Posted 6 Days Ago
The bad thing about waking up after four hours sleep if you go to bed at a normal time is that it's the middle of the night, and you just want to get back to sleep (good luck with that).
The good thing about waking up after four hours sleep following a night shift is that it's the middle of the day and you feel more like getting up and doing things. It's like getting an extra day, or at least half a day. If you're lucky there might be some cricket to listen to.
But either way, you still get that sticky-eye feeling.
I wanted to like it, I really did
Posted Last Week
Thunderbirds Are Go.
There are some television programmes that are so much a part of me that if they were remade, the producers would have to do something incredibly heinous for me to dislike it.
The BBC and David Nobbs remade the Reginald Perrin story. The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin was something I watched all three series of and loved. I even bought the books! I rewatch the series usually once a year. When they made the new series, just called Reggie Perrin, with Martin Clunes I approached it with trepidation, but I like it almost as much as the original now. It was very well done. Changing Elizabeth's mother to her father and adding Reggie's mother, and then having them, er, get it on was a stroke of genius The Wellness Person was a nice counter to Doc Morrisey, and I adored Reggie's secretary, Vicky, even more than Joan. A definite thumbs-up for me
I never saw the new Doctor Who until quite recently. The hour-long ones, starting with Christopher Eccleston. My first ever Doctor Who was The Keys of Marinus, which was story five from series one, in 1964. I watched it avidly from that moment on, all the way through Hartnell, Troughton and Pertwee, and a good deal of Baker, until I got to the point where I was working my Saturday job and didn't get home on Saturday evening until after it had finished. From that point on I sort of lost interest, and never saw any of the subsequent ones, with Davison, the other Baker and Sylvester McCoy, but it was always an important thing to me.
A year or two back I decided to give the new ones a go, starting with the Paul McGann movie, at the insistence of a co-worker and friend at the Drafthouse who is a huge Who fan, although too young to remember all of the original series but who knows them better than I do because he has them all on DVD, and he has the fanaticism of, well, a fan. I enjoyed it, especially the Tennant years. I wasn't overjoyed with most of the companions though. In fact Martha was the only one I really had any time for. Rose had her moments I suppose (and Rose's mum was a bit of alright ). Matt Smith had a certain charm I guess, and I'm just starting on the Capaldi episodes. Those are going to take some getting used I think, but once again, a thumbs-up from me for the overall production, despite the dramatics often being a bit much.
And then there was Thunderbirds. I'd already been entranced by Supercar, Fireball XL5 and Stingray by the time Thunderbirds was first broadcast (and Space Patrol, which has a Thunderbirds connection in the person of Roberta Leigh who worked with Gerry Anderson on Torchy the Battery Boy, and The Adventures of Twizzle), and I was the perfect age for it - exactly the kind of audience they must have been aiming at. I was all over it like a rash. Bought the bubblegum cards, bought the toys, had an International Rescue hat; didn't make the Blue Peter Tracy Island.
I only heard about this new production a week or two back, and I saw preview clips of it on YouTube. I didn't much like what I was seeing, and tonight my fears were confirmed.
Bearing in mind this is one of the most loved and appreciated British television shows for kids of all time with a potential for huge viewing figures from baby boomers like me if done well, I thought they might have thrown a bit more money at some decent CGI, if CGI is the way they wanted to go. It looks like a video game from a decade ago, and you know how quickly video game effects and rendering improve.
The thing about Thunderbirds was that the tension built and built, and was released in the manner of a last-moment rescue seconds before calamity struck. With the new version there's no such build-up and release - the action comes fast and furious and is all too matter of fact. One of the aspects that made Thunderbirds believable was that there was a sense of each rescue being something difficult, not a walk in the park.
The characters have no gravitas. And that goes double for Lady Penelope. She was refined and cultured. I don't get that same feeling from the new Penelope. And she has a lapdog I'm very pleased to find out though that David Graham is still providing Parker's voice
The script is peppered with too many ghastly buzzphrases along the lines of "Way to go", "Let's kick some butt"; you get the idea
On the plus side, as well as David Graham, I like that they've used some real-life props, the way the original Thunderbirds would sometimes use real hands. There were a few nice nods to Gerry Anderson - a clip from Stingray, and the undersea lab (a bit like the one in The Abyss) they had to rescue people from had a part that looked suspiciously like the front of an Eagle from Space 1999. Another rescue was a straight copy of the one from Lord Parker's Holiday - that's the episode where a huge dish is damaged and is going to focus the sun's rays onto a small town once the sun comes up in the morning, except in this case it's (supposed to be) Taipei.
Grandma's voice is supplied by Sandra Dickinson - Trillian from the Hitchhiker's TV series, and married to Peter Davison (who was both Doctor Who (after Tom Baker), and the Dish of the Day at Milliways). And the original 5-4-3-2-1 is liberally sprinkled throughout the programme.
But overall a definite thumbs-down. I shan't be watching any more of them. It just looks cheap. It was very, very bad.
Back in Time for Dinner
Posted Last Week
I've been watching this over the past few weeks, starting with the 1950s, and now I'm up to 1970 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARb0cZH8CI0 It's been fascinating because (apart from the first six years of the 50s) it's covering the period of my life.
