Tag Archives: free

No purchase necessary

It is a question that has plagued man since the 3 meals a day system was introduced. A question which haunts philosophers and scholars. Which, by its very nature, goes to the heart of the human psyche.
Is there such a thing as a free lunch?

Is anything free anymore? And if it is, is it worth having? What is the catch? What way will I pay for it later?
It was iTunes that got me thinking about this. A couple of weeks ago I saw something amazing, I saw a song for free by a band I actually knew. The song was by Soundgarden and was for the new avengers film. The song sucked. I had to go back and listen to some of their earlier stuff afterwards, just to remind myself how good the band were. I started to think about why it was free, was it A) to restart Soundgardens music career B) a publicity stunt to launch the film or C) an altruistic act by the filmmakers, the band and the apple corporation. I’ll leave that judgement in your capable hands.

Is anything in life truly free? Here are my (somewhat silly) ideas on the matter.

1) The freebie. Shopping centres are full of free stuff. I’m not talking about stealing here, more about the stuff they hand out when business is slow. The Nut Hut will give you 2 or 3 free cashews (make sure you get the cashews as they’re worth more), Holland and Barrett will hand out free samples of dried fruit, Cinebon will give you 1/24th of a free donut thing, some coffee or tea shop will let you try a thimble full of their new blend. However, this does not a free lunch make. The only way to get full is to walk past over and over again; wearing various disguises and hoping you don’t get rumbled. I would imagine you’d burn off more calories doing the walking then you would get from the food. Maybe I should send my ideas to weight watchers. I also get a free paper (The Metro). Yes, it is full of adverts and competitions (you know the ones: what is the New York otherwise known as? A) the big apple, B) the big turnip or C) the big pork pie. And it’s only £3 to enter), but its free and I read it. There is a subtle difference between free and my next category.

2) Complimentary things. This is the kind of stuff that the good and honest people who run hotels leave out for you to use on your visit. And what do we do? We stick it in our bags, phone down and ask for more and stick that in our bags too. I have become an expert on what good bath/shower gel is from the level of excitement my wife has when she checks out the bathroom of the hotel we are staying in. There is also the complementary mint or sweet at hotel and business receptions. The problem comes when you are not offered it. This is a problem for me because A) if I’m not offered it, I want it B) will I get told off if I just stick my hand in the jar and C) What if it’s not real food stuffs or really old and sticky? By the way, that fridge in the hotel room, definitely not complementary. And as far from free as you can get.

3) Cumulative free stuff. This is the coffee or restaurant card. I have a few in my wallet in various states of stampedness (I know, not a word) and I have never once redeemed one. It’s that moment where you sit down, and as you rear hits the seat you think ‘coffee card’. As I look at them now, I realise that some are better than others. Wetherspoons only wants me to buy 5 cups, then it’s a free one. The waiting room (small coffee shop on Deptford high street, highly recommended) gives me a coffee and a cake if I get 8, but Benugo want me to buy 10 coffees to get 1 coffee. I suppose they could have no loyalty card at all but that is hardly the point. What is the point? No idea.

4) No purchase necessary. I love the idea of going into a supermarket, finding a packet of something that has a toy or voucher inside and just opening it and taking it. If it says ‘no purchase necessary’ then wouldn’t that be ok? I don’t think the shop would think so.

I do think that there is always a catch, always an ulterior motive. I would love to be proved wrong. Altruism is dead my friends, if in fact it was ever alive. And on that cheery note, enjoy the rest of your weekend. I can’t end like that. Maybe a joke.

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As always, feel free to share the link, re blog or point people to my new (fancy pants) website address www.andrewauthor.com

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Sequels, Remakes and Trilogies part III

Episode 3: the recycling of the film

The remake. I feel like I need to get a few things straight before I dive in. There is a film I must leave at the door and not mention again. To do so would make me swear (something I do very often but have tried not to do on this blog). It is a film that I loved as a child which had the ever awesome Gene Wilder as the star. Willie Wonka and the chocolate factory (1971) was remade horrifically. Even worse than that, it was done by a director I love and a star whose acting I admire. I will just leave it there.

The Italian job is a tough one for me. The original film is iconic in both its stars and script. It is one of those films that have seeped into everyday language with sayings that are very recognisable as having come from the film. I watched the original as a kid and loved the car chases and action. As an adult I still love those things but the dialogue is clever and witty and has further endeared the film to me. The new version is a pretty good film but lacks a certain something, certain flair, a leading man that is both charismatic and funny. If the new film had not been called the Italian job then I think I may have liked it more. Having said that, if it hadn’t been called the Italian job then people would have called it an Italian job rip off. Lose, lose I suppose.

