The Cauliflower Of Morbius

February 26, 2011

So, I was tidying around the website – polishing the fonts, putting doilies on the html code, that sort of thing – and I found this image in the comments that you may have missed the first time around. Either enjoy the sheer inconguity of it, or if you’d like to know why this exists read our review of The Doctor Who Cookbook and the follow-up article.

No, you’re welcome.

Thank you to David AA for his photshopping expertise, and why not buy a copy of The Brain Of Morbius from amazon.co.uk? Part proceeds go toward buying John coffee. Or buy the Doctor Who double pack of Kinda and Snakedance just because they’re both grouse and have giant snakes in them.

Advertisements

Want To Be In Outland?

November 10, 2010

Outland is a new comedy series for broadcast on the ABC in 2011 and already being called “the best gay and lesbian science fiction fan club themed comedy series ever.” By us. Just then. And you can be part of it!

Read the rest of this entry »


Pop-Culture Melbourne

November 7, 2010

Yes, I’m aware that the updates here have been… um… sluggish. I’ve been writing a TV show! Leave me alone! Anyway, in September I gave a presentation about Melbourne and pop culture at Aussiecon 4, the 68th World Science Fiction Convention. Here is an edited transcript:

Melbourne is a city of culture. We have more cafes you can discuss arts funding in than any other Australian city, and many live music venues that are now pizzerias. We’re also home to Australia’s most exciting cultural institutions – ChamberMade Opera, Chunky Move, Circus Oz and Bert Newton.

But as well as all that “unpopular culture”, we also are a city that celebrates the popular stuff, being home to music, comedy, film, television and Bert Newton.

We’ll start with film, because Melbourne was home to potentially the world’s first feature film, The Story Of The Kelly Gang, which was filmed here in 1906. I say potentially because – like The Macra Terror – only about 10 minutes of it still exists and no one can agree on how long it was. It was filmed in bushland around the city, as well as in St Kilda, and it was made for 1 100 pounds, roughly double the average Australian film budget of today.

Read the rest of this entry »


Hauntingly Beautiful = Ukulele

October 28, 2009

On the radio show this week I mentioned this YouTube video, in which the life of former Doctor Who producer/writer/director Barry Letts was commemorated through the medium of ukulele.

I am GENUINELY not being sarcastic when I say I found this quite touching, and I hope that when I leave this mortal coil someone will sing my obituary in an online ukulele tribute. Probably without references to Moonbase 3, though.

(My only reservation is that a huge string section should swell up in the middle of the song, while the camera spins around and around and around – but that’s my main criticism of real life, too).

So thank you, Will Howells, for taking the time to strum through the tears, and thank you, Barry Letts, for making my childhood more magical. You will be missed.


Interview: Alan Brough

August 27, 2009

alan 2

For the seventh episode of the Outland Institute Radio Show we were joined by comedian, actor, musician and New Zealander Alan Brough. It was a pleasure to have him in the studio, as we chatted about Spicks & Specks, growing up, acting, terrible stories, and Alan’s pearls of wisdom such as “What day isn’t made better by Haysi Fantayzee?”. You can hear the full interview by downloading it from here, but here are some highlights:

Every time I mentioned you were coming in, people would say “That Alan Brough, I’d like to hug him”. Are you Australia’s most huggable comedian?

I never really thought about it before, but I’m willing to test that out. I do – after I’ve had a couple of glasses of red wine – and anyone who knows me will know that’s very seldom – I do like to hug people. Particularly small people. Just lifting them up, picking them up and holding on to them. Rove McManus is good for that. Not for name-dropping, but he was the first tiny person who sprung to mind. But that area of person. I love to pick them up. Cos they’re helpless. They can struggle all they like, but they’re like a salmon caught in the claw of a bear.

You and Myf Warhurst seem incredibly nice on Spicks & Specks, are you like that in real life?

If this is possible, Myf is even nicer in real life than she is on the telly. It’s quite difficult to understand. I thought it was physically impossible to be nicer than she comes across on the TV, but she is. I, on the other hand, am just sad. And when I’m not sad I’m fuelled with a rage that comes from an incalculable depth.

But that’s comedy, isn’t it? Many comedians seem to be bitter, nasty individuals who hide behind a thin veneer of humour…

My veneer is being redone at the moment, so it’s just pure rage for me.

Everyone on the show – bar me – is genuinely nice, and we do get on extremely well. And to be perfectly honest I don’t see the point in people being awful to each other on the television. You get enough of that in life, from your family, from people on the tram, in bars… I was reading about Masterchef, and someone said what they loved about it was that you wanted these people to be your friends. As opposed to a lot of reality shows where you want to find these people and kill them.

