'Lemon Lemon Lemon Lemon Lemon?!'

Not a huge amount to talk about this week, at least not much that I remember. I did buy the ‘new’ release of Whole Damn Body on Friday, despite already owning all the songs, mainly because:

  • Remastered!
  • God knows where my original 7”s are…I mean they’re here somewhere
  • It was the last Bandcamp Friday, which means that LC! get all the money from the digital purchase, which I gather is the same amount that they’d get from Spotify if you streamed their songs constantly for over a year.

I have finished The Amelia Gething Complex, and I stand by my insistence that you should all watch it. Given that the episodes are only 18 minutes long, I’m loathe to talk about any one episode in general, for fear of giving away too many gags. But oh, the final episode, which is a throwaway clip show. With a framing sequence set in 2147 and where the only two episodes of TV surviving are this clip show and an episode of Hetty Wainthrop Investigates. And it ends with a masquerade dance with a killer wasp. Come on! Head to iPlayer and watch it all!

(also, do check out Alan Partridge railing against the 1990 Broadcasting Act in S02E02 of This Time. Which might also contain one of the longest callbacks in TV history, 27 years after the original broadcast and on primetime BBC1, no less…)

A Whole New (Old) World

It was weird. Actually getting dressed, going outside, driving to somebody else’s house, and then spending several hours inside, unmasked, with people that I haven’t seen for over a year.

(to give you an idea of how weird: Helvetica saw me come out of the bedroom in jeans and a shirt and completely freaked out, hiding under the chair. She did this again when I wore real clothes on Saturday too, so I guess her last memory of me wearing actual clothes is “he’s going to put me in that cage and take me to the place with dogs. I don’t like it! I will hide!”)

It was a nice night out, and I finally got to try pizza from Taglio. But it’s definitely going to be a gradual process easing back into what used to be normal. I have also switched back down to just single-masking when I’m in the supermarket, now that my mRNA goodness is fully operational. Offices are opening and there’s talk of a work meetup in the next couple of months - will I be back on a plane for the first time in over a year?

Um, also, nobody told me about The Amelia Gething Complex until last month and I’m a little salty about it. A CBBC show that feels like The Young Ones, RTD’s Why Don’t You, Milligan’s Q, Clerks: TAS1, and a YouTuber stuck in a blender, and broadcast to impressionable children. It’s amazing, and if I was 12-13, it’d be as formative as things like Maid Marian or The Flashing Blade. Look, it even does CEEFAX jokes, despite all of the cast probably being about 5 or so when it was turned off. It’s gloriously stupid and fiendishly clever…often at the same time, and completely obsessed with being a TV show and how TV shows are made. I love that it reminds me of all these older shows, but it’s also completely its own thing, with its own ideas and references.

“In the next scene, your parents buy the pony you’ve always wanted…and you’re playing the pony!”

“Just let me lick a traveller’s cheque!!”

“No, it’s a coat, not a [BLEEP] [BLEEP]”


All of The Amelia Gething Complex is available on iPlayer. With this and Ghosts, the BBC is quietly having a great run in comedy right now…

  1. I think that the restrictions placed on him by ABC and the freedom of animation resulted in Smith’s best work, and it’s telling that everything after the animated series became lazier and lazier. [return]
  2. Note that none of the main actors were alive during the Abomination’s heyday. And feel old. [return]

A Pulled Cracker

I’ve finished my Cracker run. It’s an odd thing - it depicts a Manchester that just about is reminiscent of my experience of the city (though not quite; that transition period of “post-bomb, but pre-‘rebuild’, and every week you walk past one of the largest bomb craters to grace Britain” is somewhat missing from the British Archive. I’ll take the shots of the Oxford Road Odeon, BBC North, and the elevated walkway across the Kilburn Building, though. And the Maths Tower. And when UMIST was UMIST). And unlike, say the hilarious Rave Morse incident, Cracker gets the pervasiveness of rave and acid house just right. It’s there in the background, it’s clear that Mark spends his weekends at The Paradise Factory or elsewhere on Princess Street, but it’s not remarked on at all. You could just imagine this song playing over some of the scenes, reminding me of all the Sunday mornings I never had during my three years at university at Owens. England Made Me, after all.

(I still don’t understand the Hong Kong special, though. Did everybody just fancy a jolly before the handover? It’s not quite as bad as the Ruth Rendell episode that suddenly turns into a trip to America for almost no reason about an hour in, but it’s pretty bizarre considering just how much Cracker was a Manchester show)

What I didn’t say last week: while I was recovering from Moderna Part 2, we watched Everybody in the Place: an Incomplete History of Britain 1984-1992. It was not the straight retelling of the rave years that I expected, but it was definitely an interesting take on those years, and watching the Sixth Formers of 2019 playing around with a 303 was golden, even if I was too young to be part of the rave generation and far too old for the new kids. But it did make me think that both Summers of Love, the first and Second, at least in the UK, contained the seeds of, if not their own downfall, but the Unexpected of What Was To Come. In the 60s, you had the pirate radio ships making a blow against the Man. But pirate radio was backed by the Institute of Economic Affairs, and a thousand Dr. Ruth Leas bloomed in the 70s. And in the Second Summer of Love, there’s all the footage of Paul Staines, fresh from being Hart’s bagman in the Miners’ Strike, and who would, two decades later, become a poison at the heart of Westminster. Adam Curtis would make a lot with those connections. But they’d all come to one conclusion: you can never trust a hippie.

