Wednesday, May 18, 2016

A Few Short Words About That Referendum


We started work on series 4 of Modern Life Is Goodish this week.

Obviously, I didn't wait until Monday morning to give it any thought - I started a new run of Screen Guild gigs last month (and the next one is this Friday) so obviously I've been mulling over new ideas for a wee while now... but collectively, Team Goodish - or at least a few key players - gathered together on Monday morning for the first time this series. We have our office back. There are deadlines.

All we have to do now is remember how we do it. We will. I'm sure we will.

Of course one topic of conversation inevitably came up. The referendum. It's been impossible to avoid these last few weeks and - since we hadn't seen one another for some time, everyone was keen to discuss it. It is, after all, a vote that will shape all of our lives one way or another. At least for a year or two when we'll get another chance to vote for our favourite new soap star at the TV Choice Awards 2017. But for now, the 2016 vote shapes our lives.

Is mentioning it crass? Or is pretending I don't know about it weird? I don't know. But if you want to vote, it's all here.

I'll have details on some recording dates for series 4 soon... in the mean time, the second of three compilation episodes goes out tonight. At 10. On Dave.



Saturday, May 14, 2016

Phishing, Smishing.

I received this text a little while ago. I've been receiving texts like it once every two or three weeks for a wee while now.

I know it's a scam. It's been well documented that this sort of thing is doing the rounds... but what doesn't seem to be so well documented is what I'm supposed to do with it.

For those that don't know, this is what's known as a phishing scam. Or, seeing as it's sent via SMS message, a smishing scam. In any case, the key fact is that it's basically an attempt to commit fraud.

When someone falls for it they click on the link contained in the text... which takes them to a website that looks exactly like a corporate,  Apple website.





It's a very convincing clone... and if you'd clicked on the link believing the message to be genuine, there isn't really any reason to suspect that it's not legit when you land here.

So I imagine plenty of people end up surrendering their Apple ID and password to the crooks responsible.

In some cases that would give them the ability to spend your money.

I used easily.co.uk to see what I could see about who had registered the domain icloudauditing.co.uk... and when. This is what I found...



As you can see, it was registered via internet.bs on  May 14th 2016. That's today.

Using a site with a dot BS domain seems rather fitting, although it turns out that the BS actually stands for the Bahamas.

It claims it was registered by someone called Peter Dawson although I'd be highly surprised if they were foolish enough to use their real name.

I don't really know, but from the outside looking in, I reckon it's fairly likely that a Peter Dawson has paid for it... it's just he's someone who'd fallen for the scam previously and is, as yet, unaware that his account has been compromised...

If the text had come from a number I'd know how to report it.

But it doesn't. It comes from an account called 'WARNING'. It's impossible for me to reply to. Or to block. Or, it seems, to report. Apparently the only course of action available to me is to delete it.

Which doesn't seem very satisfactory to me. It's not very community minded, for sure.

If someone tried - but failed - to mug me in the street, I can't imagine many people advising me to just ignore it. Because surely they're the sort of person who'll move on and try and mug someone else. Surely we should report attempted crimes, not just successful ones.

But that doesn't seem to be possible when someone tries to mug me via my phone. Ignoring it and deleting the text is, I'm told, the only thing to do. I don't even have a way of preventing those responsible from sending me more of the same. It's only if I fall for it that people will do something.

When I get spam emails I know how to block them. Or how to block emails that are like them. I know that, even if an email is lying about where it came from, someone, somewhere is able to follow the chain and work out where it really came from. I assumed the same would be true with text messages.

It seems not. It seems it is possible for someone to send thousands - probably hundreds of thousands - of texts to people without anyone being able to unravel where they originate from. Is there a good reason for this route to my phone to exist? Is there a sensible way of shutting this path down? Are there buttons I could press that would mean I could only receive text messages from identifiable sources? If there isn't... um... why isn't there? I guess there might be a reason. Is it achievable? Wouldn't less people end up getting defrauded if it were?

I know a handful of vulnerable people who would absolutely fall for this. Certainly I know one person who's fallen for a similar scam that arrived via email. It just seems a little odd to me that the phone companies provide this route to us - but don't have departments devoted to preventing this sort of abuse of the system.

Have I been given bad information or is there genuinely nothing for the community minded soul to do about this?

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Goodish Hits 1

I blogged a wee while ago about starting the new season of Screen Guild shows and telly warm ups... which is a sign that work on series 4 of Modern Life Is Goodish is about to begin in earnest.

Series 1, 2 and 3 all started in the autumn and I expect the same to happen with series 4 - although it might be a little later than normal as we're starting work on the shows later in the year on account of me wanting to have some proper Dad-time with the Gorbaby.

But, in the meantime, the nice people at Dave have crafted a series of three highlights episodes, the first of which goes out tonight at 10pm.

Episode 1 features the best bits of series 1, next Wednesday's will feature the best of series 2 and who knows what they'll do the week after that? (I do. And I'm sure you can guess.)

