So Excited, So Scared — Pinned to the Mat

•February 17, 2015 • Leave a Comment

The following is a sample from my upcoming Kindle book, So Excited, So Scared: The Saved by the Bell Retrospective, which is out next month, and available for pre-order right now. There are chapters like this on each of the other 85 episodes, as well as detailed sections on the history of the show, what happened next, and a bonus chapter about the Lifetime TV movie. More ordering links can be found at the bottom of this post.

Pinned to the Mat

He used to be a jock, and now he’s a joke.”

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Though most episodes of SBTB feel like something produced by Old White Dudes, the Dudes that made Pinned to the Mat are perhaps the Oldest and Whitest of the bunch. In the whole run of 86 episodes, there’s only a single show with a credited female writer, and it’s definitely not this one. Maybe my own hippie leanings are clouding my judgement, as I take a barefoot wander through the less-enlightened world of 1989, but there seems to be something inherently archaic about the weird gender issues at play here.

Career week at Bayside has everyone talking about their futures. With each unanimously playing to type, Jessie’s going to be a lawyer, Lisa a fashion designer, Screech an astronaut, and Zack a gameshow host — which is a bit he does throughout the episode, fake interviewing people with a ketchup bottle that he comically covers with his hand when they go off topic — while Kelly aspires to be a wife. Or an actress; but a married one for sure. And she also wants to be mom with lots of kids. Slater’s not bothered about the rest of his life, as he can’t see past his upcoming wrestling match against Valley’s undefeated champion, Melvin Nedick — a surname which possibly doubles as a finishing move. Of course, Zack’s got a scam going, and during a Time-Out, where a busy hallway of extras makes a really bad job of standing still, he explains how he’s bet his own dirtbike against that of Nedick, on Slater to win. Zack doesn’t even own a dirtbike, but he won’t need to, cos Slater’s gonna crush that Valley punk. Incidentally, dirtbikes were a real-life interest of Gosselaar’s, and their inclusion here is the result of the forms all the kids filled in when the series began, listing real-life hobbies that could be used in the show.

In a continuing observation, the young Dustin Diamond is a truly horrendous performer, with terrible timing, unclear diction, and speaking every line like someone who’s phonetically repeating words that have no meaning to him, like a stranded alien. This is possibly why he’s rarely given more than a single line of dialogue at a time, and is mostly kept to pulling stupid faces.

The gang’s barracking of Slater, and how he’s ruining his life by not having a career plan, plays on his mind, inspiring one of those now-familiar fantasy sequences. Set at a class reunion in the future — and we know it’s the future because Max has baby powder in his hair, denoting that he is old — the now-adult gang are introduced one by one. There’s Judge Jessie; Lisa the fashion designer; Captain Screech Powers, space explorer, who literally beams down from Mars; and lastly, Zack, who gets a hero’s welcome as the most successful game show host ever. If you’re wondering what Kelly’s done with her life — Teacher? CEO? Deputy Parks Director?  then wonder no more, as Zack introduces his wife, Kelly Morris. As a demonstration of her skills, Kelly ‘presents’ a 19 inch CRT television as her gameshow-hosting husband looks on proudly. Dream big, girls.

When Slater enters, potbelly strapped into a leopard skin wrestling outfit, with a Hulk Hogan wig, tash, and voice, they barely remember him. Isn’t that the over the-the-hill loser who’s lost 30 matches in a row? And all because he didn’t didn’t pick a vocation at career day? While that kind of stupid pressure to make very important, arbitrary decisions about your entire life, when you’re barely old enough to sing the low bits in This Jesus Must Die, is still upheld by teachers today; kids, I wouldn’t sweat it. I told my career advisor I was going to be a juggler in the circus, and look at me now; I’m a penniless writer.

Dirtbike (L), Dirtbag (R)

Dirtbike (L), Dirtbag (R)

After his vivid future-flash, a panicked Slater quits the wrestling team, which is bad news for Zack, whose bet with Nedick is at stake. So, the blonde bastard surfs on the wave of sexism and washes up on the shore of another scheme. Inspired by Max’s tale of his own father quitting his job, only to have his mom drape an apron around his neck and show him where the kitchen is, causing him to run screaming from the house and back to work to avoid her stupid, female nagging, Zack whips out his cellular phone. Putting on his best guidance counsellor voice, he convinces Slater’s dad, the Major, to make his son find an after-school activity to replace the wrestling. The only activity Slater’s interested in is girl-watching, so Zack suggests the one place where you’ll find tons of the little madams shaking their tushes; but such a place will take a special kind of guy to be able to handle it.