This (the 70s) was the decade that processed and convenience food became the massive industry it is now, and the whole/health food movement took off. I'm very pleased, a little proud, and hopefully not too smug that I rejected that industry from the off, as soon as I could.
I've mentioned before that my mother cooked almost everything from ingredients, not from packets, although we had tinned soups, tinned spaghetti (I didn't know it came any other way until my mid teens), the occasional Green's cake mix, tinned beans (but who doesn't... oh, wait - me, any more), fish fingers and a very small handful of other packaged foods that I can't recall to memory, and in the late 60s/early 70s we were swayed by the allure of Vesta Chicken Supreme, Bird's Angel Delight, boil-in-the-bag fish in sauce, and one or two other convenience foods, because they were a bit exotic.
This coloured my food thinking for the rest of my life and I'm glad of it, because ever since I left home and started cooking for myself, in the mid 70s, I've by and large done it with ingredients, not packets and tins. Even before I left home I was fascinated by the self-sufficiency movement, watched The Good Life avidly as well as programme called A House For the Future which had a huge self-sufficiency element as well as an environmental one, and I bought a first edition of the John Seymour book mentioned in the programme, which I don't have any more - I gave it to a friend when I was leaving the shores of Old Blighty for good. I wish I hadn't done that now (along with a few other things I wish I hadn't jettisoned).
Almost immediately I discovered my first wholefood shop. This one, and it's still going http://8thday.coop/ However, not being a very inventive cook, and in fact not liking to cook very much at all at the time, I really didn't explore the full potential, but I've never looked back and have bought proper food, organic where possible, ever since. I'm also rather proud that I've never bought a Pot Noodle and never set foot in a Bejam, Iceland or any other frozen food shop.
I am rather embarrassed and ashamed though that when McDonalds first came to Britain I ate rather a lot of them from the one that opened up close to where I was living at the time
A few books I *didn't* get rid of before I came to Texas - the Cranks Cookbook and the Neal's Yard Cookbook. I use them both all the time still.
One part of the programme that really stood out for me was a clip of someone, possibly a food writer, definitely a processed food sceptic, saying that we didn't know what the consequences were likely to be of the change from a traditional diet to a technologically-based one (it's at around 45m into the show). Well, we do now. Hyperactive kids, people dying of diseases and ailments related to the chemicals that went into foods, and obesity.
Aside from the food aspect, this programme really has brought home how grim certain aspects of British life were in the 1950s and early 60s, and for some people on into the 70s and 80s, because the lifestyle being portrayed is one of a fairly well-off family who could afford gadgets and appliances at the time, because that's what the programme has to portray. That really wasn't the case for a lot of people, but the point of the programme is to portray how things were changing and improving.
If you can call boil-in-the-bag fish and tinned mince an improvement.
Am I off my rocker?
Posted 2 Weeks Ago
Things have just got intensely busy at work, to the point where I worked 60 hours last week; may well work 50 this week, and for the next three or four weeks. My shift pattern, and therefore my sleep pattern, is all over the place. I don't actually have a sleep pattern, to be honest. Or much sleep.
So today, when I get a call from someone at one of the local breweries (it's Live Oak, if you were wondering, BG), whose anniversary party I've helped out at for the past couple of years, says this year's party is on Saturday - *this* Saturday - and asks me if I'd like to pour beer again for them, why did I say "Hell yes!", knowing that I'm working midnight to 8am on Friday night/Saturday morning?
I must be soft in the head Sleep deprivation must have robbed me of all reason
Like taking off tight shoes
Posted 2 Weeks Ago
This past month or two have been a bit stressful.
In my previous job I was comfortable, financially speaking. My rent was around one third of my income, I had savings, I didn't have to worry about paying the bills, I could indulge myself in small ways by buying things on a whim. Nothing extravagant, just a few things here and there, like a nice stand mixer, a good quality food processor, several bottles of limited release beer whenever they were released limitedly (to put away and age in my 'cellar'), a bottle of Talisker single malt whisky whenever I fancied one.
That was two years ago.
Since then my income has dropped somewhat, rents have skyrocketed (it's now more than half my income), and my savings are gone. On top of that, I thought I was going to have a big tax bill this year because I hadn't earned enough to qualify for the tax credits I was given this time last year from the Affordable Health Care Act, meaning I'd have to pay them back - around three grands-worth. I haven't got anything like that kind of wedge.
But somehow, I don't know how, that hasn't happened. In fact I'm getting a refund. On top of that there's suddenly a whole load of overtime on offer at work (for the next three weeks or so), plus we get three paycheques in May instead of the usual two
And I think I might be going to see Lee Scratch Perry next week
There's still one big dark cloud looming on the horizon though.
My lease ends in a little over two months so I should be getting the renewal notice any day now. The way property and rent rates have been increasing these past few years in Austin, I might have to vacate this apartment complex after almost 15 years, because it's likely to be increased to a point I simply can't afford. I'm not sure exactly what that's going to mean because with my current income I wouldn't be able to get a new lease from most of the apartment complexes around here since they routinely ask for a minimum of three times the rent in income, which put most of them, leastways the ones I'd prefer to live in, out of my reach. As for the ones I'd prefer not to live in... *shudder*. And as for the idea of moving again... no thanks.
If anyone ever asks you what's the worst kind of place to live, the answer's easy - a boom town.