Dear Bump 3/11/09 – you take those hormoans back right now

Dear see-you-in-May Bump, whatever one is releasing into your mother’s bloodstream just now could you stop? She’s being a tad grumpy and I’m crashing with your sister tonight because of it – if I thought the womb had room, I’d come in and annoy you.

For this, you’re getting called Zanzibar. Or couch, ‘cos that’s certainly what I associate you with mostly at the moment.

Dear Daughter 2/11/09 – Missing the point of Halloween

Dear Daughter, it’s way too early in the morning, so I’m going to introduce you to the concept of bullet points:

  • There’s concern over your eyesight after your mum spotted you squinting at reading materials. If your eyesight is throwing in the towel, expect war over how close you sit to the TV and how much of it you watch

  • And I know you think glasses and contact lenses are cool/fun. They’re not and bad eyesight can seriously screw up your life: did you see who your mum married?
  • Halloween was a hoot with you, though I stress to add that a) if you go out as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz ever again, you carry Toto. If I had to look after that mutt for one more minute I was reporting you to the RSPCA for (fake) dog neglect and b) on Halloween you can take sweets from people, it’s the one night ‘no thank you I haven’t had my dinner’ is not the appropriate response.
  • And don’t start me on you getting to wear mascara and lipstick – even if Dorothy did have them on in the film. You don’t see me dropping houses on the witches that you know “just because it happened in the film” do you?

Dear Bump 2/11/09 – No Poppy for you

Dear Bump, as it gets tedious writing about your mum heaving and your pic made the global appearance via Twitter (cute nose, big head, not at all camera shy, legs, toes and fingers all present), there’s not much to say about you just now, you crazy developing ball of cells you.

Apart from one thing – and if you knew morse code I would pass this on – you won’t be called Poppy. I quite liked it when the name popped into my head – I still do – but it’s been pointed out that it’s more of a kid’s name than an adult name. I dunno, I think it sounds quite quirky and happy, eccentric and bohemian, things I would love you to be.

But it’s not to be. One thing is for sure though: would really suck for your name if you’re a boy (and more on the bets over that issue another night).

Of course, at least we haven’t gone down the path of what we did with your big sister…not yet anyway.

Dear Daughter 28/10/2009 – What do you call a bunch of Dorothies?

Dear Daughter,

Well you’ve just no luck have you? Most girls – IIRC – get to the age of 16 before going to a bash or a party and discovering they have the same outfit as someone else.

You? Age 5. Place: School Halloween Disco.

Not one, not two, but THREE Dorothies from the Wizard of Oz (and two of you with the same outfit from the same shop). I mean what do you call the plural of a Dorothy? Dorotheees? Dorothi? Bunch of table cloth dresses? Actually what’s the collective noun as well? An Ozful of Dorothies? (next year you can all go as munchkins or the crazy monkeys – you’re all the right height for that and it doesn’t matter if you match).

Of course it wasn’t until you came back that I discovered you had mascara and lipstick on – and got a tattoo when out. I think all that was missing was you having a hangover and a boy’s phone number…That reminds me I didn’t actually check your wee Toto basket…

The double whammy was that we had a beast of a spider on the bathroom wall and you missed that as well. But I took a pic for you as I know you like these things.


Pictures as always taken with the iPhone 3GS

And another pic I noticed after you had gone to bed was what you had posted outside your mum’s room:


I know you aren’t meant to put stickers on the wall (and in fact I think this is the first time you ever have) but you can get a pass for that one. Don’t think you’re getting the iPod Touch that you’ve started asking everyone for though. You can play the games on mine.

And no, you can’t have driving lessons either.

Dear Bump: 28/10/2009 All Quiet on the Uterine Front

Dear Bump,

You’ve been quiet the last few days and your mum has even managed to keep the last few meals down (God bless pasta bakes) though the bedroom windows remain open, freezing me to death (still at least it gets me off the couch).

But I hope you’re looking your best tomorrow and you’ve combed your genes and forming veins to look good because you’re getting your second scan complete with pic and so on. I think your sis had four pics taken off her (I always said I was shocked her first words weren’t ‘”bloody papparazzi” or that along with the afterbirth there was a note for the Press Complaints Commission moaning about intrusion) so let’s see if we can beat that.