Are you man enough,” asks Zack, “for… the cooking club?” It is a hilarious notion, I grant you. A man in the kitchen. But there are girls there; girls who can be ogled and hit on; so Slater takes Zack’s advice and signs up.

Slater in an apron?” says Zack, “He’ll be laughed back into the gym!” Just to be clear about what’s being sneered at here; the preparation of food. One of the basic tenements of survival as a carbon-based life-form.

The notion of a guy cooking being so comical, and the kitchen exclusively the domain of girls and pooves, is probably mystifying to younger audiences, but when I was a kid, around the time the show was airing, cookery was viewed as an effeminate pursuit. Along with hairdressing, it was a career choice that would give a dad a fatal aneurysm. Even venturing into the kitchen other than to ask your mam how much longer your tea was going to be, you aul’ bitch, or to have a slash in the sink, was tantamount to whipping your trousers down right there in the living room and camply directing another man’s william right up your pipe. Don’t blame Zack for the crimes of the 1980’s, where chefs were presumed to be homosexuals, before they reinvented themselves as terrifying ogre-men pretending to be really, really angry all the time, in the wake of Gordon Ramsay screaming the bricks from the walls just because someone’s flan was pointing north instead of south or some-such other bollocks.

Zack attends the cookery class too, just for the giggles, where a bubbly teacher has them throw away their recipes! She’s a regular Dead Poet’s Society, singing the instructions like jazz and tap-dancing around the room. Maybe the dads were right all along. What do you know, Slater bakes a perfect cake, and the girls, who’ve increasingly shown themselves to drop into fan-wafting vapour fits at any vaguely romantic deed, are positively simpering at how sensitive he is, because he’s baked one fucking cake. Devastated by the failure of his latest plan, Zack calls himself a “hula hoop.” Don’t be so hard on yourself, buddy.

Shortly before jerking a dozen dicks all over his own face

Shortly before jerking a dozen dicks all over his own face

At Zack’s behest, Nedick himself shows up to taunt Slater for being a girly girl cook, in order to reverse-psychology him back into the wrestling match, which makes no sense, as if Slater didn’t show, Nedick would win the match, and the dirtbike, by forfeit. Regardless, Nedick’s needling only further steels Slater’s resolve, and Zack’s forced to stick Screech in a singlet and offer him up as a replacement opponent, hoping it’ll lure Slater out of retirement. No dice, Preppy, and Screech and Nedick limber up at the gym for an inter-school bout that’s perfectly legal, despite there being about a dozen weight classes between them.

Luckily for Screech, Slater shows up at the last second and instantly pins Nedick with a German suplex that’d make Chris Benoit drop his World’s Greatest Dad mug in jealousy. With about thirty seconds to credits, Slater, who’s not only loved cooking, but shown a genuine natural aptitude for it, throws it all away at the last moment for nothing, as “my quiche blew up and I didn’t care.” Oh, cool then, back to the status quo. To wrap up the out-of-the-blue ending, everyone suddenly agrees that they’re just kids and shouldn’t worry about careers until later. Zack’s winning bet is also for nothing, as Belding informs him that gambling is banned in school and all he’s won is a detention.

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“Congrats on being straight!”

There’s a way better ending hidden away in all of this, had they had Nedick confess to Zack that he didn’t really have a dirtbike either, so they were both betting imaginary dirtbikes with each other. I assumed that’s where it was going, because why the shit would anyone need two dirtbikes?

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So Excited, So Scared on Amazon.co.uk

So Excited, So Scared on Amazon.com

Amazon’s free Kindle app for phones, tablets, and computers.

So Excited, So Scared — available for pre-order now

•January 30, 2015 • 2 Comments

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The Jock. The Brain. The Hustler. The Princess. The Fashionista. The Nerd. Bayside’s iconic six vowed to be friends forever. It wasn’t even true backstage.

So Excited, So Scared delves into the full history of the show and its players, from its unlikely creation and unlikelier success, to what happened when the cameras stopped rolling. Was it a hormonal, dating free-for-all behind the scenes, and was Dustin Diamond really the despised outsider of legend?

The centrepiece of Millard’s unauthorised trip back to Bayside is a comprehensive, show-by-show breakdown of all 86 episodes. Relive the sociopathic scams of Zack Morris, the story of history’s greatest romantic coupling, and memorable guest faces like Maxwell Nerdstrom, Jeff Hunter, and Rod “call me Rod” Belding, plus the scattershot continuity of Malibu Sands and Tori Scott; which evolves into full-on quantum theory; in the most complete take on SBTB ever put to print.

