Sunday, 14 October 2012

Whatever Happened To Neil Is The Best Dalek?

The Housemate has started writing Neil Is The Best Dalek again.  In case you missed it, it is a review blog and can be found here.  I may not always agree with The Housemate’s opinions, but I appreciate his style and I thoroughly recommend it to YOU.

The evolution of the blog is thus:

I wanted to write a blog with The Housemate that encapsulated our ‘double act’ humour.  Being the world’s greatest procrastinator, he never got around to agreeing, so in the end I started my own blog and you’re reading it right now.  However, I got freaked out by the vastness of the Internet and couldn’t see why anyone would want to read The Blog (as explained in The First Illustrated Post, here) so I stopped.  Then The Housemate finally agreed to start our joint blog.  That would focus mainly on reviews, while Hillesque would focus on The Writing Career (or as it turns out, random things I can draw in Paint).  I was given a renewed vigour for Hillesque.  However, The Joint Blog didn’t work out so well.

Why, I hear you ask?

Yes, this is the third time I've used this picture.

I shall tell you. 

The first problem is that it wasn’t supposed to be called Neil Is The Best Dalek.  The title we wanted had been taken and after 48 hours of staring at each other,

this was the best we could come up with.  I wasn’t comfortable with the title because a) it refers to an in-joke between The Housemate and The Stantz, which, although something I join in with, wasn’t started with me and therefore lacks both personal and joint appeal and b) it is a Doctor Who reference, suggesting the site had a Doctor Who bias, which it absolutely wasn’t supposed to.

The second problem was The Housemate used Neil as a base to review Doctor Who and share it with the Doctor Who fanbase.  I’m not a Doctor Who fan, so this created tension.

The third problem was a lot like the second problem.  The Housemate spends a lot of time writing his reviews with great care, so the last thing he wanted was for me to come along and add bits and change his bits.  I’d tell him my idea and he wouldn’t put it in.  So then I’d type it in myself, except he never left any space for my input, so it wouldn’t fit, so I’d change what he had said to make space, which would spoil the flow, so he’d change the point or cut what I had said altogether and we’d go back and forth each editing the other out over and over.  We’d rewrite what the other typed until neither of us was happy and the reviews were never finished. 

It turned out we wanted completely different things from a joint site.  I wanted to play on our differences and bickering.  Everyone always says we’re funny, so I wanted to be funny, with two distinct voices arguing about stuff and sabotaging each other.  On the page.  Not behind the scenes.  The Housemate wanted a space to express his fine-tuned, flowing opinions without my bluntness interrupting.

The fourth problem was apparently we are incapable of working together.

It took longer and longer to write a review with bitterer and bitterer arguments until, for the sake of harmony in the home, we just stopped.

The best way I can explain what a writing session between The Hill and The Housemate is like is to turn to the Frasier episode ‘Author, Author’ in which Niles and Frasier try to write a book together (the original title-idea for our joint blog was actually a reference to Niles and Frasier bickering).  The following extract is EXACTLY how it was every time we sat down to write together.

Frasier: All we need is a good opening sentence, something that will smack the reader right between the eyes and then take him on a virtual roller coaster ride of self-awareness and discovery.

Niles: Frasier, while you’re over there mixing metaphors like an Cuisinart, I’ve had a breakthrough.  Voilà!  Our opening sentence.

F: ‘From Romulus and Remus to the Lennon sisters, sibling relationships have sparked psychological debate throughout the world.’  Hmm…  Interesting.

N: You like it?

F: Well, I said it was interesting.  The task ahead of us now is to decide whether we’d like an interesting opening or a good one.

N: You’re just being negative because you didn’t think of it first.

F: No, in truth I’m not.  I never cared for Romulus, never cared for Remus and the reference to the Lennon sisters is from the freaking moon.

N: Well all right, if you can do better, please be my guest.

F: I will.

N: …My fingers are poised over the keys…  I’m waiting…

(Much Later…)

N: …I’m still waiting.

F: Oh all right, all right.  Put this down.  ‘The key to a good sibling relationship is the ability to be open and honest.’

N: That actually sounded good to me.

F: Well put that in there.

N: ‘The key to a good sibling relationship is the ability to be open and honest while still respecting each other’s boundaries.’

F: What are you doing?  What was that crap about boundaries?

N: I was just finishing the thought.

F: The thought was finished.  It didn’t need finishing for God’s sakes, now it’s a run-on sentence.

N: Well I think it’s much better this way.

F: I don’t.

N: Well I’m at the keyboard.

F: All right then let me type.

N: No, you know I can only write at a keyboard.

F: Niles, you haven’t written a thing all day except to ruin a perfectly good opening sentence.

N: I was merely finishing it.  It was an incomplete thought.

F: Oh, YOU’RE an incomplete thought.

Considering this scene ends with Frasier and Niles in a brawl probably suggests it is a good idea if The Housemate and I don’t work together.  That way, we can control the content of our work without upset and respect each other for the writers we are.

So I have Hillesque, and poo-face has Neil Is The Best Dalek.


  1. Have you considered podcasting? ;-)

    1. I'm sure we wouldn't kill each other.


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