Ocean’s eleven, what a great film. The remake I mean, not the original. The original was way before my time but I can see it has certain charms. You can tell that the people on screen are friends and that the story is meant to show off this chemistry. The new film needed to have a cast capable of standing up to rat pack comparisons, and it didn’t disappoint. Even the bit part players are Hollywood openers! I think though for me, the best part of the film is its intelligence. It’s increasingly hard to make a good heist film with all the casino technology in place, being able to get past it seems increasingly impossible. Not only did this film manage that, it did it in a way that was believable.

The remake of the remake.

The incredible hulk

I caught the original Hulk the other day (the 80’s one starring Lou Ferrigno) and found that when Bruce Banner turned into the Hulk it was pretty scary. In fact it was very scary. I then took a look at the remake, then the remake of the remake. The CGI is not very scary at all. I am unsure as to whether this is because I know its CGI or whether the original Hulk actually grabbed people by the throat and had to coordinate stunts. The last Hulk was impossibly big, didn’t move right and just looked plastic. The new films for me went on too long, had very weak storylines and the last one had a leading man who was neither big enough nor believable enough to be an action star.

I really hope this reboot craze stops with the new new Spiderman. It seems that ignoring the previous film has the advantage of being able to do whatever you like and start again. The problem is this: if the film was made badly then maybe it’s the premise that’s flawed, not the previous actors or directors. Most cartoons are best as just that. It takes a special kind of superhero to become a movie star.

My overall feeling about the remake is this.

1) If it aint broke, don’t fix it

2) Leave it alone for 30 years plus before a remake is even considered

3) Don’t re remake it. If it didn’t work once or twice, third time is unlikely to be a charm.

Take heed Hollywood, and tremble at the ravings of a 30 something semi popular children’s writer.

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Sequels, Remakes and Trilogies. Part II

The film of the series (not the snappiest of titles).

You have to do an amazing job to be in with a chance of appealing to the original fans of the show, either that or go down the star trek route of actually having the actors from the series play the film roles. It worked well with both the original star trek and the next generation. As a real Trekkie (can’t believe that just got spell checked to a capital letter), I loved the films. Having William Shatner and Patrick Stewart on the same screen at the same time? Yes, yes oh yes. The same thing happened with firefly and the film version serenity (well worth a look) and the sex and the city films (not my cup of tea but the Mrs. loves em). They are recognisable characters playing recognisable parts and they work. Well, with the exception of the Simpsons movie. That was a real doh.


The problem comes when you transfer a TV show (especially a cult classic one) to film with a new cast. Basically, you can’t replace Mr T, Hannibal, Face or Murdock. Not if you want to tap into the original market anyway. I’m not saying the A-team film was awful; it wasn’t very good either though. I think the main reason was the original actors were those characters. Mr T is BA Baracus. I find the same with the avengers and the saint, and don’t even get me started on the new star trek film!

There is evidence that it can work though. Look at the Batman franchise. I loved the Adam West show, I loved the Tim Burton films (not any of the others though, why Arnie? Why?), I love the new incarnation. I think they are all sufficiently different, and no one actor really owns the role. There is no Mr T in batman (neither literally nor metaphorically).

I will finish with my 2 favourite TV show to films. It also strike me that it may well be because they started as sketch shows.

The Muppet show: I loved the Muppets as a kid and love the first Muppet movie. They took a sketch show of believable characters (albeit puppets) and showed us what they were like when they weren’t on the show. The plot is thin, the acting is hammy (terrible pun, sorry miss piggy) and you can see wires coming out of their arms. This to me though adds to the charm.

Monty pythons flying circus: An amazing TV show with a string of amazing films. The show and films are my dad’s era really, but I think they are timeless. My favourite of the lot has to be the life of Brian, if only because of the outrage of the religious community.

That’s it for episode 2: the return of the over opinionated bloggist.

Episode 3 promises the remake and the remake of the remake. I’m going down the Godfather route though (not making it rubbish, hopefully) and leaving a gap between parts 1 and 2 and part 3. Until next week.