With no stone unturned, revisit every classic moment; such as Jessie’s freak-out, the rise and fall of Zack Attack, and No Hope with Dope; and discover how a day-glo, nineties teen sitcom become one of the most culturally influential shows of the last thirty years, changing the entire landscape of entertainment along the way.

This is a book no Tigers-cheering, chair-straddling Saved by the Bell fan can live without, so c’mon, Preppy; don’t be an A.C. Hater.

After a few false starts, some kickstarted help from some amazing people, and a lot of months spent thinking and writing about bloody Screech, we are live. So Excited, So Scared: The Saved by the Bell Retrospective is now available for pre-order on Amazon, to be sent to your Kindles/devices on March 16th, when it’s finally released.

For readers of my previous works, So Excited, So Scared is longer than my last four books combined (161,000 words), so if you want a giant helping of Millard, there’s enough here to overdose on. Also, not to parp on my own horn, but it’s definitely the best thing I’ve ever done. To help pass the time between now and March 16th, feel free to spread the word, and of course, head over to Amazon immediately.

So Excited, So Scared on Amazon.co.uk

So Excited, So Scared on Amazon.com

Amazon’s free Kindle app for phones, tablets, and computers.

The Beach Diaries 2014 – #3 in an Occasional Series

•December 30, 2014 • 2 Comments

(Beach Diaries? At the end of December? Yeah, I know. I’ve had this sat in my notepad since the summer, where I got so focussed on the Saved by the Bell book that I didn’t have time to go to the beach again. Plus I knew this one was a bit too personal, so I left it to fester in my backpack. But what are blogs for if not for over-sharing and making everyone feel uncomfortable? Enjoy?)

New to the Beach Diaries? Scroll to the bottom for enlightenment.

** I watch a strongman contest round the back of the amusements. The ground shakes as the weights clank down out of their fists. Two men standing next to me discuss a mutual friend who put a child into a coma while drink driving. Big men sweetly interact with watching children, like friendly ogres. A little girl says of a hulking man who’s dusting his hands in chalk “That’s my teacher!” A boy comes out of the nearby arcade, and excitedly shows his father a rubber ball.

Daddy, want to see how this bounces?

No,” says the dad.

** An alternative goth type, dressed all in black, with hair like a Japanese cartoon and a white cloth trailing from his back pocket, paddles barefoot along the tide; skinny jeans rolled up as high as they’ll go; a pair of black winkle-pickers in his hand. Later, I see him stopped by and pleasantly chatting with an older couple. Friends of his parents, I guess, who use him as an example of not judging by appearances.

** As his owner tries to leave, a dog refuses to go home, placing his tennis ball by the sea and sitting down with a resolute look on its face. It’s the same dog who drops his ball out of his mouth over the wall on the prom, resting his chin on the wall and nodding towards it with his eyes, so that passers by will throw it for him. He’s got it all figured out. That ball is the grossest thing I have ever touched.

"Yes, it is a spiffing day, Mrs. Farquar!"

“Yes, it is a spiffing day, Mrs. Farquar!”

** It’s one of those days where impossibly beautiful people are everywhere, like an infestation of flying ants. Laying in the sands; tottering past with uneasy bare feet on hot concrete; like something from an unrealistically cast TV show. It just makes you want to smash your awful face against the breakwater until all the bones are sticking out like toothpicks in a Christingle orange, and then politely ask them if they’ve got the time, dripping burst eyeball-fluid all over their chicken wraps until they all run away screaming and leave you alone on the beach, like the Quasimodo freak in the tower summer makes of you when it shines a light on the world and all its corners.

Part of the reason I cut down on the number of entries was that this theme becomes both unavoidable, and repetitive. Yeah, there are hot people everywhere and it’s depressing and makes me feel half-ghost, half-monster, but what can you do? Should I magically become comfortable in my own skin? Or suddenly, somehow deal with my feeling like a diabetic on Willy Wonka’s factory tour?

Many would probably kill for the freedom of the beach bum. No ties, and nobody who cares where I am and what time I’ll be back; no steady career; just the complete freedom to wander of my own accord, where and whenever I please. People in a BO-stinking office, with a pay-check and a mortgage and a wife, might gaze out of the window, at the thin, blue slab of sky visible between the buildings across the street, and have momentary daydreams of sacking it all off for a life of artsy meandering. “I’ll write a novel,” they think, “paint a picture. Tell my boss to go suck his own bollock.” But days like today, if I’m honest; horribly, violently honest; I can’t shake the feeling that I’m raising my flag in a rather hollow victory.