Read the rest of this entry »


House Of Games: The Saddle Club Show Jumping Game

June 8, 2009

John continues to explore what happens when you take popular culture and throw dice at it…

P1030021

I love horses. But I can never eat a whole one. It’s an old joke, yet it’s true. Spooky, no?

horse crazy

The source material: The Saddle Club began life as a series of tween-skewing book published by Bantam between 1986 and 2001. Presumably intended as a Sweet Valley High-type series for lonely girls named Jacinta, they were ostensibly written by Bonnie Brayant, but were reportedly churned out by a number of ghostwriters. There were 101 titles in the main series, plus spin-off series of Super Editions, Inside Stories, Pony Tales (get it!?!) and Pine Hollow.

The books are set in the fictional town of Willow Creek, Virginia, and follow the adventures of Carole Hanson, Stevie Lake and Lisa Atwood who all ride together at Pine Hollow Stables. The first book is entitled Horse Crazy, which gives some idea of what’s to come. The girls are 12 years old at the beginning of the series, and they remain that way for the next fifteen years. Perhaps Willow Creek is one of those vampire towns.

The books were made into a highly successful television series in 2001 (and by “highly successful” I mean “highly merchandised” – the show spawned an alarming amount of tie-in product, including a surprising number of half-arsed singles, such as Hello World and Hey Hey, What You Say). The series was an Australian/Canadian co-production – surely a phrase that instills fear in most people – and 52 episodes were produced over two seasons, with a third season reviving the franchise last year (while the third season is considered a continuation, it has been entirely recast due to the original stars unprofessionally refusing to stay 12-years-old for the last seven years –  it’s not surprising women can’t get decent roles on Australian television if they insist on ageing).

saddleclub

The Wikipedia page for the TV show claims the characters were brought together through “recognizing their love for horse riding“, which makes it sound a bit like Brokeback Mountain. Only with horses. The article goes on to say “Throughout the series, The Saddle Club has to deal with Veronica, dressage training, and competitions, as well as the troubles of their friends and staff in the fictional Pine Hollow Stables. Through perseverance and friendship, The Saddle Club always comes through. The Saddle Club also has a mission set before them: get Veronica to take care of Garnet. The Saddle Club wasn’t successful in their attempts to get Veronica to take care of Cobalt, Veronica’s earlier gorgeous horse, due to him being put down because of a jumping accident“. No wonder this article may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia’s quality standards.

Read the rest of this entry »


Accept No Irritation

May 2, 2009
bitter
(Bitter, lesbiany T-shirts available at http://www.redbubble.com/people/boxcutters.)

Last week we talked about Henrie Stride and – let’s be honest – I wasn’t very complimentary. In fact, I was downright irksome.

You may remember that Ms Stride is convinced that people are only interested in “pretty” and “upbeat”, so how did my low-level sniping affect the popularity of The Outland Institute? We had a massive spike of readers and Wednesday the 29th had the most visitors the Institute has ever seen. Why? Because misery loves company. Everytime I write something that drips of bile – like this review of BBC’s Survivors – the numbers shoot right up.

I think the truth is that “contented” is not the same as “interesting”. As our old friend Leo Tolstoy once said, “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”. He’s a laugh-riot, isn’t he? You should see the thing he wrote for Adam Sandler.

I had been pondering on what this all meant when I found myself at a party, trying to talk to someone I hadn’t met before. The conversation was stilted, so in desperation I said, “Tell me five petty things that annoy you“. And let me tell you – it’s an ice-breaker. Soon we were all getting along like a house on fire. A funhouse on fire. Full of clowns. A funhouse full of burning clowns.

When it comes to misanthropy, of course, no-one beats the British. The BBC have an excellent television show called Room 101, which is like Enough Rope for the terminally depressed. A celebrity guest comes on to discuss the things they hate, hoping the host will remove them from existence (which is to send them to Room 101, in a strange conceptual mangling of George Orwell’s 1984). Starting life as a radio show in 1992, it moved to TV in 1994 and has even seen a Dutch spin-off (presumably as a form of revenge for Big Brother). And that’s without mentioning the “Grumpy” franchise, which started with Grumpy Old Men (2003), then led to Grumpy Old Women (2004), Grumpy Old Holidays (2006) and will presumably soon include Celebrity So You Think I Love The Make Me A Grumpy Old Supermodel, Get Me Out Of Here House (2010).

101

And I find I like Will Self more knowing that he hates airport architecture. Knowing Meera Syal dislikes Austria is strangely comforting. And seeing that Michael Grade still feels the need to openly despise Doctor Who – nearly 20 years after he cancelled it – says more about him than the program in question. I find these petty dislikes give me a much better view of the person – they feel more intimate, somehow, and less filtered than hearing them talk about their love of fine wines, or charity work. (Remember how on Perfect Match everyone used to like “travelling, raging and meeting people”?).

So do the things we hate define us better than the things we like? I sent an email out to a number of the Institute’s Friends and Leavers Of Comment, to gauge their opinion, and to ask them to list five minor things that annoy them. I swear I have NEVER seen emails come back so fast. It would seem people love to talk about things that irritate – but does it give you an insight into their character?

Read the rest of this entry »