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Sequels, Remakes and Trilogies. Part I

Seeing as this is, in part, about trilogies I thought I would do it in 3 parts. Which will be the best? Will part 3 come years after part 2? Will it have a prequel blog? Will I re do it in a few years? Will I just get on with it? Ok, here goes…

Episode 1: the Blogfather

I shall start with the Godfather. As I have said before, I came late to the godfather trilogy. It’s one of those films where the critics said you either love it or you haven’t seen it. I agree wholeheartedly. Part 1 is great, part 2 is epic, part 3 is duck suckingly bad. What happens with these great film makers? Too much time on their hands to write? Mellowed by old age? Just need the money? Part 3 could have been great. Instead you have a story of priests, borderline incest and a really dodgy hair cut. And In the end, it’s the fall from the chair that kills this great character. People may say its old age, heart attack, an aneurism. I like to think he has just realised what a pile of poo he had made and fell to his inevitable, but timely, demise. Shame on you Al Pacino. Check out the end of part 3 and you’ll see what I mean, very funny.  (Cheers John and Nick for pointing that out).

Back to the future is much the same. 1 and 2 fit so well together and have that rare quality of being able to be followed by everyone, while at the same

time making you feel smart for being able to follow it. It has hoverboards, skateboards, a cool car, outstanding music and is very funny.

Part 3? A western that is not a western. No car, no skateboards, no Hewie Lewis and the news. No thank you very much. It’s not an awful film but it has no place in the trilogy.

Two trilogies that (in my opinion) don’t feel like they have add-ons.

Star wars: my dad told me (I sound about 10 years old starting with that) that when ‘return of the Jedi’ was released that some people had the same disdain for the Ewoks that I have for Jar Jar Binks. I find this odd. I loved the Ewoks, I wanted to be Wicket! The point is that the 3rd in the trilogy was not as widely loved as the first 2. I think all the original films are awesome, but then I was very young when I first saw them. The same can be said to be true for the kids I teach and the prequel trilogy. One of them once said to me that the original trilogy was old and boring. All I could do was stand there, dumbstruck and confused, and mumble something about the youth of today. Either way, the films all have a flow from the first scene of episode 4 to the last of episode 6.


Lord of the rings: the first of these was a bit dull. I loved it (the whole trilogy) but even I struggled with the extended version of ‘the fellowship of the ring’. Unlike other trilogies though, they get better. Yes, I know it was Tolkien’s writing, that the books are amazing and that they were always gonna be great. I suppose that I was primed to like them, being a uber geek as I am. It is the only trilogy I can think of (and am open to suggestions of others) that ends better than it starts. Not that the middle one is the best, the last one is.

Thanks for watching (reading) part 1. In part 2, the film of the series. I pity the fool who misses it, unless you have something better to do. Then that’s OK by me.

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The best and worst Trilogy

What makes a good trilogy? Is it a good idea? is it something that gets better as you watch or read each one? Is it something that is well thought through? I am unsure what makes this magical thing of 3 great things, I can however tell you what makes a bad trilogy. Here are my top 3 bad trilogies.

1) The Godfather. This may surprise some, especially those that know me, but the Godfather trilogy is guilty of committing a terrible, terrible crime. The first Godfather film was amazing, made even more so by the fact I hadn’t seen it until the age of 25. I loved the interwoven story line, the effortless violence and completeness of it all. I loved it. Then came number 2. It was even better than the first and added another great Italian actor into the mix. The dual story lines went extremely well together and the whole ‘how times of changed’ angle was great. Number 3 was s**t. End of story. From such high expectations came a less than mediocre film. Why oh why!

2) Back to the Future (although the illustrator of the Squidge series disagrees). The first 2 films were interwoven so well that you couldn’t just stop at the first, although it dies stand alone very well. The ideas behind it, the great acting, and the fact that it makes you feel smarter than you are by being able to follow it. It hits all the right notes. Number 3 though, oh dear. It is all the things a western shouldn’t be and it really feels tacked on to the end as a money spinner. A flying steam-powered train? Really?

3) The Matrix. What a concept. seriously, what a concept. The real world isn’t the real world, the real world is a desolate waste land. Only one (the one) can save man kind. WOW. I walked out of the matrix thinking ‘how will they ever follow that up?’ The answer? Badly. I think that the idea of Zion was a very bad one, as did many other people. So much so that you can watch the Matrix de-zionised. check out U-tube. 

So then, to the best 3. Trilogies that I love.