A group of 40/50-something men hoot and lech over a pair of women who’re peeling off their shirts, revealing bikini tops underneath.

Get ‘em out, then,” cry the men — which is a direct quote — like literal Benny Hill characters. They look tremendously pleased with themselves, and very comfortable in their booze-worn skins, as they leer their way down the prom. They’re also among the most grotesque caricatures I’ve ever seen, on the cartoonish level of a red-faced butcher chasing after a dog who’s got a string of sausages in its mouth.

Sussex, 1983

Sussex, 1983

** I’m stopped by a Bieber-looking sixth former with a clipboard, and agree to help him with a survey about memories. He asks me to recall my earliest happy, and then earliest sad memory. Both times I stand like I’m Dr. Sam Beckett, leapt into the body of a stranger, gazing into the middle-distance, and trying to rouse something — anything — from my brain, which becomes fugue-state-blank of any memory further back than twenty minutes ago, as we drown in the weird silence I’ve made. In the end, I go with the generic happy memory of “feeling safe, I suppose,” and try to explain with waffle about childhood innocence and having no concept of adult worries like money or crushing ennui as a toddler. But I can see he’s not taking nearly enough notes to cover what I’m saying, and though I try to put him at ease, he seems nervous, and eager to get away. For my earliest sad memory, I give the almost-sitcom answer of a dead goldfish, and he thanks me and runs off in such an abrupt manner, I suspect he cut the survey short.

As soon as he’s gone, a sudden, vivid memory hits me with the strength and clarity of being shot in the temple by a pier-side sniper, of my being babysat by my granddad when I was 3 or 4. Together, we built a Lego tower that seemed 100 feet high. I can see my arms reaching out and being unable to touch the top, and his big grin; though I see it toothless like it was in later years, and not how it was back then. I always remember it as being really late; dark outside and feeling like it was just the two of us left awake in the entire world; as though we’d illicitly stayed up to the middle of the night in a way that broke all of the rules my mum would have set, to construct this monstrous building together; but I’m sure it was barely past sunset. Even now, in my mind, the spire of that tower is virtually wreathed in clouds, and it’s the purest, most distilled recollection of joy to make its home in my brain. Immediately, I’m gripped by an almost overwhelming sense of guilt and shame. Why didn’t I think of it at the time? Instead, I stood there like some fucking Dickensian orphan who’d never even seen Lego, let alone had a granddad who’d built the Biggest Tower in the World with him, thirty-something years ago. I feel so awful, I have to neck a big drink of water to stop myself sobbing like a wretch.

From where I’m sat, with the raw, rotten feeling in my guts, I can see the building where my granddad spent four happy years at the end of his life; the building where he died, eighteen months ago. Part of me wants to chase the boy down and stand over him as he writes the whole thing onto his clipboard, brick by coloured brick, but I’ve put him through enough already.

** One of a group of three lads unfurls a 12ft long yellow snake from around his shoulders and lays it beside them on the grass so it can sunbathe. They take casual selfies, quickly drawing a crowd. A husband drags his wife down for a look. The owner wraps it around the husband’s neck and they pose for a picture, shoulder to shoulder, draped in writhing furs. A man with learning difficulties, enamoured, but standing at safe distance, makes hissing noises — “ssssssss…” He waves with child-like glee at the passing boat-train. An elderly couple wave back.

Actually, it wasn't this guy. He's banned from the UK for animal cruelty :(

Actually, it wasn’t this guy. He’s banned from the UK for animal cruelty :(

** Overheard conversation snippets. Little girl to her mother:

Did you really eat dog biscuits?

It was only once…

** From where I’m reading, I can see the car park. Among the day-trip coaches, there’s a quirky little retro car, like something Roger Moore would have tooled around a windy Swiss mountain road in, sending rockets blasting out of the bumper with the push of a large, red button. A green bag sits tied to the roof, suggesting this is merely one of a series of spur-of-the-moment, carefree stops around Europe.

The next time I glance up, the off-white of its chassis is darkened by the shadow of a traffic warden, writing a ticket to slide under its wiper.

** Mother to barefoot child:

Go and put your shoes on. No, you’re going to the toilet, you need your shoes. There’ll be wee all over the floor; do you want to stand in all the wee?

