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|Friday, December 19th, 2014|
We sat down last night about 9pm and decided to stick a film on. Postman Pat the Movie was amongst the current Lovefilm offerings, so we shoved the shiny disc into the Blu-Ray and sat down expecting 90 minutes of animated amusement, with maybe a mild hint of peril, and possibly the odd cat stuck up a tree.
What we saw was quite unexpected. The film is in fact a wicked satire of modern life disguised as a kids film. To start with the plot is basically that the post office is being privatised, and the new "evil" boss plans to replace all the postmen with robots because they are more efficient. Evil boss then cancels everyone's Christmas bonus so Pat can't afford to take his wife on holiday to Italy. By sheer co-incidence, a TV talent show is auditioning in Greendale, and the first prize includes a holiday to Italy. The talent show isn't called the X-Factor, but may as well be. The incredibly sarcastic host is even called Simon Cowbell.
Luckily for us Pat is a talented singer (who talks with an English accent but sounds rather like Ronan Keating when he sings), so he gets through to the live TV finals. What then follows is 45 minutes of mayhem as Pat alienates all his family as he fails to deal with his new-found instant fame, while the robot postmen are unleashed on Greendale. Robots which include Daleks, and eventually a army of robot postmen, who sound and march exactly like Cybermen. Oh and there is an evil Jess. A robot cat whose eyes glow red in the dark like The Terminator.
It's all voiced by pretty much every British actor you've ever seen. It's not the best animated film I've seen recently (that's The Lego Movie), but it is rather fun.
|Monday, November 17th, 2014|
I may just have watched the worst TV show ever made. Scorpion - the all new, much trailed, show which according to the trailers, features a team of the foremost geniuses in the world, solving complex, global problems. What it actually features is a group of painfully stereotyped "geeks" and the most bonkers plot ever written.
So in the first episode, it turns out that there is a bug in some software used by an airport, and a whole bunch of planes are going to crash if something isn't done. Cue our hero of the week, who is apparently a software genius or something. We know this because earlier he helped set up someone's Wi-Fi in a café. So genius guy comes up with a plan to save the day - reboot the dodgy software from a backup. Be still my beating heart for this is surely the most exciting plot ever devised.
But this is where the writers clearly started smoking crack. Where would you keep a backup version of software run on an airport's computers? You wouldn't have it on a server somewhere easily accessible - no it turns out that the only place you can get a copy is by downloading it from a plane. Seriously - this backup is onboard every single plane in the sky, but available nowhere else on the planet. So the plan is to get a plane to fly down the runway and download the required stuff via Wi-Fi (just as well we already established we have a bona fide Wi-Fi expert then eh!)
But the plan fails! So plan B (and I swear I am not making this up) is to get the plane to fly down the runway dangling a really long ethernet cable underneath it, the other end of which is plugged into our hero's laptop in a fast-moving jeep. Not land the plane and plug in the cable - no that would be far too
sensible boring for TV.
Think I may pass on episode 2.
|Wednesday, October 15th, 2014|
I finally got around to watching the Monty Python reunion show. Wow - what a disappointment. I was tempted to get tickets when it was first announced, but am now really glad we didn't bother paying the £100+ they were charging for tickets
About 50% of the show seemed to consist of animations and excerpts from the TV show being played on big screens. I get that they have to fill time between costume and set changes, but it seemed the video clips were the majority of the show.
Michael Palin and Terry Gilliam seemed to be giving it their all and having a cracking time doing so. Terry Jones was only in a couple of sketches and Eric Idle did all the songs but seemed somehow flat. John Cleese on the other hand was most definitely dialling it in via Skype. Really seemed like he just wanted to get it over and done with.
Several numbers were performed entirely by the chorus. They were talented enough singers/dancers but if I'd paid a small fortune to be there I'd have expected the actual pythons to be performing every sketch.
All in all it seems a bit crap.
|Friday, October 10th, 2014|
|Friday, October 3rd, 2014|
An evening of contrasts. On the positive accompanying a good friend Charlie on his last pub crawl around Shrewsbury before he moves to pastures new in Chesterfield tomorrow.
On the downside, just got a phone call from C saying one if my best friends B has been taken into hospital with septic pneumonia. NHS Choices suggests that's pretty serious and is worse as his immune system is shot after he contracted Granulomatosisa few years ago.
|Tuesday, September 30th, 2014|
Just trying out the new android LJ App. Only downloaded it a few minutes ago but so far it actually seems quite useful. It's something LJ has needed for a long time, I'm sure one reason people have abandoned LJ for Facebook, Twitter etc. is because they are accessible from a mobile in a way LJ is not.
