. The most blatant example of the wants vs. needs fandango…

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Day M85: How To Write A Blockbuster – Part III

21.12.11: The Re-writes Begin... There are certain rules you have to stick to in order to write a successful movie script. If you would prefer to ignore these rules, write a novel instead. The rules of movie making are pretty much set in stone and you’d have to be either very brave or very stupid to break them. Reservoir Dogs follows the rules. Casablanca follows the rules. The Godfather follows the rules. The Shawshank Redemption, Being John Malkovich, The Big Lebowski, Little Miss Sunshine, The Matrix, Gran Turino, Platoon, Raging Bull, Inception, Annie Hall, The Wizard of Oz... no matter how clever you think your favourite movie is, chances are, if it turned a profit at the box office it follows the rules. You want to see a film STICKS IT TO THE MAN and THROWS THE RULE BOOK OUT THE WINDOW...? Okay. Every film ever…

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Day M84: How To Write A Blockbuster – Part II

20.12.11: The Premise First up, work out the basic premise in your head. Don’t worry about making it all make sense just yet, just worry about the main features of the story. At the very least you should have a strong set-up, a strong dénouement and a good title. Unfortunately for you, the best movie titles of all time, Ice Cold In Alex, There Will Be Blood and Snakes on a Plane have already been taken, so you’ll just have to think of another one. At this point, if all you can think of is a single scene, you should really consider writing a short movie instead. The Audience This is important, possibly the most important thing about scriptwriting. You need three things to tell a story: a story, a storyteller and an audience. Otherwise you’re just talking to the wall. It’s interesting that British people…

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