In the meantime just keep doing that cell dividing and growing thing. And hope you’re enjoying the pasta.

And yes, even though it’s way too early, I know for a fact I’ll ask “do you know what sex it is?” because Dads do that. And it’s never too early to start scaring boys away.

Dear Bump 26/10/2009

Good little developing thingy. Not only are you now, according to the little iPhone app I have, made it as far as the size of a peach, you also let your mum keep a full dinner down – and seconds.

For that have an extra gulp of amniotic fluid or whatever it is you do in there to chill when you aren’t too busy dividing cells and stuff.

(or perhaps I’m just a damn good cook. Anyway, like your big sister, mum can now expect pasta bake non-stop for months.)

Dear Daughter 26/10/2009

I’ve just realised that I never picked up your Halloween outfit from your gran. Hmmm, better get that tomorrow, especially as you have your school disco tomorrow night.

On the other hand, well done on finally eating a full meal that didn’t involve chips, sausages, beans or mashed potato. Expect pasta bake every night for the rest of your life now…

Chef McGill

Dear Daughter 25/10/2009

Dear Daughter, I don’t mind that you were  away for most of the weekend having fun – at your age that’s what it’s all about – and while I’m quizzed about your sudden direct devotion to your gran (who, three months ago, you wouldn’t have given the time of day to*) but after I’ve spent an hour cleaning the kitchen, did we really have to be so messy when making cakes?

Anyway, let’s see if you can sleep through the whole night for a change.

*notwithstanding the fact that you couldn’t tell the time three months ago.

Dear Bump 25/10/2009

Dear Bump, a weekend of making your mum ill. You are most likely going to be the fittest child ever at this rate (going by the old theory of ‘the sicker the pregnancy* the healthier the child’).

Two things are also quite apparent from this: your dad certainly won’t be fit and you may get called Arthur as in arthuritis (or the more common spelling of arthritis) from the spinal damage I’m getting sleeping on spare beds, couches and your big sister’s bed because you’re playing havoc with your mum’s body temperature.

Anyway, goodnight Arthur.

* I don’t think that means watching all the Saw films.

Defying Gravity: now that was a season cliffhanger

I’ve ranted before about how much I’m a fan of Defying Gravity and the season ender (which just aired in Canada) was bloody fantastic. One character close to death (though you know they’ll survive), another is emotionally hurt, another is jailed, Cape Canaveral is flooded and under water, another is told that his one-night-stand had an abortion, a new alien turns up, a character has a baby (though the SFX were bloody awful for it) and another realises that she has blocked out sexual abuse in her background.

Oh yeah and another one told a journalist that the Venus landing was faked/covered-up.

So not a lot happened then and there wasn’t a lot that would have had long term ramifications for the show. For a show that started off slowly (so some said), it was a stormer. The odds are against it surviving (the sets have been pulled down) are as slim as some plots from Star Trek: Enterprise, but I liked it and I hope it gets the ratings abroad to justify being picked up on a cheaper scale (greenscreen sets perhaps?)

Anyway put me down for buying the DVD boxset. It was  a type of show that deserved to be encouraged. A semi-realistic and serious look (with the usual dramatic conceits for fiction) at space travel with some good acting.

And now, I’m off to Contently Managed to write about how I would have done the PR for the show/PR a relaunch.

Why there’s no mum or mom blog links here and where you can find them

Had an email asking what I have against mothers as the links to the side are about three things: writers, dads in the UK and dads in the US (and if it wasn’t for the fact that I have them on RSS I’d add one for mates too).

The simple answer is: nothing. I read and enjoy quite a few mum bloggers and tweeters (being raised by females makes it quite interesting as I can read stuff and see similarities/differences to my upbringing), but the mum blog scene – even in the UK – is fairly well established. The dad scene is a lot more fresh (and also, dads tend to blog about their children while also blogging about other stuff. This site is proof of that as is a site like Budgie’s Sqwawks). Also – and this goes against what 99% of online people do – why replicate what someone else is doing elsewhere? There’s lots of links to mummy bloggers out there.

