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
  • ALSO EXPECT ALL BLOG POSTS TO BE THIS SIZE SO YOU CAN READ THEM FURTHER AWAY FROM THE SCREEN

  • 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 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.

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.

Dear Daughter 20/10/2009

Dear Daughter, while your tantrums are starting to be a bit annoying – though the “you’re the world’s worst dad EVER” is good for a chuckle as you constantly backtrack, it was a laugh tonight when you were trying to plead for bedtime treats as you promised to be a good girl “forever, starting tonight. I promise… and that’s a deal and a promise… and… and a promise… and…” as you struggled for another word to go with deal and promise.

When you find one, I’ll let you have a watch of a film in your bedroom. Deal and promise.

Dear Bump 20/10/2009

Dear Bump, when the sperm that made you was part of me you may have heard me think that your mum could do with losing a few pounds. It’s the only way I can rationalise the amount of vomiting you’re putting her through.

Stand down soldier, you don’t have to do anything to impress me. Just turn up in one piece and that will do, so leave off your mum and let her keep some food down please. French toast is hardly a luxury food and she’s got enough to worry about just now, thinking about if she should get the H151 jab or not, worried about what it might do to you.

And besides, on the food front, I’m dying to go out for a decent curry.

Starting to get back into the swing of it…

I’ve posted some free stuff for reading (guess where you can find that) and I think once there’s some images and links in the side columns we’re more or less back up and running.

Someone asked me the other day why I was getting back into this site and the answer’s quite obvious. Contently Managed should really only be for the PR, social media in Scotland and such like. It’s a bit much to go from talking about Battlestar Galactica and Defying Gravity to Brian Solis‘ latest thoughts to the decline of newspapers and mums up on MSBP allegations while also writing notes about your children. So this seems like the easiest way of keeping it all apart.

Revealing your children online

This may seem practically luddite but something I won’t be doing here – well, not deliberately often at any rate – is posting a lot involving my children’s names , schools, pictures and so on. I don’t even do a lot of it on Facebook.

The main reason is that I think online should be their place  to go onto and discover as and when they want and it’s not up to me to put them online: they should have the ability to decide how much (and if) they want to be online. In the meantime I still get to blog about them and the people who know them – grandparents and so on who can’t do Facebook – can still check in here from time to time.

(it reminds me of a chat I had with Warren Ellis around the time Matt Fraction had his kid and we differed on revealing so much online. Warren felt that the sheer quantity of stuff put out by parents and others would swamp anything that prospective employers and so on might find, while I felt data mining would get better and besides, it was the kid’s choice as to how much was online anyway.)

All of which does beg one question: when this generation grows up, how are they going to take parents having posted chunks of details about their lives online? Even worse, there will be intimate details of their parents online…

U2 live broadcast will be battle of radio versus internet and piracy

As every U2 fan knows, tonight sees Bauer Media broadcast a full U2 show live from Sheffield, which is quite an interesting and audacious stunt (and must have cost a bomb).

Where this excites me is it will be interesting to see the figures afterwards. Most people I know aren’t intending to listen to this on the radio – they’re listening to it on their desktops and laptops so that they can record a digital version of the show that they can then put on iPods and so on.

So what’s the lesson from this? Old media can survive in new times – as long as they have the good content.

(What will be really interesting is to see if there’s any provision made for blocking people from outside the UK from listening.)

Tale of an old newspaper shows why paid news websites may be the future after all

(bear with me for a couple of pars, this is all relevant)

Once upon a time, there was a paper in Scotland with 30 staff. They were passionate, they worked hard, they broke a lot of good scoops and – along with some decent sales and marketing promotions – they got their circulation up to 115,000, putting it in the top four papers at the time.

But it was 10p and, as this wasn’t a News International title, that sort of thing can’t be sustained and as the price went up, circulation went down – but the reporters and staff battled on.

Then two weeks before one Xmas, 26 were shown the door. Circulation went down a little but stabilised around the 40,000 mark before slowly declining some more – but the paper was full price so it was way more profitable than it had been at 115,000 at 10p and a staff of 30.

Then three more reporters were sacked and circulation went down to around 33,000 at full price, making it even more profitable.

(That’s the Scottish Daily Mirror for those wondering)

What does this have to do with online news? Well Stewart Kirkpatrick, Shaun Milne, Iain Bruce have all had their stab at the recent chat over paywalls. They think – like the vast majority of people – that the concept is ultimately flawed.

And they may have a point. In an age of the BBC and where the news in most papers seems identical, why should they pay?

But here’s the thing: if you have 100,000 readers online and 99,500 run away when you bring in a paywall, the other 500 paying mean that your site is suddenly making more money than it did before. Even if they only pay £1 each, that’s £500 you never had before. And I’ll bet that right now, most would take the 500 who pay over the 99,500 freetards.

And it may sound cartel-like but if one of them starts to make even a little money, you’ll see all the other papers have a little tinker with it as well until they learn how to use advertising better for the digital age.

This may well be the one case where less truly is more. Don’t make it right, but I’ll bet it’s the thinking.