Ridiculous Movie Ideas #1 and #2


Meet Maddie, and her very own invisible guardian elf, Gerry, one of Lapland’s finest. But when Lapland’s new CEO buys a new robot named SAFETY (Substitute Autonomous Friendly Elf TechnologY) to reduce staffing costs, Gerry’s decides to defeat the robot in a head-to-head trial, no matter what. Disaster ensues, and Gerry, Maddie, and the robot are stranded in a remote island in Finland. Only by working together can they return home in time. Fasten your seatbelts, because Elf ‘n’ SAFETY are coming!


We pan down past a blue sky, past the dreaming spires, to a beautiful, peaceful river. Willows droop lazily over their reflections, and blue-shirted boater-hat wearing students guide their punts downstream.

Brr–br-br-br-boom! Dubstep. A fleet of jacked-up punts with LED lights, spoilers, massive motorised punt poles, etc, slide into view, complete with gyrating dancers in skimpy outfits. One deep-black punt is the centre of attention; it’s Dominic Thatcher, with a first-class degree in engineering. And here’s the young turk, Brian Connor-Smythe, a fresher studying fluid dynamics. They draw up beside each other.

“I live my life a quarter mile at a time. Nothing else matters: not the college, not the department, not my lab and all their bullshit. For those one hundred and twenty seconds or less, I’m free.”

Who can make it to Iffley Lock in time? Will Brian discover the secret of Dominic’s illegal success in research? You’ll only find out, in The Fast and the Furious: Oxford Drift.


We open on two college students driving through the woods at night. One is peering at the bright screen of their phone, giving directions.

“Can’t this piece of junk go any faster?”

“If you want to get out and push, you’re welcome.”

“I heard that if you get to the party before anyone else, you get, like, a lifetime supply of everything.”

“Yeah, well, I haven’t seen any other cars for the last twenty -”

The phone starts beeping.

“Holy shit, it’s here!”

The car screeches down a narrow track. They arrive at a clearing where a very expensive, very high-tech tent has been set up.

“Looks like we’re the first!”

They high-five, and sidle in.

“Hey, we’re here for the app, is there -”

Screams begin.

Smash cut to –


We pull out from these words projected onto a massive screen. It actually says “Clear’s next Killer App” where Clear is a logo for an internet company. The screams turn into rapturous applause. We’re at a press conference, a cross between an Apple keynote and an interview.

A young Cillian Murphy is on the stage.


“Now, did I hear you say two *billion* users?” asks the interviewer?

“Two point *one* billion users,” corrects Murphy, with a twinkle in his eye. Everyone chuckles.

“What’s the secret of your success?”

“It’s simple. We created an app that helps people help each other. These are hard times, and I believe that we should always be there for our friends and family, whether that’s doing work for each other or just throwing a party together.”

“But it doesn’t hurt that you take a cut of every transaction made on the app, does it?”

“Not much,” he admits, twinkling again. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. We’re providing a valuable service and the revenues let us improve the product and reach more and more people.”

“Earlier this year, you acquired Twitter. Everyone wants to know, who’s next? Microsoft? Facebook? Apple?”

He looks thoughtful. “How can I put this? We’re a forward-thinking company. They aren’t. I don’t want to be dragged down with dead weight.” Continue reading “KILLER APP: The Movie”

A Tale from the Academy

To my utter amazement, I turned my computer on this morning to discover an email from none other than Kurt McAllister! As far as I was aware, communications between Earth and Perplex City were strictly monitored, and as you might imagine, these days I simply don’t have the clearance to send or receive anything at all.

From what I can tell, Kurt created some kind of text adventure and sent to it me, perhaps by mistake, or perhaps just as a strange joke – he’s just that kind of guy. Anyway, here it is: A Tale from the Academy, by Kurt McAllister!

But seriously, guys…

The old PXC story team have been talking about old times lately – how much we loved working together, and how much we loved our players. So we decided to write a little unofficial Perplex City fanfiction as our gift for the Restitution of the Cube. We hope you enjoy it!

Go and read Andrea’s, David’s, and Naomi’s – they’re fantastic, and I also had a little help from all of them in writing some fun easter eggs into the adventure…

Ernst Choukula

There’s been some ruckus about a History class at George Mason University in which students created a hoax about an ‘Edward Owens’, the “Last American Pirate”. They made a blog, put up some YouTube videos, and most annoyingly, created an article on Wikipedia.

I find these hoaxes tiresome. We all know that it’s easy to publish misinformation online; it’s done thousands of times, every day, on small and large scales, and it’s as easy as pressing an ‘Edit’ button. If someone is going to put up misinformation, I’d rather they do it with style and panache, like this brilliant addition to the Count Chocula article on Wikipedia (archived):

Ernst Choukula was born the third child to Estonian landowers in the late autumn of 1873. His parents, Ivan and Brushken Choukula, were well-established traders of Baltic grain who– by the early twentieth century–had established a monopolistic hold on the export markets of Lithuania, Latvia and southern Finland.