Anyway let's see if this manages to post.
|Thursday, September 25th, 2014|
Is there some sort of competition between Steam and Java to see which can update more often?
At least with Java you can tell it to bugger off, whereas Steam refuses to run until you have downloaded the latest version.
64Mb! I'm sure that takes about 10 seconds to most people, but we don't all live in places with super-duper fast broadband. That's been 5 minutes and it's still only at 78%.
|Thursday, September 18th, 2014|
Scotland is so vast that there are always going to be places you've never visited (especially when you don't live there), but one major place for me was the outer Hebrides. So a week or so ago we set that to rights, packed the tent into the car and set off. Starting in Oban, we drove from Barra in the south, right up the islands to Lewis, before catching a ferry back to Ullapool.( Cut for lots of photosCollapse )
It's quite strange to think that by this time tomorrow, the place I grew up in could be a foreign country.
I no longer live in Scotland, but still consider it home. Is where you consider home always the place you grew up? I do wonder sometimes.
I suppose have a strange relationship with Scotland. If you were to ask me my nationality, I know on my passport it says “British”, but would probably reply "Scottish". Yet by most people's definitions I am anything but. I was born in England, currently live in England, my parents are (mostly) English. In fact the closest Scottish relative I have is my maternal Grandmother who was from Stirling. However, at the age of 6, my parents moved north of the border, so I grew up there, have a Scottish accent, went to university and worked there until the age of about 27 when a new job took me back to England. In a strange twist of fate, I now live less than 10 miles from where I was born, but it is pure co-incidence, I have no family or relatives in this part of the country.
There are things I prefer about England, and Scotland, but the one thing Scotland has, which England does not, is a real wilderness. Nowhere in England can you be somewhere and know not a sole lives within a 5 mile radius. That was particularly prevalent last week when we were in the Outer Hebrides (a part of Scotland I had previously never been to). And that is probably what gives me the connection to the place.
So what will happen. By all accounts, even the pollsters don’t seem to have too much confidence in their predictions, so although the polls favour a narrow “No” victory, the result could go either way. Not being a resident I don’t have to worry about how I would vote, although I have found the entire process fascinating. I now know more about economics and the mechanics of running a country than I ever thought possible. What the result will be we will know in probably 14 hours or so.
|Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014|
Best car advert ever, even if they did miss out the Arkansas Chuggabug, the Buzzwagon and the Crimson Haybaler*.
And also proof that advertising can work, even on me. I have no intention of buying a Peugeot, but I have just ordered the complete boxset of Wacky Races. A whole £2 on Ebay.
*What does it say that I can recall the names of all of the cars in the Wacky Races but can't remember what I had for tea last night???
|Tuesday, July 1st, 2014|
Went for a walk last night after tea and came across this little chap fluttering about in the long grass. For once I had the camera with me and it even sat still on some leaves for long enough to get a photo. I had no idea what it was, but the internet suggests that it's a white plume moth, which is apparently common in the UK, but I've never seen one before.
You can tell a lot of creatures have young and are out looking for food day and night. Despite it being light, we passed several badgers and foxes, one of which I almost tripped over.
Then just as we were about to walk up the drive, a little owl flew right across the road in front of us and perched on a telegraph pole wire support in the middle of the field. I see loads of tawnys and barn owls around here, but that's only the third time I've spotted a little owl. He/she just sat there watching us for a good 2 minutes before flying off across the field and pouncing on something in the long grass. Despite them being normally active during the daytime, it was alas dark, so there was no chance of getting any pictures.
|Wednesday, June 11th, 2014|
Much as I like both Monty Python and Rik Mayall, both of their world cup songs are utter shite. There is only one good world cup song, which pretty much sums up my feelings about the entire thing.
Edit: I give up. I have no idea how on earth you embed a Youtube video into LJ anymore, no matter what code I put in brings up an error, but below is the song I was referring to.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wx4qZiiz7Cc&feature=kp
|Friday, December 6th, 2013|
This is an awesome table. I want one.
|Monday, November 25th, 2013|
|A tale of two TV shows
We were out on Saturday drinking beer and watching people fight with swords (Ludlow Medieval Fayre – I can highly recommend it), so I think I may have been the only person on the internet who didn’t watch Dr Who. Having now seen it, I have to admit to finding the whole thing a bit “meh”. I won’t spoil it for anyone who has yet to see it, but whilst it was amusing in places, the main storyline just seemed like a massive cop-out. In truth Dr Who hasn’t been must see TV for me for a very long time – probably since 1989. It’s a show I watch if it’s on, but I could easily miss and not care particularly were it not for many of my friends being massive fans.