It's fair to say that my stuff doesn't always lend itself to being chopped up... there are too many connections and threads. For instance... there was a section in series 1 that involved an ad van turning up at a petrol station. It got a really big reaction... but in order for it to make sense, you'd need to see about 75% of the episode it's in. At which point it doesn't really feel like a compilation. So obviously that isn't in it.

But there are also plenty of other bits that work just fine in isolation - and I'm impressed with the way they've managed to structure the shows so that separate threads are maintained in different ways. And more than anything else, it leaves me feeling very proud of just how densely packed each series has been.

Well that and, "blimey, my beard is much greyer now and that was only three years ago."

There are some not-been-on-the-telly-before bits in the shows, including a Found Poem in the first episode.

It's on tonight. 10pm. And for the next two Wednesday nights too. 




Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Competitive Spirit

Yesterday was a day for unleashing my competitive spirit. In the morning I was recording this...


... yes, I have Pointlessed. I was paired up with the brilliant, John Shuttleworth. I'm a huge fan - a show of his at the Buzz Club in Chorlton back in 1990 or 1991 remains one of my all time favourite gigs. A thrill.

And in the evening I was recording the first show in a new series of Taskmaster.

It's hard to say which one brought out the biggest competitive streak in me... but I suspect it's Taskmaster.

Of course it should be Pointless. After all, we were playing Pointless for charity. (In my case for Shelter). Which means that Pointless isn't pointless, whereas Taskmaster most certainly is. But somehow, the pointlessness of the Taskmaster tasks makes me even more desperate to do well. Oh dear.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Tracking

I ordered something from Amazon yesterday. It's being delivered today. I don't want to end up trapped in all day waiting... but luckily, Amazon provide delivery tracking information on their website. And looking at this, it seems my delivery is imminent...





I mean, it must be, right? Because it's already travelled quite a long way from A to B and now it's got the even longer journey to make from B to D... but it's already got as far as C and that's, what, 85% of the way there? 



As it goes, I know the depot's only a couple of miles away so they can't be more than 5 minutes away according to this. I'll stay in. I'll wait.

Well I would do if I hadn't seen this before. It looks like this all day. Sometimes they deliver at 9 in the morning. Sometimes at 9 at night. It doesn't matter when it's turning up. The minute it leaves the depot it appears as "almost there" and it remains "almost there" until it's, um, there. (And sometimes, they run out of time and don't deliver to us at all, actually.)

So what's the point of the graphic? In what sense is my delivery being tracked? Once it's left the depot, nobody is able to track its progress. So wouldn't this be a bit more honest? A bit more binary?




Isn't that a bit less suggestive of progress that hasn't actually been made?

I know this isn't a big issue. I know that if you're looking for a stick to beat Amazon with there are far bigger sticks available. But it seems like a counter-productive trick to try and pull. Because it's so obviously a trick. And tricks are dishonest things to try and get away with. When a business transparently tries to flim-flam its customers, don't they just end up with customers who trust them a little less? Aren't they just sowing seeds of distrust? 

"Amazon? Oh yeah... they're the guys that think I'll fall for the progress-bar trick... you want to watch them... they're shifty buggers..."

Friday, March 25, 2016

Polished, Unpolished & Mid-Polish

So there's just one show left for the Gets Straight To The Point* (*The Powerpoint) tour... well, actually, as I type, there are three, it's just that there's only one you can still get tickets for: the show takes it's final bow at the Royal Festival Hall on March 31st.

As the tour ends, I'm normally asked whether or not there will be a DVD. There won't. I wrote this about the tour before this one... but the explanation's exactly the same. 

------------------------------------------


Fresh!

------------------------------------------

When the tour is over, I won't be taking much of a break. A new series of Modern Life Is Goodish looms and so I need to start the process of building new stuff. To that end, I'm about to start a new season of Dave Gorman's Screen Guild.

This will be the fifth season - I've been doing them since 2011 - and I'm delighted to announce that the shows are returning to their original home; Hoxton Hall. The venue was out of commission for a couple of years while they went through a major refurb but the atmosphere at Hoxton Hall was always something special so it's great to be going back.

The Screen Guild is my new material playground. It's where I try out new ideas while hosting a show with four guest acts that I know are brilliant. All the material from the tour... and from the tour before that... and most of the material that's made up the first 22 hours of Modern Life is Goodish was given its first airing at the Screen Guild. It really has been that fundamental to all that I've done in the last few years.

There's more information as to the what and why of these shows on my website so I'll just tell you that, as it stands, we've scheduled four shows for this season.  They are:

FRIDAY, APRIL 15TH
FRIDAY, MAY 20TH
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 22ND
THURSDAY, JULY 14TH... and tickets for all four are available here.

------------------------------------------

If a tour show is where I display the material that's been fully honed and the Screen Guild is where things are hopefully unearthed - well then there's another sort of show I do that's all about doing the actual polishing.
For Modern Life Is Goodish to work it has to feel composed. It can't just be some disparate bits of material... it all has to hang together. There may be different threads in an episode, but at some point they will always coalesce.

That means that the show we record has to be as close to the finished product as it can be. We can't film 90 minutes and cut it down to an hour in the edit without undoing all the connections.