** A car flying a UKIP flag like it’s cheering them on in the World Cup. A seagull with an entire burger in its mouth. Once I’m in Beach Diaries mode, it’s hard not to mentally narrate every passing sight like a film noir PI. While I didn’t witness this personally, someone told me about a thing they saw last week; skip this bit if you’re eating your tea. One of the town ‘characters’ was vomiting in the high street, onto the pavement, and all over his own straggly hair. Seagulls were picking at the beery trail of puke left in his wake, and as he staggered off down the street, still being sick, more seagulls dropped out of the sky to follow him, like they do when tourists scatter uneaten chips down the riverbank. I could make a metaphor where I’m the heaving man, you’re the seagulls, and these Diaries are what you peck your little beaks at, but this chapter is already pretty bleak, so let’s keep things cordial.

** On the way home, I’m passing through an alley when I spot a bloke standing at the other end, talking on the phone, with Iceland shopping bags sprawled across the floor. With my mind rotted by scaremongering representations of youth and my own broken mistrust of people, I interpret the warning signs of a possible mugging. I’m not slipping my keys between my knuckles or anything, but merely being aware; being ready.

Picked up a DVD,” he says into the phone as I pass, “Saving Mr. Banks.”

** A kid sits on a wall of a front garden, next to a bird cage. As I get closer, I see the cage is empty, and its door wide open. The boy on the wall makes whistling and clicking noises out into the street. A few hours out in that mocking summer world and I figure the bird will be yearning for the bars again.

A week later, there are hand-drawn posters stuck to all the nearby lamp posts for a missing budgie. Who’s a pretty boy?


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The Beach Diaries have been running since 2011, spawning the two Kindle books you see above. Both are available on Amazon, for the price of a pint, and I highly recommend you buy them, because I like money.

The Beach Diaries 2011: £1.99 on Amazon.co.uk$2.99 on Amazon.com

The Beach Diaries 2012: £2.99 on Amazon.co.uk$3.99 on Amazon.com

If you don’t have a Kindle, here’s Amazon’s FREE Kindle app for phones, tablets, mac and PC

These days, I only put them out occasionally, as I did last year. The Occasional Beach Diaries 2013: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5

And 2014: #1, #2

The Bell Has Been Saved

•December 8, 2014 • 1 Comment

If you saw my last post on here, my sumptuous retrospective of Saved by the Bell was in fatal jeopardy, so I turned to you — at this point, imagine a giant, Lord Kitchener finger poking through the screen, causing you to lean back in your seat. Summoning that Muppet spirit of “C’mon, gang, let’s put on a show!”, the metaphorical evil property developers, represented by the deathbed rattle of a dying computer, were bested by what, even I, in my status as overgrown misanthrope can only describe as the human spirit, and like that, my Bayside book is back on.

I don’t know what I expected from that post, but it certainly wasn’t the incredible flood of generosity that sprang forth. Each email or message was supportive, and nobody called me a digital hobo or told me to go fuck myself with a claw hammer. In the huge, wonderful list of people who’d been kind enough to donate, I saw names I knew well, and names I didn’t recognise at all; I saw people I talk to all the time, and those I hadn’t spoken to in years; I saw people I knew couldn’t afford to be slinging money in outward directions, but who were doing it all the same. Every name a band-aid on my battered, crumbled, black heart.

There’s a line from My Dinner with Andre, attributed to Ingmar Bergman, that goes “I could always live in my art, but not in my life.” This is where I’m at. Day to day, while I’m drowning in the utterly overwhelming, hopeless depression that’s now a permanent part of me; like a heavy, smelly coat with a broken zip that’s too tight to get off by pulling it over my head; writing for 12, 14, 16 hours a day is the fingers in the ears “la la la, can’t hear you” that gets me through. My work is where I hide. It’s where I exist. The only place I exist. There are no other parts to me. I don’t want to poke my head above the parapet and see the unhappy wreck of my real life. Consequently, I topped 250k words in the first ten months of the year. It’s a good motivator.

Almost always, especially in the daily hustle of being an ‘indie author’, it feels like you’re shouting yourself bloody into an empty well, and it’s all been for nothing. So, to know that enough people give a shit, and want to see me finish at least this one project, well, it’s a big thing for me. A huge thing. And I want people to understand that. People who donated. People who retweeted and shared the link. People who did want me to put a claw hammer right up there but kept their mouths shut anyway.

muppets

“Let’s help this fuckin’ dickbag publish his book about Screech!”

