Saturday, November 28, 2009

FTAO Adrian Plass

Although you have correctly grasped that diary style allows pronouns to be missed out - 'Went to town' rather than 'I went to town' - you have not realised that the missing pronoun has to refer to the diarist. It's very confusing when you do it to mean a third person.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

New Labour's relaxed attitude to letting religious groups take over state schools has been seized on by an obscure sect, as the Devesham Courier reports:

Devesham parents met last night to register concern over plans to turn St Gingerpops Primary School into a city academy run by the Nationist sect. 'They say that they have an excellent disciplinary record,' argued mum of two Jean Conroy, 'but it turns out that that's just because students accused of indiscipline have to prove their innocence or be sent to the glass mines.'

'We're used to opposition from anti-religious bigots,' said planned academy head Tarron Tarrant. 'But we just want to teach children according to the truth laid down in scripture.'

The Nationists have already run into trouble over previous plans to open an academy in Bedford. The project was abandoned after copies of the Nationist syllabus were leaked, showing geography lesson plans teaching that the Earth's core could be removed to turn it into a huge spaceship, chemistry texts insisting that ice could flow like molten lava and biology notes asserting the particular fragility of the ankle joint in young women.

Claims that New Labour policy was being influenced by Nationist donations were strongly denied by junior education minister Codal Latep.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Syntax notation

will(I, be(, experimenting = with(notation = syntax = my) = in (posts:the = next = few) ))

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Quincy story titles that would also have worked in DW

Valleyview - sinister holiday camp, sort of Paradise Towers/Macra vein
Holding Pattern - space war stalemate
The Hero Syndrome - Holmes rogues supplying battle drugs to primitive planet barbarian warriors
Touch of Death - Missing UNIT story, some kind of space disease (expansion of Silurians virus plot)
House of No Return - basically Talons but with Arabs, in colonial Egypt probably
Aftermath - post-nuclear bollocks, Terry Nation rehearsal for Survivors
Dark Angel - got to be a series 26 Cartmel wankfest, surely?
The Eye of the Needle - isn't this a Big Finish?
Hot Ice - missing series 24 Glitz caper?
The Money Plague - could be another Pertwee Touch of Death, could be a Kinda-esque fable about wily natives responding to attempts to introduce them to capitalism
The Night Killer - just before the War Machines, Hart and Dodo investigate alien-caused murders
Sugar and Spice - missing member of McCoy magic realist quartet. Season 25 chillfest on planet of killer moppets. Possibly postponed after a real murder, but an absolute classic. 5/5
The Golden Hour - much-loved series 18 tour d'horizon/indulgent wank, according to who you listen to. Basically a lot of Fourth Doctor clips as he's forced to escape from his memories by the Black Guardian or someone
Bitter Pill - Colin gets stroppy on planet of euthanasia

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Potato fruit

I was a bit surprised to find this afternoon that some of my potato plants had small, green tomato-style fruit on them. (Although it made a kind of sense because potatoes and tomatoes are related).

Apparently this isn't unusual in certain varieties, the fruit contain the potato seeds, though they're seldom used to grow potatoes from because it's easier to do it from the tubers.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

His guilt so well concealed

The last thing I expected from The Little Friend was to find out who killed Robin Dufresnes, and I wasn't disappointed.

I did wish that Donna Tartt had stuck to her initial subtle indications of date: early on I had to resort to looking up the dates of Hurricane Camille and the MLK assassination to place the action some time around 1978, but I needn't have bothered, because as the book proceeds she starts scattering 70s cultural references like a crazed Southern Peter Kay.

Also she has Hely uncertain of his weight when he reads the Charles Atlas advert in the comic book at the pool hall, despite the fact that in the previous chapter he tells Harriet that he weighs 90 pounds when he's warning her not to try firing the shotguns.

Many people have found the book a disappointing successor to The Secret History, but I find that I'm a lot less impressed with TSH now than I was ten years ago. Its colourless narrator and pretentious protagonists annoy me now. For all its flaws, TLF has closer resonances with my own experience.