A clever child, Ernst advanced quickly through secondary schooling and, at the age of nineteen, was managing one of six Talinn-area farms, along with his father, and older brother, Grinsh. By twenty-four, he appeared in his first “barrelled cereal” endorsement, as the Choukula family debuted “Ernst Choukula’s Golden Wheat Muesli”, a packaged mix that was intended for horses, mules, and the hospital ridden. Belarussian immigrant silo-tenders started cutting the product with vodka, creating a crude mush-paste they called “gruhll” or “gruell,” and would eat the concoction each morning before work. The trend unwittingly spread, with alcohol being replaced by sheep–and then cow’s–milk, and the demand for the Choukula’s “cereal” reached as far south as Poland and as far west as the northern Jutland province of Denmark.

It wasn’t long before the unmistakable image (the original packaging, a three gallon wooden vat which featured a burnt etching of a jubilant, overalled Ernst holding a large dog and grinning broadly) made a pop-cultural splash throughout the entirety of Europe and northern Africa. In fact, Tunisia’s “Carthagian Sand Crunch” was seen as the first imitation of the Choukula form; the aforementioned product was presented in broad leathern bags with the woven insignia of a nude tribesman holding a sword and a bunched stalk of oats. Sadly, this would neither be the first nor the tamest appropriation of Ernst’s iconic visage. Continue reading “Ernst Choukula”

Bill Murray

I always found it a little odd how Bill Murray seemed to be so dismissive of Ghostbusters, and more recently, Groundhog Day. When I watched them properly a few years ago (i.e. when I was an adult and could understand all the jokes), I wondered what his problem was. As I saw some of his more recent movies such as Lost in Translation, Broken Flowers, and The Life Aquatic, I thought that perhaps he preferred being known for slightly more serious or subtle films.

Then I saw these clips from over twenty years ago, and realised the true reason – the man is damn funny all by himself, and it must be tough for him to be known for essentially only two movies.

Bill Murray on the very first David Letterman show in 1982 (it really gets going about two minutes in):

Co-hosting the broadcast of a Cubs baseball game in 1987 (solid gold all the way through).

Steve: Now after doing the lineups and looking at the names of the various clubs here…

Bill: I don’t think there’s any question that the names on the Cubs are a lot easier to pronounce, and they seem to be like baseball players’ names.

Life on Mars: 2041

I finished watching Life on Mars a few weeks ago, and have become mildly obsessed with it. This tends to happen with any good book, TV show or movie that I see – I end up wanting to use elements in games or other projects, until the next shiny thing comes along.

After a few beers on Saturday, I came up with the idea of a new Life on Mars series. Instead of Sam Tyler being from the present and waking up 33 years ago, in this new series, Sam is from 33 years in the future and he emerges from his accident in the present.

To my mind, this has a few advantages over the traditional BBC sci-fi show. Firstly, it’s cheap – with the exception of a few scenes set in the future, mostly during the first and final episodes, everything is set during the gloriously easy-to-film present day. Secondly, it doesn’t overload people with science or data-dumping. Thirdly, it has the potential to comment on today’s society in ways that might not be possible otherwise (why, of course everyone has multiple marriages in the future!).

The whole idea is ultimately a thought-experiment that’ll only be of interest to geeks, but I came up with enough fun ideas to throw these scenes together:

“My name is Sam Tyler. I had an accident in 2041, and I woke up in 2008. Am I mad, in a coma, or back in time? Whatever’s happened, it’s like I’ve landed on a different planet. Now maybe if I can work out the reason, I can get home.”


GENE: Alright Sammy boy, we’ve got a real bastard here. We’ve been watching Tom Coates for weeks – he’s been selling thousands of pirated DVDs-

SAM: So?

GENE: And we know he’s receiving a shipment of cocaine worth a million tomorrow night.

SAM: What’s the problem?

GENE: [LOOKS AT SAM IN DISBELIEF] The Green Party might have taken over in Hyde, but piracy and drugs are still illegal in my town. And if that doesn’t get you going, maybe the bloke he murdered last night will!

SAM: Believe me, we keep track of murderers in Hyde.


GENE: Get on with it then, Dorothy, it’s not going to drive itself!

SAM: You know what, maybe you’d better drive for now.

SAM: Chris, can you send over the 3D reconstruction of the crime scene to my computer?

CHRIS: 3D what?

SAM: Right, right. Uh, send over the photos then.

CHRIS: Sorry boss, still haven’t uploaded them yet. Ray left the camera in his car.

SAM: …Upload them? For Christ’s sake, I feel like I’m in the 90s.

I have a few more scenes set in the future, but they feel a bit clunky to me. I might post more if I can write something coherent.

Brief thoughts on futile presents

There exists a class of products – DVD boardgames, TV tie-in books, themed calendars – that I believe no-one actually buys for themselves. Instead, they are only bought as Christmas presents for other people who ‘like cars’ or ‘watch 24’. There are obviously other products that are only bought as gifts, the most obvious being giftcards, vouchers, trips on hot air balloons, etc., but the difference is that these are quite obviously gifts, whereas the former class are, at least to the naked eye, potential products you might buy for yourself.