It’s taken a while to gather myself enough to get back on the horse because a) the coat with the broken zip, and b) I got super sick the day I put up the last post, and proceeded to not sleep at all for about two weeks. I will get around to thanking everyone individually at some point, but for now, please accept this sickly, gushing blog. That said, I did return from my internet hiatus to find that the word ‘bae’ is still being used, but you can’t have everything, I suppose.

Presumably there’s not a single reader out there who doesn’t want me to immediately cease with this meandering me-me-me shit and get back to stuff about Hulk Hogan’s penis or compiling the Top 10 Best Pop Culture Farts. As you wish.

Incidentally, there’s no film list this year. This is unrelated to the recent catastrophe, and more just a time issue (those things eat up a solid month). But I’ll probably name my favourites on Twitter at some point, so look out for that.

Alright. Back to it. Cos I gotta bury the real world beneath the words.

The Laziest Kickstarter Part II: Save Bayside

•November 25, 2014 • Leave a Comment

You might be wondering where’s the Saved by the Bell book I promised before year’s end. It was due to be available for pre-order next week, for release in January. But recently, its status went from:

Released Jan 2015

to

Posponed indefinitely.

It was 95% done, and I was just tightening up the 170,000 words and about to get onto the cover, when my computer died.

As a one man band — writing, editing, cover images, promotion — I’m snared in a catch 22. I need a computer to write and promote my work, but without one, I’m unable to raise the money for a replacement. Let alone other stuff like, you know, food. Bottom line is, without this, I’m effectively done. Never in a billion years of my current situation could I cobble together the cash, not without this book.

Believe it or not, Smoke & Mirrors and Steven Seagal just about paid the bills (and no more than that) for six months. Since the computer died and I’ve been unable to promote it, it’s sold a single copy. The SBTB book was already a financial make-or-break. Without it, I have no idea where I even go from here. Except down. Fast and hard.

I feel like I’ve constructed something people are going to absolutely love. It’s the most comprehensive look at Saved by the Bell ever, and the sitcom genre, among the many other topics it takes on. There’s a super detailed history of the show’s production, before and after, and I’ve dug up a ton of stuff that’s never been revealed before. There’s also, in what’s likely the big selling point, an exhaustive, episode-by-episode deconstruction, of all 86 shows. It’s a truly monstrous work — 3x the size of Smoke & Mirrors… — and by far the best thing I’ve ever done.

Unfortunately, the only way it, and any other future releases, can ever see the light of day is with help, so I’ve put a Paypal donation link at the end of this post, should you kindly like to help see that happen. Maybe it feels a bit less like begging for the focus to be on the finishing of a (potentially) crowdfunded project, especially as that’s how this all began anyway. That’s how I’ll settle it in my head when I’m laying awake tonight.

Incidentally, I’m writing this post on a borrowed netbook with the RAM of a 1980’s calculator watch. I don’t own a phone, so I’ve no way of accessing the internet besides five minutes here and there on other people’s laptops. I’m completely out of the loop. For all I know, mankind’s colonised Mars, and lovely, sweet old Bill Cosby’s gotten caught up in a sex scandal.

Anyway, seeing as this is a quasi-kickstarter, what are the perks? I can’t really offer anything, outside of mildly-early-release PDF copies, but who ever wanted a PDF, even a free one? The only perk is knowing you’ll have saved this book, and my very existence on this planet.

I know times have never been tighter, and I know we’re all feeling it. I know there’s barely a spare bean to go around, especially not on frivolous nonsense like Mr. Belding’s tour of duty in Vietnam. I know it’s the 21st century and people still can’t afford to eat. I know this because I live this. As I twist my cap in my hands, it’s meant as a ”if you can, and you want to,” and if you do feel you’d like to toss something — anything — towards me to get this book out, then no matter how small, I couldn’t be more grateful. If not, then of course, we’re still cool, homeslice. And hey, maybe one of my followers is an eccentric billionaire.

I’m not putting a target goal up here because I have no expectations (beside a flood of messages telling me to fuck myself with a clawhammer), and there’s nothing sadder than a lovingly desperate Kickstarter with its progress bar stalled at 1%. Also because this netbook doesn’t have a pound sign key. Whatever a new desktop PC costs I guess.

I wish I could fully put across how much I hate that I’m doing this. I’m agonising over the existence of this post. I’m agonising over its wording (”am I sounding like an entitled prick?”) It puts a heavy, rotten feeling at the pit of my guts. I absolutely would not consider it unless I was out of options. I’m out of options.