At the other end of the spectrum we have spent many evenings over the past 5 or 6 weeks watching Breaking Bad. As latecomers to the party, we had the advantage that every episode was available for immediate consumption. And what consumption. We were both hooked from the very first episode by the emotional rollercoaster that is the life of Walter White. If it’s not the best TV show I have ever seen, I haven’t worked out yet what is. Other shows had magnificent periods or episodes, but Breaking Bad is just astonishing from start to finish. It is one massive character study from start to finish, but at the same time manages to be completely compelling drama. If there was a bad episode I can’t remember it, even the rather more experimental ones seemed to work. And it had a proper ending. If you have not seen it, track it down and watch it.
|Saturday, October 26th, 2013|
|Happy (first) Halloween
I know what you are thinking - it's not Halloween, that's on the 31st. However, I grew up in The Valley and for reasons nobody knows, Halloween there is celebrated not on the 31st but on the last Friday of October. It's a strange tradition which is as far as I know entirely confined to 4 towns of the Irvine valley. The rest of Ayrshire are solid 31st type folk, as are the rest of Scotland, the UK and probably the entire western world. The valley - it's weird like that.
All this gives me an excuse to have two Halloweens, and tonight I don't even have to turn out the lights and pretend to be out. Halloween was something to look forward to when I was much younger, not because of dressing up or anything like that, but because there was always a much-awaited horror film released, which meant a midnight trip to the cinema. Sadly this tradition seems to have died, which is a shame. However, I will forever cherish the memory of the Halloween we drove all the way up to Paisley to see a double bill of American Werewolf in Paris followed by From Dusk 'till Dawn. As I recall, we got home about 5am - ah memories.
So to cut a long story short tonight is Wes Craven night. Yes the man put his name to a lot of tripe in recent years, but he did make some absolute classics along the way. So first up was The Serpent & the Rainbow, then The Hills Have Eyes before in a few minutes we move onto the absolute classics - Knightmare on Elm St. followed by New Knightmare (the only other Freddie Kruger film he had anything to do with). There may be Scream later but I doubt we shall make it beyond 1am. I'm not 20 anymore - staying up all night requires a lot more effort than it used to.
|Friday, October 11th, 2013|
To put this into context - Michael Gove is the Education Secretary (the politician in charge of all education in the UK). He is answering questions put by the House of Commons education committee.Q98 Chair: One is: if "good" requires pupil performance to exceed the national average, and if all schools must be good, how is this mathematically possible?
Michael Gove: By getting better all the time.
Q99 Chair: So it is possible, is it?
Michael Gove: It is possible to get better all the time.
Q100 Chair: Were you better at literacy than numeracy, Secretary of State?
Michael Gove: I cannot remember.
|Sunday, September 29th, 2013|
Haven't been online for the past 2 weeks as we've been away in Madagascar where there is pretty much no internet access outside of the capital city (not surprising really as it's the 8th poorest country in the world).
Got home yesterday evening but immediately fell asleep until after midday after failing completely to get any sleep on the overnight flight from Antananarivo. Today has consisted of lounging around the house doing pretty much sod all. Tomorrow, alas, is back to work.( Half a dozen photos from the 1000+ in the cameraCollapse )
|Thursday, September 12th, 2013|
In rather sadder news, got home last night to find a dying bee on the doorstep. She's a queen, almost certainly from the nest we've had in the woodshed since springtime. She should be fleeing the nest about this time of year and looking for somewhere to hibernate over the winter. Unfortunately she's covered in mites, missing some of her hair, and unable to fly.
Cycling into work this morning what looked like a bright red lichen caught my eye. I've never seen anything like it before, there were several all growing on a wild rose. Turns out it isn't a lichen, but a gall caused by a particular wasp
. Still very pretty.
|Friday, August 16th, 2013|
This is awesome. It's a sculpture in South Africa commemorating the 50th anniversary of Nelson Mandela's arrest.
It doesn't look like much until you see it at the right angle. More pictures here