Cartoon Gravity 15 - The Pleasant Green Universe

Some tools I use to keep the universe from falling apart.

Before we even begin, a massive thank you to the people (specifically Nathan) over at Study Buddy We were recording at one of our cast member's houses this week and I saw this revision timetable set-up they had for their kid, who is doing GCSEs this year. This thing looked like a godsend from the point of view of organising and timetabling revision. As soon as I got home, I went onto the site. You tell them what your child is studying, and with what exam boards, and they send you the kit specific to those parameters.

I had been told the service was good, but I was not prepared for Nathan to contact me after I ordered to let me know that I had forgotten the poetry module in the English Lit set, but not to worry because he had taken the liberty of checking in with my daughters school, getting the specs from them, and had included the poetry stuff in the shipment. That is above and beyond.

If you have a child taking exams this year (GCSE or A-Level) and you think they could benefit from the kind of easy organisation that we strive for at Cartoon Gravity, then get in touch with Study Buddy. (Do please note that this is an organisational tool, not flash cards etc for the revision itself).


I'm rather liking January so far. The end of year clear-out of projects that I really don't want to do any more has left me, barring a couple of contractual obligations, with just the things I'm enjoying.

We finished recording the new series of Aldrich Kemp earlier this week, so that is now in the edit. I'm doing another pass on the movie script that I spent the Christmas period re-writing, and which no one really liked (they're wrong, but some of the notes are useful). And I'm finally launching headlong into the next series of The Lovecraft Investigations, which brings some interesting challenges this time because the BBC need 14 minute episodes, which is not a stricture we've had to deal with before on this show.

Heading back into the world of Pleasant Green has been really interesting. This is a universe that I want to spend a lot of time in this year and it is already expanding way beyond anything I ever planned. To date, we have (by my count) three standalone radio plays, the Mythos series, three seasons (and counting) of The Lovecraft Investigations, a novel outline, the movie script I spent Christmas on, and another movie script that I need to finish at some point. (I'm not counting Aldrich Kemp, which belongs to another universe that is also expanding, but which had a brief intersection with Pleasant Green and has another one with another universe in this coming season).

How on earth do I keep track of all this? Oh, I'm so glad you asked...

Right now, Pleasant Green occupies five quite densely scrawled Midori notebooks, an expanding folder of notes and snippets on my Remarkable 2, and a heavily indexed and cross-referenced folder in Obsidian. On the surface, this information is spread across too many places. In practice, as the teenager says about her bedroom, "I know where everything is." At some point, I should rationalise all this, but I am crossing my fingers that an organisational strategy might just emerge from the chaos.

Starting the new Lovecraft series did cause some headaches in terms of wrangling what had gone before and ensuring that I wasn't contradicting anything that had already been set up. There is a LOT of history in these stories, some real, a lot made up or embellished. In addition to unashamedly referencing the excellent Pleasant Green Universe (Radio) - TV Tropes, I use Aeon Timeline to keep track of what happened when. This also allows me to track character ages across the timeline, to make sure people aren't either too old or not-yet-born when I want them to participate in events.

I'm lucky that I started using Aeon a long time ago, so much of the Pleasant Green universe has been plotted out in there from the get-go. The Universe timeline goes back a little over two thousand years, and that allows for some really useful happy accidents, when I enter a new event and discover that it is concurrent with other stuff we've talked about. Aeon is responsible for an awful lot of the "he/she was working with John Dee" moments in the Lovecraft Investigations.

In addition to the timeline and the notes, I also realised that I needed to start connecting up some of the familial relationships within the Universe. As we know, Kennedy Fisher's line goes WAY back, but it also intersects at certain points with other families. And the Tillinghasts and the Marstons all have lineages that intersect in interesting ways. I know virtually nothing about genealogy, but Mac Family Tree came to my aid. With the help of this incredible tool, I was able to plot every generation of Fishers back to the Roanoke colony and then to figure out how and where they intersect with various other families.

The above screenshot (which is temporally confusing due to Obed Marsh being immortal) is just a tiny section of a tree that spans five centuries and includes 51 families to date. Now I can look up any character on the tree and immediately see their relationship to any other character. Not bad for what was little more than a morning's work.

So yes, with the help of these tools, 2023 is going to hopefully see more stuff generated from within the Pleasant Green universe. Watch this space...

A handful of links to be getting on with:

The National Library of France Reopens with Renovations That Add 21st Century Details to the Beaux-Arts Gem — Colossal

Harry's memoir, 'Spare,' beats tabloid press at its own game - Los Angeles Times

The Cormac McCarthy I Know - Nautilus

Opinion | America should stop worshiping billionaires - The Washington Post

How It Feels to Surf the World’s Biggest Wave - Nautilus

The Death Artist - Longreads

Fuck it. Send.