The reason why I think no-one actually buys these things for themselves is because they appear to be uniformly shoddy and awful. Perhaps I have too high an opinion of humanity, but I just can’t see even the most die-hard Top Gear fan go out and buy the DVD boardgame for himself; a book, yes, but not a DVD boardgame. But someone who’s frantically searching the shelves of Borders at Christmas and then spots this boardgame and thinks, ‘Oh, I know he likes cars’ will definitely give it some thought.

Say the boardgame is awful (it might be good, I don’t know, but usually these things aren’t). The person who receives it will obviously not be inclined to buy it in the future – not that they were ever likely to. Unless they’re particularly forthright or rude, they probably won’t tell the person who gave it to them that it was awful. So you simply end up in the situation of all these terrible products being made every Christmas, only being bought as presents, and their actual quality never being evaluated; instead, they’re bought because of the box art or the commercial tie-in or the trendiness.

Which I suppose is how most things are bought, but at least you’re doing it for yourself…

(I should point out that this is thankfully not a comment on any presents I received this year)

A Suit’s Story

I’d heard about Todd McEwen’s famous essay about Cary’s Grant’s suit in North by Northwest (‘North By Northwest isn’t a film about what happens to Cary Grant, it’s about what happens to his suit’) but I’d never gotten around to reading it. It turns out it’s online, and it’s a brilliant, hilarious read, getting more and more frantic as the film goes on:

Now the suit is in the woods for the reconciliation scene with Eva Marie. This suit doesn’t look too bad in the woods, and you reflect that Mount Rushmore seems a very formal national park, there were a lot of people dressed up in the cafeteria, paying their respects. Cary gets punched out for trying to interfere between the Professor and Eva Marie, AND WHEN HE WAKES UP THE SUIT HAS BEEN CONFISCATED! The Professor has locked him in a hospital room with only a TOWEL to wear! He’s not going anywhere! (Although you feel a lot of relief that he’s had his second shower of the picture.) But then comes the real act of betrayal: the Professor brings CARY GRANT a set of hideous clothes from some awful ‘menswear shop’ in Rapid City (you can just imagine the smell of it, Ban-Lon shirts and cheap belts). He gives him an off-white white shirt, a pair of black slacks, white socks and icky black slip-on shoes.

The A-Team Formula

I can’t remember why I looked up The A-Team on Wikipedia a few months ago. Perhaps it was research for some long-forgotten game idea, or perhaps I was just really bored. Chances are it was a combination of the two. What I found, however, wasn’t just a typical Wikipedia ‘article-by-consensus’ – thorough, but long-winded and lacking critical faculties…

Well, it was mostly that, but it had one real gem in it: someone wrote a long section entitled Formulaic nature of episodes. Rather than being some high school essay, it’s both hilarious and completely spot-on in its almost scientific specificity. After all, all the episodes were essentially identical:

An episode … will start with the A-Team being hired by down-trodden, terrorized clients (often more than one member of the same family). Frequently, one of the clients will be a young woman who Face is immediately attracted to and who will serve as the object of his advances. The clients will have already passed “Mr. Lee”, one of Hannibal’s aliases, used to make sure the clients aren’t set by the military and encounter Hannibal in a second disguise, in which he’ll tell the clients they’ve “just hired the A-Team.” Just as frequently, the A-Team are on the road and stumble across someone who needed their help. The A-Team often return their fee to the most needy clients or find another way to pay their expenses.

By this time, Murdock will escape from the psychiatric hospital where he is interned with the help of Face. The mission is assessed by the team, and Face, sometimes assisted by Murdock, is sent to scam items for the team, often angering the episode’s opponent at the same time. This scene usually precedes or runs alongside to (part of) the team confronting the episode’s main opponent and his henchmen, with Hannibal delivering a warning – typically accompanied by a pithy, insulting remark – to them to give up peacefully. During this fight there is usually be a slow motion camera shot of B.A. throwing one of the bad guys over his head and onto a car hood, pile of cardboard boxes, or other such surface. The henchmen report to their boss, who quickly swears revenge.

The A-Team continue about their mission, often helping the clients in their daily routine, during which they prepare for the counter-attack from the episode’s antagonist. During this time, the clients question either Murdock’s sanity or that of Hannibal. In the latter case, one of the team members will make a reference to Hannibal “being on the jazz”, a term to denote the adrenaline rush that accompanies their adventures. During this segment the aforementioned female character (often sister, daughter or assistant to the client(s)) will give into Face’s advances, but the two are usually interrupted by a member of the team after a short kiss. A short scene showing the interaction between B.A. and Murdock would follow, often with Murdock angering B.A., as a set-up to B.A. taking revenge on Murdock at the end of the episode…

And so on. I ask, who could criticise Wikipedia when it harbours moments of brilliance like this?