Thanks.

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So Excited, So Scared

•August 19, 2014 • 3 Comments

In the wake of my lazy, and successful kickstarter, it’s time to announce the hottest product to hit the streets since Buddy Bands.

Announcement Small

There’s a tentative release date of around November, but you’ll hopefully be able to pre-order it within the next six weeks. Content-wise, expect a super detailed history of the show’s inception and production, and what happened to each of the important players after it finished airing. The centerpiece of So Excited, So Scared is the breakdown of each of Saved by the Bell‘s 86 episodes. As I’ve found out to my own sleep deprivation, these are an absolutely monstrous cultural landscape to traverse, taking on all the catchphrases and quirks you remember as a kid, but with elements that only become apparent through adult eyes; like television’s worst ever amoral sociopath, plagiarised character traits, unending attempts by the writers to bring down leftie feminism, and a behind the scenes clique that makes its presence felt onscreen. Of course, there will also be dick jokes. I’ll also be taking on SBTB‘s bewildering attitude to continuity, which seemingly expands into full-on Many Worlds quantum theory by season four.

I’m not covering the TV movies or College Years (or Miss Bliss and The New Class), but may tackle the former in a sequel if this were to do well enough. If you’re curious about the tone, I’d suggest you check out my latest book, Smoke & Mirrors and Steven Seagal, which treads a similar pop-culture path, and I highly recommend, because I don’t want to starve to death before I publish this thing, which is a real possibility.

If you’re on Twitter, give @BaysideForever a follow, as I’ll be posting an absolute ton of SBTB stuff on there over the coming months, and of course, check out my current book here:

Smoke & Mirrors and Steven Seagal on Amazon.com

Smoke & Mirrors and Steven Seagal on Amazon.co.uk

Amazon’s FREE Kindle app for phones, computers, tablets and browsers

Apparently this is the 250th post on my blog. Go Bayside!

The Beach Diaries 2014 – #2 in an Occasional Series

•June 24, 2014 • 3 Comments

What are the Beach Diaries?” If this is you, you oaf, and it’s your first time here, scroll to the bottom for enlightenment.

***

** After a hugely positive review on the Wrestling Observer/Figure Four Weekly website, I wake to the news that I’m currently the author of the #2 best selling pro wrestling book in the world — although the #1 is a Jiu Jitsu book, which doesn’t count — a statement to end with “sup, ladies?” if ever there was one. I’m up early because I’m dog sitting for the day, which sees me at the beach at an unusual hour, way before the usual lunchtime crowd-rush that usually provides me with so much material.

** There’s nobody else around but other dog walkers and joggers of various fitness levels; some sinewy and well-geared, taking numerous passes from pier to café and back; others with a lead-footed slog along the prom, in a gamely way that suggests they’ve committed to making a change, for the first, or twentieth time. Dog-walkers and joggers. That level of specific population is an odd feeling, like being in a videogame where half the AI characters have blipped out of existence, leaving a world inhabited by just the two sets of background colour.

Chris Jericho -- 2nd Best in the World

Chris Jericho — 2nd Best in the World

** Regular readers will know I’ve never been the belle of the ball down here in Beachtown, having inspired no admiring glances or coquettish smiles from those who catch my eye, and no wolf whistles that weren’t sarcastic and followed by the cackling of a girl-gang. I was once ignored by a man slavishly drumming up signatures for a petition to save the hospital, who skipped over me like I was invisible, presumably for giving off the aura of someone who hates healthcare. My resting facial expression is ‘murderous’, I resemble Charles Manson cameoing in Point Break, and I’m only ever approached by men aged 18-35 who want a light, or think I can sell them some weed. On occasion, I have been asked by groups to take their photo for them, but only when I’ve been reading a book, which possibly paints over the edges of the “serial killer, thug, or sex offender?” vibe with an airy coat of education. Today, like walking into a nightclub as part of a famous friend’s entourage — “What’s Millard doing with Dean Gaffney? He suddenly seems handsome and cool!” — I live vicariously through a 12lb social wing-man. Snowy, the half-Bichon, half-Shih Tzu bundle of energy trotting from the end of my arm, whom everybody wants to see or touch as he passes them, shifts my position on the map of the global village out of the cave and onto a wholly different plane.