But for those of you wondering where the best mum blogs are (or you’re a PR on the hunt for some) or you’re just too damn lazy to do your own legwork I direct you to this list with the usual caveats (you may not like them, may not be your thing, yadda yadda): Sally Whittal and her list of the UK’s top 100 parenting blogs. (and yes, there are dad blogs in there too but only about 4 or 5).

Warning: you may lose hours if you start at the top and decide to just dip in to a few of them. Some excellent writing and reading in there.

Where’s all the PR and social media chat gone?

In case you haven’t looked in the box to the right hand side, I’m using here to talk about fatherhood, writing (my own and others) and popular culture (or in the case of Defying Gravity, perhaps not so popular culture 🙂 ), all the chat about social media, digital PR, online marketing and so on can be found over at Contently Managed, which is the company I set up to deal with those sort of issues. So if that’s your thing, see you over there as well as over here.

Dear Daughter 22/10/2009

Dear Daughter, as cute as it is that you wake up in the middle of the night and say “only you can help me get back to sleep dad” (what am I? Obi Wan McGill?) and the cuddles are fantastic, you have to stop being a wee madam the rest of the time – that or wait until you’re a teenager like we had to back in the day (though I wasn’t a madam I hasten to add). Telling your nana “we do what I want as this is my house and I live here and you don’t” is not going to endear you to anyone – though it did give me a chance to work on my Dad Voice (think Batman but without the Welsh lisp).

(And well done on tip-toeing upstairs to avoid us hearing you dodging the naughty step. You forgot though that you keep needing to tip toe once in your room.)

And would you please start putting a filling on your sandwich for school? Bread and butter are not the two main food groups. Honestly, doing that in Carntyne would have had the social work out in the 80s, so god knows what others make of it.

Anyway, it’s Friday now, so no lunchbox today. It’s ‘homie’ day as you kids call it now.

Dear Bump 22/10/2009

Dear Bump, right chuck it. It’s a bad day when even I’m feeling sorry for the wife. Stop making your mum this sick or it’s the naughty womb for you (what? I can hardly send it to the naughty step or anything else can I? What would the equivalent threat be? “Right, off the pancreas for you”?)

Either that or judging by “the sicker the mum is, the fitter the child” you’re going to be an Olympic gold winner and astronaut all before you’re 14. If you pull that off, we’ll call it quits on how ill you’re making your mum.

(oh and lesson learned. No matter how casual a joke you think you’re making when you say it. “By Christ, this pregnancy’s taking it’s toll on you” is never a line that will endear you to the other half.)

Defying Gravity: best TV show for 2009 and why viewers should stick with it

It’s started on BBC 2 now (Thursdays 9pm – though the opener was tonight, Wed.) so it seems safe enough to talk about this. Defying Gravity is a joint venture between the BBC, ABC and a few other stations (BBC press pack here). It’s the story of a group of astronauts on a six-year tour of the solar system, starting off on Venus and then doing the grand tour. The public believes that it’s for little more than a sightseeing mission but in reality, there’s another purpose to it all, involving an alien life form.

The show is told from two perspectives: from that of the mission and from flashbacks of five-years ago as the crew started to train together and the inter-character relationships are all different.

All of the attractive crew* (and Joey from Bread) have their burdens: two of them abandoned fellow astronauts on Mars, another has killed people in their past, one struggles with religion v science and so on.

If it was to be compared to current TV shows, the mix would be of Lost and Grey’s Anatomy with a dash of Sci-fi, but there’s also a heavy dash of science in here (the show is actually based on an old BBC documentary series) and it covers the following themes:

  • Character relationships in a long-term space mission
  • The impact of alien life – and the cover up of said alien life – on Earth
  • The cover-ups that take place on Earth to keep the mission successful
  • Religion v science
  • The autonomy of a space crew versus following orders from the ground
  • The cost of such a space mission and the impact of commercialisation on space travel
  • The strain on relationships when one is in space and one is on the ground
  • A relatively serious look at the tech/travel times 40 years from now that may take us on space travel
  • How spit can save your live in a leaky space suit

What there isn’t:

  • Laser beams
  • FTL travel
  • bumpy-head aliens/stargates/warp drives
  • happy plot resolution and character resets at the end of each episode (see most Star Trek series, Stargates and so on) – stuff has consequence in this show

It’s not a perfect show – some of the contrivances in the opening eps are a bit much – and as a few people have pointed out, this is not the normal crew you would send into space (though given how dull many of the people sent into space have been, I think I’d rather have this lot up there).