So before every recording I run the shows live a few times, making changes between each run, working out where the ad breaks will be and generally honing the stuff as best I can. I do them in batches and work on two episodes at a time.

Series four must be happening because we have these booked in already.

JULY 24, 
JULY 26
JULY 29 

CRYER THEATRE, SUTTON  TICKETS
AUGUST 28, 
AUGUST 30
SEPTEMBER 2 

NORDEN FARM,
MAIDENHEAD
TICKETS
SEPTEMBER 25 
SEPTEMBER 27
SEPTEMBER 30 

CAMBRIDGE JUNCTION  TICKETS

------------------------------------------

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Babymetal fans are intense aren't they...

If you're a regular in these parts, you'll know how thrilled I was with the way in which Martin Roberts responded to being featured in episode one of this series. Well now I can add Christine Hamilton to the list too:

Incidentally, the episode in which Christine featured was taped on June 28th... I blogged about it a few days later because of this tweet...
... although at the time I wasn't able to include the details because I didn't want to put any spoilers out there for the show and I didn't want to alert Christine to the how, why and what of it all. But as you can see she sent that tweet at 5.24pm on the day of the recording. We open the doors to the audience at 6pm. It's not unusual to be making last minute changes to the show's content in the final half hour before the recording, but it's normally decisions I'm making because of having to cut or add time or because I've tried something a few different ways in the dry runs and have taken til then to assess the relative merits of the various options... it's rarely done because someone has run into the dressing room and shouted, "Hamilton's tweeted about the beehive!"

Still, it was nice to get proof that I was telling a true story, moments before I started telling it!

There was another part of the show that seemed to attract quite a lot of feedback... the part in which I referred to the number of retweets given to some of Harry Styles tweets... a lot of people were aghast at the fact that I said "Baby Metal" was just two random words...



That's just a smattering of the tweets that came in about it. Within a minute of it being on the box I'd tweeted to say that yes, I knew they were a band... but they still kept on coming. And they carried on coming in their droves on Wednesday night and on Saturday night when the show was repeated. And they're still coming in now. Blimey. Oh... and there was also this - and others like it - on facebook:



There are lots of things I say in the show that are true. There are also lots of things I say that aren't true. I think the audience is normally able to work out the difference between the two... and when I'm fibbing, I'm sure they can tell why. Last week for instance... I don't think anyone was thinking I genuinely have a pet elk.

To be clear... when I first saw the Harry Styles' tweet that contained just the two words, "Baby metal" I didn't know what it was about. I'm a 44 year old man. I don't feel stupid for not being completely up to date on the Japanese Metal Idol scene. My thought process on seeing it was, "that looks like a tweet containing just two random words... which will give me a good excuse to mention that Eamonn Holmes tweet I've been looking for a way of putting in the show... I wonder what Harry meant? I'll google it. Oh. It's a Japanese Metal Idol band. That's interesting. Still... no point saying that... or I won't be able to make the joke about Eamonn Holmes."

This sort of thing happens all the time. I play dumb about something in order to connect some of the dots. I assume that the audience knows I'm doing it... and when it's really obvious that it's going on, it probably enhances the joke for people.

Of course, in a situation like this, it's not really obvious that it's what's going on. After all, a large number of the audience won't have heard of Babymetal either because... well, because they're a Japanese Metal Idol band and not everyone feels obliged to educate themselves in every pop-culture sub-genre. But it still seems odd to me that those who know would imagine I'm so incurious that I would get as far as saying the words on a telly show without having googled them first. And why - when it doesn't really matter - would I take a joke out of the show in order to show off that I now know they're a band?

In series 1 there was something similar about a tweet that used the words, "That's like dent without the burns." I didn't know what it meant when I read it. I played dumb - aided by the lack of capitalisation... I mean, if you're not going to write 'Dent' when it's someone's surname, how do you expect someone to intuit what you're on about? The audience laughed. And then hundreds of people told me it was a Spiderman reference. Two years later, if the show is repeated I still get a burst of tweets telling me the same with varying degrees of outrage.

There's something rather sweet about someone watching a show that they know is two years old, believing someone's unaware of a Spiderman fact and thinking, "comic book fans aren't the sort of people to have pointed this out to him... so I'd better step up to the plate and let him know..."

I think the fact that these two examples relate to a band and a comic-book villain is probably a pointer as to why so many people feel the need to correct my "mistakes". There are dozens of other similar examples that have passed by in the three series without anyone feeling the need to comment. But they don't tend to relate to pop-culture. When they do - especially when it's an area of pop-culture that people use to define their personalities - the urge to show off one's superiority is so much greater. (The fact that my shows are often about pointing out the mistakes or falsehood of others probably adds to it as well.)

Honestly... I do google things. It's just that the version of events I select is the one that leads to the biggest laughs when I road test the shows.

Anyway... episode five is on at 10pm tonight. It starts with a whopping big lie. But only for the studio audience. I tell the viewers at home about the lie before the show starts. It's okay, it's a white lie. Well... it's actually a green lie...