Because the end of childhood is just like that - 'nothing is revealed', loose ends are never tied up, friends are lured away by false promises of sophistication and bright dangers are overtaken by sour sorrows.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

We won't give a fig

Some poor sod wrote to Micro Mart last week describing his doomed attempts to get Puppy Linux to work on a PC with a dialup connection. Sure enough, this week two Linuxbots have written in lambasting him for actually trying to do anything useful with Linux.

I dislike Microsoft as much as anyone, and continue to test new versions of Linux as they appear in the hope that one day I'll find one that's usable. But I don't believe that lying about Linux' shortcomings will achieve anything.

I won't stop buying Micro Mart every couple of weeks or so either. It has its shortcomings - it prints a lot of filler (I haven't seen so many stock photos since I used to read the Methodist Recorder), and one of its columnists once boasted frighteningly about how he enforced his will on his children 'with an iron fist'.

But in other respects it's the closest you can get these days to the can-do spirit of the computer magazines of the early 80s. And it's only £2.

Friday, June 19, 2009

I've spent the last few evenings improving on a Radio 4 adaptation of Diary of a Nobody from 2005 or thereabouts. Carrie Pooter had been rewritten as a shrewish sitcom character, and worse still she was played by Annette Badland. It couldn't have been worse if she'd kept shouting 'I'm shaking my arse and farting' like she did on New Who.

So I cut out all her smart-arse remarks, with the ironic exception of one passage where she asks 'Have you been listening to a word I've said?'

This alone left the production at least 15 minutes shorter.

I also had to go through the Burwin-Fosselton episode and take out most of his lines, because he'd been rewritten from a pompous, pretentious arse to an appalling gay stereotype who even Russell T Davies would have found a bit anachronistic.

I did however keep in one bit that the adaptor had added, where Pooter finally loses it with B-F and lays down the law over some fish knives. Unlike many of the other changes, it was in character for Pooter and it worked.

I should also say that the voice they'd chosen for Lupin was perfect. Some of his scenes had been rewritten to characterise him as a spoilt teenager - out they went - but even they couldn't spoil it.

There was also a fairly amusing running gag about the trains passing the house, culminating in this exchange:

Pooter: Ah, the ten-to-ten to Tenterden.
Lupin: But that's in Kent. We're on the Midland and Northern.
Pooter: The experimental routing

One change I couldn't undo was the mysterious renaming of 'Jackson Freres' champagne to 'Frere Brothers'. Wtf?

I was however able to change all the American dates - 'October twentieth' - to appropriate British style - 'October the twentieth' - by copying Pooter saying 'the' and pasting it in where appropriate.

I managed a partial salvage job on Hardfur Huttle. In the adaptation he's merely a name whose card Lupin gives to his father, and I couldn't alter that, but he's also just a frontman for an American businessman. In the original of course he is the American businessman, which is why he has an amusing American-style name. I don't understand why this change was made, or why they didn't at least give him an appropriate British name.

Finally, Mr Crowbillon was referred to throughout as 'Mr Crowbillion'. I had a good go at cutting out the superfluous 'li' in each reference and turning him back to Mr Crowbillon.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to paint the backs of our Shakespeare, and an old pair of boots.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

I know, I know, it's Sirius

With Venus out of the picture for a few months, I've discovered a new twilight astronomy challenge - Sirius-spotting. I caught it yesterday with the Sun's altitude at -4 degrees (ie 4 degrees below the horizon), and tonight I've just managed to catch it with the Sun at -3.4 degrees.

I suspect there's an O(n**-x) in the relationship between the Sun's negative altitude and the chance of seeing Sirius, because I couldn't see it at all at -2 degrees, despite much scanning.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The library angel was with me today, even if the angel of free-flowing traffic wasn't. I found an original AD&D Monster Manual, Joe Orton's diaries and Point of No Return, despite the fact that I couldn't remember the latter's title, or who it was by, other than that their surname began with one of the letters H to M.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Sailing the southern celestial seas

Good clear binocular sighting of kappa Canis Majoris this evening. At 32 30 S I'm not breaking any personal bests, but it's good to know the waters south of 32 S are clear even in winter.