One thing that people moaned about when this aired in the USA was that it was a slow show, but having sat through four hours of Stargate Universe where all they have managed is a) find an old space ship, b) fix the air supply and c) head for the sun I don’t think it’s an accusation that sticks.

The problem the show has is that it may not be SF enough for SF fans (most of them like laser beams and lots of aliens) and everyone else will be turned off by it even having a hint of SF (Lost took years to admit that it has quite a few SF elements like time travel). A lot of the things it does seem normal to anyone who watches Grey’s (a show I can’t stand), ER or other mainstream hits, but they aren’t normal for SF shows.

But this is a show with fantastic potential. Having watched the first 11 episodes, this deserves a shot. It’s not perfect, but it is one of the best attempts at producing a mainstream SF show (to me it also pisses over most TV of recent years including – look away Guardian TV readers – The Wire). If you were a fan of the excellent Orbiter by Warren Ellis and Colleen Doran you may want to check this out. And if you like the show you may want to check that graphic novel out.

Anyway, it’s a show that could do with the ratings – in iPlayer (episodes here) (repeat times here) as much as on the channel – to help it survive past the first 13 eps (in the US, ABC moved it about the schedules and also gave it shockingly bad pre-publicity and advance buzz. They should have hired me for the PR 🙂 )

* Crew run-down:

The series’ international ensemble cast is led by Ron Livingston (Sex And The City) as flight engineer Maddux Donner, Laura Harris (24) as ship’s geologist Zoe Barnes, Malik Yoba (New York Undercover) as flight commander Ted Shaw, Christina Cox (Blood Ties) as biologist Jen Crane,Florentine Lahme (Impact) as pilot Nadia Schilling, Paula Garces (The Shield) as pilot, scientist and on-board documentary producer Paula Morales, Eyal Podell (24) as psychiatrist and medical officer Evram Mintz, and Dylan Taylor (House Party) as theoretical physicist Steve Wassenfelder.

The cast on planet Earth is led by Andrew Airlie (Reaper) as Mission Control Commander Mike Goss, Karen LeBlanc (ReGenesis) as scientist Eve Shaw, Zahf Paroo (Battlestar Gallactica) as grounded flight engineer Ajay Sharma, Maxim Roy (MVP) as flight surgeon Claire Dereux and Ty Olsson as Rollie Crane, once Mission Commander onboard Antares, and now cap comm; episodic director Peter Howitt (Sliding Doors; Bread) also plays the role of British journalist, Trevor Williams.

Do UK dads not blog? Do they tweet?

Was skimming through the excellent top 100 UK parent blogs (note to self: try and get on it) earlier and the most obvious thing that struck me was the lack of dads on it. At a glance, I see one – Single Parent Dad.

So what’s the deal. Are we too busy lifting the toilet seat up to blog? Are they worried about what the wife would say? Or are we just more shy about this sort of thing…I’ve listed a few to the side here (though many of them mention their children and other items).

Thoughts – and links to interesting dad blogs – welcome.

Why I’m not mad on Mad Men

I’ve sat and watched the first season and a half of Mad Men, the show that many a person raves about. And I think I’m done with it.

It’s a show that should appeal to me – it’s about the media and I can’t fault the acting, most of the writing, the sets or anything like that. They are all first class, but it’s a show with absolutely zero cheer to it and not one likeable character or person performing even remotely positive action, which to me is a bit of a failing because no-one is an unlikeable shit all the time – especially in the charismatic even in the cut-throat world of creative advertising.

The characters to me just don’t seem rounded out. With all the selfishness and misery, it’s more like a 60’s advertising version of EastEnders.