(some time later: Actually, I forgot that Curtis did write about Smedley and the IEA on his blog a while back.)

This upcoming week: I might go to somebody else’s house. With no mask. 😱😱😱

Moderna & The Lost Weekend

Moderna, Part 2 is no joke. But I’m hoping to be back to normal in the next 48 hours or so.

I had a bunch to say this week, but I don’t have the energy today, so things will be lost. I had a great, quiet birthday, and I rediscovered that Cracker is a lot bleaker than you remember. Also, on re-watch? The supposed Imperial Phase of Red Dwarf is really not as good as your faulty memory tells you. It was an odd contrast to go from that to the first episode of Waiting For God, which, well, yes, it’s still a prime-time BBC1 sitcom, but the writing was so much sharper than what Grant/Naylor were doing on BBC2 at the same time.

Right, I’m going to head to bed and collapse for the evening. But the good news is that by mid-May, I will be at my full mRNA powers!

Old Racist Dies

Although I’m an anti-monarchist1, the past two days have been a bit like this for me:


All I pointed out was that, yeah, sure, losing BBC Four and having 1 & 2 simulcast for 24 hours (plus the Radio network going to the ‘sombre’ playlist) was a bit of a pain, but what do you honestly expect the BBC to do? This is the prelude to a massive cultural shift in Britain; where one of the icons of the post-war era, one of the constants for three generations of British people, will no longer be with us, and potentially the start of the fall of the monarchy itself, given the candidates for succession. It’s somewhat newsworthy, and as the public sector broadcaster that has been chronicling these things since 1922, cut them a bit of slack?

(also, this is not 1997. The vast majority of the country only had five channels at the time. Today, even if you discount the Internet, there seems to be 99 channels available on a free-to-air basis, and even as people were spending a lot of Saturday moaning, most of BBC television had gone back to a fairly normal slate of programmes)

This post brought to you by “when I was a young lad, not only did we have to walk 20 miles in the snow to get to school, but they’d take DS9 off schedule whenever it looked like Tim Henman might make it to the quarter-finals of Wimbledon! You lot don’t know you’re born!”

The digital billboards all around the country, though? Yeah, don’t do that again. Very creepy.

(Obviously, complaining about the content of the last 48 hours is definitely fine; the hagiography and the glossing over the reactionary and racist elements of his life was terrible…)

  1. I have mellowed a little though. In my teens and 20s, my solution to the Royal Family was “let’s do the Romanov again!” to the tune of “Time Warp”, blowing up Buckingham Palace and replacing it with a massive concrete obelisk containing a new Worker’s Soviet. These days, I’m fine with nationalizing their entire assets, giving the family a one-off £100m payment to go off and live like a set of European royals, and I’m fine with converting the Palace into social housing. Does that count as getting more right-wing as you get older? [return]

He's The Shaker, Baby

Right, the important news from this week.

It’s difficult to explain how important the footage is; Life Without Buildings were a band that didn’t last all that long, but after 20 years, I’ve finally seen one of my favourite bands actually perform. It’s quite something1. Look out for the Mogwai and Belle & Sebastian cameos!

Other than that, it has been a fairly quiet Easter week, though it has felt like Winter wanted one last shot at us before it sailed out (it snowed on Thursday!!). I have eaten all the mini eggs for another year, made an eggceptional amount of egg-based puns, finished the first Culture novel2, the sun is shining, and I have less than a fortnight until I get more Moderna mRNA shot into my veins. Oh, and I made an amazing banh mi on Saturday. Which means a lot less to the rest of you because you weren’t here and couldn’t eat it, but trust me it was good…

Anyway, Happy Easter! Eat allllll the eggs!

  1. Even when put against my other one-album loves of the 2000s, Johnny Boy. While there’s no footage of them online, I did manage to see them three times, one of which involved dancing with Kieron Gillen and Alex De Campi, no less… [return]
  2. Yeah, I know that it took me long enough… [return]

CLIP Dreams of Helvetica Bold

As promised, I finally updated But This Was A Fantasy. And it’s a bumper update too; not only The Living Dead, but also the Nick Leeson Inside Story and the Modern Times documentary on Henrietta Lacks. That finishes Adam Curtis’ 90s output. Next up will be Century of The Self, and then I’ll close out the 2000s with the duo of The Power of Nightmares and The Trap. You’ll then get All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace and Hypernormalisation, but I’ve decided to skip Bitter Lake, as it’s a different sort of film, and is also very explicit in its violence, so I’m leaving it out so it doesn’t give you upsetting results on random queries.