1) Star Wars. It’s Star Wars, what else do you need? And yes, I am ignoring the prequels. Mr Lucas was given the green light on one film, even though he had 6 (or 9 if you believe certain quarters) he chose to start at number 4. He basically went for the best one for commercial viability. It gets better with both Empire and Jedi.

2) Lord of the Rings. Either the books or the films, I’m not fussy which. All films and books are wonderful, clever, linked and, as with all great stories, a tale of good versus evil. Now some people think they are a bit long and others liked them enough to buy the extended version. Guess which one I was! I would quite happily spend an entire day of my life watching back to back extended films. I have already done it with the 7 star wars films (I included the clone wars animated film).

3) Squidge: Little elf, Little bear. Ok, Ok, I admit it may not be the greatest of trilogies but it is close to my heart. It’s the story of an elf, a bear, some lemmings and a wolf pack. It was really fun to write, lets hope it is as fun to read.

Squidge: little elf, little bear.

That’s it from me. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

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Bestselling Author?

Strange as it may seem, and odd as it may feel, I am charting in both IBooks and Amazon Kindle and actually selling my books.

Let explain the oddness of this. Last year I had 1 book out, a publisher, an editor and an illustrator. This to me was odd. How could I, a hyperactive teacher, have all of these things? The book did really well, but that, I told myself, was because we were giving it away. Still, it did 50,000 or so and I felt a real pride of accomplishment.

Fast forward to this year. I was out with the lads yesterday (a very stereotypical gathering of men whose wives, girlfriends etc… had gone to a baby shower) and they asked me how the book was doing. A very simple question, but I froze in answering. What I should have done is go on a 10 minute sales pitch about the http://www.squidgeelf.com, or this website with all the links to the books, the kind of ‘tell all your friends and tell them all to tell their friends’ thing, but I didn’t. I told them that it was doing well, asked if they had read it, answered any questions, and left it there.

I think that because the book is selling, because it seems to be doing well, and because they are my mates from way back when, I was worried about sounding a little up my own backside!

I am very proud of what I and the proving house team have done but I do find it difficult to see myself as an author.

Andrew Thomas

Author?

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A double whammy today of poems and a pic. This is the poem from the second book, Little Elf, Big Problem.

Some issues arose with the name as it has, just as Big Trouble did, some negative connotations. I think though, Squidge being a cute fellow who gets in the kind of trouble that a child who was left with a jar of opened chocolate spread would, can pull it off.

 

 Squidge – Little Elf, Big Problem.

If you eat lots of chocolate and you’re not very tall,

If you can’t go on rides ‘cos you’re ever so small,

If you just cannot reach that jar on the shelf,

You’re either a very small child or an elf.

In our story today it’s an elf who’s the star,

Squidge, the littlest elf by far,

But before we meet Squidge and join in his fun,

Before we find out why our friend has to run,

We need to make sure that some other stuff’s done

And so our adventure starts: three… two…

 

“One more and then we can get out of here,” shouted the chief elf as he put the last of the covers on the big machines. “Right oh,” came the reply from his assistant.

 

Hope you like it. The full book is available here

Squidge IBooks

And here

Squidge amazon

Ands lots of free stuff here

Squidge Elf website

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All hands on deck

As my title suggests, a very busy week this week. We are striving to release the next 3 Squidge books plus a new education pack. The education packs are based on the books and are aimed at primary school with a focus on literacy and writing.

The great thing about them is that the publisher proving house and I are in agreement that they should all be free.

It’s a mammoth task putting together all the resources, plans and flipcharts but I believe it is well worth it.

The Squidge books themselves all start with a poem (will try put some up when am back at my computer, iPhone at the mo) which leads into the story of a little elf with a nose for trouble. The next 3 books are a trilogy, with Squidge meeting a new friend.

I hope you enjoy reading them.

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New to blogging

So here I am, a teacher/writer attempting to be a writer/teacher. This blog is an early festive introduction to my character Squidge. A little elf with a nose for trouble, but being a teacher, I have to get the learning angle in. Squidge, and his Christmas adventures, come with a variety of resources (free ones) that are suitable for ks1 and ks2. For ks1 we have colouring pages and letter heads for letters to Santa and for Ks2 a more comprehensive pack filled with lesson plans, flipcharts and all the resources you need for a weeks literacy lesson. It even comes with its own success criteria. No strings, all free. Who wants to plan in the run up to Christmas anyway? All at www.SquidgeElf.com or on the TES website and type in squidge in the resources search or click here. Enjoy

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