Little kids gasp “Doggy!”, grown adults point him out to each other, and the elderly — who often pass me fearfully in case of an imminent mugging, even though I try really, really hard not to give that impression, with my best efforts at genial body language — all want to stop and rub his little ears. As is a theme in these diaries, I don’t have friends. I mean, I’ll exchange jokes and opinions over social media and whatnot, but I never, ever ‘hang out’ with anyone. My philosophy on life is to go all Barry Windham circa 1993 and Lone Wolf it. Everywhere I go and everything I do in life, I do by myself. But having a dog is some weird invitation for people, especially other dog owners, to stop and talk to you, like they’ve put on the ray bans from They Live, and suddenly see a person, where once was nothing but a 6′ tall space of transparent atoms. I didn’t mind; it was fine to play dress-up for a day, although I’m not sure how I’ll feel if I ever manage that seemingly-easy yet heartbreakingly elusive life-goal of making enough money to get a dog of my own.

So, unlike the other Beach Diaries where I’m merely lurking on the outskirts, I’m suddenly right in the mix. I talk to old ladies. I exchange laughter with a group of walkers as Snowy chases a similar looking dog in mad circles and has to be dragged away. I even stop and chat to the man who keeps the topless dummy in the attic, who’s known for carrying a pet chicken around town under his arm. In a green dressing gown and work-boots held together with sellotaped toes, he introduces himself to me and the dog, who’s so wary of him, he puts the brakes on and refuses a stroke. “It must be my odour,” he says. We shake hands as we part, and I wish him a good day, and realise that arming myself with a dog makes me pretty good at the whole ‘being a human being’ thing. In the right circumstances, I could probably make a passable member of society. That said, I was still stopped by an actual urchin who wanted “two tens in exchange for a twenty.”

Yeah, no thanks

Yeah, no thanks

** We return to the beach for another long walk, later that evening. Though it’s getting late, it’s still so hot that the sea’s filled with swimmers and waders; older people, dog owners, teenage couples using the bob of the waves as a thin pretext to grope each other. Despite my love of the beach, water makes me nervous, and I’m not keen on actually being in it. I’ll walk beside it though, and like tonight, I often do, for miles and hours.

Over on the next break, a blonde woman doing the same carries a dog in her arms like a baby. I almost hesitate to put all this down, as it seems too much of a stereotype, right down to the bug-eye Kardashian sunglasses. Her dog’s legs are too stubby to walk across the stones; its billowing coat of white fluff too delicately coiffed to get plastered in wet sand. From his owner’s arms, the dog looks across at Snowy, who’s running free and wild, with the gaze of Richie Rich peering out a darkened limousine window, slowly being driven past some laughing children who’re running barefoot around a spraying fire hydrant, with a mixture of sneering “look at those simple bastards” and a deep sadness that he’ll never be able to get out and join them.

** Earlier in the week, I took the dog out for the afternoon. As we walked through the empty town centre, a football man staggered out of a pub. The blare of a TV playing the World Cup puked out of the open door, and he started shouting to himself in a slur about how he was going to get some more money out of the cashpoint. Every other syllable was “fuck,” and he moved down the pavement like they did on Star Trek when the ship got hit by a Klingon ray gun. Amid all the jovial swearing, he realised there was someone walking behind him, in earshot of his dirty mouth, and he turned –

Sorry, mate,” he said, with genuine remorse, looking the dog square in the eye.

** But back to today, and before we go home, we sit on the long bench. I squeeze the dog a drink into his portable bowl, and feed him half of a bone-shaped biscuit. As we rest beneath the shadow of the wonky shelter, I bend down to unravel the lead that’s gotten snared around my ankle, and spot a shiny pound coin right underneath where I’m sitting. Though it’s not enough to fund the move to somewhere I could house and feed a husky of my very own, after the book review, the sales, and a day spent milling around my favourite place with my favourite species, it’s still enough to make me say, out loud, “Everything’s coming up Millard.

***

bdcovers

The Beach Diaries have been running since 2011, spawning the two Kindle books you see above. Both are available on Amazon, for the price of a pint, and I highly recommend you buy them, because I like money.

The Beach Diaries 2011: £1.99 on Amazon.co.uk$2.99 on Amazon.com

The Beach Diaries 2012: £2.99 on Amazon.co.uk$3.99 on Amazon.com

If you don’t have a Kindle, here’s Amazon’s FREE Kindle app for phones, tablets, mac and PC

These days, I only put them out occasionally, as I did last year. The Occasional Beach Diaries 2013: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5

And 2014: #1

 
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