(I’ve made a small discovery that the version of the Nick Leeson documentary we’ve been watching all these years is different from the version that was originally broadcast; the iPlayer version is seven minutes longer and has different archive footage - perhaps to make overseas sales easier? Anyway, I’ll be doing a follow-up post outlining the differences at some point in the future.)

The update has confused CLIP in some ways, but it’s astounding in others: enter ‘henrietta lacks’ into the search box, and you get five great results with no text in the frame to help the network out at all. I’m assuming that some of the images were in CLIP’s training set and labelled correctly - anyway, it makes the search engine look superhuman.

Finally on the Adam Curtis front for the moment: this episode of Politics Theory Other has a great discussion on Curtis, specifically on Can’t Get You Out of My Head but also his work at large. I completely agree with Owen Hatherley that his work has suffered since dropping the Curtis-led interviews, and that few seem to pick up on the jokes. “but they had become radical lesbian nuns” in an accent that seems to come straight from Reith himself will never not be hilarious.

StructType(Array(StructField('wibble', StringType, true)))

This is some great advice. In entirely unrelated news, as it was doing the rounds on Twitter, I was into day 3 (or 4?) of delving deep inside pulsar-spark. What I have ended up with is a Lovecraftian horror that dynamically intercepts Spark’s schema creation, adds a new StructType field, and in the deserialization pass, dumps the entire content of a Pulsar message into that field in case something goes wrong in the other fields1. After a week of 12-hour days, I can only reiterate that computers were a mistake.

As you might imagine, spending all that time working this week, I haven’t really had much of a chance to do much else. Other than spending Saturday night reading until 2am finally finishing the Horus Heresy sequence of books2 and through a variety of circumstances, ending up owning a 50” 4K TV that currently sits a little awkwardly in my bedroom. Although at least on that last one, the walk through Wal-Mart 70”-and-up range means you come out feeling like you could have been more ridiculous but were strong? Seriously, at some point, the TVs just become the size of a wall.

And no updates to But This Was A Fantasy either. Next week, though - three day weekend! So maybe, if you’re lucky, you might get something.

I am now going to curl into a corner until Monday comes.

  1. Which it does. [return]
  2. A special shoutout to Horus Heresy: Titandeath, which is Games Workshop essentially saying: “Hear us out: what about space mecha pilot lesbians? How triggered are you now, 4chan?” [return]

Moderna Part One

I have joined the ranks of the vaccinated! First jab, anyhow. I go back for the second Moderna shot during my birthday weekend, so by mid-May, I guess, my body will be at full mRNA power. The summer awaits!

(But I am tired and will be spending the day in bed. And Sunday too, as it happens)

While I prefer the British approach of the NHS just telling you when you’re going to get a vaccination…I guess I am lucky to be in a position where I can spend two days refreshing a browser window every five minutes until a slot becomes available. In a supermarket no less.

But still, remain indoors. No matter how sunny it looks outside this weekend. My hope is that we’ll finish the DIY projects that have popped into my head over Easter, and by the time the house can receive visitors again, it’ll look a little bit more like a home, and less like a show house that has two bedrooms jammed full of stuff everywhere. Look, I’ve only lived here for three years. You have to take your time with these things.

(also, Helvetica has started attacking one of the foam mattresses in one of the bedrooms, so that needs to be stopped before she builds a nest of foam pieces on the carpet. She’s an odd cat)

The “oh, yes” prize of the week goes to United Airlines, who this week sent me an email reminding me that the travel voucher we got in lieu of our trip to Japan last year is valid for another 24 months (I had completely forgotten about it, to be honest). Oh, wouldn’t it be nice to use that someday?

Next week, I promise I’ll get some updates done for the Curtis search engine. Maybe I’ll encode The Living Dead

Furnaces & Driveways

Okay, if the fates could please let up after my optimistic comment a couple of weeks ago, that’d be grand. In the past week, part of my driveway surround has collapsed and the furnace died. The poor HVAC engineer handed over the quote and let me stare at the zeros until I sheepishly said “it’ll be just as much to replace it, won’t it?” We decided that it wasn’t a good idea to do all that patching up of a 20-year-old furnace when for $200 more, I could get a brand-new, much-more-efficient furnace that doesn’t have holes in its heat-exchanger pushing out carbon monoxide1. Which I now have, thanks to a very prompt installation, but oh my, an expensive week.

Also, I am not loving this weekend’s time change, as with it, somebody using the main road as a drag strip at 3am, seemingly floodlights being left shining at my window, a very warm bedroom (hey, the new furnace works!), and a cat determined to scratch her way into a closed bedroom, I haven’t got a lot of sleep this weekend.

I still fit in my jeans, though. So that’s the high point of the week sorted.

  1. Don’t worry, I have a CO detector and it hadn’t pinged at all. [return]